5 Ways My Attitude Towards Books Has Changed Over the Years

How My Attitudes Towards Books Has Changed

Over the years, how I think of books and how I relate to them has changed dramatically. Sometimes I just didn’t know enough about life and the world. Sometimes I just took for granted the attitudes towards books and reading that the people around me taught. Here are few ways my relationship with books has changed.

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I no longer want to own a library.

When I was growing up, I imagined that one day I would live in a house with at least one entire room entirely dedicated to books. Probably more bookshelves would line the other rooms, as well. Now, years later, I have realized that having enough money, stability, and floor space for a personal library just isn’t that easy. I rarely buy books now, preferring to use the public library. And, when I do buy a book, I usually donate it to the library or a classroom later, because I have nowhere to store it. My book collection is a small, curated selection of books that I truly love, and can see myself rereading.

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I’m not a book snob anymore (mostly).

I read mostly classics growing up, I was eager to be reading “above grade level,” and I was embarrassed if a teacher or acquaintance caught my teenage self browsing the children’s section at the bookstore or the library.

I think this is partly because educators often put so much emphasis on the need to read, and read well. We were regularly tested by standardized tests in school to determine our reading level. Then we were a number that rated our ability, and given a list of books we were “allowed” to read. I still remember with great anger being told by a school librarian that I wasn’t allowed to check out some chapter books I wanted–she told me I was only allowed to check out the beginner readers. That is, until I brought in my test scores to her, thereby “proving” I should be able to check out more challenging books. At any rate, I learned that my intellect and thereby my worth were tied to how well I could read and how many hard books I could read. Then I grew up and realized that none of that really matters.

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I realized comic books and audiobooks are real books.

My teachers in grade school and high school told my classes that reading comic books and audiobooks did not count as reading. I grew up believing that only people who could not read well could or should read comic books or audiobooks. I still meet children who harbor these same thoughts, and, while I sympathize with their young book snobbery, I also wonder where they are getting it from. Because they’re missing out on some great books!

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I prefer to own nicer books.

I used to accept any book in any condition. I would go to yard sales and buy paperbacks that were falling apart, just so I could read a new book. I figured it was what was inside–the words–that really mattered. Nowadays, I don’t buy collector’s editions or expensive books, but I do only purchase books that are in good condition.

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I am able to let books go.

It is easy for me to be possessive of my books (in part because I treat them so well, and others tend not to). And it’s easy to act like books are sacred and must never be recycled or thrown away. I have realized, however, that books are just material objects like anything else. Sometimes accidents happen and a book’s lifespan is over. Sometimes there is simply not enough space for me to keep all my books. I have reached a point in life where I can donate books to people who will use them more, or where I can accept that yes, this one is ruined. It’s actually a lot less stressful to go through life realizing that books don’t have to be cherished as sacred artefacts.

How have your attitudes towards books changed?

Also check out: 10 Ways My Reading Habits Have Changed Over the Years

27 thoughts on “5 Ways My Attitude Towards Books Has Changed Over the Years

  1. Zalia | All My Other Lives says:

    This is a really interesting post and has gotten me thinking about how my habits and attitudes have changed over the years. I relate a lot to your point about always needing to be reading books above your “reading level”. This is something that was drummed into me from school too, but now I will happily sit down with a children’s book and I don’t care who sees!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I think sometimes teachers do a lot of inadvertent harm! By constantly testing our reading ability and labeling us with numbers, my teachers both made reading seem like some sort of challenge we had to pass and like those who were rated lower weren’t as good as the rest of the class. I think part of the problem with these standardized tests are 1) that they aren’t necessarily accurate and 2) they can be very public. It’s one thing to get a “C” or a “D” on a test paper. It’s another thing to be told in front of the whole class that you can only read the baby books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zalia | All My Other Lives says:

        Agreed! Here in the UK, there is a big focus on your “reading age”, which automatically gives you a target to aim for. If you’re 12 years old, you want to get a reading age of at least 12. It’s not good enough to just “do your best” because if you do worse than your actual age, it feels like a massive failure. Plus, it gives everyone of the same age the exact same target to reach for, which just doesn’t work.

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        • Krysta says:

          Yeah, I think we need to reconsider how we talk about reading. While teachers and parents, of course, want kids to be progressively developing their skills so they can function in a world that is still very much text-based, there doesn’t have to be such a sense of shame attached to reading. Shame isn’t really a good motivator for anybody.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. mphtheatregirl says:

    Well, part of my attitude does come from genre- my high school self was a little more close-minded. Not giving Shakespeare or Tragedy a chance- especially if both were combined.

    Had no idea I misinterpreted tragedy in those days- had to be “tricked” to start to like that genre. All began my first year of college

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  3. Carol says:

    I let go of my personal physical library, too. It was difficult. I still miss my friends. Now, the few books I buy are on for my kindle and I borrow digital books heavily from the libraryโ€ฆ.and receive digital arcs.

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    • Krysta says:

      Letting go of books is definitely not easy! Yet I’ve found that I seldom miss the titles that I’ve given away. So I remember that each time I want to winnow my collection down again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael J. Miller says:

    This feels very “Zen and the Art of Relating to Books” and it was perfectly timed. I’ve been in the process of reorganizing some bookshelves and have quite a few books I either never read or will absolutely never read again. I was/am planning on donating them to my local library for their fundraising book sale…but that little voice in my head said, “No! Wait! You can’t do that! It’s a sacrilege to take a book from your shelf and *give it away.* Don’t do it!” (That little voice in my head can be melodramatic sometimes but I love it all the same.) This was the lovely nudge I needed. Thank you! Recounting your journey here helped validate mine :D.

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    • Krysta says:

      It can be really hard to let go of books! They feel like friends, sometimes. But I’ve found that I seldom look at my shelves and really, really wish that I hadn’t given something away. So it’s kind of like a little lesson to me that maybe these material objects aren’t as integral to my happiness/identity as I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        Yes! You are absolutely right. And the Dalai Lama would be proud :). It’s all impermanent. We’re all impermanent. Everything is changing. To try and hold on to anything, especially our material goods, doesn’t really yield what we think/hope it does. It’s hard, when culture does everything in its power to teach us the opposite (because how can we be happy without STUFF? and how can we stay happy without NEW STUFF?) but there is great liberation to be found in seeing through that…even if it can be hard, sometimes, to get there.

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        • Krysta says:

          Maybe the Dalai Lama wasn’t intending this, but I am finding that the rising prices of everything is really keeping my consumerism in check! On a more serious note, though, I have found that waiting before purchasing and really considering if I need something, or if it would really make me happy, or if I would just find myself donating it later, has kept me from buying a lot stuff I would likely later regret. I just imagine my future self, and it turns out my future self usually doesn’t care about that item! (Does this mean I am truly getting wiser as I get older? My future self often seems more logical than my current self.)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Michael J. Miller says:

            Well it’s certainly nice of Future Krysta to help guide Present Krysta through these choices. You’ve got a real consumer-anchored “Day of the Doctor” thing going here! That is a very wise approach, looking to your future relationship with an item to see if its worth buying. It moves the purchasing decision from the realm of immediate excitement to one of contemplating your actual relationship with the item. So yes, I think it does mean you’re getting wiser as you get older!

            While it has nothing to do with book purchases per se, on a related note I can tell you a giant stuffed unicorn, measuring 24x18x19, IS one of those things you need/would really make you happy/will never regret…even if you buy it as a Christmas present for a friend but then you see it and realize Justin has to live with you instead so you tell your friend she’ll have to wait a bit longer for her Christmas gift.

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  5. Siena says:

    I completely agree with your first point, while I do still own a decent amount of books, I only keep the ones that I really enjoyed. I don’t see the point of keeping books that I just thought were okay and that I’ll likely forget about in a little while.

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  6. Paige says:

    This is an excellent post! I have many of the same changes in perspective. Do you mind if I write a response post? I love this idea and may want to write down how my thoughts towards books have also changed.

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  7. Emily says:

    Such a great list! Also, I just read your “about” page and I totally agree all books are (mostly) for all ages! Can’t wait to read more from your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  8. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Ha I relate to this so much! Although I still not-so-secretly wish I could own a library (even if I borrow most books I read). That’s bonkers that you had to prove you could read certain books- bizarre! But I do relate to my book snobbishness decreasing over time. And part of that is realising how there’s many ways to read, including audiobooks and graphic novels. I’ve definitely become better at letting go of books as well.

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    • Krysta says:

      There are definitely benefits to having a private library. No wait lists! Books that are clean! No running to the library to return your book before you are charged for it! So I see the appeal. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

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