22 September 2009

Want Or Need?

I am a library addict. Unequivocally. I borrow the majority of my books from my local library (who I *heart* BTW); those books I love beyond compare I then purchase. (A good example of this would be Sarah Monette's The Doctrine of Labyrinths, which I hunted down in hardback [because after all, the books have to be the same size, right?] earlier this year.) These books are my 'keepers'. I've always been that way - a borrower, not a buyer. I'm not sure why...maybe because the majority of my family, not being readers themselves, couldn't understand my need to read (because that's what it feels like...a need, not a want). And the one family member who did read a lot didn't understand the need to buy a book...because (so he said) he only ever read a book once.

Hmmm... I was going to ask if you were a borrower or a buyer...and whether the current economic situation has changed your habits (and I still am interested *grin*), but...I'm curious...is reading a want or a need for you? Umm, for example, if you were told that you could never read another book again could you accept that? And I'm talking about reading for pleasure, not reading for work. It's just that I was lying in bed on Sunday night reading the following paragraph from HaveMercy and it suddenly struck me how...perfectly content the action of reading made me.

On the whole I felt as if my mind had been oddly separated from my emotions; I was speaking, certainly, but at the same time not entirely sure I was in control of the words I spoke.

Because, when I read I'm not in my room, I'm in the book...elsewhere... And that made me realise how miraculous books really are. We can go anywhere, be anyone, within a story.

So, what does reading mean to you? Is it a want or a need? And could you give it up? I know I wouldn't...and that it would break my heart if I had too.


  1. Great post, Orannia! For the first question, I am actually a book buyer, although currently I can't really afford to buy books. I love libraries and getting books from the library, but I love getting a box of books from Amazon.com and knowing they can grace my shelves forever more. ^_^ If I had a lot of money, I would probably blow it all on books.

    As for whether reading is a want or a need--it's a need, obviously! :D I can deal without having a car, a TV, or a computer, but being without books...? I would be driven to suicide.

  2. Great questions! I do get a lot of books from the library - mostly the hardcovers and trade paperback since they are so much more than the mass market paperbacks.

    Reading is definitely a need. I can't imagine not being able to read. In RL I live in the US and have been to Mexico. In books I've been all over the world and to different worlds I could never go to in RL.

  3. Thank you heidenkind! I think I'd buy books if I could afford it. I still love browsing though...I can spend hours in a bookstore...or a library :) And I agree, life wouldn't really be worth living without books.

    Thank you Leslie :) I buy next to no hardbacks (except for Sarah Monette's The Doctrine of Labyrinths), but I borrow quite a few from the library - it's the only way to read the book so soon after publication :) I love how many places we can visit in books...and how many things we can do. Currently I'm riding a metal dragon when I read :)

  4. It's a need--both the escape into the world of the book and the physical act of reading.

    I am the one person who reads every plaque in a museum or gallery, the one who actually read the signs posted on the walls at doctors' waiting rooms, the one who can't toss junk mail without opening it and reading it.

    I could give *that* part up--I have done so at times, after all. But not being able to read a novel for pleasure, ever again? Heads would roll.

  5. It's a need--both the escape into the world of the book and the physical act of reading.

    That's a beautiful way of putting it azteclady! And while I don't read junk mail I do get rather obsessed with reading every word in a sentence...but I think that's OCD :)

    And I always joke with my family and tell them one day I'm going to buy a t-shirt stating 'I read so I don't kill people'. And when they laugh nervously I look at them and tell them I wasn't joking :)

  6. I'm compulsive about reading. It drives my sister crazy, because I'll be riding in the car with her and I'm literally reading everything as we drive by :)

    It's a huge need for me. I've always been a buyer, but especially now with reading ebooks almost exclusively, I'm not in the library as much. I'm also fairly impatient, so I can't really wait until the library has the book,; I need it now :|

    In my defense though, in the last few months, I've noticed I'm more picky about my purchases. I've also allowed myself to drop a series or discontinue an author; which has helped me only buy stuff that I truly want and will re-read. Especially after reading how Orannia operates (Thanks! and makes complete sense to me now), I've been less impulsive about my buying.

    I've never gone anywhere without my books. The thing that I love most about my ereader is that I always have my books with me and I'm not killing my shoulder while doing so.

  7. Although I love libraries, I'm a buyer too. I only buy the God of Satire, Terry Pratchett, in hard cover, everything else I get in trade or mass paperback from various places like book stories, discount stores, second hand stores, swap with friends, etc, etc.

    I need to read. It's pretty much as simple as that.

    If for some reason I lost my eyesight today, the first thing I would be doing tomorrow is learning braille and downloading audio books. To not read is not an option in my life.

  8. Book stories?? Talk about a Freudian slip. ;)

  9. I'm a borrower when it's available at the library. There are a few authors I will buy, though. (I will definitely be adding the new Hathaways novel to my "Kleypas collection.")
    My library usage is mostly due to economics, but also in part due to space issues. We don't have enough shelves (or space for shelves) so I try to be really selective with the books that end up on my keeper shelves. I was just thinking about this earlier today, and I KNOW I'd be a lot more acquisitive if I had both the finances and the space. However, the reality is that I almost always check the library first, then will go to the bookstore.
    Audiobooks have complicated this for me, though, since some books that I have in audio format are also ones I'd like in print.
    Umm. . . after all this, I guess you can guess my answer to your other question: NEED. :-P

  10. I'm definitely a buyer. I'll usually borrow a book from the library if it's a hardback and I'm on the fence about buying it. The thought of not being able to read again is depressing :( It's a need for me.

  11. Mariana - when I edited for a living I used to edit everything I saw! *shudders* It didn't make reading fun. So I understand the compulsion part :) And yes, it is hard to wait until a library has a book. I'm lucky - my library pre-orders various books (and puts them on the catalogue) and they usually appear rather quickly after release...sometimes more quickly than the bookstores. Although, considering said books have a way to travel that isn't surprising :)

    As for eBooks *SIGH* I have a few, but reading on my computer isn't fun and IIRC the only eBook Readers available here are the iTouch and Palm Pilot. No Sony or Kindle, and when I asked Sony they said it had to do with licensing issues FOR THE BOOKS! Heaven forbid that we used the eReader for non-Sony books! Am going to ring them.

    To not read is not an option in my life.

    Kris - they said it all :) And I completely agree!

    Renee - finances and space make it hard, don't they? Currently, all my books are in boxes (and hopefully OK). I can't wait to have my own library...I just hope I have room :) And yes, finances. Although...I guess I've just been raised too frugal. I just couldn't buy a book without knowing I really wanted to re-read it...that's usually my test :) And I must get around to trying an audio book!

    Katie - the library is great for those on the fence books, isn't it? Or a new author/genre that someone has recommended or you aren't that sure about.

  12. Before I read mainstream, adult romance and fantasy, I was a YA reader and used to borrow from the library for half and buy the other half. Then when I started reading adult romance I became an exclusive buyer. But lately... I've been checking out my local libraries for a lot of the books I'm interested in. This decision is partly monetarily driven and partly driven by what in the world I will do with all the paperbacks I've bought and read and will most likely never re-read again?

  13. Christine - that's the great thing about borrowing from the library IMO - the books I've read that I will never read again are returned (well...all my library books are returned :) and the ones I know I will re-read (the 'keepers') I buy. Definitely cheaper. I'm lucky though...I've always always borrowed books ...and my library is fantastic :)

  14. Reading is a definite need. It's a fundamental part of who I am. I couldn't imagine giving it up. I think the longest I've gone without reading a book since I learned to read is two weeks.

  15. I probably on the buyer list. I try to buy used for authors or series that I don't care much about. I'll check out hardbacks in the library except for Anne Bishop, which I can wait for, otherwise I don't buy because I can't justify the price for them.

    I think I would cry a whole lot and become very very depressed if I couldn't read anymore. Then promptly go to the audiobooks. Does that count as "reading"? If so I am so screwed. I suppose I could start vegetating again with the TV.