My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes


"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Used Books!

Unlike many book lovers, I do get rid of books.  I don't have a choice, because I also have a chronic inability to not buy books.

Allow me to set the stage:

A used book sale.  Bins of overflowing paperbacks crowd between stacks of hardcovers.  Each costs only one dollar.

Me (brandishing a hefty volume with difficulty; arm shaking): Look, it's Schneffenborg's "The Imperial Science of Philosophy and Thought Among Primitive Agrarian Societies in the Arctic"!  I'll totally read this!"

Let me be clear, readers.  I will never, ever read this.

But I have no willpower when it comes to books!  If it comes packaged between a cover, I'll buy it, especially if-- even worse!-- it has a faded, shaky signature inside the front cover with-- the horror!-- an interesting, vintage-sounding date like '47.

Because of this terrible habit, I owned a huge, towering bookshelf specifically for books I planned on reading.  It had it all: Tolkien's The Silmarillion, a four-volume collection on philosophy, the complete works of Sophocles, the biography of Stephen Crane.  I have no idea who Stephen Crane is, nor why I felt compelled to buy his biography.

This habit extends to the library, too.  For example, today I was strolling through the nonfiction section, my bag bursting with books, in-- let me stress-- absolutely no position to get any more books!  But the darn thing just fell into my hands, and I checked out Julius Caesar's commentary on the Gallic Wars.


I will never read this. 
(By Adriaen Collaert (The British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, last week, I surveyed the feeble amount I had read and the towering inferno left to go and conceded defeat.  I packaged up those books and returned them to their demesne, the used bookstore.  I think they were glad to leave me.  I wasn't a very good owner.

But in exchange for two laundry baskets full of books, the cashier gave me a generous gift card to the used book store!  So getting rid of books is going to result in me getting more books!

I mused on my injured feelings for a while and summed up this situation in the following poem:

Ode to the Used Book,
 
by Allison Ruvidich
I.
 
O, Book!  We are old companions, you and I.
For years you have waited patiently on the shelf,
Dull cover, painful blurb,
And for years I have passed you by.
Once in a blue moon, I’ll picked through your pages,
Old but untouched, smelling faintly of dust.
For years and years, your bland yellow price tag deterred me.
But today you’re on sale.
 
II. 
 
No offense, Book, but I’m sure you’re not any good,
Though your spine is a familiar sight to my wandering eye.
Maybe we’ll pass in a library someday, and our eyes will meet,
And then, O Book!  We shall be thriftily united!  But no—
It’s not you, it’s me; it would never work out; I don’t want to hurt you.
I’ll just look at the price.
 
 III. 
 
O, Book!  You pain me, though for once your price does not.
If I bought you, what would happen once you’re read,
And your secrets no longer tempt me?
I can’t invest ¾ inch of shelf space in someone I don’t know.
Someday Robin McKinley will be caught dead in a used bookstore,
And I’ll need your precious ¾ inch again.
Then the cycle continues, and you’ll sit on the shelf
Of some other used bookstore until another girl comes along.
She’ll tell you she loves you until her Robin McKinley comes, and you’re back—
On and on until someone far stronger than I
Puts you in the Goodwill donation box.
 
IV.
 So you see, Book, there’s nothing for us but pain.
I’d be far better off leaving you here where you’re happy.
I’m a terrible person to put us both through this,
But today you’re only one dollar, and you’re coming with me.


Does anyone else have this problem? I can't believe I'm the only one out there suffering from Compulsive Book Purchaser's Syndrome. Are there any methods to avoid this grievous fate?  How big is your to-read shelf?


9 comments:

Sarah said...

I used to have this problem- when I was younger, I'd buy random books at book sales because they were 25 cents and they looked interesting and half the time my mom was paying for them anyway. Now, however, I'm more choosy about what I buy, mostly because I generally don't have the money or the shelf space not to be.

When it comes to the library, however . . . well, I'm a bit less choosy. My to-be-read stack is massive; half the books on my TBR list are there because they look semi-interesting and a friend recommended them. So, yeah. I guess being less choosy with library books helps me be more selective when I actually buy books? Since I know what I like and what I don't?

Stephan Crane, by the way, was a writer of the naturalist era. I believe he's best known for The Red Badge of Courage.

Allison Ruvidich said...

Books are just so darn inexpensive sometimes! Now shelf space is the decisive factor... ; D

The fun thing about library books is that you can return them. It's really amazingly great. : D I also try so many books at the library that-- well, I think I've demonstrated that I would buy them. Once I encountered Goodreads, though, I found books (pretty much for the first time) that my library doesn't have. Which is also why my kindle is full to bursting. : /

You learn something new every day! : D

Anonymous said...

Love your poem :D My mum has Compulsive Book Purchaser's Syndrome so I read the books she buys :)
Jemma

Laura Pol said...

I love this!

ghost ryter said...

Haha, that poem really captured the problem perfectly! *applauds*

Like Sarah, I used to have this problem A LOT when I was younger. But sometime after I turned thirteen, I had a stern talking-to with myself, and now I try to stick to only buying a book I haven't read if it's been on my TBR list for at least three months. (Of course I don't always follow that rule...)

Kathy said...

Yes, I have also suffered from CBPS, but once I started experiencing NROTS (no room on the shelves) and MIRHTB ("mum, I really hate that book") and WIAHTB (whoops, I already have that book) I have slowly started changing my ways. One step at a time... one day at a time...
- Jemma's mum

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, is Schneffenborg's "The Imperial Science of Philosophy and Thought Among Primitive Agrarian Societies in the Arctic an actual book?!
Jemma

Allison Ruvidich said...

@Laura- Thanks! : D

@Ghosty- "I had a stern talking-to with myself." I love that phrase! : D When I'm trying to persuade myself not to buy a book, terrible thoughts race through my head, like: "But what if this picture book about narwhals ends up changing my life??" I clearly am not rational about books.

Allison Ruvidich said...

@Kathy- BLAHAHA! I never knew there were so many facets of CBPS! But yes, my mom has stern orders to prevent any and all book buying with a flying tackle, if necessary. (I should mention, by the way, that we all love Jemma's comments and wit!)

@Jemma- It is not, alas, really a book! It was just the most improbable title I could come up with. ; D