Since becoming a librarian I've noticed a shift in my book buying behavior. First, it's lessened, since I know I can get pretty much anything I want absolutely free, but second – and more strange as it goes against my life-long habit - I've become less likely to buy works of fiction, that is, unless they're huge, thick monsters I'd take forever to finish and would run out of renewals before I'm ready to return them.
Which reminds me, I forgot to buy Mantel's Wolf Hall today. DAMN AND BLAST! Sounds like an unavoidable detour in today's schedule.
Another exception are works of classic literature, novels I'd be inclined to read more than once, those in which I'd probably want to highlight passages and/or take marginal notes. Libraries tend to frown on that.
Instead, I prefer to spend my money on nonfiction, especially complicated, thick works of nonfiction. Why? I guess it's the same standard by which I judge my fiction buying. Also, there are those nonfiction books I'd rather not have delivered via interlibrary loan, those about private, embarrassing topics you may not want your co-workers knowing about. Things like "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bondage," or maybe "Why You May Have an Undiagnosed Communicable Disease."
Then there are the all-but-impossible-to-find books, volumes so rare they cost the earth to purchase. With nationwide interlibrary loan, who needs to go broke on books when institutions will lend even some more pricey volumes?
Wait, did I just say that? Me, the one with shelves full of rare old books? Our little girl is growing up!
As a result of this new buying style I mostly check out armloads of fiction as well as thinner nonfiction, books I think I can finish in a reasonable timeframe (when I don't check out 30 at a time, but we won't go into that or we'll be here all day).
I also like borrowing nonfiction audio since that's the only thing I can listen to in the car without running off the road and killing people in mass numbers, another thing people tend to frown on. Paying attention to fiction on CD requires a split attention span I just don't have, unless I'm heading somewhere on an expressway/interstate and it's one long, boring stretch of road. When I had to travel an hour each way to attend Masters classes I listened to a lot of fiction. Mindless, routine and straight drives are great for that, and I preferred spending time on fiction than nonfiction, with the exception of Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors, which gave me the illusion someone had a worse childhood than I did.
So, anyway, what DID I wind up buying today during an outing to Borders?:
For my son, who loved The Far Side Volume I, and shares my warped sense of humor.
Daughter and middle son are required to read this over the summer for school, plus I want to read it (let's be serious).
Because my doctor said, "YOU NEED TO READ THIS!" And I love my doctor. She said it's about much, much more than food, but rather how we don't believe in ourselves and our own inherent worth. Therefore, we substitute facing our problems by doing other things, not just eating. Some people do things such as reading obsessively, which she doesn't understand is a PASSION rather than merely an ADDICTION. Wait. So WHY did I spend part of my Christmas gift card money on this book? Oh. My doctor. I love and trust her.
Finally, this bio of Flannery O'Conner. Because I'm a sucker for southern writers and writing, and this one's supposed to be out of this world.
Notice one book is fiction, one cartoon and two nonfiction. Though I entertained the thought of buying two other books: one a collection of Chekov's short novels and the other a selection of his stories, I put those back in favor of the nonfiction. I know I can read Chekov on Project Gutenberg, after all.
And that's a summary of my most recent book buying habits. Much, much different than they were formerly, and not just due to their library availability. Let's not forget the review books I snag every chance I get – which is often enough to ensure I'll never run out of reading material.
I love books like a coke addict loves to snort; I won't try to pretend I could stop anytime. But really, why should I have to?
Exactly. No reason at all.