I read and finished my very first book in 2004. I was 12 years old and by standards, I started late but that did not stop me from indulging in the best hobby ever. Over the years I accumulated a decent amount of books on my shelf, some of them I forced my mother to buy, others are gift and most came from my pocket (indirectly from my mother’s). Though it is very fulfilling, I have to say it is a somewhat expensive hobby compared to, let’s say, watching TV. For someone like me who survives on a weekly allowance, a 600 peso novel is not a priority when I still have to eat and commute. In addition, my parents who are sadly non-readers fail to appreciate and support me saying that my books take up much space and that they rather buy me clothes. I addressed the space issue when in 2010, I decided to get myself a Sony reader which I named Sheldon.
This purchase has both good and bad consequences. Good because I could carry a hundred books at a time and I could start reading a new novel right away after finishing the previous one. Bad because my parents started discouraging me to buy printed books arguing that they already bought me Sheldon.
Last March, we had to move out of the apartment we rented for more than a year and my books had to either be left behind or sold. I chose the latter for practical reasons and off Pangs and I went to Recto, a place for buying and selling anything.
These were part of the loot I sold. Aside from textbooks, it included some of the novels I loved including Alan Furst’s the Foreign Correspondent, Amis’ The Rachel Papers, and books by Sidney Sheldon.
In the first store we went, I opened my luggage and the owner said, “How much will you ask for all of these?”. I said 5,000 pesos thinking that that was a generous price because most of the books were hardbound. The woman laughed mockingly and said “No one would even buy this for 2,000!”. I was devastated and I thought she just did not know how to criticize good books so we looked for other buyers.
She was right. No one bought them for 2,000. Not even for 1,000. I gave my babies away for a meager 900 pesos. Heck, one Sheldon book costs close to 400 pesos and 900 is all I got for what I remember was more than 20 novels. Apparently, hardbound ones are cheaper in the second hand business because nobody buys them. Thank God I saved my vintage contemporaries reprint of Less Than Zero by Ellis on the last minute because I remembered it was a gift from my mother.
That was one of the worst decisions of my life. I should have just defied my parents and brought them with me to our new place. I should have just patiently sold them online happy with the fact that their new owners wanted them enough to scout the internet for them.
Anyway, what’s done is done and when someday, I am financially stable enough to buy all the books I want no matter how pricey, I’d put them in a beautiful shelf and stare at them thinking of the others I sold for adoption.