“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ~ Stephen King
Books are something the majority of my readers, possibly the majority of the human population, enjoy the appearance and appeal of. But not all of the people who love books truly love the act of reading those books.
I find there is a major difference between the love of books and the love of reading. The love of books can be genuine – the smell, the shape, the covers, the idea of the stories they hold within. But to read those books, and treasure each one for the memories and moments of time spent with it, is a different story.
When I was in college, I HAD to have a bookshelf in my room. I loved when people would talk to me about the books I owned (even though I had read approximately 5 of the 50 books on the shelf). There was a sense of pride I felt in owning lots of classics and being able to say that I had read a handful of them.
I didn’t realize until much later that I didn’t really know what my identity as a reader was yet. I loved the books, but not reading. I loved walking around bookstores, circling the campus library, checking out books only to return them unread. I dreamed of a library of books in my future home and knew that I would end up with stacks of books in every corner.
That dream of a home library and stacks of books hasn’t changed. But those books will be read. I have grown into my love of reading as an adult more strongly in the last couple years and really value the books that I own. I can see the ones that didn’t make the cut back then, and might never make the cut, but that I had to own for the sake of owning it. My stack of books to read is still extensive, and will always remain that way, but I know that I am much choosier now. I care more about the feelings that my books bring me than the way they will make me appear to others as they collect dust on my shelves.
“If all books spark joy, you don’t have to get rid of anything… I tell you to keep them with confidence.” ~ Marie Kondo
I love this quote by Marie Kondo (who received a lashing from the bookstagram community when she said we should only own 30 books) because it encompasses the value that each book should hold on our shelves. In my stack of books to read, I can already identify books that I will probably pass on to another reader, and I know the ones that will have a home on my shelf forever.
I do not find anything wrong with being a lover of books but not a lover of reading. I just know that I personally don’t want to go back to the person I was when I had stacks of books I would never read or bought books that I thought would make me look cool. Confidence in the reading we love can take time for some of us; but when we can find our love of reading, I think we will be the better for it.