a bookish life · books

Book Origin Stories

Where do your books come from? What are the stories behind them?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the number of books I have, specifically the number of books I still need to read. I definitely have less books on my read shelves than my to be read shelves and though I fully intend to read every single book I own, I don’t help myself by continuing to buy more books. It is a real luxury to be able to afford as many books as I have and I don’t ‘need’ to own all of the books that I do.

At times, bookstagram can appear very materialistic – I am certainly envious of posts that show rooms filled with books and huge book hauls. It is also telling that bookstacks almost always do better than photos featuring a single book. There is a certain element of pressure to constantly be reading the latest releases and to be buying new, shiny books. I am guilty of making purchases based on what everyone is reading on bookstagram or buying a book because I’ve had a rubbish day and want to cheer myself up. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with that but I do want to make sure I’m buying my books consciously and that each book is one I really want to read.

So, I spent a long time looking at the books on my shelves and the reason that I bought them all. I can tell you where about 95% came from, and not just bought new vs. charity shop. I mean that I know that I bought Written in the Stars by Ali Harris in a specific Oxfam that my mum took me to and she was the one that spotted it because of the pretty lettering and the spine wasn’t broken, which she knows I prefer. I picked it up, thought the synopsis looked interesting and decided to get it. And I know that I bought Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan from a charity shop in Lancaster that almost always makes me anxious because you have to walk through the whole shop to get to the book section and it’s often busy. I almost didn’t go in, but I did and I found the book for 50p and it was a really cute Christmas read.

Yes, I do have a lot of books. But, for me, the books tell more stories than just the ones within them (very cheesy, I know). Some I did buy just because I saw them on bookstagram, but it’s often because I read a really beautiful review by a person whose opinion I trust or it’s their favourite book or they recommended it to me because they think I’ll enjoy it. And others have similar stories to the paragraph above.

I actually find it really interesting to see the background to books on people’s shelves. I like knowing why someone picked up a particular book; I think it adds something to the book. I have no idea if this is just me or if other people are the same, but I guess I’ll find out depending on who continues to read this post!

I asked my brother to pick 5 books randomly from my shelves to see if I could remember where they all came from. These are all still on my TBR but I know where they all came from and why I bought them. And I’m just going to tell you about it:

Under a Dancing Star

This is a charity shop purchase. It was the Oxfam bookshop in Lancaster, which is a tad pricier than other charity shops, but they have a really good selection. I hadn’t been having a successful morning, book purchasing-wise, but then I spotted Under a Dancing Star. I loved A Sky Painted Gold and want to read the rest of Laura Wood’s books. After this purchase, my book-buying day became a lot better as I ended up finding a cute stall at the market that sells books and I also bought Where the Crawdads Sing from Sainsbury’s as it was the buddy read pick for February.

You are a Badass

I bought this in a charity shop after Christmas, thinking it was by the same author as The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**K. It’s not. That book is written by Sarah Knight, and You are a Badass is by Jen Sincero. But, I still like reading non-fiction and hope to pick this one up at some point. It was hardly my best find in that particular shop though – it was in this shop that I also found my first edition of The Night Circus (for £1.25). I knew it was a very popular book but at that point I hadn’t read The Starless Sea (my favourite book, in case I don’t mention it enough!) and so I picked it up based on bookstagram recommendations. If I had left it and then read The Starless Sea, I would’ve been forever annoyed at myself. I do think it is the best book I’ve ever found in a charity shop.


I bought this as part of the 3 for £1 offer in my favourite charity shop in Lancaster. I wanted to buy Lullaby and thought I’d take advantage of the offer, so I picked up Damage and Rules by Jenny Colgan. I’d had a bit of a rubbish couple of days at the time, and had gone to cheer myself up. It definitely worked.

The Power

This is one of the two books I bought at the market stall on the same occasion I found Under a Dancing Star – somehow my brother managed to choose two books I bought on the same occasion. I really love wandering around the market on a Saturday and there is a stall filled with books for £1. I had a nice browse and bought The Power as I’d seen it recently on bookstagram, and also Throne of Glass, which I’ve since decided not to read.

The Wayward Girls

And finally, something a bit different. I won The Wayward Girls in a giveaway run by a lovely bookstagrammer, Zoë. It wasn’t the first giveaway I have been lucky enough to win on bookstagram, but it was the first time I sent a book to my new university address! I was so excited to receive it, and I’ve actually been saving it to read this October as it looks like such a spooky and very Halloweeny read.

So, those are 5 random book origin stories. Again, I’m not sure if anyone else actually finds this sort of thing interesting, but I found it quite fun to think about where all my books came from.

Let me know one of your book origin stories in the comments.

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