Another Book Vow I’m Sure to Break

These quotes from Helene Hanff, excerpted at Mental Multivitamin, resonated with me:

It’s against my principles to buy a book I haven’t read, it’s like buying a dress you haven’t tried on (84 Charing Cross Road)

I despair of ever getting through anybody’s head I am not interested in bookshops, I am interested in what’s written in the books. I don’t browse in bookshops, I browse in libraries, where you can take a book home and read it, and if you like it you go to a bookshop and buy it. (The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street)

This year I’m trying to make a dent in the books I’ve purchased over the years but not yet read. Progress is slow. After I acquire a book, some of the thrill is gone; reading it feels like an obligation, not a joy. Space is limited. So is time. I run afoul of the reserve system at the library, too. The ease, and the free-ness of it are seductive. But if I use the library carefully, and thoughtfully, and with Hanff’s habit in mind of reading a book first to audition it for the home collection, I can be the reader (and consumer) I aspire to be.

Comments are closed.