Is there anyone who has navigated their student life but hasn't borrowed storybooks from others? From 'Tin Goyenda' and 'Masud Rana' to mysteries of Byomkesh Bakshi, the novels of Samaresh Majumdar or Humayun Ahmed, from the writings of Nimai Bhattacharya to Ahmed Sofa, Shahaduzzaman, Zahir Raihan -- be it romantic, thriller, or science fiction, many books have made them thrilled, laugh, cry, and eventually pass on those emotions to others.
Coming to borrowing, it's more than just a monetary matter. Many financially affluent people have preferred borrowing books, and there was their philosophy behind it. Many people think that once they've finished reading a book and know the story, there's no point in owning it anymore. So why waste money buying it? And if it's a fact, what philosophy makes people buy books and make their own collections?
"When I started high school, many of my friends, including me, used to borrow each other's books and read them. As I grew older, I started saving money throughout the year to buy books from the 'Ekushey Boi Mela', and now I have a small library at my home."
"While having my daily meals, reading a page from a book is still an inseparable part. However, entering the late twenties, most of my friends have gradually given up reading books," shared Dr Tania Islam, an MBBS from North East Medical College. She remarked that if she didn't have the habit of buying books, she might have also given up reading books like her friends due to the growing busyness of life.
Since books are her passion, she always wants them to be in front of her eyes. Even now, at her home, rooms are all filled with her storybooks. Indeed, without owning those books, creating such an atmosphere for reading or maintaining it wouldn't be possible. The atmosphere made her find time to read books, despite the pressure of being a medical student.
"Currently, when everyone is leaning more towards reading PDFs, I still buy and collect books as much as possible. I hope my future generations will take some time to touch and read them, and perhaps they will appreciate that someone has preserved these books with great affection," she added.
To many readers, books are marked as a highly personal and sensitive accessory; returning them just after reading is not something they prefer, just like Tawhida Ali Jouty, Media Specialist at 10 Minute School. According to her, for those who have a passion for reading, it is appropriate to buy books and then read. "Why would someone regret the money spent on their addiction? It's always worth it!" she added with humour.
Regarding her reluctance to borrow books, she shared that her personal experience with lending books hasn't been pleasant. This has led her to have less interest in borrowing books and not finding comfort in reading them either.
"Through buying books, we also support the writers and publishers, thereby contributing to the entire publishing industry, which motivates me in addition to all the other reasons to buy books," she explained. According to her, it's a way of showing appreciation for their work and encouraging a vibrant literary ecosystem.
It is a common thought among the readers as the writer got similar notes from another bookworm Tasfia Saleh Shoron, an MBBS student of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College. According to her, as a reader, she wants authors to keep writing for her own sake, and buying their books encourages them. She also mentions another fascinating reason: the sensory stimulation provided by hard copies.
"For me, reading a book is an all-out experiential journey. The smell of a new book, touching the shining cover, and flipping the crispy pages are all part of that sensory stimulation I adore." she shared.
However, at this stage of the discussion, it should be noted that the passion for reading books and the desire to collect books may not necessarily align. Janan Ar-rum Mazhar Orchita, a student in her master's degree in the Department of English at the University of Dhaka, thinks those who have a passion for reading books also develop a fascination for collecting books. There are various reasons behind this inclination.
"When it comes to being a reader, experiencing reader's block is common. Borrowed books can't be kept unread for an indefinite period. Owning the book gives the freedom to choose the time, pace and duration of reading it," she remarked. On the other hand, revisiting old books during times of reading block can be quite comforting. In such cases, the individual considers having their collection of already-read books necessary.
However, she also spoke about the negative aspect of turning a book collection into an obsession. A term called 'Tsundoku', which originated in Japan, basically describes the habit of acquiring books to read them but then allowing them to pile up without actually getting around to reading them. According to Orchita, it is a phenomenon that many book lovers can relate to, as the allure of new books and the desire to expand one's collection can sometimes outpace the ability to read them all.
"In this case, the positive aspect of borrowed books comes with the explicit or implicitly uttered calls to return to them within a specific timeframe, where indulging in the luxury of keeping books unread is not possible, which is often practised with owned books."
On the other hand, like Tawhida, Orchita also has bad experiences regarding lending books. "People often don't return books borrowed from others, so I'm reluctant to lend my books. However, there is also a financial aspect to consider. If it becomes extremely inconvenient to purchase a book or a rare edition is involved, I can consider lending it to someone nearby."
The primary and foremost reason behind borrowing books is often related to financial constraints, where any reader can relate it to their childhood memories of reading books when they had limited resources.
"I started reading books when I was in sixth/seventh grade. If I bought 10 per cent, I would borrow 90 per cent of the books because I had limited money. Besides, at that age, spending my money on books didn't feel that important," said Farzana Alam Protiva, a Graphic Design student at Rajshahi University.
However, after spending some time immersed in books, Protiva developed a strong desire to revisit the old books suddenly and unexpectedly. She added, "For example, the golden hour of a sunny day calls me to read 'Aranyak;' waking up in a refreshing early morning, I want to read 'Ikigai;' in the solitude of a calm noon, I feel the urge to read 'Madhukari.' If I don't have those books in my access, fulfilling these desires becomes impossible. That made me purchase the books I need or like."
Apart from availability, another significant reason for buying books and keeping them in one's collection is the ability to personalise and annotate them.
"Although reading books was once for sheer pleasure, I read mostly to collect information at this stage of life. Also, my memory is not as sharp as in childhood or adolescence to accurately remember all the information," Adil Ahmed, an IELTS Invigilator of IDP Education Limited, shared. According to him, one can personalise it to his liking when he owns the book. He can underline, highlight, and write notes in the margins, making it a more interactive and immersive reading experience. This also helps him for future references or when he wants to revisit specific passages.
Whether to read books by purchasing or borrowing them entirely depends on individual preferences and circumstances. Due to cost-effectiveness or limited storage space, a person may prefer borrowing books. The thing in focus should be reading them properly.