Readers around the world know the feeling of guilt you get when you come with a bag full of new books you can’t wait to start reading, only to pile them on top of the books you came home with last week. Maybe you got through a couple from the last haul but the books really just keep piling up.
It’s time to stop feeling bad about owning more books than you will ever have time to read. First of all, bookstores, authors, and publishers need all the support you can get. If you’ve got money to spare on books, they need it. But more importantly, buying books, whether they’re used, new, or delivered by Amazon, will feed your curiosity.
What may be a book that winds up at the bottom of your pile today could resurface twenty years from now, a renewed interest sparked by pulling it out of a cardboard box when you move or a rekindling of the curiosity and excitement that prompted you to buy it in the first place.
You don’t have to keep everything. Going through a book cull every once in awhile is sort of like reorganizing your bookshelves; it gives you a chance to re-evaluate your interests, your reasons for holding onto a particular book, and shuffle your “To Read” list around when you find that book you forgot all about.
But there’s another school of thought out there that says you should commit to the enormous library. Famous Italian novelist Umberto Eco kept an “anti-library,” a collection of 30,000 volumes, most of which he had not read nor would. He said that the collection kept him aware of how much knowledge existed in the world and how little of it he actually knew. It kept him intellectually curious, constantly learning new things, but always humble about the vast knowledge he already had. As you get older, you will read more and more books, always accumulating more knowledge and more stories. But your library will grow even faster if you allow it, meaning there’s always more to learn.
So the next time you’re at the bookstore, don’t feel bad for picking up new and exciting books even when you’ve got a stack of them at home already. Read what excites you in the moment. Just make sure you’ve got enough bookshelves and bookcases to put them all. Surround yourself with knowledge you may never have time to gain and you will always be asking questions.
Even if your goals aren’t quite so lofty, a huge home library has other benefits, too. A room lined with brimming bookshelves can become your sanctuary in a busy home. A study or library will give you a tranquil place to go when you want to work quietly or just spend hours reading the way you used to when you were a kid. If books make you happy, make the space in your life for more of them.