Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Follow the Reader: Why I DIDN'T Buy These Books

    My recent Follow the Reader post details why I bought the last twenty books in my collection. I created this blog for my students, and much to my delight and surprise--it was shock, really--a number of them actually read said Follow the Reader post. (Thanks for reading, students! You know, everything I do, I do it for you . . . )

    Of course, that post inspired a lot of follow-up questions:

    Are there any books you DON'T buy? 
    Yes, thankyouverymuch.

    How many books do you actually own? 
    Next question, please. 
    First, I'm not what you would call a numbers person. And second, my husband reads this blog. Sure, he can see the books lying all around our house. But to actually match a number with the collection? That might lead to calculations about how much I've spent, and, well, let's just not go there.
    How can you afford to buy all those books? 
    Why don't you buy them used,
    or borrow them from the library?  
    Just like everyone else, I put my money where my priorities are. I cut my own hair, brew my own coffee, and wear ten-year-old shoes to work so I can buy lots of books, and travel to cool new places. I value books and writers, so I do what I can to support them, which means buying their merchandise and spreading the word about great books.

    Do you do anything other than read all day?
    Yes. But only because the laundry won't wash itself.

    What followed was an interesting discussion about the books we choose not to buy. We talked about this in class, and then I spent some time thinking about it since, so I thought it would be interesting to detail the last few books I didn't purchase. Here goes.

    Catching Fire & Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    Read in December 2011
    I was first introduced to these books in September 2010, when I read Katie Roiphe's Book Review of Mockingjay in my Sunday paper.
    I chose not to buy these books because my sister owned them on her Kindle, and lent them to me. She did this before I read The Hunger Games, so I had no idea how much I would love these books when I chose not to buy them. I figured I would buy The Hunger Games, but I didn't want to go for the entire trilogy in case I didn't love it. Then, after I read The Hunger Games I was too obsessed to stop reading long enough to run out and buy copies of the books for myself, so I just read them on my Kindle. Once I finished, I decided that I don't need to own the books until I decide to reread them, which may very well happen before the movie comes out in March. However, until then, I'm not going to buy them.

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    Read in October 2011
    I was first introduced to this book by a student at my college who participates in the NaNoWriMo write-ins I host every year.
    I chose not to buy this book because my student loaned me his copy to read. I really liked this book, and have since recommended it to many other people. However, after I finished reading my student's copy, I didn't feel I needed to buy a copy for my own library. I don't think my reading students would choose to read this book, so I wouldn't add it to my office library. I'm also not sure I'll reread this book any time soon, so I didn't feel the need to buy it for my home library.

    The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
    Read in August 2011
    I was first introduced to this book by a member of The Badass Book Club.
    I chose not to buy this book because I really wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it, so I borrowed my mom's Kindle copy. It turned out that I liked the book and gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. However, after reading it on loan I knew I wouldn't wish I had my own copy, so I didn't buy it. There have been times that I've read a book on loan first, and then bought it after I finished. (I did this with the first Sookie Stackhouse book, as well as with the entire Harry Potter series.)

    I didn't pass up the opportunity to buy these books because I didn't enjoy them, or that I don't want to support great writers. Quite the contrary. These were all good books. In fact, I love the Hunger Games trilogy, and I think American Gods is something of a masterpiece. It's just that sometimes, once I borrow a book and read the entire thing, I just don't feel the desire to own it. I've realized that typically, I will only buy a book after reading it if:

    It's the first in a series and I know I'll want to own the entire thing
    I think I'll want to reread it
    It's something I'll want to give to friends or students to borrow
    It is so beautiful I want to look at it, even if I won't reread it anytime soon

    But, why do I choose to borrow certain books and to buy others in the first place? This is the more difficult question. My best answer is:

    Sometimes, the book is so easy to borrow 
    I just don't need to go out and buy it for myself. 

    Sometimes, I'm reading the book for some reason other than a real desire to read it, 
    which often happens with Badass Book Club books. 

    And sometimes, I'm just feeling cheap, 
    and I don't want to spend my money on a new book.

    It seems that mood and accessibility have a lot of influence over my decision to purchase, or not. Beyond that, I do have some buying quirks of which I am fully aware, for which I will not apologize, and all of which I am willing to admit:

    I will not buy a giant hardcover book. 
    In fact, I avoid hardcovers whenever possible. I just plain prefer paperbacks.

    I will not buy a very heavy paperback. 
    If it's going to cut off the circulation in my forearms when I read in bed, I'm not buying it.

    I will not buy a book with pages so thin and fragile 
    they're likely to tear with regular use.

    I will not buy a book with an ugly cover. (To my eye, of course.)

    I will not buy a book with a cover that 
    gives me the heebie jeebies whenever I touch it.  
    This one is difficult to explain, but some covers feel like very soft rubber, 
    and they just give me the creeps. *shudder*

    I will not buy a book if I can't respect the author, for whatever reason.  
    I will, however, borrow the book, read it, and give it a fair review. If I'm unable to give it a fair review, I'll stay mum.

    I will not buy a book if it is priced significantly higher than comparable books.

    This one is totally weird, 
    but if the author's first name is a version of my named spelled differently, 
    and her name is written in huge letters on the cover, I won't buy it. 
    I can't stand seeing my name spelled wrong. It's Lori. L-O-R-I.
    I told you it was weird. 

    There you have it. I guess it all boils down to the fact that there is often no rhyme or reason behind my buying habits. Helpful, right? 

    What about you? What makes you pass on a book, especially one that you plan to read? Please tell me I'm not the only one with embarrassing quirks when it comes to book buying!


    Liz Davis said...

    Hi Lori. I enjoyed reading your answers to the questions. Like you, I also don't buy hardcovers because of how heavy they are. This is a nice blog. Consider me a follower. Liz

    Lori Oster said...

    Hi, Liz. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind words.

    I hate to be so anti-hardcover, and sometimes I really cannot wait for the paperback so I buy them, anyway. But those books are too darn heavy!

    You have a gorgeous new book out, yourself. Very exciting!

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