My book acquisition ban: How did it go?

Posted March 28, 2018 by Lory in challenges / 31 Comments

We’ve nearly made it to the fourth month of the year, so I’m also nearly done with my self-imposed three-month book acquisition ban. My goal was to not acquire any books from any outside source — bookstore, library, online, publishers — and only read books I already have in the house.

So how did it go? Well, I cheated a little. I did feel that I needed to read and review The Maze at Windermere, which came by way of a favorite college professor. And I bought one new book for myself, A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry by Gregory Orr, because it just looked so excellent (and it is). But otherwise I was pretty good! I’ve been reading books that have been sitting around for years, and feeling glad that I finally gave them the attention they deserve.

Though I’m not going to maintain such a strict ban for the rest of the year, I’d like to keep doing this as much as possible. It goes along with a theme in my life, which I could call “Be happy with what you have.” I want to stop chasing new experiences and potentialities and be more grounded in where I am right here and now. Reading the books that are patiently waiting on my shelves could be a help with that.

What books stood out for me during these three months? I’m really glad I finally read The Art of Waging Peace, a year after I bought it. I’m still thinking about its principles and how I can make them more active in my life.

And I loved Peter Dickinson’s creative approach to storytelling based on Old Testament tales in City of Gold, with outstanding pictures by Michael Foreman. This has been sitting around much longer, at least a decade or more. It’s these kinds of treasures that don’t deserve to be ignored just because I own them and theoretically could read them anytime. The moment is now!

I got a lot of pleasure out of rereading during these three months. I suppose it should be a pretty sure bet that I’ll enjoy books I liked enough to keep around after the first read, but that’s not always the case. I was especially impressed once more by Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and reminded that I need to read more of her fiction.

So, though I’m not counting or reaching for a numerical goal, I feel good about what I achieved and inspired to keep going. I know it will be great for me to penetrate my book collection further and enlarge my awareness of what I own.

How have your challenges been going this year? Are you revising any goals?

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31 responses to “My book acquisition ban: How did it go?

  1. Well done, you, for largely maintaining your resolve, excellent willpower of which I am hugely envious! Me, mixed results: I’ve more or less stuck to reading books I acquired before the beginning of the year (I’ve just finished some Robert Louis Stevenson which I acquired in the 1970s, actually issued in 1918 but which has languished for many a year on shelves in at least five houses! ). I have to admit though to purchasing just the odd new-to-me title since the start of 2018…

    • Great job with that goal! I think we should all allow ourselves a few slips. We shouldn’t be TOO perfect.

  2. Wahoo!! Congrats! I failed HORRIBLY with this challenge. I don’t think I’ve purchased as many books as I did recently in years… I may have to restart and try again 🙂

  3. good for you! I have too many books unread at home myself, but the pressure to keep up with the new and to snag good deals on out of print books from time to time plus how comforting it is to place library holds during lunch break at work conspire to keep them unread.

    • I’m totally addicted to doing library holds, especially since getting an e-reader, which means instant gratification once they come in. Cooling off on that has been one of my major accomplishments so far this year — and I think I”m going to try to keep it up for a while.

  4. Very impressive! I like the idea of trying to make do with what we have instead of acquiring new things. There are quite a few books on my shelves that are in desperate need of attention. I love Atwood but never read Cat’s Eye. I’ll have to check it out.

  5. Congratulations! I’m impressed that you were able to stick to your goal of reading what you have with only two (very minor) slips. Like many of us, I’m always attracted to the shiny and new, but you’re so right that we have so many other books to draw from. I really like that you were also able to do some memorable rereading during your ban.

    • No point in keeping books if I’m really never going to reread them. It’s something I’d like to do more of.

  6. The two books you bought during your acquisition ban seem to me a healthy way of buying books (or anything really), because you were thoughtful about them instead of buying on impulse. In addition, you learned the value of what you already have. I say you won!

    • Yes, sort of the exception that proves the rule…I feel good about the experience, for sure.

  7. I love your life theme. It’s a good one, provided you’re in a reasonably good situation to begin with. And certainly a good one for many of us in this materialistic society!

    I’m also impressed with your ability to stick with such a stringent goal! I’m not sure I could do it; even if I stopped buying books altogether, I’d be tempted by the library and NetGalley. And that despite having two bookcases full of unread books… though I’m whittling away at those, disposing of some I’ll probably never get around to reading.

    • The library is my main failing, especially putting 10-20 books on hold at once, as noted above. And I thought I would get rid of some books after these three months, but I think I still want to read them all. So I’ll keep whittling away as well.

  8. Wow, well done you! I’ve been doing OK on challenges, but acquisitions….hooboy. That book donation sorting is TERRIBLE for my clutter problem. On the bright side, it’s easy to get rid of stuff too, and today I didn’t bring home anything!

    • Working as a book donation sorter would be fatal for this resolution. I do not think I could resist that temptation.

  9. You read such interesting looking books. The Art of Waging Peace looks very intriguing. I am so interested in how both nations and individuals interact. It also sounds like s book that our leaders need to read.

    • I think you would find it of interest, if you can tolerate the wordy style. And as for our leaders taking in this message … if only they would.

  10. Only two incoming books over a period of three months is very impressive!

    I have acquired 9 new books (not counting that pre-order for the next Becky Chambers novel) and read 12 from my shelves. So the balance is in the right direction, but I wanted the ratio to be higher!

    Speaking of e-readers and library holds, I understand the temptation and I have checked out quite a few new to me books this year as well. But one thing I like to do is check out the e-version (or audio if it is a good fit) of a book I already own. Then I can read the physical copy at home and the e-version when out and about. This helps me get to those books that have been languishing for a while.

    • Yes, I do that too! I have an e-copy of Les Miserables that I can turn to if necessary, though I’m mostly reading the paper version.

  11. Kat

    I love the idea of grounding myself in what I have! The books can be overwhelming; I finally took a deep breath and cut back on buying. It does give us a chance to catch up on the books we already have. Bloggers often talk about this, but somehow reading blogs, even about cutting back on books, makes me want to read (and buy) more. (And so I’m finally catching up on blogs, having managed my book-buying well lately.)

    • Yes, we’re always talking about this, but how do we actually do it? These three months have helped me because I can tell that I feel better when I don’t let my book lust get all out of control. Now I have to see if I can keep it up without a cold-turkey approach.

  12. Congratulations, friend! You did an awesome job with this challenge! I have bought….a certain number of books so far this year, and it is probable that I am going to buy more. There’s a significant book sale next weekend that I’ll almost certainly be going to (almost certainly, it’s CERTAIN), and I have two conferences later in the year. So. I have no self-control. It’s a problem.

    • I’m having a hankering to go to some book sale, I confess. And if I do I will probably totally lose control. Oh well, it was a good three months.

  13. I am pretty good about not buying books for myself, but the library is my happy place, and I’d have to stay away in order to stop myself from checking out more books. I do keep promising myself to return to the good old days where I checked out books, read them, and then brought them back, but the whole blogging situation means I am constantly WANTING new books, so if I see them on the shelves, I grab them. And if I see them on the holds shelf…I guess that’s my fault. I admire your resolve!

    • It’s pretty impossible for me to enter a library without checking out books or a bookstore without buying them. So staying away has been the key strategy these months.

  14. Oooh, I was given City of Gold as a child, it is indeed a lovely book! I too should reread it.

    I’m glad the challenge has given you so much pleasure, and I am really impressed at how you’ve stuck to it. I forbade myself to buy any either, until I’d passed my theory driving test, and although I confess to a wild splurge subsequently – hurrah! – they were books that I really wanted and that I’d thought about. I too found that taking a break for a few months has reset my mindset about buying books, if you see what I mean. How long that lasts, who can say? Meanwhile I feel very committed to reading through my TBR and rereading and cutting back. I have a nice pile for the charity shop. 🙂

  15. Well done! I like your sentiment of “stop chasing new experiences and potentialities and be more grounded in where I am right here and now”. I an feeling this right now as I think of all the library books scattered around my apartment that I should read before I go back to the library…