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?
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!
There certainly are too many books! And the prize winners often aren’t the ones I find most deserving.