Thursday, January 5, 2012

4 Are you for owning books or getting a copy from the library?

I love reading but more than that I mostly fall in love with that exact book that I am reading - not only the content but the book itself. Intuitively, if it reaches out to me, I start taking care of it.

I like my books to be spotless, uncluttered (even study books), and I (hardly) like to share. Carrying one of them in my bag and having one at my work is essential. Crumpling is absolutely a no-no for the pages. To ensure this, they are usually covered by a bond sheet - either white, pink, or double-layered newspaper. And on top and the side goes the title. I enjoy this rather simple, school-child activity - trust the paper to shield my book from all form of calamities - coffee, dal, scratches and anyone who insists on reading it.

This was not how it was always.

Since time-immemorial, I have always been a member of some reading library. I have devoured volumes during the annual holidays, imagining and living the moments of those characters. Characters who ate huge bars of chocolate, went for picnics packed with sandwiches and intertwined in mysteries. This graduated to intertwined in mystery and romance. Those days, the idea of sharing seemed more feasible - you can say owning so many books was not practical. But as I moved ahead, so did the maturity of those books - and they start relating to you like a dear friend or an advisor. It translated to me being obsessive and protective.

But there are some dilemmas.

As I keep buying books, the space in my cupboard diminishes. I even dream of having a separate library at home. The library's mind-picture is borrowed from a lot of these very books - Wooden rows extending to the ceiling lit by yellow, favorite books claiming their places, a dark-brown wooden table right in the middle with 4 chairs and a nice warm yellow light aiding the reading. Lets stop this imagination for a moment - I live with 5 other people, in 3 bedrooms, scouting for place.

Next comes the question of wasting money. A perpetual membership at the local library comes at Rs 800 and I am already a member. It has loads of books but for some of them you might need to wait for a while. Apart from that, I have access to the office library and current trend are the online libraries that deliver at your doorstop. I have abundant options. But the thought rebounds to my personification of the paper array in my hands. Buying second hand books is like adopting but getting an original copy for 30-40% of the price is a bonanza - one of the reasons that I like those markets in Delhi

Stumbling on the another quandary - what about the paper wastage? I advocate 'no-printouts', e-bills and electronic payments. Are they even comparable? Sometimes I dont go back to certain editions for months. But its the sense of comfort that their words remain close by. 

They are an obsession but worthy of being one.


  1. Ya a worthy obsession. I love books too. I prefer owning them. one of my fav memories in my native place was reading my uncle's books. I would love that my mother's grandchildren have the same pleasure

  2. @Rahmath
    That is a nice way of looking at it -- leaving them for generations to come. But as of now they are all mine:)

  3. Beautiful! You write very well, Sam! Keep the passion alive :-)

    1. Thanks Giribala.. love your dig at common things too:)


Visit to discover Indian blogs