Roughly five years ago, I quit my job and since then we’ve been living off my husband’s income. Now, when it comes to books, I’ve never had as big a budget as I would like, and as such, I’ve generally been really frugal. Used book stores are a favorite haunt. But even a used book isn’t free. And with our income cut in half (and having to pay for annoying things like infertility treatments followed by triplets!), it was going to be free books or no books at all. So I reacquainted myself with the library, where the books aren’t yours, but the reading is free.
To be fair, it isn’t that I haven’t purchased any books at all, but I’ve probably averaged about $30 a year out of my own pocket (gasp!). Any other books that have been added to my shelves have been gifted or purchased with a gift card (which, obviously, was also gifted).
Needless to say, a lot of what I’ve read in the past five years has been checked out of the library. Which makes me feel great because libraries, which are constantly facing cuts in this country, need as much support as they can get. If no one takes advantage of their services, it’s easier to justify cutting those services. The library has such vast offerings AND I can take a dozen books home without feeling guilty about the expense and worrying whether or not we can afford it.
However, I covet books. Actual, physical, held in hand, sitting on my shelf, I can’t wait to read it, doesn’t that smell good, mine, mine, mine books. I’ve always loved having my own small library full of selections that perfectly meet my own tastes. And as much as I love, appreciate, NEED the library, I also want to continue to build my own collection. (If I could afford it, I would be a book hoarder).
Interestingly, having been SO focused on my goal of not spending on books, I find it’s actually become difficult for me to choose when it’s time to lay my own money down. For Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card, and I haven’t spent it yet. There was a time when that card would have been spent (and then some!) the day it found its way into my book greedy little hands. Now I troll Barnes & Noble trying to find a book that is worthy of the expenditure. What book will I want to read again? What story will mean enough to me that I’ll feel the need to own it?
It would be nice to some day be able to walk into a bookstore and just buy what suits my fancy. Like walk out with more books than I can carry. However, until we win the lottery, I’ve got three kids that need to be fed and clothed, a house to buy, college educations and retirement to save for, and I need a vacation like nobody’s business…since I can’t get any of those things at the library, I guess I’ll just have to keep getting my books there instead.
And when I have a little extra money (or a gift card) in my pocket, hopefully there will be something I’ve been dying to buy…or it will sit and wait until such a book comes along.