There are two “nonessentials” I spend my money on: flowers and books..
When money is tight, a paperback book, costing about $15, is a relatively economical pleasure. I’m a slow reader. So say, it’s a novel and I read 20 pages a night. At 250 pages, that’s about 12 nights of reading. Add to that the hours spent thinking about it and talking with friends Such a deal a book is!
When I graduated from college, a family friend gave me $50. I went straight to the bookstore, for the first time purchasing more than a single book at a time. I took Adrienne Rich home with me, and Susan Griffin. These authors would stay at my house. We could take baths together!
Recently, when the poet Hayden Carruth died, I sat down to read, knowing these were the last of his words I’d have. They’d have to sustain me.
My mother read me to sleep every night when I was little, long past when I could do this for myself. But now I do. I like how a novel allows me to silently enter someone else’s story, bringing distant places close
Not every book that I buy do I read right away. Some hang out, shining their shoes and filing their nails, perhaps feeling neglected while I fawn over others. I buy books out of faith, faith that I will have time to read them.
A long-ago boyfriend wrote a love note inside Leaves of Grass. In giving me Whitman he opened a door to a very big house. If you have full bookshelves and you need a gift, you can scan your shelf for the most-perfect one. The tattered edges make it more lovable, not less.
Books aren’t only mental, emotional and spiritual beings. They’re physical. I like their smell. When you own a book, you can burrow your nose into its pages and not worry if a tiny smear of lipstick ends up there or, if in your pleasure, you’ve leave a bit of drool behind. There’s the texture of the paper too. Some are nearly silken, while others, my favorites, are nubby like a cracker. When you own a book you can make notes in the margins! You can look back at them years later and reacquaint yourself with the girl you were.
There’s the authors, the publishers and the bookstores who benefit when books are purchased. It may be a nominal percentage I earn each time a book of mine sells, but those cents add up. And it’s common sense to support the things and people we love. The only way for authors to publish is if we buy their books. Publishers need to know we want them! If we want bookstores we’ve got to shop there.
There are many reasons one can use to justify buying books. I buy poetry books because I teach and need poems to read to my students; I edit anthologies and need poems to choose from. These reasons are completely true. But don’t believe a word! I buy books because they are my relations, my allies. I believe in books. They make the sleepless nights less lonesome and every day much brighter.