Could This Be The Last Book Binge?

Now this is going to be the last pile of books that I have bought you will be seeing for a while as I have decided to now officially test myself and see how long I can go without buying a book. There are a few reasons for this. The main one (at the moment) is that I am seriously considering, and I have mentioned this a few times of late, seeing if I could manage not to buy a single book in 2010. Pick your jaws up off the floor, or the pages of your book, I am being quite serious. Could I spend a year not buying any books at all? At the moment I am in the ‘yes I could’ camp, mind you shortly you will see a picture that will make you all say ‘pah… as if’.

There are two more factors one of which has been watching Verity of The B Files curbing, well actually stopping, her spenditure on books which is making for really interesting reading and she is doing amazingly well. The other factor is my own binge spending knows no limits; as can be shown by the array of books I came back with from the north last weekend. Do note I didn’t spend more than 50p on a single book in fact most of them were 25p. That’s what I love about it up home in the north everything is cheaper even the second hand shops. It also illustrates why it’s best I don’t live there. As you will see though every book had a reason for being bought…

The Final Book Binge?

  • The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor (Gran keeps telling me its his best)
  • The Ghost Road – Pat Barker (I like paperbacks normally but this Man Booker winner I never find and like the Trevor above was 25p for a hardback)
  • Surfacing – Margaret Atwood (I love this green Virago edition)
  • The Tortoise and the Hare – Elizabeth Jenkins (everyone’s recommended it to me)
  • The Body of Jonah Boyd – David Leavitt (really hard to get hold of new which I have been wanting to for ages)
  • Instances of the Number 3 – Salley Vickers (am planning a Vickers binge)
  • Dubliners – James Joyce (no luck with Ulysses lets try this)
  • Incendiary – Chris Cleave (meant to get this from publishers but Royal Mail strikes mean it’s gotten lost and if does turn up I can do a giveaway, I also loved The Other Hand)
  • Queens – Pickles (this is an out of print book that came out in the 80’s and describes the underground gay scene in London and the secrecy is also very, very funny apparently)
  • After You’d Gone – Maggie O’Farrell (have been wanting to read more of her since The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox which was superb)
  • Mr Golightly’s Holiday – Salley Vickers (another one for the Vickers binge)
  • Gigi & The Cat – Colette (an author always wanted to read)
  • To Love & Be Wise – Josephine Tey (want to read one Tey book before start Nicola Upson’s books where Josephine is the main character)
  • The Blessing – Nancy Mitford (just because it’s Nancy Mitford need I say more?)
  • A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry (several people have said this is one of their favourites)

Now in total this book binge came to the whopping price of £4.75!!! An utter bargain, but then I have to think actually in reality how long will it take me to read all these fifteen books? It’s that which makes me think maybe, just maybe, I should try and not buy anything next year. After all I get review copies in the post so that’s latest books covered, there is always the library which I am using more often now but not making the most, plus I do own over 600 books I haven’t read. There are also gifts and swaps. As the picture below demonstrates…

Gifts and Swaps

Only at book group on Thursday did Kimbofo give me a copy of David Vann’s ‘Legend of A Suicide’ which I have been really hankering after. Novel Insights sent me a surprise gift copy of The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit from Amazon after she saw I had loved Tuck Everlasting. Also through ReadItSwapIt I have rid myself of some books I thought were duds but other people wanted and gotten Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie and, another book for the Salley Vickers binge, Where Three Roads Meet. So could this be the very last book binge? Well I cant say for definate as if I am not to buy a book throughout the whole of 2010 I may need one final mass binge to see me through. For now though let’s just see how the rest of November goes and if I can manage that small amount of time!

Have you been on a book binge of late? Are you under a book ban? How do you cope with the guilt after a binge, if you have any, or the restraint a ban takes? Have you read any of the above? Have you any advice for me? Should I try a year with no book buying?


Filed under Book Spree, Book Thoughts

42 responses to “Could This Be The Last Book Binge?

  1. Thanks for the link Simon – I am really impressed with how I am doing, it has been over three weeks since I bought a book, DVD or anything for myself (apart from the nose!). I have to say if I’d been faced with such a cheap bookshop I might have found it hard to resist.
    What is interesting is seeing how much one really wants a title; there are a couple of books now that I am absolutely desperate for, but it will be so wonderful when I eventually get them. Other books I might have bought but have actually lost the impetus to pursue by leaving it for a few days. I have also been given added momentum by the fact that I am now the sole breadwinner for our household, so it is difficult to justify buying books now.
    I think a year with no book-buying might be very hard; the library has made up for the lack of expenditure for me. I have decided that one needs to be realistic; I thought a month was the longest that I could do, so I set 6 weeks as my target. I am worried though that I will just have a big splurge when it is all over.

    • I have been so impressed honestly Verity. Yes if you see cheap book shops its hard but then I simply shouldnt have gone into them should I?

      I think the whole seeing how much you actually want a book would be very very interesting.

      I think a whole year could be a killer but with the amount of books I dont buy that come through my door every month it could be doable. We will see how this month goes I guess.

  2. armen

    hmmm, a very tough challenge but you can do it 🙂
    i can do the “not reading”, but not buying? no chance!!
    good luck for 2010.

  3. I have no doubt that you would have plenty to read (600 books?) if you didn’t buy anything for TWO years. I know that would be the case with me, plus I have a phenomenal library. Still, I just have to ask the question…is it really necessary to restrain yourself? Life is short. I know it sounds dire, but I often ask myself “on my deathbed, am I going to say I wish I would have worked more/bought less books/given up more desserts?”

  4. The charity idea is fantastic and would help you stick to it (I’d probably do getting sponsored per month you keep it up, in case temptation is too strong). I’m on a buying ban now, but I get to buy one new books after every 15 books I read (that can take about 2 – 3 months). I’ve now just finished number 8 since the ban began and starting to feel the strain.

    • I think the Charity idea would also really keep me inline hahahaha. I think I know quite a lot of people who would sponsor me too as its no easy feat.

      I like the way you started from fifteen and went down to eight, I tried this once and think managed two books before bought some more.

      • I tried cutting down on expenditure last Lent – I tried giving up buying books but it didn’t quite work, and gave half of what I saved to charity. Hope it works a bit better this Lent!

  5. I think that unless you are consciously trying to save money then there would be more interest in reading from home for a year and focusing on the books you finally read than restraining yourself from buying for a year. Focus on the positive rather than the negative but also don’t deprive yourself.

    I haven’t purchased a book for six weeks and that was for a book that I desperately wanted to pre-order but which ended up a disappointment; before that it was around five weeks. However, no money is a great incentive.

    I couldn’t have resisted such a cheap haul either! The difference in prices up North is amazing. I have read Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and enjoyed it although I know people who hated it (I found it very exceptionally well-written and erudite, very feminist in its outlook and experimental with language). I love the green Virago editions of her work and own a couple of her earlier works in those).

    I adore Colette and Gigi and The Cat are fabulous, especially The Cat, which is so far my favourite of her works.

    A Fine Balance is an amazing book and thoroughly devastating.

    • Thats what I mean though Claire as if I am not buying books I will have to read more of what I have got. I get additionals anyways now for one of my new jobs which involves reviews so will have a supply of fresh stuff coming in.

      I also just like the idea of seeing how far I can push myself and learning about myself I wouldnt do it to deprive myself of books lifes to short. Now that the idea of charity is in there too its looking even more appealing.

      Praise indeed for The Cat I sadly cant count it as one of my novella’s when I do read it tut! A Fine Balance is one of Jackies favourites too.

  6. adevotedreader

    Good luck at reining in your book buying Simon, this pile should keep you going for a while.

    I must warn you After You’d Gone is a tear jerker, memorable and moving. I can’t wait for Maggie O’Farrell to publish another novel!

    On a much lighter note The Blessing is great fun although Love in a cold climate is where I’d start on Nancy Mitford.

    • Oh I like a good tear jerker so After You’d Gone should be great.

      I am a massive Nancy Mitford fan and adored The Pursuit of Love and will actually be reading Love in a Cold Climate in a week or two. I am really excited hearing Highland Fling is getting re-issued.

  7. I agree with adevotedreader, “After You’d Gone” is a superb book, even though very sad in parts.

    Sadness is part of life, of course, though whether you should make yourself sad by pledging to not buy any books for a whole year is a good question. As others have suggested, having a clear and positive motive, such as a desire to read some of the unread books that you already have, would probably help.

    Given your ‘blogging breakdown’ thing the other week, it seems to me that you should avoid making any plan that is simply going to result in making yourself feel guilty. You could end up replacing guilt at not having conquered a large TBR pile, with guilt at having succumbed to buying something new. With some notable exceptions (dentistry textbooks for example?), books are there to be enjoyed not stressed over. Maybe you could pledge to only buy second hand books for a year, thereby introducing an element of chance in to what you get hold of? Another alternative might be to set a small maximum number of titles that you will buy each month. This maximum number approach could have the benefit of forcing you to choose what you really want to read, limiting the size of your TBR pile and thereby reducing guilt.

    By the way, I hope I don’t come across like some kind of smug life coach who has it all sorted. I am a champion worrier. If worrying about things was an Olympic sport I would be in with a good chance of a gold medal in 2012. It just so happens that I don’t have a book buying problem: the library serves me well, and combined with books borrowed from friends and family, keeps me well stocked with reading matter all year round.

    • Hahahaha the life coach comment made me laugh just then.

      I am wanting to do this for the fact I have a huge amount of books and think it would be an interesting and entertaining exercise. I don’t tend to do guilt as you can all probably see from the amount of books I buy, maybe I have written this post in the wrong tone.

      I want to read more classics and see where it all takes me wander of on journeys that are already lying in wait in my flat. I dont get stressed over books, blogging sometimes but never books hee hee.

  8. As you know I’m considering doing this too… a year of just reading the books from my TBR(s) and those sent to me for review… although I did try this once before and lasted about 6 weeks before I went and bought something!

    I had a book binge when I went to Edinburgh… sadly, it was about £50 worth of stuff bought at Waterstone’s rather than any bargain second-hand copies. I’ll post a piccie on my blog soonish…

    • Oooh I can’t wait for that picture Kim I am a glutton for pics of other peoples purchases.

      I think people think the idea behind this new possible venture is guilt which it isnt, I just think I might be neglecting some great books and really should give the ones I already have more of a chance. I might not last a day, then again it could change me forever (unlikely hahahaha).

  9. I’m certain I couldn’t do what you’re considering. I’m blessed in having a fantastic indie bookshop in town and I see it as my duty to help them stay in business – besides the owners are now friends – I couldn’t abandon them!

    The charity route would give you an added incentive – I’d sponsor you.

    • Well if you have an indie book shop locally I can completely understand why you would want to help them out. I just have a very cheap charity shop down the road whom I am always wanting to help out and it becomes a problem, not of money, more of space.

  10. caroline

    Looks like a great selection of books for only £4.25. I have a number of cheap, second hand book shops near to me and find the result is that I buy so very many books that the unread piles in my house are getting out of hand.

    I am buying at a much faster rate than I am reading and soon will be overwhelmed with unshelved books that I find hard to cull.

    I once gave up book buying for Lent , a whole 40 days!!. I stuck to it and felt very pleased with myself and of course celebrated the end of Lent with a book binge to beat all book binges!

    Good luck if you decide to give up book buying until after Christmas. I might just join you.

    • Thanks Caroline and if people do want to join in then thats great. I am impressed by the 40 days Lent giving up, I will need as many tips from you as possible.

      Can you imagine the book binge that you could go on after not having bout one for a year. It would be unbelieveable. A binge to end all binges.

    • Caroline – I am planning to do that for Lent this year too.

  11. Lucy Gault is the only William Trevor that I’ve read but I liked it and plan to find more at some point. And all of the Josephine Tey books are almost equally good. I’m going to do a Tey re-read batch sometime soon.

    What if you get everyone who wants to join you to admit to their home TBR numbers and then commit to reducing it by a certain number or percentage in the coming year? Maybe if you make it a community event, it will be more incentive to stick with it. I also really like the charity idea.

    • The idea of reducing peoples percentage if they would like to I am all for. If people want to join in then thats great.

      The main idea, selfishly, was just for me to give up. The more the merrier I say. It’s the charity aspect that I am really now thinking about, could be very intresting to make money for charity only deciding which one could be a nightmare.

  12. A Fine Balance is definitely one of my faves – hope you enjoy it! As to the possible book buying ban for 2010 – I would wish you all the luck in the world and I would be very interested to follow your progress through the year – but I am afraid I would be too weak willed to join you!!

    • Hahahaha I am not expecting anyone to join in, though if people wanted to then they would be more than welcome to. My main aim is to undertake a bit of an experiment for myself, and now raise some money for charity. Lets see how November goes.

  13. Hi, Simon! Good luck on your plan for next year! I have to admit that I’ve thought of going on a self-imposed moratorium on book buying, but it doesn’t seem to pan out. I always see a book in a bookstore that somehow keeps calling my name!

    Regarding A Fine Balance, I’m sure you’ll love it. I really enjoyed this novel — it’s just so heartbreaking but beautifully written. I’ve read Mistry’s Family Matters, and I liked it as well. Mistry’s India is gritty. But I think that, at heart, the author is still a romantic. He loves his India so much.

    You’ve given up on Ulysses? Why? I was looking forward to reading your thoughts about it. Although, I recall that it took me more than 2 months to finish it. It does take stamina and willpower to go through all of Joyce’s allusions.

    I think I’ll do try to cut down on my book buying next year. I’ve decided to read non-contemporary books next year, as I realized that there are so many classics that I haven’t even read.

    • Hahahaha I have the exact same things between myself and book stores but at the moment seeing as have been home feeling ropey most of the weekend (more on this later) I have as yet not had an urge to spend.

      Looking forward to A Fine Balance more and more though at the moment am in the mood for comfort reads which will also be posting about more in the week. As to Ulysses its only a temporary giving up. I wasnt enjoying it and theres lots of other stuff I would rather read at the moment but I havent got rid of it, just now isnt the right reading time.

  14. Rhian

    That’s a good haul! Good luck on your book ban. I really ought to do the same – I don’t dare count my TBR pile, but I would bet on it being more than 600! Having said which I have acquired another 6 books in the last 10 days – but 3 of them don’t count as they came free with the Times. And 2 were boot sale purchases so they don’t count either, do they? And the last was a gift which definitely doesn’t count.

    • Hahahaha I love the fact that actually none of them really count. Car boot sale ones do count I think hahaha. Sorry to burst that denial bubble.

      I have managed three days now and am doing quite well though a trip to Hammersmith this afternoon could change everything.

      • Rhian

        OK – I’ll grant you that boot sale books have to be counted (although if you don’t grab second hand books when you see them you may never see them again) – but I maintain I can discount the others. And if I count boot sales, I think I can discount exhibition catalogues, don’t you?

        The only way I can manage three days without buying any books is by not going near a any book shops of any sort. Not easy given where I work. Did your willpower hold out?

  15. Dot

    That is a bargain price for all of those books, well done! I don’t think that I could go a whole year without buying a book, although I have acquired some brilliant titles on Readitswapit just lately! Can’t wait to see what you think of After You’d Gone, I must have read that book nearly 5 years ago and I still think about it.

  16. novelinsights

    I have a feeling I might become your ‘book dealer’…

  17. Simon, I think you should do it. I’m not imposing a book buying ban on myself, but next year my goal is to whittle down my TBR considerably. The aim is to finish off as much as I can from my shelves. The only purchases I must make are ones that I want to read immediately. Not to buy anything that will sit on the tbr for months (or years). Good luck!

  18. I loooooooved Search for Delicious!

  19. Simon, I look forward to following this experiment of yours as it plays out. Suffering vicariously along with you here while continuing to go on book-buying binges of my own! Seriously, the only way I could abstain from buying books for any length of time is to stay out of the bookstores altogether (which isn’t going to happen). Even with a great university library at my fingertips and dozens of unread books at home, I have absolutely zero willpower once I walk through the doorway of any halfway decent bookstore. Good luck and please keep us posted on your progress!

    • I think that avoiding book shops might become the theme of my year next year if this all goes ahead, which is looking very likely, if you dont wander in how can you buy any books?

      I will also be living vicariously through other peoples purchasing!

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