Monday, September 10, 2012

Why do I buy/hoard books?

This article is an effort for me to understand myself...understand what makes me buy and hoard books...especially books which I dont ever read ! I am trying to put down all the different motives behind buying different books and maybe this self-analysis will help me overcome my addiction to buying books.
 I was buying and hoarding books like crazy when I was in India and also in Toronto. As of 2012, I have stopped (or at least making serious efforts to stop) buying books! Reasons:

  • My dad is a hoarder and I seem to have inherited it! So I want to fight this hoarding disease.
  •  Also,my mother who is visiting is nagging me to "keep the important books" and throw the rest...she has been continually nagging me. I think her disgust at the messiness of my house (books everywhere) is the main reason for my efforts to stop buying-hoarding books
  • I am running out of space to store these books and they are spilling all over my home.
  • Years ago, I had sort of fantasized   that  my kids would gratefully inherit my book-collection when I die... but I dont have kids nor will I have them and so, one major incentive for my hoarding is gone. I told my sister, that she is the lucky beneficiary of my books when I die and she shook her head, grinned and responded,"No thanks Akka. I have Kindle!"
  • I realize that I am not reading most of the books collected at home; These days, I seem to be reading only the books borrowed from the library .I am now asking myself, 'why do I keep these books, if I am not going to read them'? I still dont have the ability to throw or give away the books I have....but I have developed the ability to stop buying from nowonwards.
  • I bought several books for other people...such as my siblings in India and for nephews and neices. I dont think these books will ever leave my house as they are hardbound, weigh a ton and cost too much to transport; ergo, no point in buying books for friends and relatives in India.(The airlines too have cut down luggage allowed and Canada post is terribly expensive..I dont know any other way of transporting these books to relatives and friends in far away India)
  • I bought several books which I had read already...I planned to reread these books. But these books are simply gathering dust! I am rereading only about 100 of the thousands of books I have bought .
  • I am now discovering many many good books and authors I like. I am also realizing that it does not make sense to own every book I like....not unless I have a huge room & can afford bookshelves & have the time to dust the books regularly. I am finally accepting the fact that there is no need to own every book I like!
  • I have this compulsive obsession to buy all the books in a series or all the books of one writer and now I have lousy books which I have never read, occupying valuable space in my tiny home! For example, I loved Gone with the wind. And then, like a fool, I bought Scarlett and Rhett Butler's people....which I began to read but did not complete.
  • I seem more likely to read a book I borrow from the library than a book I buy/own...The fact that I have a deadline to return the book prompts me to read ...when I own a book, there is no deadline and I dont read the book but decide to read it some time later!. In the interests of 'reading', it is better I borrow a book than buy!
  • Of course, there are a few books which I read immediatly after buying ....but most of the books I buy, get dumped into a box, with plans for future reading. I think this happens because there is some mysterious but  plesant 'feeling' when one buys a may be a sense of fulfilment or feeling safe("I dont have to worry about not getting  this book... because I now own it") and this 'safe' feeling seems to extinguish  the drive to read the book! Dont ask me why but this happens to me... Another example is that  I am more likely to listen to a favorite song when it's on radio than if I buy the song's cd! I am more likely to utilize what I borrow than what I own!
  • I am realizing that I will never read at least 50% of the books I own and so I should really stop buying any more books. Some of the reasons for not reading the books are given above. I am going to write below, the types of books I have accumulated at my home and the reasons I bought them...then you will understand why I will never ever read them!
Classics: I had this habit of buying classics, when I was in college. Then, I wanted to read them as everyone told me they are good; I wanted to read them, most probably to impress others! I also had a crush on at least two English professors and maybe wanted to impress them.
I have read and enjoyed classics such as by Charles Dickens(David Copperfield), Jane Austen(Pride and Prejudice) but I own other classics which I am less likely to read such as dramas by Shakesphere and novels by Thomas Hardy.
Non-fiction books on philosophy, literature and other areas: I buy these books, thinking that I will read and learn, read and improve, etc; I am now realizing that I am not going to read them as long as I have access to crime fiction books, television shows and daydreams. Since, there is never a moment, when I will be denied access to these three things, it's unlikely that I will ever read these non-fiction books meant to improve me!
Buying books for others but they dont want it : I have several  books accumulated for this reason.
Buying books reccomended by others but after buying, I realize that I dont like it
Buying a book because it is cheap, getting books for free, accepting books dumped on me by others who are moving their house, etc.
Reading a review, falling for it, buying the book and then realizing that it is not my cup of tea... but then too lazy to return it to the book shop.
The gift coupon to a book shop is going to expire and I buy what was best in the limited choice I had and then disliking the choice.
I bought several books in India, which are not available in Canada...but not read them at all. I think I bought them simply because I thought they are difficult to get in Canada and now that I am in India, I better buy them...they are all lying in my home in Canada, unread! These books include Philosophy books from India, Sudhir Kakkar's books, books by Indian authors such as Premchand,Ravindranath Tagore, etc.
Believe it or not, I have also bought several English non-detailed texts I had as a child from the McMillan company in M.G road(Sringar complex)! I felt such a strong urge to buy them for myself and my neices and nephews but I do not think I ever read those books after buying! Did I buy them out of a sense of nostalgia? Maybe.( I am still looking for the Lost Horizons, abridged version by E.F.Dodd. I loved the woodcut illustrations in it)
Hmm. What are the other books I have bought, which I dont read? Just remembered, I bought a few comics (Lucky Luke) in Dollarama as I could not resist those rare old classics for a dollar!
I have this compulsion to buy the books I enjoyed during my childhood...while buying, I am so sure that I will read them, but in the end I dont! I try to get the new children(neices and nephews) to read but they are refusing! They are into the new kids books such as 'diary of a wimpy kid' and refuse to read the books i reccomed they read such as the  Billy Butler series I loved...
 God ! It is so frustrating !.... I know that it is wrong to force them to read what I loved. I have also bought all I could find of the ladybird books whose illustrations I loved as a child (illustrator is Eric Winter and writer is Vera Southgate). I dont read them but still gaze at the illustrations with the same rapture I did as a kid.
I have gone through phases of collecting certain books. Some of the phases I have gone through include,
Wanting to own every Charlie Brown comic, Phantom comic, Andy Capp comic, TinTin comic, Asterix comic, Dennis the Menace comic, Amar Chitra Kata and a few more. In India, I could not afford to buy them and also could not get them in the shops. I also went through a really stupid phase of wanting to own at least one copy of every magazine ever published! Little did I know about the humungous number of magazines published! Inspite of my protestations that I am giving up buying books,   I am right now in the phase of collecting Modesty Blaise comics (Titan publications) and hopefully this addiction will fade away soon. My rationale for collecting this is that : I cannot borrow Modesty Blaise comics as they are not available in the TPL and I do want to read them. I had read the Modesty Blaise strip as a child when it appeared  in the Kannada newspaper daily i.e.  Prajavani...or is it Samyukta Karnataka?
I have gone through phases of wanting to read/own mythological stories and folk tales from all over the world. I have bought so many and read only a few of them! When I see a mythology book I dont have, it is impossible to resist buying! I now have books on Indian , Roman & Greek, Irish and British(King Artuhr, Celtic tales, etc), Japanese, Egyptian, etc.Though, I now own several mythology books,  I  dont have  interest in all of them and I have not read  some of them such as the Native Indian stories, the Chinese and Japanese stories.(the tales about animals dont interest me such as teh Native Indian ones  and the names in the Chinese and Japanese put me off disrespect intended.)I cannot understand why  I have this irresistable urge to buy, fully knowing that  I will not read. I wish I could  stop buying books which I know,  I wont read.
I have also bought books at cities I am visiting as some sort of a souviener. Also from museums that  I am visiting. I have bought books on India simply because it is about India...and I think it will be a good coffee table book( But I dont have many visitors home and there is simply no space on the already littered teapoy for coffee table books!)
What else.....Oh. I have bought books simply because the titles were intriguing and now so many such books litter my house,unread & undusted  ....but I cant bring myself to give them away! Some of these books are:
I have two and even three copies of many books, simply because I dont remember buying the first copy, when I am buying the second! To avoid this,  I carry a list of books I have and dont have... yet I  made these mistakes! Damn memory!
My motive for buying the unread books seem to be as countless as the books themselves!
But I think I am going to go through all the useless books I bought and find my may help me understand myself.
A major reason for my buying this many books is the fact that I buy them at Goodwill store, where the books cost about a buck or two...this is so cheap that the temptations to buy is strong...the defence I have for buying so many  books from Goodwill which I never read is "It is only a buck or two. So what if I dont read. I am only losing a buck or two.'
I had accquired over time a series of comics which was complete except for the first comic. I then paid through the nose and got a second full set on ebay; this set had the first comic  which I lacked. The seller refused to break the set to sell me  the one comic I wanted. So now I have one set of twenty and one set of nineteen second copies of the same comics! Why was I so obsessed with buying that one comic....I must surely be suffering from obsessive -compulsive disorder too!
I also went through a, thankfully brief , phase of  wanting to own all Indian crime fiction books.I started with Sacred games  and a few H.R.F.Keating books and the case of the missing servent by Tarquin Hall but quickly came to my senses.....there is a glut of crime fiction books in English from India now...I know I cant keep up with buying them all, nor do I want to. English novelists from India were so few in the 70s and maybe 80s too but now there are so many!
Stopping now. I need a break!


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