Week 16: Books

I love books! And for a while this sat a bit uncomfortably with my desire to go green. So, like with a lot of things, I’ve come up with a compromise.

1. I’ll visit the library more often instead of buying books. This way I know that if I borrow a book multiple times I’ll know it’s one that would be worth buying, because I’d make good use of it. Visiting the library also means I find books I might not otherwise have come across.

2. I’ll buy second hand books. These come mainly from charity shops or Amazon, although I’m trying to investigate other buyers – such as on eBay. As with buying anything else second hand – like clothes – this is better for the environment because you’re not creating a demand for a new product but instead are prepared to use  what someone else doesn’t want.  Plus, if you’re buying from a charity shop then you’re supporting the charity at the same time. I do feel increasingly reluctant to buy from Amazon because they’ve got such a  strong hold over the market already and it would be nice to support other smaller companies with better values. But I also like to save money – which Amazon often helps me to do!

So my plan is to try and buy second hand whenever possible – making sure that the books I’m buying are those I am likely to reread many times. I recently bought Peter Mandelson’s autobiography The Third Man from a charity shop, and having read it once I know I’ll be going back to it again, so I think it was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

On the same topic, as I’m sure you’ve guessed I do have lots of books at home, lots of which I haven’t read for a while. Because I did an English Literature degree, I had to buy a lot of books, and some of them I doubt I will ever want to read again. I do feel a bit sentimental about getting rid of them, so my plan is to go through them slowly, maybe reread some of them, and decide whether I am prepared to let some go. Obviously I don’t want to end up with no books left at all, because I really enjoy reading and I love having books that I can read again and again and still get something new from them.

For me, this is quite a daunting task, so I’m not going to rush through it and get rid of all my books at once. The ones I do choose to give away I’ll either donate to a charity shop, or sell, depending on the quality. I’ll definitely continue visiting my local libraries too. I’m trying to get back into knitting again, and I think that it would save me a lot of money if I borrowed knitting books with patterns in from the library rather than buying them. That way I can try a few things out and see which patterns work best for me as I improve!

Remember, the environment is important, but your wellbeing is too, so remember to take things at a pace you feel comfortable with. That’s why I’m dealing with one topic at a time: if I tried to change everything in my life at once I’d feel overwhelmed and give up. So just choose something small and gradually change things for the better!

(On the subject of books, I highly recommend Beth Terry’s Plastic Free Life and Andrew Simms and Joe Smith (eds.) Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? as they’ve both inspired me on my green journey!)

How do you make changes for the better in your life?


7 thoughts on “Week 16: Books

  1. After resisting for a couple of years I eventually gave in and bought an e-book reader…it does save a lot of space on my bookshelves but I have to read a ‘real’ paper book every month or two!

    • I wish I’d thought to include this in my post! I have thought about an e-reader, and lots of people have suggested it to me, but I’m not sure I’m ready yet to stop reading ‘real’ books! How do you think it compares?

      • The obvious advantage is the fact you can carry hundreds, if not thousands, of books with you wherever you go…I gave up on trying to read the hardback version of ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ on the train to work! I don’t find looking at a screen too bad which some people do complain about with e-readers.

        Saying that, you definitely miss something when you don’t get to hold the book, admire the cover and (bizarrely) the smell of a new book is something I do miss. You don’t really feel like you own books when they are just digital downloads either.

  2. I also have an e-reader. But I do love the smell of books. We recently went through our books and cleared out a lot of themas well. They went to the second hand shop in town. I also love the library. Where oddly enough I usually borrow a lot of e-books as well as paper books. I am also going to school and have a ton of books. But i try to pass them on to other students as well. I love your blog. Thanks for sharing what you are doing. It is very inspiring. My family is also trying to go more green as well.

    • I’m just not sure I can detach myself from my love of physical books enough to get an e-reader – I think it’s partly because I like holding a book whilst I’m reading it. And I really find it hard to concentrate when I’m reading on a screen. But I’m definitely going to try and get rid of books that I know I won’t want to read again. Thanks for your comment, I’m glad to know you like my blog! Good luck with going green too 🙂

  3. My husband and myself call the library our store house. We area avid users and also recommend books for our library to purchase, which they do! Great article and good luck going green…

    • That’s a great idea – I’ve never thought of recommending purchases for the library. It’s so good to know people are still using libraries when there is so much in the news about many having to close down.
      At the moment I’ve decided to try and read some of the books that have been neglected on my shelves for a while – I’m going to give some away but have also realised how much I enjoyed some of them when I first read them! I’m writing down any books I am tempted to buy and will see in a month or so whether I still want them.
      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment!

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