Monday, July 18, 2016

No New Books: My Month Long Self-Imposed Book-Buying Ban


My unread pile is nearing 350. There are literally almost 350 books sitting in piles in my living room waiting to be read (hence “unread pile”). For a variety of reasons I would like to reduce the pile. I don’t have an exact number in mind, definitely not zero, but as I written before 350 feels like too much. Reading the books is one way to reduce the pile but like getting out of debt or losing weight, the best strategy focuses on both outputs and inputs. In other words, it isn’t enough to read my books; I also have to stop growing the pile.

Between my city’s annual book festival, the opening of a new independent bookstore, and a monthly trip to my favorite comic store, April was a big book-buying month for me. I don’t remember the exact number but would guess I bought between twenty and twenty-five books in April. I read fifteen books so the net increase to my unread pile was somewhere between five and ten. At this rate my unread pile would stretch to 400 in no time. It was time to think seriously about the number of books coming into my possession. I had to stop buying so many books. Not forever, just temporarily. Just for the month of May. That meant thirty-one days of abstaining from Barnes & Noble,, and my two favorite local independents.

The first day of a diet is easy. Day one is full of high hopes, possibilities, and how awesome everything is going to be. You’ve made a plan and now you’re putting it in motion and it’s all going to work out, you just know it. It’s later that things get difficult. For me, the book-buying ban started getting difficult on May 2nd. Between daily check-ins with bookish social media and working in a library (all be it an academic library) interesting books constantly pop up on my radar. On day two I came up with a half-dozen reasons why buying one or two books that I really, really wanted would be okay. Pathetic, I know. I’m stronger than that! I had to at least make it one week.

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