Don't hold onto books

One of my greatest pleasures is reading. I won't wax poetic on the wonders of being immersed in a book, as I'm sure most of my readers have experienced (I hope regularly experience) the enchantment that is to be found between the pages of literature. This article's fundamental aim is to convince you to buy more paper, not kindle, books, and to then give them away when you have had use of them.

Books in Australia do not come cheap, but I believe they are still worth every cent. Reading is truly the greatest way of acquiring in-depth information, unparalleled by any other man-made medium. Naturally, there is no comparison to living life itself as can be perceived through one's senses - but books are certainly a close second for our limited human sensory perceptions.

I think our taste for books changes as we age, in the same way, our tastebuds develop and we crave deeper and richer flavours like the tannins in red wine, coffee, and dark chocolate. As we age, we require books that stimulate our minds to a greater degree and encourage us to think more openly and laterally. In the age of COVID-19, many of us have used books as escapism from our enforced confinement.

I've particularly enjoyed reading books by adventurers including Alastair Humphreys and Beau Miles to provide inspiration for future quests when I may leave my five-kilometer radius. I also voraciously read most of the works of Jon Krakauer who has written at length on wilderness and risk-taking; particularly relishing Where Men Win Glory.

Mentally tallying up the cost of my reading habit in 2021 alone, I've likely spent around $300. This isn't an inconsequential sum of money. However, if I consider the amount of time I dedicate to reading then the cost per hour doesn't seem too extortionate. Plus, I read at a glacial pace, so I probably get my money's worth from each book!

In years gone by, due to my minimalist idiosyncrasies, I read a greater percentage of books on my Kindle. A kindle is a useful tool, but it doesn't provide the same intimacy that a paperback does. Holding the heavy weight of words above my head in bed, turning through the rough pages, knowing where I am both temporally and spatially in the book, are characteristics that aren't replaceable by electronics which dilute the reading experience, making it a clinical affair.

Therefore, succumbing to my bibliophilic tendencies and requirement for a tactile experience, I began to allow myself the pleasure of reading predominantly physical copies and preferably those purchased from brick and mortar bookstores, my local shop being Gleebooks.

Popping to Gleebooks, on payday, became a ritual, and I began to develop a small library on my little IKEA bookshelf-cum-bedside table at home. My personally curated collection grew at a pace that I couldn't keep up with due to my tortoise-like reading speed, but it was a joy to see all of my future reading potentials grow - an eclectic mix of philosophy, anthropology, finance, psychology, adventure, and biography.

However, my bibliothèque's growth was constrained by the small surface area of its cheap pine surroundings, enabling a maximum assortment of about ten books at any one time. This is fine by me, for two reasons. One, being faced with an anthology of to-read books can become overwhelming and start to feel more like a chore to be completed and ticked off than a pleasurable pastime; and two, I think it is unnecessarily boastful to live in a house overfilled with books - particularly of those already read.

A bookshelf full of books that you have already read is simply a shrine to your ego.

There are very few books that people read a second time or more. Generally, books that are reread are epic series such as the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. But few people ever read Capital again or even more recent phenomenons such as Sapiens. And you’re never going to read Fifty Shades of Grey again, are you? What is the point in holding on to them? It's nothing more than being materialistic and unable to let go.

I imagine people that have homes filled to the brim with books that they've already read feel pleasantly smug about themselves and take great pride in brandishing their intellectual display to guests.

But what of the books themselves?!

These poor books sit there for years, collecting dust, forgotten about like Woody, occasionally throwing themselves off the shelf crying out to be read again, riddled with bookworms devouring their inky innards.

It seems nonsensical to me to hold onto books, and I implore you to cease squirrelling them away, confining them for eternity after they've had a brief period in the limelight.

There are many ways to redistribute books. It's never an option to simply throw them away. I once saw a heap of perfectly good books in a bin and couldn't quite believe the heresy before me.

Here are some ideas on how to pass your books on.

1. Street Library

Street Libraries are awesome. I'm not sure if the concept is worldwide, but here in Australia, we are lucky to be able to find these little wooden houses of words dotted around suburbia. These huts are the perfect place to drop off your preloved books and take a new one in return. If there isn't a Street Library in your vicinity - you might think about starting one yourself.

2. Leave your books in a public place

If there are no street libraries around and it isn't going to rain for a few days, you could always consider leaving your book out in a prominent place with lots of pedestrian traffic, perhaps with a note to take it.

3. Drop them off at a charity shop

This one doesn't need explaining.

4. Sell them online

There are tons of ways to sell your used books online (if you're more of the capitalist than socialist disposition) from Amazon marketplace to eBay. In the UK there are many more online options, but I'm not sure about the reseller options in Australia.

5. Give them to friends

Most of the time I simply give my books away to friends who are too frugal to purchase books themselves ;). You know who you are.

I hope I've convinced you to buy more books, read them, and then share them. Let me know your thoughts.