I am a self-confessed bibliophile. If my the size of my house allowed it, I would have bookshelves in every room, and they would be filled to the brim. As it is, I have bookshelves in my bed room, dining room and office...and they are filled to the brim. I also have boxes of books stashed away...books I'll probably never read (or read again), but I'm not ready to purge them from my collection just yet.
Along with novels and various topical non-fiction, I always manage to amass huge collections of books aligned with the topics of any hobbies or passionate interests I develop. My scrapbooking obsession? Yeah...dozens and dozens of books on that subject. Photography? A respectable shelf-full. Christianity and religion? Stacks, which include at least a dozen different Bibles.
And so we come to knitting. I only went whole-hog on knitting last January, though I had a couple books around before that. Since then, though? Thirty-six books. Thirty-six. That is an average knitting book purchase of 3.6 books per month. And I can tell you that working at the knitting shop has only furthered this habit because now I see all the new, pretty books as soon as they come in. And I can buy them at a discount. Dan-ger-ous.
I was adding some of my books to my Ravelry "library" today, and it very coolly then also links the books to any patterns you've used from them. I only have about 2/3 of my books listed there because of the way their book system is set up currently, but of those 24-ish books, I was surprised to see that I've only used five of them for a total of seven patterns (two of which I made twice). That hardly seemed right! I've done a ton of knitting this year, and while I've gotten some patterns online and bought others at the shop, I'm always looking at my knitting books, so it seems I've had to have used them more than that!
Then it dawned on me...even though I don't use the book patterns as much as I think I do, they do offer me scads of inspiration. I get ideas from them. I learn techniques from them. I glean from them and then use the information in different ways.
Not to say I don't have a list a mile long of patterns from books that I'd like to make some day. I definitely do. But I think it's cool that isn't the only use for them. And in some instances -- like, The Natural Knitter -- the books have such beautiful pictures in them that I love to just flip through them and gaze lovingly...especially at the sheep. :)