I’ve been an avid reader my entire life.
I don’t even know where my love of books came from. Neither of my parents were readers when I was a kid, but I remember Mama used to buy me tons and tons of books from yard sales, church sales, and thrift stores. When I was old enough to properly take care of books, she switched to buying me books from used bookstores and sometimes new ones from Books-A-Million when we would go into town. But more often than not, the bulk of my books were used, sometimes tattered, but always loved. I never cared that they weren’t beautiful or in great condition. I never cared that sometimes they were taped up or missing covers. I didn’t mind previously dog-eared pages, coffee stains, or doodled margins. All books were beautiful to me.
In February 2016, I joined the online book community. I had a booklr previously but never really joined in with the discussions because I didn’t read the newest releases and I was shopping pretty regularly at thriftbooks.com. My books were still a little tattered and I didn’t think of taking pictures of them because in my mind, who would want to see my worn out books when they could fawn over pristine hardbacks?
To be honest, I never had any intention of being this involved in the book community. I made my twitter so I could connect with a small group of friends through DMs and talk about The Foxhole Court and The Raven Cycle. For the first 5-6 months, I had maybe 50 followers and I wasn’t interacting with anyone. But then I made friends with other PoC/Native book bloggers and… things just kind of took off. I definitely found my voice and my platform and in a little less than a year, I’ve somehow managed to trick 2500 people into thinking I’m cool enough to follow. I love this community, I love talking about books, I love the friends I’ve made, and I love seeing how we’ve all grown over the last year.
But with this influx of followers on twitter, instagram, listy, and my blog… I think I’ve become a shallow book buyer.
That realization came this weekend when I took my two oldest godkids, Grant and Sidda, to the used bookstore on our Sunday brunch date. I have been looking for an extra copy of DARK HARVEST for a while and Grant found one at the used bookstore. But it wasn’t in terribly good condition. The cover had been ripped and taped, and there were a few pages that had been smudged with ink. But for $2, could I really pass that up? Especially on a book that’s out of print?
I almost did. I took one look at the book and it’s little cosmetic problems and actually turned my nose up at it. Me, a book lover, rebuffing a cheap, out of print book.
Grant: What’s wrong with it?
Me: The cover has been ripped and there’s some ink on it…
Grant: … so?
I ended up getting the book but when we were checking out, I noticed how carefully curated my selections were. All were passable as new books and were fairly new releases. All of their books were… tattered and old and taped but they were books that they really wanted to read. I, on the other hand, had passed up a few books that were on my TBR because they weren’t, well, photogenic. Just how shallow have I become?
It’s something I thought about the rest of the day. Has the pressing need to compete for views and followers and likes overshadowed my love of books? Part of me says no but part of me says yes. I haven’t ordered from thriftbooks in months. I haven’t been to the used bookstore for anything other than old editions of Goosebumps and The Hardy Boys (because those old books are part of my childhood nostalgia collection). I get scared when ordering books online because what if it’s not the right edition? What if a page gets crinkled during delivery? What if-
Why should it matter? Why do I care? Why am I putting such intense pressure on myself to fit into this little blogger box? I love beautiful books but I’ve loved ALL books my entire life… old and ugly, new and pristine… and I don’t want that to change. I don’t want my godkids to think that old used books are bad and I don’t want them to see me fawning over new releases while hiding my previously loved copies like they’re something bad.
It shouldn’t matter if a book takes a good picture or not. That’s not the point of a book. I’m going to be working very hard to get back into the mindset that a book is good because of it’s story, not because it had a pretty cover or because it looks good on Instagram.
I don’t want to be a shallow book buyer anymore.