Getting older is, of course, constant. But every year these things are marked. And this post marks  another year for me.

It also means I’ve been reflecting, as people do on these occasions, and one thing that has really come to the surface is that I’ve got a little too ‘one-click’ happy.

Seriously. I’ve bought a scary amount of ebooks since my Kindle’s arrival. I’ve also been noticing a trend from doing The Readers podcast. There are too many books I want to read and not enough getting through them.

It’s not surprising really. It’s the nature of being a book addict and book blogger. But sometimes these things get out of hand. So I’ve come up with a couple of solutions. And if you listened to the latest episode of the The Readers you know what one of those is going to be.

The first one is that I’m initiating a book buying ban starting today (this includes all forms and non-fiction). That doesn’t sound that bad considering that I’m lucky enough to receive copies of books for review from publishers. But that doesn’t explain how I’ve bought and not yet read unread  38 novels ebooks this year (I’m not counting non-fiction or short fiction).

Some highlights include:

  • Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories: Volumes I and II by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King
  • Napoleon’s Pyramids (Ethan Gage 1) by William Dietrich
  • The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel by Conor Fitzgerald
  • Still Life by Louise Penny
  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami

And it doesn’t explain either how I had a last minute panic last night and clicked and bought:

  • Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries) by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop by Gladys Mitchell
  • Tales of Horror and the Supernaturall by Arthur Machen

Or why I have a proper pile including:

  • The Winter of Our Disconnect: How One Family Pulled the Plug on their Technology and Lived to Tell/Text/Tweet the Tale by Susan Maushart
  • The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  • The Berlin Novels: “Mr Norris Changes Trains”, “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood
  • The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers
  • Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense by Jack Dann, Nick Gevers
  • This Night’s Foul Work by Fred Vargas, Trans Sian Reynolds
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurie
  • A Study in Sherlock – Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon

These are all in a nice sculpture in front of me.

That’s quite a selection if I do say so myself and it doesn’t include that much SFF as I consider it  my main staple reading diet and these represent a form of escapism or veering away from that.. You can also see there a book called The Winter of Our Disconnect, which bring me to the other things that inspired this challenge.

Thinking about what I do with my time. I want more time to read. I enjoy reading but I get distracted. I’ve also been thinking about other aspects of my life like my diet, clutter, and work. And slowly been trying to improve those parts of my life too.

One of the principles I’m slowly adopting is minimalism: reduce life to the essential. And it’s an ideal that I’m not following by constantly buying more books. So I think that reading 33 of my own bought books before buying any more is sensible. And I hope will teach me about enjoying what I have and appreciate why I wanted to buy them in the first place.

Not that I’m without books. I’ve got plenty. And the elephant in the room is that I get review copies from publishers. So this can’t be much of a challenge? I know it sounds daft but they are ‘work’ and the books I buy myself come with no obligations.

A subject we might touch on in Monday’s episode of The Readers, which is a blogging special with my usual co-host Simon from Savidge Reads and we’re being joined by Kim from Reading Matters.

But it’s not the quantity of books that’s really the issue. It’s hard to say buying this book is an essential when I already have a pile of other books I’ve bought that were also essential originally.

So the challenge has a wider roll in my life.

The second part is one in and one out on review copies. It’s another way of considering the essential nature of my available reading.

Though I’m not going that one stage further and reading only books that I’d read during the end of the world.

As someone that buy’s books on a whim. I’m going to find this hard.

Wish me luck!

8 Thoughts on “No More Buying Books???

  1. Excellent post, and as we are a similar age, I’ve been going through this process myself lately. Minimalism, in my view, is a good antidote to busy 21st century living. Everything about our society is based on buying stuff. Needless stuff in most cases. I’m sure once you develop non-buying as a habit, you’ll appreciate the freedom and extra headspace, I know I certainly do, although I still have some way to go to achieve all my minimalist goals.

    I’ve subscribed to your podcast and will look forward to hearing how you are getting on.

    Good luck and enjoy the process :)

  2. A few years ago I began putting the brakes on my own book-buying habits. I started keeping track of what books I’d bought, which I’d finished, and as always, how many I’d read in a given year. My goal to was to read more than I bought in a given year. I had to reduce to unread pile. I don’t allow myself to buy more than I read.

    Then, at the end of August I applied the brakes even harder, though not entirely by choice. See, at that time my family and I moved to Sweden for one year. So I took stock of my bookshelves and chose just 13 books to take along with me (I’ve not moved to an e-reader yet and don’t yet plan to). And books in Sweden are not cheap. I’ve only bought one since I’ve been here. (But I have bought a few kid’s books to either read aloud to them or let my son, a budding reader, read on his own.)

    Of course, I’m still compiling a list of books I want to buy. It gets bigger and bigger and several books jockey for position for the most-coveted spots. We’ll see what happens when I get back stateside next August. But the goal is reduction and reading what I already have. Or even — gasp — getting rid of some of them. But yes, like you, I’m on a simplify kick. There are too many distractions from reading. I’ve got my job, my family (with 2 young kids), and other projects.

    Still, I’m often reminded of this passage from Norman Rush’s Mating:

    He would say only slightly facetiously that the main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading.

    Good luck with your own efforts!

  3. Best of luck with doing this. Honestly, I probably ought to do the same, since the backlog of books that I have is getting no shorter, and even though I try to curb my impulses, it’s really getting daunting.

    Maybe “getting” isn’t the best word. Maybe it’s better to say that it’s been daunting for a while now. But I’ve got a hoarder’s instinct, and especially when it comes to electronic books that aren’t going to take up any physical space, it’s harder to curb my impulses to request or purchase. At the moment, I think I have enough unread books that I could avoid obtaining anything for about two years and still have plenty of new things to read during that time.

    Maybe 2012 should be a year of attempted minimalism for me too. It would be beneficial in many ways.

  4. I tried this a couple of years ago, with the goal of getting my unfinished books list down below 100 (they were mainly things like comics, anthologies and omnibuses). I think I managed it, just about, but I did spend a lot of time finding ways to circumvent the rule – subscribing to journals, presents for my wife and kids, things like that.

    Since I got the Kindle my book addiction’s been much less of a problem. Unless I want to read a book right away, I don’t buy it, I just download the preview. If I never get around to reading the preview, no point in buying the book.

  5. I have too many unread books around, too, and keep acquiring more, but for me the ebooks are the ones that get read first. I have come to greatly prefer reading on my Nook so, other than two books that I actually do look forward to but for some reason have been saving away for a special occasion when I need a really good read, there isn’t a lot of unread material on my e-reader. My problem is with paper books. I tend to read ebooks first, and then library books, because they have a deadline, but the paper books sit around untouched, even though they seemed like a good idea when I bought them.

    I’m also in a de-cluttering phase of my life, and I’m beginning to think I might be moving next year, so that provides added incentive to clear out everything I don’t really need. I want to read more of the books I’ve got lying around, so that I can get rid of the ones I don’t like well enough to keep. I think that my approach is going to be to stop reading so many library books so that I can focus more on reading the books I own.

  6. I just want you to know I will be supporting you through this difficult time, and not mentioning all the new books I want you to read… ha ha ha. Sorry. Seriously though I had a year of no buying books and it made me aware how randomly I bought things and worse of all never read them.

  7. Pingback: The Book Buying Ban Starts Here «

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