Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all feeling great!
So one year ago, I decided that I need to stop buying books. Why? Well, the easy answer is because I’m crazy? But the real answer is because I’d been buying more books than I could read. A few years ago, I read so much that even when I bought books as frequently as before I started the ban, I never had a pile of unread books on my shelf.
Then I started university. While I still read books, I went through my TBR noticeably slower than before. And while I didn’t really mind reading less, especially since I had extra workload from classes and a part-time job, I didn’t stop buying books. It didn’t help that there is a second-hand/pre-loved bookstore so close to where I live! I think I was unconsciously trying to relive the glory days when I could read any time with no repercussions? I managed to convince myself that I’d make time to read all these books. Maybe during semester breaks or sleepless nights?
But it just didn’t work out that way. Try as I might, I couldn’t read as much as I did when I was in high school. It just wasn’t working out. And in a way, having too many books made me read even less? I think it really hit me when I was looking for something to read in April last year and ended up reading a book I’ve read twice before because I had too many options and didn’t know how to make a decision.
That was when I decided I needed to stop buying books.
I don’t think I’m a ‘good’ blogger, far from it. I don’t keep track of anticipated releases, I don’t post reviews of the latest books, I don’t actively participate in bookish conversations on Twitter, and I don’t even blog all that regularly. But I think that being a ‘book blogger’ in and of itself somewhat encourages me to buy books? Like buying a lot of books is justified because I’m a “book blogger”. So when I stopped, it made me feel very weird. But I managed. It took so much willpower but I did it.
And now it’s been one year since I started my book buying ban and I consider it a success!
I managed to not buy any books (with the exception of Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi because hello???) and the only books I got were gifts for my birthday or people just being nice. Since it worked out for me, I thought I’d share some of the ways I managed to control my book buying addiction in case any of you are struggling like I did 🙂
1. Don’t go into bookstores unless you have something specific to buy
It was very difficult at first, especially when it’s always been a habit to go into a bookstore every time I see one and browse for a while. And when you have no self-control like me, it’s almost a given that I’d buy a book each time I visit a bookstore. But I’ve discovered that it’s more likely for me to buy something when I’m not looking to buy anything at all. Really! Science is backing me up!
Tell me, when you go to a bookstore, do you pick up books to read the summaries? Of course! Science says, “when people touch things, they are more likely to buy them”. And not only that, the music in bookstores, usually mellow and calming music, also affects what you buy, because apparently “slow tempo music might make you spend more on impulse purchases and spend more time in the store (source).
But let’s face it, even without music, when you let a bookworm lose in a bookstore, there is no way we wouldn’t stay in there for hours. And here’s the kicker, the longer you stay in a store, the more likely you are to spend money on unplanned splurges (source). Why do you think IKEA is built like a maze? It’s to get you lost and spend hours buying things you don’t need! I see what you’re doing IKEA!!
2. Stop keeping track of upcoming releases
This one wasn’t so hard to do. Aside from the initial “most anticipated 2018 releases” posts that frequently showed up on my feed at the start of the year, I’ve been able to avoid searching for new releases. I used to have a notebook where I jot down titles, authors and release dates of books I’m looking forward to, but I’ve long since stopped doing that.
I think that when I had that list, it gave me an excuse to buy books that I may not be too interested in because “oh! This book is on my list, I need to have it!” or something like that. It also doesn’t help that so many of these books have amazing covers 😀
3. Don’t go into the deep dark corners of Goodreads
I stopped being active on Goodreads quite some time ago. Partly because the only thing I ever do on Goodreads, other than posting reviews, is adding more and more books to my TBR shelf.
The thing with Goodreads is that it has too many lists. And I’m a sucker for lists. I constantly find myself scrolling through ‘best books of 2015’ or ‘must read books of 1842’ or whatever weird list I could find. And when I scroll down and browse the titles, even when I don’t actively try to remember the titles, a book cover or title could trigger my memory. This is because of ‘mind-pops’ which is something that comes to mind suddenly. Then my brain will say ‘hey… that’s the book you saw on that list on Goodreads. Buy it… Treat yourself….”
4. Plan your money carefully
I always make it a habit to split my money/income/what-have-you into 3 unequal parts. The first would go into my savings, the second is for necessities and whatever bill/subscription I have to pay, and the third is money I can spend on things that I want but probably don’t need. What I did was to make sure I didn’t have too much of the ‘money I can spend’ so I would think twice or thrice before buying books.
It’s also fun to challenge yourself to have extra ‘spending’ money by the end of the month which could go into a different piggy bank that you set aside for a vacation in Norway. Or whatever destination you want. It doesn’t have to be Norway, it’s up to you 🙂 Maybe it could be several different piggy banks, or just to add to your main savings account. The point is, you’d probably be more motivated to save money rather than spending most of it on books if you have an end goal in mind.
5. Find a great team for moral support
If all else fail and you still find yourself buying 3 new books and not remembering how it happened, it’s always great to have someone there for moral support. Maybe your friends could grab on to your arm and keep you on course when you pass by a bookstore, or they could remind you that every book you buy is another month longer before your cruise.
Other than that, it’s also good to have something to occupy your time. I used to spend my free time on the weekends just going out and looking around, which eventually leads me to the bookstore. But since I started Step 1, more often than not I’ve been staying home or coming up with other things to do. A couple of weeks ago, my coworkers and I went for Bubble Sports where we ran around in a big hamster ball and tried to knock each other down because who has shame, really? I’ve also been doing more arts and crafts, and of course, reading my unread books 🙂
For the most part, not buying books is not as difficult as I thought it would be. Of course, I get triggered sometimes, especially when I pass by a bookstore or see a newly released book on Instagram. But other than that it’s been great! I actually feel relieved that I stopped buying books, mainly because it lifted some pressure off my shoulders. With all the unread books I have lying around, I didn’t need the extra stress that comes with new books.
I think I’m going to continue this book buying ban indefinitely. I probably wouldn’t be as strict as I’ve been this past year, but I’m confident that I wouldn’t go back to my excessive book buying ways. And even though I’m not a certified book-buying-addict doctor, I hope that these steps helped you, even in small ways 🙂
So what do you think? Have you banned yourself from buying books recently? What’s the most challenging thing about it? Tell me in the comments!