Skimming through the latest copy of Locus (a leading magazine for science fiction and fantasy writers) always makes me want to rush out and buy about 20 books. Because I’m on a budget, though, I tend to get novels from the library instead. This is a less-than-ideal solution, for several reasons.
First, having a well-stocked library of recent titles just feels nice. Gazing at the spines on the shelf helps one feel randomly inspired.
Second, there are times when I might put down a book before finishing it (usually because I’m displeased with it, which often happens) — but three months later I might want to pick it up again and give it a second try. If it was a library copy, this becomes a chore, so it’s less likely to happen.
Third, underlining passages and scribbling rude comments in the margins.
Hmm … if the average cost of a novel is $20, and if I can read 50 novels a year, that’s $1,000. Can I afford to spend $1,000 a year on a long reading binge? Yeah, that doesn’t seem excessive. Maybe I’m being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
The downside is that, as noted above, I tend to start reading novels, get disgusted or just bored, and put them down without finishing them. There’s some buyer’s remorse in thinking, “God, I wasted $20 on this tripe???”
Plus, it’s not like I don’t already have a bunch of books. I could re-read a lot of Poul Anderson, Philip Dick, Sheri Tepper. Stuff I read 20 or 30 years ago and barely remember. Oh, well — it’s nice to have options.