Curating a Personal Library

I've always been a librarygoer. I was constantly reading as a kid and my bedroom was always filled with books, many of which had library barcodes on their covers. I never felt like having to take a book back to the library after a three week loan period for someone else to enjoy ever minimised my joyfully bookish experience of childhood.

Once I started earning money myself, my book collection slowly began to grow. Since entering the publishing industry as more than a consumer I've also started picking up gratis copies from various internship placements and industry events. I've recently reached the point of double stacking, and I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

My inner Belle does long for a sliding ladder in the book shop or the glorious castle library from Beauty and the Beast - but how stressful, to have so many gathering dust! / source

My basic philosophy on belongings is to keep what gives me joy and get rid of what doesn't. And while I love the smell of books and the physicality of paperbacks as much as the next girl, and my inner Belle does long for the sliding ladder in the bookshop in Beauty and the Beast, I'm also hella into the free Overdrive service that allows loans of ebooks through local libraries. (Get on it! Patronise your local library! Woo hoo, libraries!)

The books that were important to me in primary school and high school, during my gap year and university aren't necessarily the same ones that will be important to me as I move into whatever the heck happens after full time education. I'm more committed to curating a personal library that consists the books I will want to come back to again and again, and those books that I love so much I compulsively lend them to everyone I know, than having an enviable collection. I think books gathering dust is so sad. I don't want to be responsible for that happening in my house. I like things in motion.

What are your book buying habits? Do you collect physical copies of your favourites, multiple editions? Do your editions have to match? How do you source your books? Do you buy most, use the library, borrow them from friends? 
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6 comments

  1. I definitely agree with you. I know some people collect hardcover and paperback editions of books, but I just don't see the point. I want to keep books that I'll reread a million times and also like you, the ones I lend out all the time. It's obviously so much easier to lend a book out if you own it in hardback or paperback! I try not to buy too many books since I'm a student, but sometimes I'm just too impatient to wait for the good ones (or the ones I know I'll love) from the library. :)

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    1. Yeah there's definitely an aspect of impatience and instant gratification with buying a shiny new paperback!

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  2. So much yes to this post, Sophie! I have a 'favourites' shelf in my room and at the moment it's got the point where I need to rearrange the whole thing whenever I buy a new book. So last week I had a look at all my books and tried to evaluate just how much I loved them and filled a small box with ones I'd be happy to pass onto friends, charity or other bloggers (that sounds terrible! like I'm abounding them!). I'm also a massive library user, making weekly trips, and there are one or two books I'll buy because I want to come back to that world again, but overall I try and be a little selective about my collection. At least until I buy that mansion with a library room! (a girl can dream...)
    Michelle @ The Unfinished Bookshelf

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    1. I just had to rearrange all my bookshelves too! I was going to post a shelfie on Instagram to accompany this post but I was too embarrassed by how messy my shelves had gotten! haha It did result in a whole 'nother bag of books to pass along to my local recycled reading shop! And totally, I regift books to my friends all the time. I literally have no qualms about it (sometimes they know; I definitely gave my best friend a hardback copy of Beautiful Creatures for her birthday after I realised I probably didn't need to keep it after I'd read it! haha) But of course, if I do find myself in possession of a mansion, it might be a different story... hahaha

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  3. I like to collect pretty classics, Austen, the Brontes and I also collect editions of Alice in Wonderland too. I do purchase a lot. More than I should really. But twice a year I clear my shelves and only keep books I've rated four starts and above. The rest I offer to bloggers, readers, anyone willing to pay postage for them really. I'm lucky enough to have had the room to turn one of my spare rooms into a home library though. I've got a few huge floor to ceiling bookcases against one wall, two of which are already full and plan to have three walls as a massive book storage. It's so incredibly hard being a booknerd, no matter how much room we have, we'll always need more.

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    1. Wow, your home library sounds like the dream! I like the idea of a bi-yearly spring cleaning of your bookshelves though - it's like you can have a while to enjoy the presence of some of those books and then move them on when you're sure you won't want to come back to them. I do understand collecting the classics though - as much as I'm like 'I'm not a book collector!!!1!! I just use my library!!1!' I did just order a second copy of Persuasion, my favourite Austen, because I couldn't go past the beautiful cover art! All in moderation, I suppose! haha

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