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

pexels-photo-264635.jpeg

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!

Advertisement

Recommended Reading: The Happiness Project

pexels-photo-46274.jpeg

This article originally written for Wekudo and can be found here.

Per a recommendation at my workplace, I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. It’s one of those books that had always peaked my interest, but never made it into my shopping basket, because, thankfully, I’m already very happy. Frankly, I didn’t think I needed a happiness project. But after reading up on Rubin’s personal journey to become happier and more grateful in her everyday life, I’ve totally changed my tune.

This book is recommended reading for anyone who seeks to improve their happiness right where they’re at–without changing careers, taking a creative sabbatical, or moving into a remote cabin a la Henry David Thoreau.

I’ll admit, after I graduated from college, I genuinely believed that a cross-country move and a glamorous new job in a big city was what would make me happy. But what I learned as I trudged through my corporate internship in my hometown for the next two years was that happiness was never far away. If you seek happiness where you already are, and learn to be grateful for what you already have, you can improve your outlook without turning your life upside down. I still believe that to be true–there are so many ways we can bring more happiness into our daily lives without necessarily making any drastic changes to our living situation or career path.

Rubin’s happiness project began with an epiphany–she already had a great life, but she knew she should appreciate it more.  Rubin armed herself with a stack of library books and began researching theories on happiness (in other words, she did the hefty lifting so that us readers don’t have to!). Rubin’s approach led her to create a Resolutions Chart that would guide her journey throughout the year.

The book follows Rubin as she tackles a different aspect of her life each month: family, money, and mindfulness to name a few. She works through actionable steps to accomplish her resolutions to do things like get more sleep, be more patient, or make time for friends. Ultimately, she learns that small changes in her daily life can have a real impact.

I learned this for myself after the book inspired me to make several improvements to my own day to day life. For starters, I began exercising more frequently (taking the stairs, walking on my lunch break, doing yoga 5x a week), tackling home projects on the weekends (donating old clothing, decluttering my desk) and dressing better (updating my workplace wardrobe, buying comfortable shoes in various colors).

I’ve learned that, for me, taking a short walk during lunch is like hitting the reset button. I’m able to get back to my work feeling more energized and focused. Oh, and dressing better really did improve my confidence in my workplace. You know what they say: look good, feel good.

I’ve always known that exercising, cleaning, and dressing the part are great habits to have, but I was amazed at how my small actions could have such a positive impact.

By the end of Rubin’s year-long journey, she reflects, “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life.” In other words, she was able to find more happiness right where she was, and at the end of the day, I think we can all learn something from that.