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Purchase vs. Borrow: The Commitment Factor

Library (250x250)Sometime in late 2014, I came across Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See at the library. I had heard of the book, had heard it praised, and the premise seemed interesting. I took it out. Several days later and perhaps a quarter of the way in, I decided it wasn’t for me. I returned the book, the remainder unread.

Now—having been surprised to hear its status as the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction—I’m wondering if I should have given it more of a chance. Obviously some people think it’s good; perhaps I just hadn’t gotten far enough.

I do admit I don’t commit to library books as much as I commit to a book I’ve purchased. I’ve invested money in a book from a bookstore, so will almost always invest an equal amount of time. Only if it’s super awful will I abandon a purchased book, but most of the time I slog it out—enjoyment be damned.

A library book, on the other hand, is so easy to both bring home and discard. It’s not tickling my fancy? Bah, let it go.

Am I missing out because of this attitude? Perhaps. But borrowing from the library also allows me to read widely, diving into books I may never have committed to buy. If they’re particularly great, sometimes I even purchase them after I’ve finished to refer to later and keep on my shelf.

Will I buy Doerr’s novel now and give it a solid chance? I’m considering it—but with all the tempting choices out there, I have a feeling my book-purchasing funds will be directed elsewhere. Maybe I’ll borrow it again from the library…

Do you prefer to borrow or buy?

Read previous posts.

About the Author

Posted by Galadriel

Hi, I’m Galadriel: blogger, author, reader and resident of a quaint small town in the breathtaking West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Catharine Findlay

    Will very seldom buy a book … I’ve gotten rid of almost all of my “library”, many books from my high school and university days, to make more room for art supplies. I do return quite a few books to the library unread as they just don’t appeal to me. But life is too short to force myself to read something I don’t like, even if it is a prize winner. And there are too many books still to read which I know I’ll like, even if they aren’t prize winners!

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