Book Addiction

A couple of days ago I read with envy that Nan over at Letters from a Hill Farm had pledged to not buy or borrow any books for 12 months. Instead, she was going to read the books she already had that she had never read. Seven months on she is still going strong apart from one trip to the library and I am seriously impressed with this. So impressed that it made me take a Long Hard Look at my own book buying antics. And I didn’t like what I saw.

I am a book buying addict. I earn a fairly small salary for someone supporting themselves in London, and I spend far too much money on books I don’t need. I don’t need more books because I have literally hundreds stacked up around my flat waiting to be read. I know I don’t need any more books and I know that I could probably go for two years without buying anything new and still have enough books to read, but somehow I just can’t stop buying more books. Part of the problem is that I love reading book blogs and seeing what other people are reading and what they recommend. I look up these books on amazon and then I see the ‘other people who bought these books bought…’ section and then before I know it I have another fifteen books on my wishlist. In fairness I only really ever buy books used from charity shops or second hand book shops, as I don’t really like new books anyway, so they don’t cost me much individually, but lately I have been stockpiling at the rate of knots and as my mother always says, all those pennies soon add up.

But I just can’t help myself. I can’t see a used bookshop or a charity shop without going in to browse. I plan days out to specific places solely because I know they have good book shops. I take detours on my way home so that I can just ‘pop’ in to the book shops on Charing Cross Road and end up spending an hour in there, never failing to come out with something I just ‘had’ to have. I get excited and a little bit breathless when a book I have wanted for a long time is sitting there for Β£1.99 on a shelf, waiting to be taken home and loved, and finding that book makes me even more anxious to go back again, and soon, because if I found that book, I might find this book, and so on. I am obsessed and addicted and it needs to stop.

Yesterday I decided I wasn’t going to buy any more books until I had read all of the ones I currently have. And yet today I went to Oxfam Books on Gloucester Road during my lunchbreak and bought two books. I felt so ashamed as I walked out with my two new purchases burning a hole in my bag, and I knew full well I shouldn’t have gone in, but I just couldn’t help myself.

I have a problem! But it’s ok because the first step of breaking an addiction is acknowledging that the addiction exists. I hold my hands up and say I am addicted and I want to stop buying books so that I can read all of the perfectly wonderful books I have already bought and have callously left unopened on my shelves while I feed my insatiable desire for MORE BOOKS!

So I am making this public. As of today no more book buying. The Read My Own Books project starts today. I can do this. I must be strong!!! Of course, though, book shaped gifts will still be gratefully received….


  1. Thomas says:

    I too have an addiction to buying books. I have tried to cut it out or at least down, but with only limited luck. At last count (last week) my oversize nightstand had 103 unread books inside. I especially like buying books when I am on vacation. Since I don't read French, at least this year's holiday to France should keep me from spending two weeks in used bookshops.The picture you have on this post is great. Do you have any details about it?

  2. Catherine says:

    well, there are worse problems you could have. i too have the book buying bug. good luck with your project – at least it involves more reading! i propose you reward yourself at the end of it – one new book for every four you read or something like that. πŸ™‚

  3. Paperback Reader says:

    I could have written this post! I too have an addiction and a too-many-a-week book buying habit.Charing Cross Road is no good for me and I always find a fix there.I wish you all the luck in the world.

  4. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the good luck wishes! I broke down again this weekend so I am not doing great but I have now rearranged my bookshelves to show myself just how many unread books I have, and this has shamed me in to a new resolve to not buy anything more until I have read what I have!Thomas – the picture is a display of books in Prague Library. It's amazing isn't it?! It must have taken ages!

  5. Jennifer Dee says:

    This is so me and I'm so glad that I'm not the only one.This is my first visit to your blog. Elaine over at Random Jottings and I'm so glad that she pointed the way.

  6. Rachel says:

    I'm glad you can relate Jennifer! Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you come back again!

  7. claire says:

    Oh I feel exactly the same. Isn't it awful? Taking detours when I do errands or the groceries so I can pop into a bookstore. And lugging my kids along, too. Not only that, there's online browsing, which happens everyday. We need a cure! I haven't banned myself from purchasing but I did promise myself to make buying very minimal. My unread books haven't reached 100 yet, but nearing. So hopefully I whittle it down good by the year's end or so.Lovely blog, by the way. I found it through Paperback Reader. πŸ™‚

  8. Mel u says:

    I have the exact same problem-I have made myself a rule of not buying more books in a month than I read in the previous month-it helps me control my addiction-

  9. Kinga says:

    I can’t stop buying books! By my latest count I have 512 unread books at home! That should be enough, right? Unfortunately as soon as I read something I take it to that lovely Notting Hill Gate bookshop and and exchange it for more books. And now I also work in publishing, which pays very little but there are free books! So I take, take, take. And then I discovered that my local library will get me anything that is in any London libraries – for free! So I don’t read the books I have at home (I can always read those) and just go to the library. And then there is the Kindle with thousands of free books on gutenberg project and all ebooks I have won or bought… I wish I could live forever!

  10. nadia says:

    Wow, I can relate to this, though I don’t have that many books. I can’t seem to stop buying books from the publisher DK. Suddenly there are lots of interesting stuff for me to read and learn! And I feel guilty about buying them.

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