Every time we move (which has been more often than expected in our 8 years of marriage), I get stuck packing the books. Ryan has to lift them, but I have to pack them.
Every time we move and I pack the books into dozens of heavy boxes, I wonder if the minimalists aren’t on to something.
But then every time we move and I un-pack the books, I recall warm memories and angry reactions I had reading each of them. I delight in filling our shelves with all the feelings, stories, and knowledge we’ve accumulated. I decorate every room with boos and feel grounded by their place in our family.
That is why we aren’t minimalists.
We probably should be though; we have way too many books. They’re everywhere — all over the place in rows and stacks, organized by subject, author and intention to read. Falling stacks of books are a real threat and a great catastrophe. We’ve been in a tiny temporary FEMA trailer while we re-build our house. In our room alone, we have over three shelves of books. That does not include the crate of homeschool books, basket of library books or box of children’s books. I don’t even want to know what Ryan has riding around with him in the car.
On the one hand, you could praise our devotion to reading, to continue even in the face of adversity. On the other hand, you could judge us for our lack of self-control and ability to just stop buying books.
I get it.
This all begs the question: where do all the books come from?!
Glad you asked.
We have a few favorite haunts for finding books.
The first is the library. It seems counter intuitive because we own so many books, but we check-out a fair amount of what we read. We just read a lot. We like to use the library like trying on clothes before buying. Check out a book, read a few chapters and feel it out to decide if it’s worth spending money on. More often than not though, we check out a book, read it and decide “that was good, but I’ll never read it again” and thus carry on our merry way saving our book buying money. In the last few years, I’ve also embraced the audiobook. I have yet to spend money on one because I check them out for free from the library. They just take up virtual space.
When the book justifies it’s purchase, we prefer the cheapest available copy (with notable exceptions). We have brick and mortar as well as online options.
Cottonwood Books. This local favorite has been around over 30 years. The current owner has invested in a diverse collection of new, used and rare books. It is exactly what you think of when you imagine getting lost in a dusty used book shop. That smell! Stacks to the ceiling and covering all but what is necessary of the floor. It is one of the happiest places on earth to just get lost for a while. Each purchase comes with a bookmark.
Amazon. It’s not original but Amazon.com is good at what it does. Especially since we have a Prime account and don’t have to pay shipping, it’s a great go-to to find cheaper copies of new books.
Better World Books. I can’t remember now how I came across this site but I’ve been ordering from them for years. At first I liked that each purchase went to help literacy funds. As the years have gone on, I’ve found so much more to appreciate. In so many ways, Better World Books is trying to help make, well, a better world. In addition to literacy fund raising and programs, they make great strides to keep books from landfills. They sell books discarded from libraries which is a great service; their national reach makes a large impact. Just because the people walking in and out of a local library branch don’t have any interest in the Southeast United States Farmer’s Almanac 1986-1987, doesn’t mean no one does. Better World Books helps match up obscure books with obscure people and keep both out of the trash. If all of that isn’t enough to entice you to check out their website, BWB also offers free shipping and monthly sales. So yeah, we get a lot of books from them.
Where do you like to get books from? Do you spend a lot of time in your library or lost in used book stores?