I have talked about this before. Y’all know I am a bookworm. (See The books that made my 2019, 2018 between the covers (of great books), Awesome books for kids, Read good books). Most years, I read between 40-50 books and I get enormous satisfaction writing tiny reviews and tracking the books on Goodreads.
I always dreamed of having a marvellous library one day – one with curved walls and a wooden ladder on a track so I could browse my extensive collection. Apparently when I was a child, I thought I would turn into an 18th century landowning man with a Chesterfield wingback chair and a taste for cigars.
Let’s be reasonable
It turns out that I am still living in a shared flat in London, where space comes at an enormous price. Basically, dreams of a grandiose library are somewhat less feasible when you tend to make international moves every couple years.
My love for books hasn’t changed, but how I read these books has changed tremendously.
Since moving to London, I have finished 189 books. Using a handy “average book weight” calculator (and assuming that approximately 1/3 of the books I read were hardcover and 2/3 were softcover), I would of accumulated a whopping 76.5kg in books (32.1kg (hardcover) and 53.4kg (softcover)!! That is more than my body weight in books! They would far exceed the average weight of between 23-32kg allowed for a checked bag on a flight. And those are only the books I finished! I inevitably pick up a few books that I just can’t get into and a few “I should read this” books each year that will sit half read on a shelf for years.
The reality of my life is that I am [very slowly] learning that I can exist with more ease in the world if I accumulate fewer things. Basically, I have come to terms with revising my imagined future to include a much simpler way of continuing to celebrate my love for books without literally carrying the weight around the world.
My name is Jen and I am an eBook reader*
As a bit of a luddite and an ardent bibliophile, I did not see this coming. I purchased an ebook a few years ago on a bit of a whim while waiting for my flight in Heathrow airport. I thought I would enjoy it on occassion, particularly when travelling, but it turns out I rather love it! Having an eBook reader has made it so much easier to read on the go and I love loading it up with an abundance of books before a trip so I have something no matter what vibe feels right in the moment.
I think owning fewer books and switching to an eBook reader has helped me read more books.
*Is it eBook Reader reader? As I am a reader of books on eBook Readers.
I am an ear-reader as well
My love for audiobooks may also alienate some who think listening to an audiobook is “cheating.” This, to me, is a very strange concept. The best parts about reading are the story, the chance to experience the world from a different vantage point, to learn, to feel, and to be moved.
A common mistake with audiobooks is to “put them on in the background” while you are doing other things. However, no different than with a “regular” book, the story requires your attention. Just as you can skim through a book and not comprehend the plot and connect to the characters, you can skim through an audiobook if you use it as a tool to multi-task with other activities. All books need space and attention, regardless of the format.
I do still buy books…
I have a deep, enduring love for book shops, and I do not resist the lure of a charming second-hand book store when I find one. Rather than book hording, I have made a real effort to buy then ACTUALLY read these physical books, and then send them back out into the world (either giving them to a friend, donating them back to my local second-hand book store, or releasing them into the wild.
I still buy some books online
There are some books that I like have the physical copy. This is particularly true for some of the technical books I use for work. I have been trying to find alternatives to Amazon that ship to the UK (and sources that also stock second-hand books).
So far I have been thrilled with Wordery has an extensive variety of books, including some really specific epidemiology tomes.
I also love www.betterworldbooks.com, which has great service while making a difference through saving books from landfills, and donating millions to literacy partner programs.
These are two of the online book stores that ship to the UK, but it is definitely worth looking for online book shops “in these unprecedented times” that you can use.
I am going to stop writing about reading and grab my book to read myself a bedtime story. Hope you are reading something great! Let me know what books you are currently loving so I can add them to my impossibly long “to read” list!