How I grew my library


As a bookaholic moving countries was one of the most difficult things I ever did. Mainly because it meant leaving my whole library behind. I moved to England around four years ago leaving my country and my books behind. I moved not only because England was a country that fascinated me but also because I knew the language and I knew I had good changes of getting a job.
When you first move countries and are on a budget but still need to read, libraries are your best friend. It took me less than a week to enrol at my local library and to start checking books out. If you have been unemployed and have spent more than a week sending CV's every day you know how stressful it can be. You fill the same form over and over again, you keep applying thinking that this might be the job that guarantees you at least an interview. I think one of the worst that can happen when you are job hunting is when you really apply yourself in doing a decent cover letter and CV because you really want to get that job and then you get declined. When this happened to me there was nothing that made me fell better other than reading a book.
And so I would walk to my local library on Saturday and get myself some books to read. These books kept me going through good and bad times and because libraries in England tend to get the latest releases I was on top of the released books for the first time in a long time.
Time went by and I got a job, I got my own place (I was staying with family before) and then I got some spare money. Now this spare money was my "treat yourself" money and my first thought was to get myself some books for my very empty bookshelves.
This was when I found charity shops. In Portugal charity shops are not easily found and do not tend to have books in them, but in England you can find them at most town centres and they all tend to have a very neat book section. Neater are their prices which tend to go from £1 per book to £3.5 per book (with some exceptions if you want rare and collectable books). Unfortunately for me I found myself falling into their trap (cheap books) and I quickly over flowed my bookshelf.
In the beginning I didn't think much of it. I had been without my own books for so long that a couple of them on the floor was not a bother at all. I also always had been able to buy books quicker than I could read them so I didn't think much when my "to be read pile" went into the hundreds. However as time went by and I got more and more books (some new, some old, some given) I looked at my bookshelves (I couldn't cope with see my books on the floor forever!) and realised that although I had a library this library wasn't mine.
I will try to explain myself better, back in Portugal when I looked at my bookshelves I used to smile, even now when I go back I still do. Even though I haven't read all the book in those shelves they are mine. I know most of them, I know their stories and their characters. Some of these books are my friends and looking at them makes me remember the stories and the adventures we shared together.
My new bookshelves are full of strangers. I haven't read most of the books in them and even though they are strangers that I want to meet I find that I do not have as much time to get to know them as I wished. I also realised that I had bought books that had seemed appealing in the shop and that I though I could read but now I found that I really won't have the time or patience to do so; mostly because they are not in my favourite gender or because I have seen the movie/series and realised and I didn't really enjoy the premises. It was strange to look at my bookshelves and realise that I had bit more than I could chew and that it was time to raid them and decide once and for all what I was going to read and what I was not.
It was a difficult process. I bargained with myself a couple of times, I said things like 'oh no I will definitely get to this one' or 'I bought the whole saga' but I had to be strict and look around me. My bookshelves weren't making me happy. I had a "to be read pile" that I was never going to finish and I kept adding to it. In the end it was like taking weeds out of a garden. I wanted my bookshelves to be a reflection of me and to harbour old friends and future friends not books that I was never going to read. I gave some the books back to the charity shops and some to friends. I had to learn to control shopping urges and I learned to look at books and think am I really going to read this? Could I get the eBook if I am not sure?
It took me a while but I managed to learn that growing a library can be like growing a garden. You need to take care of it and be sure of what you want. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try new things however trying a new type of book is not the same as buying 10 to give it a go (also don't forget that libraries are our friends!)
Slowly and steady my bookshelves began to change and so did my library. Now when I look at my books I can smile again. I see old friends and new friends and friends to be. To make sure I read what I bought every January I go through my bookshelves and pick books I haven't read yet and put them in the "preferential readings" bookshelf. If after a bit I realise that I am not going to read that book I take it to a charity shop.
I am still not 100% satisfied with my library but I feel like I am getting there.

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