Thursday, 20 December 2012

How I went a whole year without buying any books

So when I wrote my Not Really Resolutions of 2012 there was kind of mental one on there that might have seemed a little weird, namely that I was not going to buy any books in 2012.

Say what?

Basically I had far too many un-read books on my bookshelves to justify spending any more of my money buying new ones. Not only that, I just felt bad for all those books that were sitting un-read on my shelves - they were meant to be read and I quite frankly felt mean not reading them, meaning that they were unable to fulfil their purpose in life.

I managed to insert a couple of loopholes - buying books for my Kindle would be allowed - obviously they're not taking up any room - and other people were allowed to buy me books, I just couldn't spend my own hard-earned cash on them.

It proved to be easier than I thought, I just stayed clear of bookshops which put me out of temptation’s way. However, the first time I went into a bookshop in April I was floored. The smell of books nearly overwhelmed me. I am a dirty great big book sniffer and it’s the first thing I’ll do upon getting a new book off the shelf. Being in a whole shop full of books nearly knocked me out and I hurried out of there as quickly as possible so as to avoid succumbing to temptation.

Being unemployed meant that this resolution was fairly easy to stick to – I didn’t have any money to buy anything, let alone books, and I didn’t go out an awful lot – so buying books never really came into it, I just enjoyed being in reading the books I had available to me.

I have to be honest though. I managed to invent find  a couple of loopholes which allowed me to sneak a couple of books on to my shelves throughout the year.

Stephen King published a new book this year called “The Wind Through the Keyhole” and his UK publishers ran a competition – the back cover of the hardback copy of the book was going to be made up entirely of photos of SK fan’s faces. All you had to do was submit a picture of yourself and then see if you were lucky enough to be on there.

I forgot all about it until I got an e-mail with a link on it – I popped my name in and whoosh it took me to a picture of the back cover, zoomed in and in and in and boom THERE I WAS.

Now of course, you can’t see me when you look at the back cover, these photographs are obviously veeeeery tiny in order to make up the picture but I know I’m there, and given a magnifying glass, I can point myself out to you. So obviously I was allowed to buy that book – right?!

The second book to sneak on to my shelf was a result of my inability to not get suckered in to a ‘deal’. I went to buy my Dad’s wife a birthday present – she wanted Anna Karenina and it just so turned out that it was part of a buy one get one half price offer. I mean how could I not? But I cleverly got round it by roping in The Person – asking him if there was a book that he wanted as part of the offer.

When I say “asked” I mean I shoved “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” under his face and said “Oh my god, don’t you totally want to read this book?” He knew better than to disagree and so a Classic snuck on to my shelf – although really it’s not for me, The Person said that he wanted it, remember?

So I reckon only 2 books on the shelves is a win, am I right?

I know some people will read this and go “How did you do this, you call yourself a book lover?” but to my mind, I did this because I’m a book lover. I have owed it to some of those books who’ve been sat on my shelves for far too long. They needed to be read and forcing myself to read all those books has meant that I’ve discovered some books that have been sat there for a long long time. Ken Follett is a brilliant example - I’ve had The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End sat on my shelves for well over 2 years now - I've never tackled them, most probably because they’re pretty intimidating in size but I finally felt able to give them a go.

I picked up The Pillars of the Earth and did nothing for the next couple of weeks but read – and read and read. It is exactly the kind of book I love – great sweeping dynasty of a book, lots of detail, lots of character development – amazing. As soon as it was done I reached up and did the same with World Without End.

Goodness knows how long they’d have stayed on my shelf as I picked up “easier” reads in favour of them and I’m so pleased that this challenge has meant that I’ve now discovered a new author. And it also means I now have more books to add to my wanted list!

So yes it’s been rough – I walked around Waterstones the other day going “Oh my god this book is out. And this book….and…and……and…” – but I’m pleased I did it.

And no. I haven’t read all the books on my unread list, there’s probably enough on there to keep going for another year, but I don’t know that I’m that dedicated….


  1. Wow excellent willpower! I've found the library soothes my notion to buy books - at least in there I can go 'this one! ooh and this one! that one too!' and come out with an armfull of books without paying a penny ;)

  2. Well done you. I have so many unread books, it's untrue!
    I like to buy second handbooks - charity shops, table top sales, Green Metropolis - I love the thought that a book is read more than once and if someone has put their name or initials in it, all the better.
    What will be your first book purchase of 2013?


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