Spring Cleaning

A bit of a mish-mash of stuff for you today. A little spring clean of thoughts from my brain, if you will!

Firstly, an update on how my no book buying is going. I am pleased to say that, at almost a third of the way through the year, I’m still going strong! I have been helped by review copies here and there and wins from blogs, which I am thankful for, but they have been few in number. I have bought a few books as gifts for other people, of course, but nothing for myself apart from a copy of the Patchwork book I have a starring role in, which I don’t think can be held against me! It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be, actually. For someone who used to buy A LOT of books every month, I have found it surprisingly easy to curb my desire to accumulate more books. I think moving house really helped on this front – boxing up my books made me realise how many I have, and how many I haven’t read. Some had sat on my shelf for about five years and I hadn’t even opened them. It was absurd! I was obsessively looking for hidden treasure in bookshops when I had plenty on my shelves as it was. I really did feel quite ashamed at how I had allowed myself to accumulate so many unread books – I felt like a greedy child who had eaten all the chocolate in the cupboard! It was the thrill of the chase that did it – I loved the excitement of finding books I wanted, of spotting those rare titles, of getting bargains – but now when I go in a bookshop that thrill is still there, but it’s accompanied by a very big helping of Common Sense that reminds me how many unread books I have at home. When I think ‘Oooh what a beautiful copy of Insert Book Name Here, I really want that book’ , Common Sense says ‘Rachel, you have five unread books by that author at home already. Do you really need another?!?!’ And then I think ‘No! I don’t need this!” and walk away. It’s a revelation!

I have enjoyed rediscovering my bookshelves; I’ve even enjoyed decluttering them, and giving away or selling books I didn’t feel the need to hold on to. Books will always be precious to me, I will always love collecting them, and I will never be able to resist going into a bookshop, but I now can say no to buying up everything in sight and this is liberating indeed. I don’t even know whether I’ll be in a hurry to start buying again once I am ‘allowed’ to – I’m sure there will still be plenty of unread books on my shelves after the year is up, and it makes no sense for me at this stage in my life to keep amassing so many books when I have nowhere permanent to keep them and have to keep lugging them around with me every time I move, which is frequently.  If I see a book in a shop that I want, I just remind myself that it will still exist for me to buy in five years’ time when I will probably get around to reading it – so I can just wait until then. No book of the type I buy will ever truly be unobtainable. So, I can afford to sit tight until I’m actually ready to read a book, and then buy books as and when I need them. In short, I am a changed woman. Quite a feat!

In my reading life I have just finished a lovely self published book written by my dear friend Traci, who decided that she was going to finally achieve her ambition of writing a novel last year. She wrote it during NANOWRIMO and then had it beautifully made up into a book, and I am so proud of her and her dedication to achieving her treasured goal. The book is called Foreclosed: A Mitzi Neuhaus Mystery, and is a fun and drama filled tale of a bubbly young Real Estate agent, Mitzi, who gets caught up in a web of theft, lies and missing Romanov jewels when trying to save an old mansion from being sold to her arch rival. For a first novel, I thought it was fantastic, and the plot is so inventive! I would encourage anyone who likes a good mystery to give it a go, and I have a copy to give away if anyone would like to read it – just let me know in the comments and I’ll do a draw if there’s more than one. Anywhere worldwide is fine.

I do think self publishing is interesting – anyone can now see their name in print – and I think there should be more opportunities for people to sell their work in bookshops. I for one would love to be able to walk into Waterstones or Foyles (I don’t think the UK has any other book chain stores left now!) and see a display of self published books by local authors. As it’s so hard to get published by one of the big houses these days, more and more people who are very talented aren’t getting the opportunities to have their work made known and this is a great shame. It does annoy me that there are huge marketing pushes on terrible books like reality TV star biographies and celebrity ghost written novels when people who are genuinely good writers can’t even get their foot in the door. Has anyone tried self publishing? I’d be interested to know if anyone has and how they’ve gone about trying to market and sell their work. Just out of interest,  mind you – I’m not planning on hawking my wares any time soon!

In other news, it’s a sunny day in London today, which is always a pleasure, I’ve stuffed my face with a huge cream slice from the posh bakery down the road from work and am now regretting it, and I am looking forward to Book Club tonight, in which we will be discussing Steinbeck’s incredible Of Mice and Men, which shockingly I had never read before. I’ll be reviewing that in the next couple of days. Currently I am reading Angela Carter’s Wise Children for Claire at Paperback Reader’s Angela Carter month, which is proving to be a riot – what an original and neglected author she is! Right..back to work for me!

47 comments

  1. Wise Children is, indeed, a riot. I’m gad that you are enjoying it – was that one of the books that had stood on the shelf unopened for many a year? I am ashamed just how many of those I own… Moving house/flat/city and lugging those boxes of books sure does make you reconsider those impulsive book purchases.

    I forgot to tell you that I saw your claim-to-fame (your published hand) when I went to see the Quilts exhibition last week! I pointed you out to my friend and was thrilled to do so.

    My friend is currently attempting to have her first novel publishing and it is so disheartening to see her struggle when I know how many poor excuses for books are out there. I’m really not sure what the solution is for her and the future of struggling writers; she and they shouldn’t have to resort to self-publishing (although good on your friend!) and quality should be recognised as such. Ah, it’s a fickle business, in a number of ways.

    1. Yes…it was…I bought it after reading and enjoying The Magic Toyshop while I was still at university, and I think I read that in my second year, so that’s about four years of gathering dust! It made me feel so ashamed when I was boxing up and I think that as I know I’m not going to be settled any time soon, I am really going to curb buying of books for the foreseeable future. It makes no sense until I have a permanent stable home of my own, and then the library can be free to explode!

      Oh I am so glad you came and saw me in my glory! Thank you for showing me off!

      It is a terribly fickle business, and it really is luck of the draw, I think – so many awfully written books get published and make loads of money and for all of those books that were accepted, there must be hundreds of better ones that were resigned to the bin. It makes me so sad for people with talent trying to get it recognised – it’s a long hard slog and it’s really all about who you know. I hate the way the world works sometimes!

  2. I have so much respect for your resolutions not to buy any books…for a year? I am restricting myself to NO new Kindle books for April only, and it’s hard to the point of desperation. Kudos to you!

    1. Thank you! I thought it would be impossible and that I would crack but it has been so much easier than I anticipated and I feel such a sense of triumph when I’ve been able to resist buying a book. After a month, see how you feel – you might want to keep on going!

  3. I so enjoyed your post today, recognizing shades of myself in your words. Moving is definitely a cure for buying too many books. I have learned to be more selective in my purchases. A well used library card helps. Still . . .

    I just discovered you blog recently and have been methodically trying to catch up on your many wonderful and informative posts. If your wordpress blogometer has taken some sharp afternoon rises, it is me, over a cup of tea and probably something chocolate, checking out your archives.

    Thanks for being here for a midwesterner who loves books.

    1. Hello, thank you so much for coming and reading and I am so glad you enjoy my posts. You are very lovely to say such kind things!

      Learning to be selective is the key, and being rational, too. My ability to rationalise used to leave me the second I walked into a bookshop, but thankfully, I have regained the ability to remain calm and assess whether I genuinely need a book, and every time since I started this book ban, the answer has been no!

      I am so enjoying exploring your blog too, by the way – so equally you may see a rise in your stats!

  4. Good luck with your book buying ban. I’m thinking of setting up one soon (but not for a year, that would never work) as looking around it’s just ridiculous how much I haven’t read yet.

    1. Thanks – well, try it for a month and see how you get on. You may find it easier than you think! It was hard at first but now I have no problems resisting at all – it’s like a fun challenge in self denial!

  5. i love the spring – it’s absolutely wonderful with the sun out here in oxford! You are doing so well with not buying books; I do it sporadically, but then I do need books to read. I seem to be going a bit overboard on the library borrowing instead.

    I am going to the Quilts exactly a month today and I shall look out for your hand!

    1. Isn’t spring lovely! Though it’s grey again today…I wish the weather would make its mind up! Thank you – yes, you read books so quickly you’re not likely to develop too big a pile, but I am a far slower reader than you and can’t justify buying new books every month!

      How exciting I hope you will love it!

  6. I have just been through my mass of unread books and decided that enough is enough now and I am really trying to stop buying books now! It is tricky, but reading your post has helped actually – those books will still be there in a few years. I get carried away with whatever I am interested in at a particular moment – I am quite fickle and this has ended up in masses of books that are waiting to be read and the interest has piqued for the moment. I need to learn to be a little but patient I feel!

    1. Hello! Thanks so much for visiting. Good for you – you CAN do it, I promise! I was so addicted and now you’d never know – I am so cool and collected in bookshops! I am exactly the same – I would read a book, then go and buy loads by the same author, then get bored, and then piles of unread books developed. I think buying as and when I need a book to read will be the way forward in the future, but for now I need to clear the backlog before I can even think about buying books again!

  7. Good for you–sticking with your no new books ban. If only I could be so good. When the time is right I will be, too. I also have lots of hidden gems on my bookshelves and should look there first when the desire to acquire hits me. I have no doubt I could find something interesting to read there. I will try and be inspired to do so….

    1. Thank you! Yes it needs to be at the right time – you need a real incentive to stick to it, and mine was definitely moving and knowing I’ll be moving on again shortly. Without that push, I know I would have continued in my wicked ways!

      Good luck trying it yourself…browse your shelves before you hit the bookshop and you might be more inclined not to go!

  8. Thanks for the kind words! I am SO glad you enjoyed the book. : ) Hopefully there will be many more, self published or otherwise in the near future. And just for fun, I’m putting out a second, much more professionally edited version of Foreclosed in the next couple of days. I have rewritten two spots, every so slightly and fixed a LARGE number of embarrassing typos. There’s a reason they say give it 6 proof readings instead of just a couple! Hopefully the year 2010 will see the debut of the yet untitled Jillian Valentine the Dog Walking heiress detective novel.

    blisses!

    1. You are so welcome Traci! I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read your next! I’m excited that you’ve done a second edition…and Jillian Valentine the Dog Walking Heiress sounds fantastic! You are just so inventive. Congratulations on such a marvellous debut!

  9. Hats off to you, Rachel! I’m guilty of the ‘souvenir’ book purchase while on a day out. There are worse habits but I’m really feeling guilty about the books that I buy only to march upstairs and slip onto my shelf to languish.

    I would love to read your friend’s book so please add my name to the draw!

    1. Thank you Darlene! There are worse habits and I am SURE you hadn’t allowed your shelves to become like mine! Souvenir books are a bit different…I think it’s nice to have a memory of a place and a book is better than an ornament or something else that will just gather dust and never serve a real purpose!

  10. I am so glad that you are able to keep to your resolution. I have by necessity been required to keep myself to borrowing from the library, and honestly it has been lovely.

    And now I can’t wait to read Foreclosed.

  11. Steinbeck has been a favorite since my teens! Over the past several years I’ve been rereading old favorites and trying a couple new ones. Of Mice and Men just blew me away away when I reread it – didn’t remember loving it quite so much when I was 15! I’ll look forward to your review.

    Enjoy the spring weather… the daffodils are gorgeous.

    1. I can’t believe I had never read any Steinbeck before – now I want to read everything! We had such a great discussion last night and I am looking forward to writing up my thoughts.

      It’s grey today…spring seems to appear and disappear here…I wish it would come to stay!

  12. I am so impressed that you haven’t bought any books this year!! I would love to have that restraint but I just don’t. However I think it would do my bank balance really well if I did. On that note, I’m just about to pop out to purchase Yann Martel’s new book ‘Beatrice and Virgil’. Well done Me.

    1. Thank you! It has been really character developing. But if you don’t need to be restrained, why bother? Go forth and buy books! One day I will be able to again, when I have no more books left unread on my shelves! Thank you for reading and commenting, as well – I haven’t seen you before, so hello! Your blog is just lovely and I look forward to exploring it.

  13. (May I have permission to quote a line or two of your review on the back of the new improved version of Foreclosed?)

  14. Thank you for a wonderful post. My book buying is limited only to the second hand bookshops of Colombo and as such
    the cost is very little. However I too dont allow it to get out of
    hand as it sometimes could! Hadnt heard about Angela Carter till I read about her on the book blogs and now I see her name everywhere. Thank you also for highlighting the books.

    Please count me in for the giveaway as well.

    Thank you for hosting.

    1. Thank you for a lovely comment! Second hand book shops in Colombo? How exotic! I am a second hand book shopper myself and it’s the cheap prices that have done me in – spending £10 on 6 books or whatever seems so wonderful but then I arrive home with another pile of books and another pile of pressure! Not so good!

      I’m glad you’ve been introduced to Angela Carter – blogs are so great for widening my reading too!

  15. Congratulations! Disciplined Rachel. Sounds good, right? It always feels great to be able teach oneself – it’s an accomplishment.

    1. Yes it does! Thank you! It is an accomplishment indeed – I feel like I’ve really grown less impulsive when it comes to buying and also less emotional, which is so important – buying to cheer myself up was a real danger zone and now I find other ways to boost my mood than retail therapy!

  16. I think it is wonderful that you have stuck to your resolution of no book buying. I have been much better in 2010 since I am tracking $$ spent on books. (I’ve purchased almost (30) books bit have only spent $111.00. Many are library book sale finds.

    Isn’t it fun to discover treasures on our own shelves?

    1. Thank you so much Diane! Oh gosh, looking at the figures is always enough to make you stop, isn’t it?! That’s less than $4 a book – good for you!

      It is so much fun! It’s free shopping!

  17. Hi, enjoy reading your blog. Congrats on not buying books, lack of pennies has forced me (sort of) to do the same, although I have lapsed on a number of occasions. If you do a draw for Foreclosed pop my name in, sounds interesting.

  18. What an accomplishment!! I really should, have been thinking about it but…….not yet ;o)
    I’d love to read the book! So please add me in the draw.

    1. Thank you! It took me a while…I tried a few months ago and couldn’t do it but that’s because I didn’t have a good enough incentive. Now I have no space for any more books and am not staying where I’m currently living for long so I actually can’t keep buying things!

  19. I finally went through my shelves and pulled several bags worth I’m planning to take to a second hand bookstore, for cash back or more books, I can’t quite decide… Right now in an apartment, I just don’t have the space! And also have realized that there’s just some books that I don’t think I’ll enjoy and don’t want to keep around. It’s liberating to clear my shelves off and see what I really like instead of feeling guilty staring at what I don’t like, now I’m actually reading more books I already own.

    The problem is, my husband is also a manic booklover and we go to a bookstore at least once a week together and he always buys a book so I always want to! I’ve heard of Howards End is on the Landing, which is about a woman who doesn’t buy books for a year and reads the books she owns like you’re doing and it sounds like a good idea, but oh… I love buying books! I may think about my motivations for doing so more though…

    (Hi, I’m Carolyn, I just found your blog recently and have been enjoying reading it)

    1. Hello Carolyn! Thanks so much for coming and reading and commenting! I’m so pleased you like my blog.

      Isn’t it wonderful to get rid of stuff? I’m not a hoarder of anything other than books – I LOVE clearing out stuff and getting it out of my house. I did feel good getting rid of books I knew I wasn’t going to read – it was like a pressure was lifted!

      Oh Howards End is on the Landing isn’t really about that…it’s a bit misleading actually! I wrote a review of it a while back. I would find that difficult too – thankfully none of my family really reads much and when they do read something they borrow from me, so I don’t have that temptation!

  20. I haven’t started an absolute book-buying ban, but I am trying to cut down. I have so many unread books on my shelves, some of which just don’t appeal now, although they did when I bought them some time ago. It is teaching me only to buy when I have the time & inclination to read that particular book.

    Please include my name in the draw. Thank you.

    1. Hello! Thanks for reading! Cutting down is just as good – it’s all about learning to be practical and buy as and when needed. I don’t stockpile clothes so I don’t need to stockpile books, either!

    1. Good for you! It’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be, is it? Though you use your library so much more than me, which I must do more. That will help me resist even more because I can try before I buy and then avoid all those regrettable purchases.

  21. Common Sense says ‘Rachel, you have five unread books by that author at home already. Do you really need another?!?!’

    When I first read it I thought you meant you only have five unread books, which would put my dozens of unread books to same. Now re-reading I see you wrote unread from that author, so I feel much better🙂 I would love to be entered into the prize draw please – this sounds like a really interesting book.

  22. You’re making me feel bad for finding Project24 so difficult! Actually, compared to previous years when I’ve given up for Lent, I’m finding it more difficult… I guess because when I’m buying no books I just avoid bookshops, whereas now I check, judiciously…. But somehow I seem to just be borrowing books for book groups, and reading review copies, and not getting to my hundreds of unread books. Doh!

    1. Don’t feel bad Simon! I have tried to do this many times so really I have failed on several occasions and shouldn’t be so smug! You’re doing brilliantly though – only 8 out of 24 so far and books you really really want rather than impulse purchases so you should be proud of yourself!

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