Musings on my Bookshelf, Book Ownership, and Reviews

I have a sad confession to make: I don’t buy many books.

I know. It’s terrible. I write, and I hope someday to sell books to other readers, but I don’t buy much.

I’m that person. You know the one. I’m the reader who “shops” the library, who reads in the bookstore when the library doesn’t have what I want, who downloads free e-books from Amazon. I do what I can to not buy books.

I don’t have a lot of money, and I have a toddler so space is at a premium on my shelves (plastic toys and the picture books his grandmother gives him monthly take up a lot of space). I have reasons to be “frugal” and “minimalistic” and all those descriptions people use to make themselves feel better about doing something that is not quite in line with the kind of person they purport themselves to be, but my reasons can certainly be construed to be excuses.

The biggest and best of all is simply that I don’t want to buy something that I will never read again. I don’t like owning yet another thing that I don’t use (after the once) and don’t need, and which will take up physical and psychological space until I can convince myself to donate it. (I have actually found myself more likely to buy a book if it is something that my sister will read, since then I can gift it to her, but sadly she doesn’t read much or widely.)

And, frankly, I have a box full of free books and two shelves full of purchased books that I have not read “yet” which embarrass me just to look at. So I only occasionally purchase “reference” books on writing, and sometimes purchase novels and other fun reading if I feel I will re-read them sometime before I die.

I’ve actually been reading a lot lately. Or at least, I’ve been reading a lot for me. (I know people who read much more than I do on a regular basis.) I’ve been mostly reading books I’ve gotten free from Amazon, because I read them on my phone (no costly e-reader for me!) and my phone is always with me. But I’ve also been re-reading a few books.

The first re-read was Pride and Prejudice. I only first read this book a few years ago, when I became slightly obsessed with the movies and miniseries, and then recently when I re-watched the 2005 movie I felt the need to watch several other versions and then re-read the book to see which version was the most accurate to the novel. In other words, I geeked out big time.

The second re-read was The Host, which I’m sorry to admit I got from the library both times. I was inspired to re-read it after seeing the movie and then discussing it with a friend who had not yet read the book. (I think I enjoyed the movie mostly because it reminded me of the book, rather than because it was particularly good in itself.) After trying to describe to her the differences, and pointing out that all of my favorite parts of the book were left out of the movie, I had to re-read the book. And I think I will have to buy it at some point because I expect I will want to re-read it again sometime.

Currently, after watching the movie again on TV, I have been “forced” to re-read Eat, Pray, Love. The TV version of the movie left out my favorite scene, so I was left wanting and decided I should read the book again. I’m enjoying it again, and I’m hungry (we’re still in Italy).

I have other books that are on my shelf or in my Kindle App because I know I’ll want to read them again, or because I hope my son will discover them sometime. The Harry Potter books fit both bills. I buy them because I know, even before I read them, that I will want to re-read them and enjoy them again.

Now, though, I have also started purchasing the follow up novels in series I began reading with a free (read teaser) novel. And I’m happy to support other writers.

A few weeks ago, I even felt the need to write a review of a series I discovered through a free novel.

I know that I am not the best reviewer, I am not the deepest reader, I am not an “armchair” expert. Still, I wonder if I should start reviewing books that I read for free. It would be a way to give back to the writers, especially to those who are self-published, and it would be a way to support my appreciation for writing as a skill and an art.

What do you think? I know there aren’t many of you reading me, and I appreciate every one of you. If you are here, I believe it is in part because you like the sound of my voice almost as much as I do [;-)]. Do you think I would have something valuable to say as a reviewer? Would you be interested in my reviews? Do you think I should just shut up now?

Let me know in the comments. Or you could just stop by and say hello.

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6 thoughts on “Musings on my Bookshelf, Book Ownership, and Reviews

  1. I quite enjoy this blog because of your honest writing style and I think you would be really good at reviewing. As a side note, have you heard of librarything.com and their early reviewer program. You can sign up to receive early copies of books or e-books (that you choose) and then review them on the website. Some of the books are pretty good and a lot are from really small publishers. (And I know that sounded like a spam post for the website but I swear I am a real person not a robot! It just seems like something up your alley.)

    • Thanks, Caitie. I do think I’ve heard of Library Thing, and I am considering signing on with a reviewing site so I can give attention to writers who are seeking publicity.

  2. I think reviewing books is always a great idea, especially where new writers with a small readership are concerned. I would like to follow more bloggers who write reviews and would consider writing some myself in the future.

    Until now I’ve mostly read reviews of books on goodreads.com, but I don’t always find them incredibly useful. Most books will have reviews giving them one star through five, with each review being personal, only stating an opinion and often comparing the book to others the reviewer has read, instead of focusing on the style of writing, content and who it may be of interest to. In short, I need more unbiased reviewers!

    I wouldn’t feel bad about not spending much on books if I were you, especially when you want to pass these books on to others to read. I would imagine budding writers would be happy to know that perhaps one person got a free copy of a book, passed it on to perhaps two more people who may in turn pass it on to more, or spread the word about it and so on. As long as you’re keeping the joy of reading alive, and supporting your fellow writers, all is well!

    • Thanks for your comment, Paul. I have noticed that many reviews just rehash the book’s description. They don’t provide any new information, just some opinion. If I review I’ll try to consider what kind of review would have been helpful to me as a potential reader.

  3. I think you have as much to say as anyone. Many reviewers receive books for free from the publisher. You are at least seeking out books you like and reviewing them without being asked. So I say, “Go for it!”

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