ooks come to mean so many things at Swarthmore. At times, they are heavy and burdensome, seeming to have a magical ability to induce yawning and droopy eyelids. Other days we can't put them down, finding ideas on their pages that make us think, question, and wonder. At these times, they bring out the best in us, and are a quintessential part of the Swarthmore experience.
Given the mixed feelings books elicit, it is no surprise that students constantly question just how many they want in their lives, and for how long they plan to keep them. After considering the habits of my friends, classmates, and family, and then interjecting plenty of personal opinion and bias, I've come to some conclusions.
The first, simply, is that books are meant to be read. Having lots of books and never reading them is no better than not having the books at all. If you know you aren't going to read a book, you probably don't need to buy it in the first place. Still, trying to read most of the books on your reading lists is generally key to success.
As an economics major, I'm tempted to argue that students engage in sophisticated (if unconscious) cost-benefit analysis, considering their individual budget constraints, the marginal benefit of each page read, and present discounted values of possible future resale income. But as a borderline bibliophile, I'm tempted to wax poetic on the inherent value of books. For this tendency, I blame my family. My parents recently moved into a much smaller house. Throughout the process, my father's unwavering insistence that he had already narrowed his book collection as much as he possibly could was hilarious. Somehow, my mother wasn't as convinced that he couldn't survive without the outdated textbooks from his freshman year.
And then there are those books that you aren't too sure you care about. Consider keeping them for a while. Later down the line, you might think of someone who would really enjoy them, or find new meaning in them yourself. Whatever you do, don't let the general stress of finals cause you to purge everything that reminds you of college. Someday you'll want to hold on tight to every memory of freshman year, including the books.