To buy or not to buy

While going through my books (both here at the apartment and those I left at home), I've been pondering my book buying habits. I was going to say (when I was originally conceiving this post) that I didn't even remember the last time I bought books. And then I went and bought four in the last week.

To be perfectly honest, there were extenuating factors. My college has a debit card system where you load money onto your ID card and then use it for stuff. When I lived in the dorms, I used it most for laundry. But for the past year, $20 has just been sitting on there. Since graduation (and presumably the loss of this money, since there's no way to take it off the card) was coming up, I went to the campus bookstore and wandered around. Eventually I bought a lovely journal and a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Why a journal? I have no good reason, since I have far too many already, except to say it seduced me. (Whenever you say you like to write, everyone who doesn't know you that well will invariably get you a pretty journal for every semi-special occasion always. Invariably.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame was because I just needed to read it. I may not have mentioned it, but Les Miserables is officially my favorite book always, and the fact that I haven't read Hunchback is simply appalling.

The other three (The Onion Girl, The Left Hand of Darkness, and a gorgeous 19th century style edition of Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass) were from my library book sale, and they went for $2.50 total. Seriously. For $2.50, that purchase was necessary.

But those are not normal circumstances. Normally, considering I was a poor college student and am now an unemployed ex-college student, I do not buy books. The library is my savior. I quash the voice that shouts at me to purchase books by Neil Gaiman or Jim Butcher the second they come out, and I end up checking books out of the library three, four, five times.

So I'm culling my books ruthlessly, separating the essential from the ephemeral, and coming up with a philosophy on book buying. I'm actually planning on giving away every book I don't think I'll read again. And this philosophy turns increasingly barbaric regarding new purchases: I'm not buying books (with a few extreme exceptions) unless I have read said books multiple times, and plan on reading them again. (Again, multiple times.)

Maybe this is extreme. But for my current lifestyle (affected by lack of money and lack of space), it works. What about you?