A lesson in self-knowledge
How It Started
I have a nice library, containing many hundreds of books. Maybe 1,000 – even after I Marie Kondo’d 29 boxes of books as a Covid project. And I’ve read only about half the books in my library.
At the end of 2021, I had a thought. Rather than buying new books in 2022, I would use my library as my own Amazon. Whenever I wanted to buy or read a new book, I would find an unread treasure imploring my attention on my own shelves. And if I came across a book I wanted to purchase, I would add it to my Wish List and consider buying it in 2023.
As I saw it, I would gain in three ways from this idea.
- I’d save money by not purchasing new books.
- I’d save time by not searching for new books on Amazon and other sites.
- Resolution in this area of life would buttress my discipline in other aspects of life.
How It Went
Firmly committed to this plan on January 1st, I girded myself for the inevitable temptation.
I knew I would come across book ideas in podcasts, newsletters and among friends. Their recommendations would undoubtedly undertake to cajole me into a purchase, but I resolved to hold out. Remain strong. Be a rock.
I lasted until January 6th.
Wouldn’t you know, I had to have the paperback version of a book I’d read 10 times. It contained a new Preface, and I needed – to the core of my being – to read those three new pages for research for a newsletter article.
One leak in the ship. No more, I fortified myself. One lil paperback, and I got back on track.
I lasted until January 15th. A copy of the World Almanac 2022, which I’d given to my uncle as a Christmas gift. It seemed to repose such cool, amazing stats and facts – I’d probably need it for writing research too. Right?
I lasted again until January 22nd. A thesaurus. Because who can write without a trusty thesaurus?
How It’s Going
Then, dear reader, the invading horde breached the wall.
In retrospect, perhaps, just perhaps, this idea was doomed to failure from the start.
It did provide a valuable lesson in self-knowledge.
The main lesson: I love books. I have loved books since reading the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown at age six. I love exploring humanity and life through books. I love confronting new books. By that, I usually don’t mean ‘newly published.’ I mean ‘new to me’ – most are really quite old. Buying a new book creates a wave of hope and excitement deep inside me. I feel eager to unlock that book – to wrestle with it – to argue with it – to ponder it. To see what divine spark of knowledge it contains.
By joining my library, the book becomes, in a sense, a small part of me. The reading is the main thing, yes. But the sheer proximity to me creates a connection. At least, that’s my distinct inkling.
More than almost anything, I love engaging with the ideas contained in books, as a way – hopefully – toward greater wisdom about our world and myself.
Images created by Olivia Lund.