If you’re part of the bookstagram community, then I guarantee you’ve seen what I’m about to talk about. Those gorgeous photos of 5, 6, 7 bookcases lining the walls of a room, filled to the brim with books. Whether they are organized by color, series, or author; decorated with bookish items or lights, we can all agree they’re amazing. You wish you could jump into the picture, curl up on the big comfy armchair in the photo, with a book and your favorite drink, and read away the day in that picturesque library.
Well, for most of us, we can’t. Either because we don’t have the space for all those books, we don’t have the bank account for all those books, we don’t receive galleys from publishers, or some sort of combination of all three. And I hope I’m not alone when I state that after the feeling of euphoria at seeing these photos of those home libraries (because less face it, they’re basically libraries) dissipates, I get a little sad, heck even a little jealous… yes, I just admitted that. But it’s not that I wish these people didn’t have these gorgeous bookcases filled with books. If they have the means, they should totally have them! I am happy for them! I just sometimes wish I had one, too.
Maybe I’ll get there one day. Maybe I’ll look back on this post and think, ‘if you only knew then.’ But after thinking about it, I decided I’m okay if I don’t ever get there. If I never have one of these magnificent, gorgeous, home libraries, I’ll be okay. And here’s why.
The Books I Do Own, I Love.
I have moved around a lot these past couple of years, and it has taught me the benefits of minimalism. It’s a pain to have to pack up and move stuff. Can you imagine having to pack up 6 bookcases of books, and move the boxes yourself? Books are heavy! I’m not saying they aren’t worth it, I’m just stating a fact. Books are heavy. So before every move, I got in the habit of purging my things. Sorting through all my possessions made me realize the difference between items of value versus just ‘stuff.’ During these purges, I had to decide whether certain books were, for lack of a better word, worthy of keeping. I tried to only keep books I thought I’d read again, loan to a friend, or were meaningful to me in some way. Anything I felt so-so about I gave away, donated, or sold at a used bookstore.
Now, when I look at my bookshelves, at the books sitting on them, I feel happiness. I can pick one up and read through my favorite passages. I can loan it out to a friend, and share my love of the story and characters with them. I don’t see wasted time, wasted money, or wasted space when I look at my books.
I see old friends, lessons learned, and perspectives gained.
I support my community by using my local library.
With the recent presidential administration’s proposal to cut funding to the NEA and NEH, it is important now, more than ever before, to be using your local library. One way to show the government that local libraries are important and that communities need them, is for people in that community to hold library cards and check books out regularly. Whether you agree with the proposed budget cuts or not is besides the point. This is the point: LIBRARIES ARE NEEDED.
They are a safe place for kids to go to after school. A place for the unemployed to have access to computers to search for and apply to jobs. They give access to educational material to people of all ages. They help foster the imagination and education of every person who steps through the doors. Plus a million other reasons I could spend hours writing about.
By not buying every book I want to read, but instead checking it out from my library, I am actively supporting my community and helping the people within it to succeed and prosper.
So, if you don’t have the means to have one of those gorgeous amazing home libraries, don’t despair. Whether you have three bookcases, one bookshelf, or just the space on your bedside table, that’s okay. Look at the books you do own, and cherish them. Then go to your library, check out a book, and know that you are helping someone else in your community succeed by doing so.