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12.01.2009

in defense of real books.




i feel guilty buying books.

there.

i said it.

i who value words above almost all else feel guilt when buying a book.

(though it should be noted that i who value words above almost all else also rarely know how to use them when it matters most).

the thing is, i believe in books.

not kindles. not ebook readers. not nooks.

but books. real-life, flip-the-page, spill-the-coffee-on books.

i know that as a woman who has no sustainable source of income (euf) books are a luxury that not only can i not afford, but i can easily navigate around--i mean, nothing is easier than borrowing and lending books--whole buildings have sprung up around this concept! (we call them libraries).

but i am selfish. and have no monetary foresight where stories are concerned. i want the paper. and the breakable spine. i want to scribble and write and underline and dog-ear to my heart's content.

the stories on my bookshelf are now my singular story. they are a part of me. and i want to be able to take them down again and again.

they are my proof of passing time. they are my life made tangible.


38 comments:

Mariah said...

I could not have said it better myself.

Amy said...

Once my husbands grandfather told me a story about his wife. He talked about being in university and having no money to speak of. When he came home from class his wife told him that she spent the grocery money on books. I think he meant it as advice on sound money management but in that moment I knew that if I had ever met her we would have been kindred spirits. Books feed my soul.

Katya said...

What a great post! That perfectly articulates my feelings for books. Every time I go to my parents' house, I feel the need to steal another 5 books to cram in my already crowded apartment. I just love having them there on the shelf, like old friends lined up in a row.

Meg Fee said...

oh amy, what a glorious story. kindred spirits indeed!

Fairfield said...

i was giving this argument to someone today. i will never convert from the real, true, paper book reader i am to a kindle lover. no thank you. and feel free to write and scribble in the book i lent you. i like my books used.

Elizabeth said...

HERE, HERE! Growing up I tried to explain it to my mom-- I told her my books were (are) my friends and that's why I needed (need) them.

Meg Fee said...

yes, elizabeth, they are friends. i used to (still do) live half in this world and half in the world of whatever book i'm reading.

ah, sam, i love that, "i like my books used"--scribble i will! i'll try to finish EATING ANIMALS super quick so you can read it and see just what kind of scribbler i really am--you might revoke your offer!

Bex said...

Ahhh I thought I was the only one that feels like that! So good to know there are others.

My books have doodles, broken spines, dog-eared pages, smears of chocolate, highlighter and definitions and whole passages circled.

When I was younger my Dad used to bitch and moan about the books "breeding" in my room. But when I quickly explained I could be spending my money on drugs or alcohol he quickly changed his tune.

Bibliophiles unite!

carly said...

Amen! There is nothing better (well almost nothing) then opening a book for the very first time. Turning the pages that are so crisp and oh so smooth. Nothing will ever replace a book for me.

Carmella said...

yes! yes! yes!

i love seeing all my books neatly stacked. they're so much a part of me! i'm quite attached to mine as well, i'm probably the worst book lender ever- i just don't like people borrowing my books, maybe because i also scribble things and highlight and underline. and once i've put myself into them, they just get too personal to share... if that makes sense?

here's to everyone guiltlessly buying books!

Sofya said...

ah! I love that. I love books as well. And buying books gives you a certain pleasure that no other purchase...not even shoes will bring...brilliant post!

Hermione said...

Oh, I love it., And feel the frustration. I just came from fingering on a new book that i REALLY want, and it was way too expensive. I'm heading to the library later to see if they have it, if they don't, I will just have to realize that it's good to have money.

Bree said...

just like my boyfriend and i..we love our books.

olivia rae said...

well-said. books are magical!

Au Lapin Blanc said...

Books are a lifetime investment in my opinion. If anything we need them for medical reasons

Morgan said...

AMEN. I have the same issues. I love buying books... but when I get home I have a twinge of regret. I try to only buy used which makes me feel a bit better.
And the kindle... it's a sexy idea but I would definitely miss the whole 'flip the page, hold a hardcover in your hands thing.'

Brittan said...

So nice to see so many book lovers! I'm the girl who, when researching for a paper, will find a journal article online but go into the library, pull out the big huge journal and read it there. I will sit in Barnes and Noble and read an entire book if I can't afford to buy it (which I never can). In Dallas there is the Half Price Books warehouse, where you can get wonderful used books for $1! I haven't found anything comparable in New York yet, and I can't wait to go home for Christmas and buy books! It's refreshing to see so many book lovers here, especially when many of my fellow grad students are all about the kindle. Blah.

Emily said...

Amen, Meg! I am a proud member of the holy church of book owning! It is a religion unto itself! I would be nothing without my books! They come with me wherever I go!

Valerie said...

truth!
i lived in libraries as a girl, walking out with books stacked up to my chin, but i want my OWN books now. + i have no dollars. le sigh.
also, i adore your comment about valuing words & not being able to use them when it matters most. OH deeeer, i can count on my fingers the times i have not failed at this. hahaha.
we so very much need to have a flirt night soon. my friend & i went to the jane hotel recently & it was swanky & lovely. you might love it. or we can go somewhere cheap & harrass the chaps there. miss you! xo

Sara said...

I know several people that own one, but the Kindle can suck it.

I have only been doing academic reading lately, and my soul is thirsty for a book I may read for pleasure.

The second I get back to my hometown, I'm going straight to Borders and spending half of Sallie Mae's money.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

(Just re-posting to fix my typos!)

I always felt the same way. I love to read and would buy a ton of books, even when I still had a lot I hadn't read yet. My books were like trophies... after I read one, it would go up on my shelf to remind me of the stories I've been a part of. I couldn't imagine not holding a book in my hands.

But then I got the Sony Ebook Reader Pocket Edition. It arrived yesterday and I ADORE it. Not only will it save space in my house, but it will save me a ton of money. And while I'm not always on top of being "green," I love the idea of saving trees and avoiding paper.

To me, words are words. As long as a story is conveyed, I'll be interested in reading it, regardless of the media. Books, after all, are about the stories the authors want to tell. It's not the picture on the cover, or the binding. There were so many times throughout history when books were banned, yet the stories lived on... through the spoken word, or simply scribbles on scraps.

I love reading. I adore reading. A lot. All I'm asking is for everyone to go back to the true meaning and tradition of books... the stories themselves. Be open-minded about the different medias in which books are available, and the different ways in which stories can be read, stored and shared.

I'm not saying everyone should run out and buy an Ereader! All I'm saying is that you shouldn't need to feel guilty over books. If you can't afford them, there are libraries or things like Ebooks and Ebook readers where tons of books are available for free. I personally don't like library books (it's my own OCD of touching books that I don't know what other people have done with!) so this was the best route for me.

Happy reading!

Meg Fee said...

well said melissa. as long as people are reading, that's what's important. as long as people are absorbing the stories. how we choose to read them, well that comes down to taste. thanks for the reminder!

Ruth said...

Agreed! I hate getting books out of the library or borrowing from a friend--it's just not as good. I, too, am trained from four years as an English major to jot notes and underline and dog-ear . . . so don't feel guilty! I like to think of them as not just a purchase, but an investment....

The Rookie said...

I simply love this post. There is something about the feel of a book in my hands that grounds me as the rest of my soul gets caught in the downpour of prose.

Melissa said...

Meg - I just finished reading Guernsey in three days and I absolutely adored it! It was the best book I've read in a long time, and I really couldn't put it down. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

courtney said...

mmmm, books. i have a problem because i don't feel guilty buying another book even when i should be spending money on rent or food...

*donna* said...

PLEASE don't feel guilty! books bring joy and happiness and that should be enough justification.
i have just bought the fiance 4 books as part of his xmas pressie and know he'll treasure these far more than anything else i could buy him :0)

iheartkiwi said...

amen sister. i am strongly against the kindle craze... nothing like hopping in bed with a good dog-eared copy of your favorite book.

J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
saltbox girl said...

This is beautifully said. I hear you, and I applaud you. Your blog is just lovely. Every time I visit it is fresh air. Thank you.

Hanako66 said...

books are actually one of the few things that i do not feel guilty about purchasing!

communikate. said...

Yep. Just had an hour long discussion with family members why i don't want a kindle. i love books. i love the smell. the turning of page. and i love the way the sit on my shelf.

:)

Marisa said...

this is so TRUE.
i have been colleting books for years and can't wait to have my bookshelves built... hopefully spring. For now they pile on my floors and in my closet. a shame, but my house would not be the same without the warmth they provide and i write in, highlight and dog ear my pages too. FUNNY considering i was taught never to do those things as "it damages the book"... i think not.

Single Girl said...

I feel the same way.

I might be moving to a remote area.

In a country where there are not US books.

and Amazon/BN don't ship.

I may be defecting, to save my sanity for a year.

mama bliss said...

girl i buy books more often
than i buy groceries.

Well Nice Chels said...

Thank you. I believe in books too. Makes my day to find someone else who does too.

Di =) said...

I can totally relate. This is why I almost went berserk when my mother suggested we give away the books we've already read.