Saturday, 16 January 2016

Why Buying Books is Okay, Even When You Already Own a Copy

One week into the 90 day challenge and how's it looking? Today -  the first real test - was a partial success; I used two parking discs rather than paying for the multi-storey car-park; I escaped from TKMaxx with nothing more than an item of practical underwear, even though tempted by array of bargain-some beauty product. Why did I even go there in the first place? It's my habit: a habit compounded by the shop's addiction-forming variable-reward system.
I'd had lunch at home and met a friend for hot chocolate before caving and stocking up in M&S.  At that stage I was tired and knew full well that that was willpower-depletion. I could have chosen to push through, to go buy some real food from local businesses. But sometimes knowing why you're doing something doesn't make it easier to not do it. Or, it doesn't make it easier enough.
I also bought a book. Buying books is allowed, as I have rarely regretted buying a book. Even awful self-help books that seemed - on inspection in Waterstones - to hold the secret to transforming my life only to be lots and lots of wasted ink and dead tree. With books you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Not only will you meet some Book Princes, you will over time develop a sixth sense for a book's amphibian-factor. The book I bought today is a Prince. I knew it would be, being "Better than Before" the latest from Gretchen Rubin. Not only have I read Rubin's previous two books, I'd also read this book. I bought it last month. I am a Book-Buyer-Lender-Buyer. Lending books to other people is one of my life's greatest pleasures. It's akin to the hobby of match-making, although there is a downside. This is that a book on loan is not a book on the shelf. And a book on loan may sometimes become a book lost. So every now and again, I will deliberately buy a book rather than resent the very book-reader relationship that I myself set up.
I like Rubin's book. It's witty and thought provoking and I like that she eschews playing amateur cognitive psychologist (although there's plenty of reference to actual research) in favour of anecdote and personal musings.   I even like that she neatly insists that since I disagree totally with her unscientific division of humanity into four habit types (Upholders, Rebels, Obligers and Questioners), this very resistance indicates that I'm a "rebel".

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