Friday, December 27, 2013

The Art of Reading: Own vs. Borrow

The Art of Reading: Own vs. Borrow

All bibliophiles have at least one thing in common: the love of books. Still, as I'm reminded every time I talk to another reader, that doesn't mean we express our affection for the written word in exactly the same way. I'm referring to how we read.

This post's theme: owning versus borrowing books. Any preference?

When people define themselves as bibliophiles, some mean they enjoy the act of reading and others mean they covet books as physical objects. Plenty mean both! I fall in the latter category: I love reading as much as possible but I also like owning plenty and plenty of books.

This steers away from a simple bookish conversation into other mindsets and philosophies about property and hoarding, among other things. I don’t own every book I ever read. I would be buried alive! I borrow from the library and friends and I always give away books I didn’t like - no point in those taking up space. Still I have a lot of books and when I one day buy a house I certainly want my own library.

This sounds like it’s a print book specific conversation, but collecting habits sneak into ebooks, too. I know people who delete ebooks from their ereaders after finishing them; they don’t want anything superfluous taking up space, regardless of how much space is available. I also know people who amass ebooks to a ridiculous extent. They crowd their ereader with near as many books as it can hold, even if they have absolutely no intention of ever reading many of them.

How about you? Do you prefer to own or borrow a book? Why? If it’s circumstantial, what makes the decision?  

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