I have a used bookstore that I travel to every other week. I'm obsessed with this place. Like, my husband has me on a budget because I could quite possibly put us in debt if I had my way. The obsession started when I was in elementary school. Being an only child, you kind of have to learn to make your own fun. My parents were awesome, and always there for me - but that can't make up for having friends. Being painfully shy and inheriting my father's social phobic persona didn't help, either. So, my imagination had entirely too much free time. Once I started reading, I was hooked. Books helped my imagination go to places I never thought possible. I love fiction because you can create your own world when your world kind of sucks. Cancer runs in my family, and my childhood was full of memories of family members battling the disease. My mom was the only one with spare time (she was a housewife), so I was usually dragged along for care-taking when I wasn't in school. So, my childhood world kind of sucked. Don't get me wrong, I was a very spoiled and loved little girl - but, with helping my mom take care of sick relatives, I had to grow up a lot faster than most of my peers. It put a wall between us.
Reading was my best friend from then on out. When I wasn't doing schoolwork or helping my mom, I had my nose in a book. Those worlds were happy worlds and kept my mind away from my dying family members. Because of this, my reading speed grew rapidly. Now? I can read over a hundred pages in an hour. The typical novel of 350-400 pages takes me less than three hours to finish if it grabs my attention and keeps it. So, I go through a lot of books.
The used bookstore was like a miracle to me, especially when I got married. Having pets, a husband and a household to take care of, you learn that your money for yourself is no longer as much as it was when it was just you living with your parents and having pretty much no responsibility - except maybe rent, food, and a car payment. That changes drastically when you get married. So, I was finding that I could no longer go to regular bookstores and buy a bag full at a time, dropping as much as $100 for maybe a week's supply of books. The used bookstore allows me to get that bag full of books for maybe a little over $20. Heavenly.
I know that it's good to go to bookstores and pay full price for books to support authors. Believe me, I get that ... and I still do that. As a matter of fact, I typically tend to get slightly older books at the used bookstore - they're at least a year old. With the shelf life of a book in retail, I typically can only find new books that I want. I read a lot, but I don't read enough to keep up-to-date with every single title that is released. There are older books that I still haven't read, and most of the time I can't find those at B.A.M., or Borders, or other stores. They focus more on the now, not so much the past - unless it's a classic. I also live in a small town. Small businesses are all around and need our money to thrive. I like to feel like I'm helping them out as well.
I'm getting off the point of this post now. Back to my story. I went to the used bookstore with my mother-in-law. Typically, I go alone ... but, sometimes, she'll tag along. She is, after all, the one who introduced me to the place when I moved in with her son and had absolutely no idea where anything was. So, we spent about an hour in there. We both like to browse all the sections because she's always putting new things on the shelf. After we're done, we go to check out and, like always, she asks me if I have an account with credit. I tell her no. Her helper then comes over and says, "As much as you're in here, I'm sure you'd have enough books to trade in for a very nice credit." I replied that I do have a ton of books, but I tend to keep my books. The helper said, "Oh, you're one of those people." I kind of laughed it off and said, "Well, I typically tend to read books more than once, and I'm always sharing my books with my friends."
Apparently, that was a bad answer. They both got quiet and didn't say anything else. I understand that she probably benefits in some way by her credit system. You pay $3 for a book, bring it back, get about the same in credit, so you can get another book. It's pretty much the same system that libraries use to lend you books, just with a library card and no credits. A lot of her customers are retirees, housewives, and school teachers. They do the swapping thing all the time. I would think that she would benefit just as much from me coming in, paying money, and doing that each time. I don't have credits, so she's getting a profit off of me every single time.
I didn't lie to her, though. I can read books over and over and not tire of them. Reading is a lot like watching a movie. Sometimes, you miss things the first time you watch a movie. Once you watch it and get the gist of the storyline, you're more prone to spotting details the second time around, especially since you know the main idea of the story. Same with reading. You can spot the details you missed before, and sometimes they're a little more significant to the story than what you had originally thought.
And I do share with my friends. We kind of have a trading system that we do. We don't get the same titles so that we can borrow from one another and cover more ground. I live a good ways from my friends and I typically go see them when I see my parents because they live in the same area. I don't get many opportunities to share the wealth of the used bookstore with my friends. But I do tell people about it all the time.
Nine times out of ten, when I buy my friends a present, it's typically book-related and it's always from retail so everyone benefits.
So, there's my confession for the week. I feel as though I need to stand up and say, "Hi, my name is Missy. I'm an obsessive book hoarder." I'll say that the book lady made me feel slightly dirty for being the way I am, but I don't regret it. I love my books and look at them as though they're treasures. I fantasize about the day that I have kids and I'm able to share with them the gift of reading. I don't regret it. And I'm not changing.
So, which one are you: the passer, or the hoarder?