Image by Marie Vonow
Today I spent time doing something I rarely do these days. I browsed in a bookshop and left with three books purchased with a book voucher. Why don't I go into bookshops regularly like I once did? What thoughts went through my mind as I looked at the books?
Why I don't go into bookshops regularly
When I was younger I often spent time browsing in bookshops, both those selling new books and ones that stocked second hand reading material. At garage sales my attention would be drawn to the boxes of discarded books and I would often leave with several.
I used to own lots of books, some of which I never read. It was important to me to have bookcases of novels and books about history, poetry, travel, cookery, craft and writing. I recall being excited when a friend gave me two or three boxes of books when she was moving house.
Then I got caught up in the decluttering philosophy and started parting with books I was never going to read. There were books I had enjoyed but couldn't imagine rereading so I gave them away. I then rarely bought additional books but made greater use of the library.
Memories of buying books
I recall often going into a secondhand book store as a child when Mum and I went to Adelaide. It was tucked away in a side street and I found it a very exciting place to go. Mum and I both loved books.
Dad valued books too and he regularly bought books about other countries. We had a bookcase that reached the ceiling in our lounge room. The glass doors kept dust off our precious books.
When I left high school and went to university I loved looking at new books in Adelaide's bookshops. I have always loved the smell
of a new book. I recall buying books on ancient history, geography, poetry and craft. I also collected a set of craft magazines through the local newsagents. In the end I only did a few of the many crafts featured in these magazines.
These days I borrow numerous books and other media from libraries. I usually patronise my local library but get a thrill from checking out libraries in other areas. I love having access to so much material for free. It is a bonus that I don't have to store and dust large numbers of books.
Things change so quickly these days that non fiction books can be out of date by the time they hit the shelves. We have changed the way we get our information with the internet playing a big part. I still love to hold
a book but I don't desire to own large numbers any more. (Just as well because my current house is quite small.)
What should I buy?
The bookshop contained a mixture of new and secondhand books and magazines. There were five rooms so there was quite a choice. I was limited for time as I wanted to catch a bus home. In a way it was good to have a time limit. As I don't regularly buy books it seemed important to use my voucher wisely and I could have spent all afternoon there and still
not have made a decision.
I looked at the poetry books but decided not to buy one. Then I browsed the humour section and almost
made a decision but changed my mind.
I spent a long time perusing books on writing and the correct use of language. Most of the books were secondhand so I was cautious as I didn't want to get something out of date. I pounced on a book about words that rhyme but when I looked through it I couldn't picture myself referring to it regularly when composing poetry. Then I found another book on the same topic which I decided to get.
I found a book on punctuation which I felt I would make good use of. Looking at my watch, I realised I needed to make a quick decision and get to the bus stop. A bargain priced new book about buying vintage appealed and I scooped it up and made my way to the counter.
Once I was on the bus I had time to take a better look at my purchases and was pleased with all three. I was excited to find the new book had been reduced by 50%.
I had time to reflect how books have been important to me all my life but now I borrow from the library rather than buy. Many things change very quickly now so this needs to be kept in mind when purchasing non fiction books. Like many people, these days I am more conscious of what I buy and keep in my house.
Many of my interests are the same as in decades gone past. Some are different, reflecting current trends. Many of the books I borrow from the library are about decluttering, mindfulness, looking after yourself, saving money and other topics which were not written about when I was young.
I really enjoyed my time in the bookshop and am pleased with the books I came away with. Now I just need to resist the temptation to return to buy more books when I have done a good job of decluttering over the past few years. Of course some people wouldn't think books can be clutter. It's tempting.