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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Why I Don’t Feel Compelled to Finish Every Book I Start

This post was originally written for GenTwenty and can be found here.

In her article, Finish That Book!, Juliet Lapidos claims that literature suffers when we don’t finish the books we start reading. She lays out an excellent buffet of supporting evidence; that quitting a book halfway through may result in us missing something incredible; that finishing something, even if we don’t like it, makes us stronger; and that tossing a half-read book aside is just plain disrespectful to the author and the art of novel-writing itself.

And all of this may be true. I get it. Lapidos makes a compelling argument, but do we all need to commit fully to every book we start reading? Is it wrong to give up on a book? I say no.

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