Book Buying Ban Update & Lessons Learned

As you might know, I’ve started the year with a book buying ban, which is going okay so far. I only bought one book last month, which was for a book club I really wanted to be a part of. In this post I’ll tell you a few of the challenges I’ve found, the ways I’ve been able to resist buying books even while going into bookstores, and some unexpected thinking about my reading habits, why I read, and how this has affected my reading beliefs.

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The view from the second floor of one of our favorite thrift stores

Challenge #1. Thrift stores.

My family and I love going to thrift stores, we say we are just going to browse but it really is to find things like clothes or stuffed animals or even kitchen stuff that is barely used for a great price. For me though, it’s all about the books. It’s a family outing and, when I decided on the book buying ban, I didn’t realize how it would affect these weekend activities. So, the first time this year that we went to Goodwill, one of our usual spots, I realized that it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.

All thrift stores have at least one full bookcase full of books, and usually, my feet just go on automatic and take me to these sections. So before I knew it I was standing in front of the bookcases at Goodwill and realized the big mistake I was making! O.O… I stood there, staring at the books and simply fled to another area of the store! Of course, my mind kept me wondering… Are there new books? Was that Stephen King book I spotted last time still there? Not only that but I also realized that it was something of a ritual, I would go to the bookshelves, start from right to left and simply browse them and fix the books where needed (books were upside down, series that were separated…why do people do that?!).

I knew that I didn’t want to stay home in future trips and so I decided to go back to the bookshelves, do my little ritual, and be happy to at least visit the books. If I ended up seeing a book I really wanted I simply said “Not right now, sorry book”, and moved on. It’s not as easy as it sounds but I felt incredibly accomplished when I walked out of that store with my hands free of books (And I did buy some shoes I actually needed!).

Challenge #2. Online deals.

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So I’m a member of a few book selling websites (Barnes and Noble, Half Price Books, Amazon, Kindle, etc) and of course they send me information about deals and coupons and buy two paperbacks get one free, etc. Which usually don’t grab my attention because I prefer (1000X) to go to the physical stores and buy books there. However, now I find that I actually click on the deal and browse the books online!

Again, I use the same ritual of “Not right now, sorry book” when I really can’t help myself and I click on stuff. I do avoid clicking on Amazon deals because of that handy-dandy One-click purchase button they have… XD

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My sister’s book haul! (I’ll definitely read these but at the end of the year I hope)

Challenge #3. My sister.

Now, I love my sister, there’s no denying that. She loves books as well, and as she’s grown older (she’s 15 now), she’s definitely more independent with her reading and will, on occasion, buy her own books.

However, as she tells me about all these new books she bought (that I actually also want to read!) I feel that urge to go and buy books myself! I didn’t realize that my impulse to buy books was this strong! So my sister bought some books the other day and they were sitting there, brand new and unopened (except for the one she was reading). And what did I do? Well, after battling between going out the door to buy books or opening my computer to buy more books, I ended up going to my own bookcase and looking at my unread books.

Overall I think that the rush of buying a new book is the result of the need to add new stories and perspectives to my collection of books. But I’ve realized that I can go into the dangerous territory of buying books simply for the act of buying them and having them in my hands. It’s not bad to collect things, but I want my library to be meaningful to me and to whoever will look at it decades later. I realized that I don’t want to simply collect books, I want to read my books, especially those that I have had for a while and to discover why I got them in the first place.

There are so many books out there, as there are stars, but I can’t discover them all if I rush through them. I must take my time and enjoy them one at a time and realize their meaning and context in our world today.

So in many ways this Book Buying Ban has helped me realize some aspects of what I want out of my reading, it’s helped me be more thoughtful about what I read, and in some ways it’s made me read a bit more slowly. I don’t feel like I’m pressured to read fast because there are so many books out there and I want to get to them all, I simply have to read whatever I’m reading now because I want to read that book and that’s it!

Another effect of this ban has affected my Instagram profile… I don’t post as much as before, but whatever I post about is a bit more thought out. I don’t have any book hauls and I mostly post about the books I’m currently reading or am excited to read next. I’m not super concerned about this though because I realized that I enjoy the deeper conversations that might arise from these posts more than the superficial aspect of a cool photo (not saying that that isn’t also awesome, I still love taking simple and beautiful photographs, but it’s good to focus on deeper discussions as well). I still want to find a balance on the posts I make for Instagram so that’s a work in progress.

These challenges have become opportunities to learn about myself and my reading. I’ll keep running away from new books until July or until I read 50 books, whichever comes first (I’m on books 8, 9, and 10 right now). And I’ll keep enjoying each book I read to the fullest without too much pressure of all the books out there.

What do you think? How does your book buying habits affect your reading? Do you feel the pressure of “all the books out there” like I do?

3 thoughts on “Book Buying Ban Update & Lessons Learned

  1. I don’t put myself on bans, but I do try to limit my dollar amount per month (which I totally blew this month because a store was closing and every book was $2 and I’m weak). That makes me more selective about my choices and I’m really trying to focus on the books I already know I want, versus random ones that sound like they might be good. I’m also thinking harder about what I want in a book in hopes of avoiding those books that I thought would be good and I end up disliking. Good luck keeping up that ban! I admire your strength!

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