The Sunday Salon: The Problem with Buying Books

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The Sunday 
Salon.com

I distinctly remember complaining a few months ago about how much trouble it was to select a book from the library. There's always some other book calling my name. And knowing very well that most of those books go unread, I would usually prefer not to take a truck load, only to come back again and guiltily return half of those unread.

Please Look After MomSince then, I kicked that worry out of my system. Lately, I've been having so much fun taking a random array of books home, and reading a book that I was in the mood for at a specific time. True, some, probably most, of those do not get read. But there's always a next time. Plus, I love the increased set of choices I have each time I'm looking for a read.

And now that I got that cured, what do you know, I'm having trouble buying a book. Uh-huh!

My Korean Deli The same scenario played out all over again. I actually headed to B&N yesterday only for some fun time browsing the aisles. It had been ages since I had been to a bookstore or actually bought a book, and I was hoping to simply check out what's hot, pick a book to read at the cafe while I sip some yummylicious coffee. But when I got there, I was eager to go back home, because all through my drive to the store, I kept thinking of the half-read book on my nightstand, which I suddenly had an urge to read. So, rather than browse at the store, I figured I might as well buy a book and go home. (The option of leaving empty-handed didn't really cross my mind.) Who knew I was going to have trouble with that! Seriously? You can have a problem buying a book??

The Imperfectionists Though, I should say that the booksellers at my local B&N are to blame. They had all their summer reading tables nicely laid out. About three-fourths of those books are in my wishlist. How does one even go about deciding what to read? And to make it worse, there were some new-to-me titles on display that I simply wanted to read right away. Every time I go to B&N, I spend a lot of time perusing their Discover Great New Writers shelf. I would already have read and loved most of those titles, which makes me warm up easily to the other titles on display. This time, they had Please Look After Mom and My Korean Deli put up - both of which I've been itching to read. I finally walked out of the store with The Imperfectionists, which has been on my TBR since last year, and mentally taking an anti-book ban promise - to buy books more frequently to avoid the kind of deadlock that I went through.

Does that ever happen to you?

29 comments:

Clare said...

lol I try and stay away from book stores - I'm like a kid in a candy store and don't know which book to pick up first, I just get seduced by all of those covers :)

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

When I go to B & N, I try to have a book from home in my bag, and head straight for the cafe for the coffee.  But occasionally, I do wander over to look at the books...and then hurry off.   It's not that I'm so good at NOT buying, but I usually prefer to order online these days.

Aren't reading, buying, not buying, etc., such delicious issues?

Here's

MY SUNDAY SALON POST

Misha said...

haha The problem with me is that I can't stop buying books and now I have 300+ unread books on my shelves ; still I can't stop. It's like an addiction. :(

Marce said...

You are to much Aths :-). There are truly to many books in life. Please look after Mom seems totally you. I had to smile when you wanted to go back home to your shelves of TBR.

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

Sometimes there are so many books I want I can't pick just one and then I end up spending way too much money.  Kudos to you for only buying one book.

Samantha 1020 said...

I love bringing a stack of books home from the library with me as well.  I'm a moody reader so this allows for me to have a variety of books to choose from.  When I'm at a bookstore I have more trouble because I don't want to buy a book that I won't end up loving, and there are SOO many on my wishlist....so I know exactly what you mean by a deadlock.  A lot of times  I buy books that I have already read and want a copy for myself to keep or books that are part of series that I already love. 

Athira / Aths said...

You've described it best! That's just how I feel when I enter a bookstore. For added effect, my eyes even start bulging!

Athira / Aths said...

They are some issues, right? If I just had to walk along the aisles I wouldn't have any trouble. It's deciding that I wanted to buy one book that makes it very hard.

Athira / Aths said...

The only thing that's keeping me from buying a lot of books is the fact that my bookshelf is full and I am too lazy to buy another one. But right now, half the books are lying around on my couch, my nightstand, stacked haphazardly on my bookshelfs, on my TV stand, my closets, so I'm feeling more pressured to buy a new shelf.

Athira / Aths said...

I know, right? These half-read books can't even give me a moment of peace, lol! There are just too many books - it would be nice to be able to read faster but that would also mean more reading ruts and eventually they just balance out, so no point.

hcmurdoch said...

You are so funny! I usually head to Chaucer's, my local indy bookstore with a list in hand (created from the blogs I read) so that I am focused on my book buying. Otherwise I am all over the place and can't focus on what I want. But, truth be told, I usually see something on the shelves that isn't on my list, too.

Athira / Aths said...

The last time I went book buying, I bought 4-5 books, all of which are still unread. I guess that's part of the reason I decided that one book was more than enough for now. And I'm sure it's going to stay unread for a while too, lol!

Athira / Aths said...

That's exactly my problem - I don't want to buy a book that I don't think I will enjoy. It's very hard. I think I've gotten better with making that decision, but there is still that nagging scaredy-cat thing in my head. I realized that because I rarely buy books, that feeling only gets worse. So I should buy more books, right? My wallet's going to be complaining about that soon.

Athira / Aths said...

I should begin keeping a list now. I prefer buying a book that I can't get at the library, but since I don't keep to-buy lists, there are overlaps. Besides a list just might help me decide better about which to buy.

Bailey - Window Seat Reader said...

Funny post!  I know what you mean about having a difficult time deciding between all the fabulous looking choices.  I'm a cheapskate trying to pay for grad school, so I usually don't buy books unless they are awesome and I treasure them / know I'll read them again (To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Help, etc).  But I can relate to the struggles you've experienced in the past at the library :)

Athira / Aths said...

I find that when I know of a book I want to buy, I probably head to the ebookstore, but I still love the book browsing at M&B stores.

Amy said...

Hehe yep I know the feeling! You want so many and it is impossible to decide on just one or two!

Athira / Aths said...

Exactly! Even telling myself that I can come another day and buy one doesn't work that well!

The Picky Girl said...

I love the library because I feel it's much less of a risk if it turns out I don't like the book. Limiting myself is difficult though.

As for book buying, yes! I have an Amazon gift card and just cannot make up my mind. Dangerous.

Lisa said...

The same thing happens to me! At least at the library you can take a pile of books and if they aren't good, oh well, you're not out anything. But at the bookstore, there are at least as many choices and you are unlikely to be buying a pile so you have the pressure of trying to decide which book will be absolutely the perfect book for right now. Because if I buy it, I feel I must read it right away; otherwise, why did I need to spend money on it right now?

Athira / Aths said...

I get what you are saying about the gift card! I have a couple here and I am paralyzed with indecision!

Athira / Aths said...

Exactly, Lisa! That's just the soup I keep getting in. Will I love this book? Will I want to hold on to it forever? Will I proudly display it on my shelf and hand it to my friends to read??

ashbrux said...

I think I have the opposite problem. I love buying books and I can't walk out of the store without one. I always find something I like, no matter what. I think I'd trade places with you though!

Juju@TalesofWhimsy.com said...

Yes definitely this happens to me allll the time. The only way I can avoid it, is to walk in to a bookstore with my wish list.

Athira / Aths said...

Haha! I should remember to do just that. I never went to a bookstore with a wishlist, but I can see that will help.

Athira / Aths said...

The problem is I find plenty of books that I like, it's just the terrible matter of choosing among them. I try not to buy more than 1 or 2, but it's so so hard!

Janette said...

I have that same addiction, do you think there is a cure!!!!
My excuse is that maybe I'll forget which books I want to read or even that it will go out of print before I get round to buying them if I wait to buy all of the others on my shelves, and things are made worse now I have an eReader.

Athira / Aths said...

Ha! I remember once picking a random book from a shelf and thinking, wait, I never had this book, where did this come from? And to think I was going to buy the same book.

Athira / Aths said...

Bummer!

Even though I was very excited about the book when I bought it, I haven't gone back to it. It seems to be on the back burner right now and maybe some other day, I'll pick it up.