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 £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….