Six Months of No Book Buying…

When I actually realised that I hadn’t bought a book for six months I almost had to have a little lie down. I know, I know, I imposed the rule on myself. It’s just that it seems to have gone so quickly. Has it been painless? Well that’s partly what today’s post about. Before I go any further though, I do want to talk about why I decided that I wouldn’t buy books for a year for those who have come into this all a little late.

The initial idea dawned on me as I was reading Susan Hill’s ‘Howards End is on the Landing’. Instead of buying new books as she normally would (though she carried on taking books for reviews/work), for one year Hill went through the books that she had bought over the years some she had read and some she hadn’t. I thought it sounded a good idea and with all the books coming in for my day job and the crazy amount that I was spending on book spree’s I wasn’t reading as much as I was buying. Nothing wrong with that but then again why not test myself. Not to the point of being a martyr or anything. And it has actually been a test especially as I have spent six months missing these…

Oh those charity shop shelves…

Yes the charity shopping has been the hardest thing that I have actually had to avoid, especially when I have been taking lots and lots of bags up there myself.  Gone are the days when I would leave with about as many as I had dropped off. Oh how I do miss them. However, I have the insatiable desire for more; which used to stray into binge buying which verges on wastefulness and hoarding. It was like an addiction, one that had spiralled dangerously so that was another reason to stop, not for good, but for twelve months.

I know how fortunate I am in getting the books that I do. I show you all of the loot that arrives not to show off but because I still get excited by any new book that comes through the door, just as I love seeing them on other blogs arriving. Now instead of book binges I list binge. I have lots of lists of what I want instead here there and everywhere around the house in several notebooks (a new addiction). This helped as at the weekend when The Converted One took me into my favourite charity shop and said “choose six, one for each month as a treat”. And so I did and walked away with…

  • A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch (keep getting recommended it on a certain site and it’s intrigued me, I loved the old penguin cover to, so 70’s)
  • In Praise of Older Women – Stephen Vizinczey (this has been heavily pushed at Waterstones and I seem to be seeing the naked lady on the cover everywhere)
  • Mosquito – Roma Tearne (a rogue choice, but have The Swimmer and Brixton Beach on the TBR and this was pristine)
  • Lantern Lecture – Adam Mars-Jones (loved Pilcrow and this is a rare copy of his short stories which won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1981 – yes before I was born)
  • Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels (lots of bloggers have raved about this book and it’s been noted)
  • Cloudstreet – Tim Winton (the lovely Evie Wyld made me want to read this one when she got a Savidge Grilling!)

All in all I did well, I could have come away with triple, instead I mulled it all over. I think The Converted One was impressed, though maybe not by how long the mulling took! So here’s to the next six months… and the twelve books I get at the end, ha!

What do you think of my selection? What have you had a good book binge on of late? If you have stopped buying books, as it seems to have been a movement this year, what have you found the hardest thing? Why is it when we have lots of books we always want more?


Filed under Book Thoughts

36 responses to “Six Months of No Book Buying…

  1. Haha, I acquired over 100 books in May 🙂 I don’t get as many free books as you so I doubt I’d be able to give up purchasing books, but I really should use the library more – I used to just get library books and then buy books for holidays (i.e. big treat) but what with blogging I often find myself after books which the library doesn’t have… I still have list mania too. I’m impressed anyway, it’s strong resolve.

    • Blimey 100 books I am most jealous Verity, feel free to wing any cast offs my way, actually I havent counted how many review copies I got in May, I might have to start… I can see a new spreadsheet coming lol.

  2. Congratulations on making it to the 6 month mark Simon! I am very impressed as this is something I just don’t think I could do although my partner and I have started a new strict budget routine that so far hasn’t involved books (although shoes have been sacrificed which is almost as difficult for me!). Buying books is such a treat and a pleasure for me – sometimes it even takes over the pleasure of reading them which is not really something I want – I think I should try a leaf out of your book (no pun intended!!)…

    • Hahahaha good that so far your new budget excludes books as that would be a hell of a thing. Shoes or books… I would have to stick with books over shoes. Plus if you wear through all your shoes you just HAVE to buy more!

      Book buyings always been a treat for me and next year will be an amazing treat, I jkust felt I ws abusing it by just going mad and then reading half, if that, of what I bought.

  3. I find it interesting that as you make your six-month mark, I’ve amassed too many books lately, and a lot of them come from your recommendations. Hm. That said, I bought Shane Jones’ novel a few hours ago, and am reading it right now. And I’ve mentioned that I bought Sam Savage’s other book, given that I got and loved Firmin. :]

    I’ve actually resolved–right after stepping out of the bookstore–that I’m going to lessen book-buying. I can’t go completely without it, haha, and I very rarely get books from anywhere else. Maybe just one to two books per month?

    But you’re right–too many books are being brought in, and I’m not reading a lot of them. I dream of the time that I look at my bookshelves and say, “Oh, I’ve read all of them.” And then happily set out for the bookstore.

    I am starting . . . two weeks from now. [There’s a sale coming, haha.]

    You are an inspiration!

    PS – For May, I actually put up a reading schedule, to make sure I get to spread my net a little over my TBR.
    PPS – I wonder, when is your self-imposed book ban ending?

    • I am very aware how ironic it is I am on a book buying ban and yet urging people to go out and buy more, its one of lifes little mysterious wonders hahaha. Then again my no book buying ban wasnt to stop others buying books or say buying books is wrong!

      Next year for me is about buying again, but books I really crave rather than ‘just because I can’.

      The ban ends DecJan 1st 2011 when I will be in Brazil!

      • It’s all part of your evil plan, I am sure. ;]

        Also, I launched a loose book buying ban last Sunday, upon putting up a post of new books. It was my first day this afternoon. I went into a bookstore. So much pain, really, longing and despair, hahaha. I give myself a week.

        I admire your fortitude. And I’m sure a lot of us are excited–but not as much as you–when you head to Brazil. :]

      • I do have an evil plan and it does involve making you all buy heaps and heaps of books… oh no have I given the game away now? Whoops.

  4. Hello fellow no book-buyer! Well done you. I am also in my sixth month and the only book I have bought in that time was one birthday present to myself, which was allowed. Other than that, despite severe temptation, I have not succumbed. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading books I’ve hoarded for years in some cases, and weeding out my overstuffed bookshelves. I am a reformed addict and I will never go back to my former ways. I have become much more considered and less impulsive about everything I buy as a consequence of this book banning and I’ve realised how little of what I think I want is actually necessary. When you’re buying things to make you happy, that’s not a good sign. Realising that a lot of my book purchases were to ‘cheer me up’ during a difficult time emotionally made me look at myself and think, actually, you should be sorting out why you feel bad rather than buying stuff for a temporary mood fix. Now I’ve sorted out my emotional life and got myself back on track, I’ve just stopped feeling compelled to buy things. It’s amazing! So even in six months when the ban is officially over, I can’t see myself going out and binging on books again. I’d rather make a considered purchase of a book I know I’ll really enjoy and treasure rather than buying up tons of books in one go that will sit and fester until I get around to reading them!

    • Wonderful comment fellow no book buyer, I will simply say ditto to…

      I have become much more considered and less impulsive about everything I buy as a consequence of this book banning and I’ve realised how little of what I think I want is actually necessary.

      That to me because self indulgent and wasteful and so I will be reigning that in from now on!

  5. Even though you seem to get loads of books coming through your door, they are not of your choosing, which does make a difference no? And that Converted One…he is just a peach! What a wonderful gift! Fugitive Pieces has been on my list for at least a year or two. I intended to read it for the WWII challenge last year, but got caught up in other books instead. Please read and persuade me, like you usually do!

    • Thank you Sandy, some one who gets the ‘not every book that arrives through Savidge Reads door is a book I have chosen’ I do sometimes wonder if people think I sit somewhere and simply rub my hands like an evil genius with all the books arriving that I may have no desire or intention of reading hahaha.

      Some of them I ask for, some are utter treats to find and others well… others are not so much.

  6. You have done really well if you have been able to hold back for six months. The lot you have picked up seems really varied.

  7. I’m on a ‘get to grips with the TBR pile’ thing at the mo. Which is difficult, considering I work in a really good charity bookshop and a library. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic bartender.

    • There is much to be said for a ‘get to grips’ phase with your TBr and I do like to have a thinning and clearing out phase now and again. However working in a charity bookshop and library would be too much surely lol.

  8. That is a truly wonderful gift! I am very impressed by your six month streak of not buying. I myself am going to try a semi ban to get through what I have – though I know I don’t have the incredible self-control you have so am giving myself loopholes so that I can occasionally get one or two! You are definitely an inspiration though 😀

  9. Bet

    I have severely curtailed my book buying this year, due to a couple of factors: an economic downturn in our household and the realization that if I were for some reason forbidden from leaving my house I would still have enough reading material, between my new, unread books and ones that I want to re-read, to last for at least 2 years! So I have been using the library even more than usual and most of my new (to me) acquisitions have been from I must say, I do not feel deprived in any way, as I have read many great books already this year.

    There are books all over the house, not just on the 15’long by 8′ high bookshelves in the family room! I don’t know why we feel this compulsion to keep on buying, but for me I think it is an irrational fear that I need to have a stockpile so that there will never be a moment in which I can’t find a good book to read. “I read, therefore I am.”

    • I think I might have enough reading material to last me about 6 – 8 years currently, which is always good to know should there be a nuclear strike.

      Books all over the house sounds like a lovely house to visit, unless like happened recently in my residence a guest fell over a pile, oh dear!

  10. gaskella

    That’s a nice selection of different reads – and a lovely surprise gift too. I do my best to make up for all those on Book Buying Bans by binging far too often. After acquiring 6 books at the weekend in Croydon Waterstones, I managed to buy 3 more today in my local indie shop. It’s so difficult to resist.

    • I have to say I was thrilled with this as a treat it meant lots and lots to me, espcially as charity shopping for books is one of the pass times that I have missed the most.

  11. Deb

    Inspired by you and some other bloggers who are trying to go “cold turkey” on the book buying (and acknowledging the fact that I have at least 300 books in my tbr pile, er, mountain), I decided to buy no more books until my the tbr books were no longer dominating an entire wall in my den. This included a pledge not bo buy anything at the quarterly Friends of the Library Sale (used books at pennies on the dollar), which has been the hardest because that was where most of my books came from. However, I have allowed myself to continue checking books out of the library because those books do not stay in my house but are (eventually!) returned. I thought I was making a bit of an inroad on the pile unti recently when my mother (also an avid reader) came for a visit and brought me two bags of books to add to TBR Mountain…but at least I didn’t pay for any of those–and I gave her some books from the tbr pile figuring that they would one day make their way back to me after Mum’s read them.

    BTW, Simon, I’m relatively new to reading your blog and I’m just curious–from what was “The Converted One” converted?

    • The Converted One was converted from being The Non Reader, mind you he seems to be slowly but surely converting back again which I am rather unimpressed with. Lol.

      I am jealous you have a book den, I want one!

  12. Deb

    And just a quick follow-up, I love A SEVERED HEAD. I’m a huge Iris Murdoch fan and I think it’s one of her most accessable novels.

  13. I have been jealous of your charity store shopping in the past, but perhaps it is a good thing that there are none near me — I would spend all my time and money there!

    What a thoughtful gesture of the Converted One!

  14. You’ve done very well! Six months is quite the accomplishment. Although I haven’t gone cold turkey, I have “re-discovered” the library. I forgot how convenient and fun the library can be. I’ve probably bought no more than 6 or 7 books since January, mainly because of budgeting necessity.

    Think of all the money we’ve all saved! Cha-ching!

    • I have rediscovered the library too Lydia, its a shame that they have rediscovered that I owe them a ridiculous fictitious amount of money though! I don’t (though I do owe some recent overdue fines which I am happy to pay!)

  15. i really enjoyed the wintons i ve read he is such a engaing writer ,all the best stu

  16. I haven’t officially stopped buying books but have just dialed it back once my stacks started approaching 150 unread books. I don’t print out every coupon I receive and I really only attend the best sales (a local independent book store is having 40% off of their used copies — which are always pristine — at the end of the month and I’m guessing that I will be there!). That said, my lists are getting out of control and I still want to read more books than I will ever have time for.

    • Yes I think had my stacks of books only been 150 or even 300 I might just have reigned it in, as it is I just needed to stop for a while, I thought a year would be enough… not sure now!

  17. Ti

    I wrote this big, long response and wordpress blitzed out and lost it. UGH.

    Anyway, I am only buying what I absolutely have to have and it must be read immediately. I have books from last year that were supposed to be big summer blockbusters but reading them in the fall or winter didn’t sound appealing so they sat, unread.

    This year, I buy, I read…right away. That’s the only way for me now.

    • Oh dear sorry WordPress misbehaved, it happens wioth me too though so fear not!

      I like the idea of buying and reading right away, sadly I think that those days may be long gone for me.

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