on books: always buying, never reading them all

When we moved to our current home three years ago, we moved from a large (ish) house to a much smaller one and it necessitated a lot of purging of our possessions. Before the downsizing project, I knew that I had a – shall we say – book problem, but it really came to light when I faced the possibility of having to move them. The extra bedroom in our old house had really become a library, rather than a guest room, with piles of books everywhere. This is in addition to all the books on the proper bookshelves in my den and the teetering stack on my nightstand that threatened to fall over and kill me in my sleep every night. The guest room / library was overflow.

I had to face the fact that I had no place to store them in my new house and I went through the process of sorting. The categories were:

  1. Books that I had read and wanted to keep because I would probably refer to them or re-read them.
  2. Books that I had read but could bear to give away.
  3. Sentimental books – mostly old relics that belonged to either myself as a child or my parents. I kept these as well. Most of them I had read, though not all.
  4. Books that I had bought and never read.

I was pretty shocked to find that the fourth category was by far the largest. So large that I had to sort that pile again, into a) books that I would defintely make an effort to read one day, and b) books that I knew I would never read. After some ruthless sorting, I realized that category 4(b) now contained the most books. I went about setting up a Facebook list to give them away and donated the rest.

But … how did this happen? I had purchased all of these books throughout the years (brand new, I might add) with the intention of reading them. Was I drawn in by a compelling cover? Did the title sound exactly like something that I needed to read at that time? Was it recommended to me by a friend? Was it a “staff pick” at my local bookstore? Was it retail therapy? Was it an attempt to tip the scales towards life in my quest for “work-life balance” (I kinda sorta hate this term, by the way).

In my new little house, I’ve embraced my minimalism and for the most part and I don’t buy nearly as many (physical) books as I used to. I borrow a lot of books from the library (and oh, by the way, I don’t read most of those either). I buy/borrow a lot of audiobooks and I do read (listen to) those with regularity (yay!). I just can’t seem to stomach ebooks, no matter how logical they seem to be, so don’t even go there. When I do buy a physical book, I try to give it away as soon as I’ve read it, unless it turns out to be a category 1 book, in which case it gets coveted spot on my limited bookshelf space. I’ve been pretty disciplined, I would say.

Until recently, that is.

In recent weeks, I’ve bought a lot of books. By “a lot” I mean about 10, but the quantity isn’t as important as the fact that I suddenly have a backlog of books to read. In other words, I didn’t buy a book, read it, then buy another book. I have a pile on my nightstand again!

And thanks to Facebook memories, I saw that I posted about this exact phenomenon four years ago:

I’m super busy at work right now which often leads to retail therapy. Usually I buy books (cheaper than shoes and electronics and doesn’t involve trying on clothes). But then I don’t have time to read all the books that I’ve bought because I’m working too much. Which bums me out and leads me to buy more books to make myself feel better. It’s a vicious cycle, people.

I’ve decided that maybe it’s an Autumn thing. The back-to-school vibe. The desire to cozy up with a book under a blanket.

No matter what, I’m going to read these books! I’ve already finished the first one: “Money Diaries” by Lindsey Stanberry and I’m about to start “Bleaker House” by Nell Stevens.

I’ll keep you posted!

3 thoughts on “on books: always buying, never reading them all

  1. I can definitely relate to the retail therapy thing! I love book shopping – it’s so relaxing and peaceful and always manages to de-stress me when I need it most. I’m starting to manage my addiction though! Only 3 books maximum at a time haha!


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