Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. I don’t always take part, but one of the categories is reading habits, and I’ve been thinking about that quite a lot over the weekend.
I’ve joked before on this blog about my book buying habit. However, since I moved to a flat with a) more space and b) an inordinate number of charity shops scattered within a one-mile radius, it’s become a bit of a problem. I took stock last night, when I couldn’t sleep, and found out that I have 47 unread books on my shelves. That figure does not include the four (or possibly more) books I have ordered but which haven’t arrived yet, or the ten unread books I have for the Kindle app on my laptop. It also doesn’t include the half-read books stacked beside my bed in case of insomnia. (Among the Janeites, which I won during the Austen in August event, is my current 0200 read of choice–light and friendly, and sufficiently episodic that I’m not in danger of having to stay up all night even if I suddenly get sleepy). This is a common problem among book bloggers, I’m aware, and I am definitely not the worst culprit*, but it’s still a ridiculous thing. My new flat isn’t that big, it’s definitely not my forever-home, and I’m planning on moving abroad post-PhD. I can’t exactly cart several hundred books to Berlin or Stockholm in my hand luggage.
However, before you all start reminding me that libraries exist, let me warn you: I am a terrible, terrible library user. I forget to return books. I lose them and have to pay for replacements. I moved cities and then discovered that I had Kentish library books in my possession (they have been returned now. I was quite shamefaced, but they were nice about it). You really don’t want me to join your local library. It’s not a feasible way for me to feed my book habit–I keep thinking that maybe I’ll be better now that I’m a grown-up, but all efforts to be a responsible library user have, so far, resulted in heavy fines, misplaced books, and a copy of The Pursuit of Sausages still lurking in my room, judging me because I can’t remember whether it belongs to the hospital or the city library. The only time I have ever been a good library user was when I was in sixth form and the school library was literally across the corridor from my form room. Book buying is a much better way forward for me.
In order to do this, I’m come up with a three-point plan (I do love a good three-point plan), shamelessly stolen from other places on the internet:
1) TBR jar. I’ve written all of my unread books into a list, printed them off, and will be picking a new one from a jar each month. I either have to read it or give it to the charity shops I love so much (buying it back again two days later is not allowed). This idea is pinched from Book Riot, but I’ve seen it half a dozen times on various websites and blogs, so I’ve no idea who came up with it initially. I will allow myself this caveat–if the book is in German, and I’m in the middle of reading another German book or have just finished one, then I can give it a pass. My brain can’t handle the effort of reading more than one foreign language book at a time!
2) 15 before I buy. Adapted from this video by Read Susie Read, I’ve made it a policy that I have to read 15 of the books I currently own before I can buy any more. That’s much more drastic than her 5-before-I-buy plan, but I never said I was only going to be buying one book at a time… I’ve made lists and spreadsheets, which it all very exciting, but I still want to leave room for impulse buying. After all, what’s life without whimsical book purchases?
3) No more review copies. I had a brief flirtation with bookbridgr, and I think it’s basically a good thing for bloggers, but I don’t like reading to a deadline, and I definitely don’t like forcing myself through books that I’m not enjoying (and then having to construct polite-but-honest reviews that I know the authors might see). There is the added disadvantage that I can’t give ARCs to charity shops, because they aren’t meant to be resold–and I don’t really want to give a book that I didn’t enjoy to a friend or relative so that they can also not enjoy it.
If anybody else has helpful tips for curbing the book-buying habit, please let me know below!
*Cathy at 746 books is one of my favourite book bloggers, and if you aren’t already following her I recommend you do–but also, I don’t want to end up in that position!