On the 30th of May, I finished That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis – the forty-fifth book in my book buying ban.
I was finished. I was done.
181 days had passed without a single book purchase. I’d read 45 books that I’d owned and never read before.
I’d love to tell you that I bought one book, or perhaps two. Or three.
Reader, I did not.
I splurged. I feasted. I laid waste to my bank account. I had a list, I crossed off that list. I crossed off books that weren’t even on the list. I made brutal decisions on which books to buy and which books to leave behind. It was cold and calculated and amazing.
I splurged on books on sleep, classical poetry, on hieroglyphics, on classics, on current events, on the Amelia Peabody series, on children’s books, on research books and so on and so forth.
I didn’t know why on earth I’d done such a stooped thing as to ever embark on a book buying ban in the first place. What a half-wit! What a nincompoop!
I was a fish returned to her natural habitat: the sea.
And then it abated. (These things tend to.)
(A lean month of penny pinching followed. Your actions, dear friends, have consequences.)
“I’m all for building a personal library, but I want to do it in a mindful manner. Not in a frenzy of buying a stack of books I’ve haven’t read.”
I have no defense. For the bad grammar (PRESENT PERFECT? Here? Pfft. What a noob.) or for ignoring the lesson. I was a bookworm drunk on power. I have learned lessons and after the ban, I chose to ignore those lessons. It was glorious.
I’ve learned that as a reader, I should enjoy the things I have – the books on my shelves. No book left unread! and all that.
And as a ban-parched bookworm? I’d like to think that I’ve learned to appreciate the prospect of new adventures and to look for books of interest. Not mindlessly reaching for just any old book ( LOOK! A BOOK IN THE WILD! GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL!), but to think about the ones I’d like to read.
Because of that book on sleep, I’ve learned the value of sleep, get more than five hours per night (huzzah! There can be miracles!!) and the black sacks under my eyes are less evident. (I mean – they’re still there but I feel better about them. )
Books have power – to inspire, to give you knowledge, and to whisk you away to worlds unknown.
I love it.
I truly do.
If this book buying ban has taught me anything it is this: reading is a delight to me – a real delight.
As you know – or don’t, that’s okay too – I’ve embarked on a book buying ban. Namely, on my last count, I own a lot of books that I haven’t read. The number shames me. Shames! Me!
So, taking matters – and the books, though not all at once – into my own hands, I decided to read 45 of those books.
When I was telling someone from church about this last year, they asked how long it would take me to read all 45.
“Oh,” I said breezily, probably wafting my hand in the air. “Maybe a month or two.”
THREE MONTHS LATER …
At the time of writing, Book 18 is being devoured: ‘The Ministry of Truth’ by Dorian Lynskey is about George Orwell and the creation of 1984. It’s grabbed my interest and has yet to let go. So far? I highly recommend it.
But though I am in the middle of this experience, I have already been learning some lessons. Let me share them with you.
I FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF
Though the list of books I wish to read at the end of this is growing, I feel much better about myself. I’m not longer buying with eyes too big for my bookreading stomach (just go with that analogy). I’m reading what I have. And – astonishingly enough – what I have is really interesting.
Who’d have thunk it, right?
This year has been marked by me trying to be more mindful of the money I’m spending, the time I waste, the books I read, the clothes I buy etc etc. This book buying ban? It’s been so very useful.
I do not need to chase after the next book, the next interesting title … I just need to enjoy the ones I have.
BLAM! UNEXPECTED DOSE OF CONTENTMENT STRIKES UNEXPECTEDLY.
COULD BOOKSTAGRAM BE … UNHEALTHY??
Taking pictures of books and posting them to Instagram is one of life’s little pleasures. However, it has made me question my motives: am I doing it because, personally, it’s something that feels like an expression of creativity OR – more to the point – does it have a whiff of boastfulness about it? A sort of: ‘Behold! I read this book! Bow to me! I am intelligent!’
I hope it doesn’t, but I am growing increasingly wary of Instagram – what are my motives? Why am I even posting this? Is this for my ego? Or is it because sometimes I have to express myself and ramble and to get things off my chest and I use this blog and that Instagram account to do so? (also I relish taking pictures of books and thinking oh wow this has much goodness. First, Instagram – next? NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC!)
We all know that social media can be incredibly unhealthy – showing life how we want to be perceived instead of how we actually are, promoting comparisons and that general feeling of being less and having a life that isn’t quite as good as anybody else’s.
Does my validation come by the number of likes and retweets a post receives? (I mean, if that’s the case, let’s be honest … I am in deep trouble.)
I keep a book reading diary to log what I’m reading and my thoughts regarding it. I don’t update Goodreads anymore because I was so darn proud of the statistics and I just knew that that was the first stage to unabated narcissism and grandiose delusions of grandeur. I don’t post pictures of every single book I’ve read because:
I have a crisis of what is the point does this help anyone oh gosh nothing I’ve posted about books HELPS anyone why would anyone listen to my book recommendations OH WAIT it’s fine I’ll do it anyway no I won’t I can’t be bothered OH MY WORD WHAT IF THE WORLD FIGURES OUT MY PERSONALITY BASED ON THE BOOKS I’VE READ also what if this makes people think they need to buy ALL the books am I promoting an unhealthy mindset also I think my ego is far larger than I’ve ever suspected also I think I’d be a terrible regency heroine because my ankles aren’t finely turned.
I’m occasionally paranoid in a HELP BRING SMELLING SALTS kind of way.
Something in this world has to be private, dang it!
Though possibly overthinking everything can also be unhealthy, it’s worthwhile to examine my motivations.
ALSO THIS PICTURE MAKES ME LAUGH AND ONE DAY I WILL HATE MYSELF FOR PUTTING IT HERE BUT HAHA BEHOLD:
THE EBOOK VS PAPERBACK DEBATE HAS BEEN SOLVED FOR ME
It’s hardbacks and paperbacks and smelling the pages in front of your face. I used to read far more ebooks, but since the great ebook cleanse of December ’19 (300 novels! DELETED!) I’ve been reading almost exclusively paperbacks and hardbacks.
It’s just too easy to spend money on ebooks. In my tumultuous past, I’ve inhaled novels by the dozen. Read two or three in one day. It’s almost shocking how much money – and, more importantly, time – I’ve spent on Kindle.
This ban has forced me to take a step back. To enjoy what I have instead of chasing after what I haven’t. It’s not hoarding if it’s books, one of my cups says. But … to be frank … if I’m buying book after book after book and not reading them … it certainly feels like it is.
I’m all for building a personal library, but I want to do it in a mindful manner. Not in a frenzy of buying a stack of books I’ve haven’t read.