On Ownership

To shelter from the cold and hide from the Christmas shoppers, the other week I found myself sat in Waterstones book store with a pile of books in front of me.  Despite the fact that I didn’t have to be anywhere for a few hours and so had plenty of time to sit and flick through them I wanted to rush them to the till.  I didn’t want to just read them, I wanted to own them, to take them home with me.  But why?  What is it about human nature that makes us want to possess things?

I was wary.  Too many times I have been desperately interested in a book in the shop only to buy it, get it home and never open it again.  Then I am aware of its presence on my shelf making me feel guilty.  Every time I see it I think “I really need to get around to reading that.”

There are several implications of my desire for book ownership – financial, environmental (the cost of production), and space (as an aspiring minimalist, and someone who has moved around quite a lot in the past year, I find myself getting increasingly frustrated with all the stuff I seem to acquire).

As a compromise, I narrowed down my selection to just two books.  Then, at the last moment, I abandoned Imperfectly Natural Woman.  I’m sorry Janey Lee Grace.

I finished reading the book that I did buy (Everything I’ve Ever Done That Worked by Lesley Garner) later that day.  So even though it didn’t represent the best value for money, I did at least remain interested.


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