Today I am going to talk about a topic that almost every bibliophile is consumed by: book collecting. A few days earlier, I posted a review of a book called The Thing The Book which discusses the importance of a book as a physical object transcending its use as a vessel for stories or words. This got me thinking about my own habits where book collecting is concerned and how they have evolved over the years as I grow older and my tastes change.
As I may have spoken about it elsewhere, in Fiji where I spent most of my formulative years, books are an expensive commodity (harlequin paperbacks alone can cost up to $30 Fijian each) and my family wasn’t exactly swimming in cash. The library (there was only for the entire city) didn’t have much of an offering and you were only allowed to take two at a time. I lived in a village so it wasn’t as if I could walk over and get new books every time I finished reading the ones I had checked out. Still, it wasn’t too bad. There were thrift stores that got Australian children’s lit (mostly romance YA) and relatives who came overseas were asked to bring me books and they usually obliged. My collection in Fiji was haphazard and contained mostly the romance genre.
I brought books with me when I came to Canada but I doubt I have any of them with me anymore because the books I brought were falling apart anyway and were romance novels which I no longer read. As a child let loose in a candy store, in the beginning, say I was seventeen, I started collecting whichever book came my way. I just kept it regardless of the decreasing space in my already tiny room. In my mid-twenties, I started getting interested in specific authors and because I had a little amount of disposable income, I started buying books by those authors. Still, I was not very discerning and would frequent library sales and come away bearing suitcases full of books that perhaps still languish on my TBR piles. I started reviewing books and kept all the ARCs sent my way even if I didn’t like the stories they told.
Now that I’m older and though I have very little (or rather no) disposable income (at the moment, I am looking for a job), I have particular tastes. First, I am trying to build up a diverse collection so I tend towards POC authors and stories. I have a very large number of unread books but I know that I won’t be keeping the majority of the books after I read them. Either because I won’t like them or because I will give them to my nieces or simply because I know someone else will enjoy them more than I did. I have also noticed a burgeoning aesthetic sensibility that attracts me towards pretty books. Even though these books may cost a lot more and tell the same story as a standard edition, I will buy them because I am a book collector and I love books and I want them to be pretty.
To conclude, here are some pictures of my collection.