Should You Buy That Book?

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

Here is something to think about: should you buy that book? Are you thinking you might just borrow it from a friend or from your public library…or do you think you should buy it? If you borrow it, are you planning to treat it like it is your own — except even better, because we all know how you treat your own books? 

Still not sure if you should buy that book? Ask yourself all of these questions; if you answer yes to any, give yourself one point. If you have one or more points by the end, you should probably buy that book and make it your own property that you are free to ruin! No one likes to question what that stain in the library book they are reading is, am I right?! (Tomato sauce? Cranberry juice? BLOOD?) Which brings me to my first question:

Are you likely to get stains on it? Is it a cookbook that you plan to cook with? Is it a cookbook that you plan to drool over while eating an unsatisfying lunch? Do you plan to take that book to the beach? Do you like to read in the bath? Do you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain (with your book)?

Are you likely to loan it to a friend who isn’t very good at returning loaned books? Are you likely to loan it to a friend who is in the midst of a cross-country move? Are you likely to loan it to a friend who is likely to decide they don’t want to be friends with you anymore? Are you planning to friend-dump that friend who you just loaned that book to? 

Do you like to mark your pages by turning over the corner? Do you like to crack the spine of your books? When reading paperbacks, do you like to flip the pages that you already read underneath the pages you are still reading? Do you tend to leave your books spread-eagled open to the page you’re on for days at a time?

Is that book pretty? Will you want it displayed in the background of your Zoom meetings? Do you need this specific shade of chartreuse on your color-coordinated bookshelf? Is it a book of photos that you might feel compelled to look at again and again? Might you want to someday tear one page out and hang it up as art in a frame? Might you want to someday tear out one single page and have it read as a part of your wedding vows because you forgot you were supposed to re-type it for the officiant?

Do you feel the author’s credibility trickles down and lends you credibility as someone who can recognize credibility when you see it? Will you feel proud when your associates see it on your shelves? Will you feel like a more confident and self-assured reader if people know you own that book? Will you feel proud of having spent your hard-earned dollars on that book when visitors come to stay? Will your mom say, “Wow, I am impressed that you’ve read that book” when she sees it on your shelf? 

Will you be compelled to make doodles or notes in the margins? Do you anticipate being so moved or so enraged by this book that you won’t be able to stop yourself from underlining like mad or writing “WTF!!!” in the margins? Do you feel compelled to use that pen you have in your hand? Do you find you are unable to stop yourself from “marking your territory”?

Will you feel compelled to rip out and shred the pages? Do you think you might hate this book so much that you won’t be able to stop yourself from destroying it? Will you feel better knowing that you just erased one copy of that book from existence? 

Do you feel like you are wondering why you ever DIDN’T buy a book? That’s certainly not my intention, but it does mean it’s time to total your score! One point or higher? I’d like to direct you to an independent bookstore to buy that book! They will be happy to assist you, I am positive. Congrats on your new book!!