Great Things That Happened When I Stopped (Over)Buying Books

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I’ve written before about my bad habit of over buying books. A year ago, I made a commitment to stop contributing to my already overflowing bookshelves, and instead enjoy the books I already own.

I stopped making unnecessary trips to Barnes and Noble, I walked past the local bookshop downtown instead of instinctively walking in (simply because I was in the area, as I used to do), and just last night, I took a photo of a book I wanted at the grocery store, instead of immediately purchasing it.

These small actions have undoubtedly made a sizable impact on my monthly budget… and have also made a big impact on my reading habits, in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Here are the three outcomes that have surprised me most:

I now feel at ease to reread old favorites. By having so many unread books lying around the house, I always had a lingering sense of urgency to read the next book on my shelf. If I was going to continually be buying new books, I felt like I had to continually be reading new books. There simply wasn’t time to reread books that had been on my shelves for years.

As soon as I made a commitment to stop overbuying, my attitude toward reading time changed in such a drastically positive way. I was finally able to begin rereading my favorite books without guilt. Finally–the pressure I had inflicted on myself was off. I could enjoy books at my leisure again.

In fact, last year, the majority of the books I read were well-loved favorites, and I took my time enjoying them again. What a treat!

My physical attachment to books has significantly decreased. I realize how ridiculous this must sound, but the more books I had, the more I attached I felt to my ever-growing library. Even those that had been sitting in my house for  years–untouched–felt necessary to me. What if I got rid of my Modern Period American Literature Anthology, only to immediately after acquire some unmistakable urge to read as much Gertrude Stein as possible? What if I donated my pristine copy of Big Magic only to have it recommended to me by a coworker days later?

These were the silly thoughts that kept me from ever getting rid of books. In reality, I’m lucky enough to live in a world where literature is as accessible as ever. If I have a book recommended to me, I can always check it out from the library, read it online, or purchase it again with little effort!

I’ve begun reading for the “right” reasons again. For awhile there, I treated reading as a sort of chore. I had adopted this foolish desire to be “well-read” (whatever that means). I slogged through dull classics (don’t get me wrong–I love classics, just not all of them!) just so I could prove to myself I could get through them. But no matter how much I read, there was always so much I still hadn’t gotten to. My impossible TBR was so discouraging.

Now, I only pick up books that I’m truly interested in… and I don’t get hung up on genres or labels. I used to avoid certain genres because I feared they would be a waste of precious reading time (goodness, I was such a snob!), but now I happily read whatever appeals to me.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned? As it turns out, there’s always just enough time to read the books you love most.

 

Are you a recovering book addict too? Tell me about it in the comments!

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