I’m Over Owning Books: on the buying and keeping of books


When I first started blogging, I wanted to buy all the books. Every single one that sounded interesting. I’d go into a store and pick a few that I’d heard of, or that had a cool cover or synopsis. Later on I decided to become careful with what books I bought. To only buy books I basically KNEW I’d like or that I had already read and loved.

Now, I’m kind of over buying new books at all.

This year I decided I wasn’t buying books anymore. I’m going to college, I need to save money, I don’t have the space. I choose a few clear exceptions: book events I was already planning to go to, and books from my favorite author. (I reread Brandon Sanderson books so much that it just makes SENSE to own them)

In general, I don’t like to own stuff that isn’t useful. It’s not I-can-only-own-20-items-of-clothing minimalism. It’s that I don’t need that knickknack or that souvenir or that free thing. I’m fine with owning clothes, because they’re pretty necessary and I like to look good. I own a computer, because I need it for basically everything I do. I own cameras, because they allow me to capture the world around me. I’ve long said I own books because they contain stories I read and because they teach me things and because I love them.

I don’t know if I totally feel that way now. As intoxicating and beautiful pictures and huge full bookshelves are I don’t need a library in my house. I already HAVE a local library. I’ve said before that I only want to keep books I enjoyed. Before I meant the 4 and 5 star books. Now I mean the books I loved and that mean something to me. The will-definitely-read-again books.

That doesn’t mean I’m about to get rid of my whole book collection. Or that I’m never gonna be tempted to buy a brand new shiny hardcover ever again. Frankly, that would be drastic, and I need them for bookstagram. Plus, I want to support bookstores and publishers and authors, and most of what I own right now are favorites.

Much of the book community is wrapped up in book buying, however, there are ways to fully participate without purchasing. Don’t pick up all the new releases from the bookstore but from the library. You can go to book events and not feel the need to aquire every single book there. Even if I don’t buy every book myself I can use my platform to recommend books I liked to those who ARE buying books.

Because in the end the important thing is not owning the books, but loving the books.

What do you think? Do you love buying and owning books? Do you enjoying checking out books from the library? I’d love to hear your opinions + thoughts.

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  1. I only buy books that I have already read and know I will reread enough to make it worth it. (I love Sanderson too.) I only own physical copies of my absolute favorites.

  2. I totally get what you’re saying! I was never one to buy books just because, I usually buy those I’m 100% I’ll love whether the genre is my thing or I love the author.

    Of course sometimes I give in to hype or a pretty cover, but I try to keep those impulses to a minimum.

    Great discussion!

  3. to be honest, i like to own books, even if i don’t like them, because it means to me that part of me, whether a small or a big part of me, lives in that book, that’s why it’s hard for me to give a part of me in a book then return it to someone.
    i LOVED this post!! ❤️

  4. I’m totally with you. Though there aren’t any good libraries where I’m from, I always ask around to see if someone has a copy I could borrow. My shelf is full of books I bought on a whim and I am desperate to get rid of them.

    Right now, I’m only buying books that I’ve wanted for years, even when the hype has died down.

  5. Yes! I absolutely agree with this, especially now that I’m heading to college. I thought I was organized before, but I’ve been methodically cleaning my room all summer and realizing how much clutter I actually have. I’ve been asking myself “Do I use this?” and “Does this have some kind of emotional significance?” and if the answer is no to both, I’m getting rid of it.

    I’m doing the same for books; I’m clearing out the ones that I don’t LOVE and/or that I don’t plan on re-reading. I’ve always been MUCH more of a library-user than a book buyer – just because I didn’t have a job for most of my life, and now that I do, I have to save my income for other things – so it’s not too hard. And recommending books to others is a great way to support authors without buying their books yourself. 🙂

    1. I’ve always been a huge library user myself, I think the main thing that motivated my book buying of late is taking book pictures… But I guess I can always -try- to take cool pics of library books too!

  6. I definitely agree with you. As both a reader and a student, I’m always on a tight budget, so I always make sure to buy books I know or at least have a feeling that I’ll like it or I’d like to read it. If I buy a book simply because it is without even knowing if it’s for me, then I’ll probably regret it and consider it as wasting my money when I could have bought a better book. >.< Great post, Tamara!

    1. Yes not impulse buying books is truly key. I once bought a few books I’d only vaguely heard of and it was such a bad idea (I ended up hating two and only kind of liking one) so neveeer again I guess. Always got to be careful!

  7. I don’t know if you remember but a while back, I actually wrote a post similar to this on materialism (essentially, the same topic as this post). Pre blogging, I never imagined so many books could enter my life and even more, so many of them are for review. Sometimes it’s my fault since I request them but others are just sent to me and I feel really bad for not reading them. This leads to me feeling overwhelmed. More than ever, I wish I had time to read backlist books. Honestly, the majority of my books are very new titles and I’m kind of tired of it. I haven’t even read Magnus Chase yet! I actually hate buying books now, honestly. I don’t have the room to store them or the time to read them and it’s partly my fault.

    1. You know I think I do remember that post! I personally don’t feel so much bad for not reading but more than I just become surrounded with so much clutter and stuff… There’s just no space to store things. I’ve also found that I much prefer reading finished books to ARCs at this point, though the review copies I pick up at work are still great. I just have a lot of very mixed feelings.

  8. I buy books as long as there are books that I can donate, i.e. don’t really want to keep anymore. I rarely ever buy brand new books. I’m always at a Hastings or a Half-Priced Books finding all my books.

    The city I live in has a fantastic library, consisting of over 15 libraries in the metropolitan area. If the library 10 minutes away from me doesn’t have it, there’s a chance the one 20 minutes away from me does, so it’s easy for me to check out a book from the library. I’ve read more books from the library than all the unread books sitting in my bookshelves right now. And it motivates me to read library books because I know they have to go back soon and omg, what if I don’t finish it in time?! XD Must. Read. Faster. AND my local library always gets the latest books so instead of buying books I’ve never read just because they’re “popular” I can read them to decide if it’s actually something I want to buy.

    I don’t think I could ever get rid of my own personal library. Books and words and ink and paper are just in my blood now. I get satisfaction looking at my bookshelves because it’s an investment for me.

    Anyways, that was long-winded. ^_^’ I understand the part about saving $ for college because saving $ is always a priority, even after college because then there’s adulting and it’s a whole other monster.

    xo Nicole

    1. I have a really great library system too! There’s one right by my house and one right by where I work and I can order holds to any location in the network… I already use my library a TON but I can probably always use it more. I love my personal library but there are those few books that I own that I don’t really love but can’t seem to part with because they’re signed/pretty/whatever. It’s a problem but I’m working on it…

  9. I love this. I actually don’t buy books because where I live we don’t get them or they are extremely expensive, so I rely on ebooks. That has taught me to actually get books that I will read or that I will want to keep because, if not, it’s a waste of money/space. If I were to live somewhere else, I would only get physical copies of a few books and specifically of poetry collections, because I tend to reread those a lot. Great post 😉

    1. Oh yes ebooks! I rarely buy ebooks because I love to take pictures of books and because most ebooks I read I get for free (whether review or from the library) but ebooks are definitely a different situation since they don’t take up space. I definitely agree on only getting physical books you love/will reread.

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