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On Buying (Too Many) Books

I was at one of Madison’s fantastic independent bookstores last week, and the moment I started poking around the shelves “just to take a look,” I knew I was in big trouble.

Let’s be clear. I walked into that bookstore reminding myself that I needed nothing. I’ve already got a waist-high stack of library books at home that demands my continuous, ongoing attention. Half of the titles in this stack are freshly checked out, while, maddeningly, the other half are overdue and thusly require a renewal (or a return, as the case may be). As you can imagine, maintaining my stack of library books is akin to caring for a high maintenance but extremely lovable pet.

Here’s the kicker: I also have stack of books at home that I've purchased over the last few months from one or more of Madison’s fantastic independent bookstores. I haven’t gotten to any of these titles, either, because they invariably take a backseat to all my library books and their pesky due dates.

But back to my most recent bookstore trip—

While prowling the rows of sweet-smelling books in the seductively lit and exceedingly cozy shop, I unsurprisingly chose to disregard all my unread titles at home and instead buy a gorgeous little pile of hot-off-the-press novels.

Reader, I ended up leaving with so much merchandise that I earned a free tote bag with the bookstore’s name and logo on it.


I’ve reached the point where I no longer feel guilty about my book-buying tendencies—and I don’t think you should, either. Because buying books is the ultimate sign of hope.

Buying books means that we’re alive and curious, and that we value other people’s ideas. It means we aspire to nourish our brains with wisdom and poetry. It means we appreciate being able to hold an entire universe right in the palm of our hand.

There will never be a day when I stop buying books, because the printed word is as essential to me as oxygen or sunlight. If my purchasing habits lead to additional complimentary bookstore tote bags, you'll never hear me complain. Those things are great for shlepping overdue books back to the library.


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