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Books have always been a part of my life, both reading them and acquiring them. As a kid, getting books from the Scholastic book order was the highlight of my month. I spent the first part of the month eagerly awaiting the catalogue, the middle of it begging my parents to allow me just one more book, and the remainder of the month impatiently waiting for the books to arrive. I remember the packages being delivered and my teacher making us wait until the end of the day to pick them up. The anticipation of the wonders that lay in their pages was almost as enjoyable (and excruciating) as actually reading them.

Into my adulthood, book buying has brought me so much joy. But once upon a time, my views on it were different. I would eagerly anticipate the arrival of a book, or go and buy one from the store, only to come home and lose myself in the pages. When I finished, I would ponder over the book for a while, then head back out for a new one. Somewhere between then and now, I began to buy books more frequently. In university, I would forgo dinner if it meant I could afford a new book. But the new thing was.. I bought them, and then put them on my shelf. I know so many people do this as well, and none of us feel particularly good about it.

At the beginning of the year, I did a quick roundup of all of my books. I own nearly 500 and have only read 35% of them. 35%!!! Now, I must say that as a disclaimer, I don’t keep books I don’t like, so I have read a ton of books that have ended up donated, or laid out on my lawn with post-its encouraging those who want them to give them a good home. But I digress.

A few days ago, I watched a BookTube video in which a lady named Liz describes the almost unsettling feeling of buying a book, coming home, and feeling as though you’ve done something wrong. I guess in a way, I have. I bought something with hard-earned money, that I may not actually read right away. I do not agree with everything that was said in the video, but that feeling, I knew and understood, all too well.

Where does the need to buy books come from? I tried to compare it to retail therapy, but at least when you buy clothes, you wear them. I will read these books someday.. but when? I read an average of 4-7 books a month, and this month alone, I have already acquired 17 new books. Granted, a bunch are comics and a bunch were cheap, but who cares? There is no way I will read all of these anytime soon!

I ran through my purchases and asked myself, why? And I came up with a pile of excuses that even sounded bad to me. A few days ago, my favourite bookstore closed. I dragged Jay for one last lap around the store, and to take some video footage to remember it by. I bought a box set of 7 books and a collection of short stories. While I waited in line, Jay asked why I had to get these books now, to which I replied “Because! This is my last hurrah!” He pointed out how many books I had purchased in the past few years at that exact store, so I tried again, “but I need to show my support!” He stared at me, shook his head and said “Chelsey, it’s closing. It doesn’t need your money.”

Too true.

I went home with my books, stared at them, and felt bad. When on earth would I have time to read these? I had hundreds of other books on my shelf. I made a mental promise to not buy any more books until I had read through all the purchases I have already made this year.

Then on Sunday, I watched a YouTube recommendation video, and ordered a book online.

Today, I tallied up how much money I have spent on books in the past 6 weeks and felt my heart drop. Yes, I love books. Yes, I read constantly, but what on earth do I think I’m doing?

So, my friends. I hearby make a promise. I am going to stop this. If I’m not going home to start that book right that second, I will not buy it. I will not buy in bulk unless it is a special occasion. I will not bring home a ton of books for the sake of having a ton of books. I will curb this habit and fast. And I just needed to put that out in the world, so I have proof that my sanity is still in tact.

Now, onto reading the hundreds of books I already own. ONWARD!

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4 thoughts on “The Queen of Excuses (Why I Buy Books and Feel Bad)

  1. I totally have the same problem! I actually made a promise today that I will be completely halting my book buying, not only because I need to save money right now but because I have about 50 books on my shelves to read! I will only be getting books if they’re new releases that I’m really excited for, so only a couple here and there, and the few that I asked for for my birthday which is in 2 weeks!
    I’m happy to say, though, that of the last 3 books I bought, one is read and one is in progress :)

  2. I started feeling the same way, and I had to get myself excited for the books on my shelves again. It truly helped me reign in my spending and get back to some awesome books that had been neglected. Cheers to feeling good about our hobbies and not gross. :)

  3. I always feel guilty for buying books, especially considering the fact that I work at a library. But sometimes the hold lists are too long to wait for a new release that I’ve been dying to read! Lately, however, I’ve been finding myself buying books that the library has that I could easily pick up off the shelf, like Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” and Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South.” I’ve been justifying my purchases to myself by saying that “they are on sale..what a deal!” Or “it’s a classic! I should own it!” but I really do need to curb my book buying habit. Luckily I’ve been making some progress on the pile of books in my closet, so I don’t feel quite as guilty as I did before. I’m hoping to minimize my book purchasing to about once a month (no more than 3 books), not including comics! Good luck with your own book buying ban!

  4. Well, you have more willpower than I’ll EVER have. But I never feel bad about buying a lot of books. In 2011 I did the same count as you, and I ALSO came in around 35% (and that was out of about 800 books). So it is always in my mind that I should be reading the books I own, and that’s part of what my Monthly TBRs help me work on. Really, I need to stop going to the library so often. I end up reading a ton of library books instead of my own books.

    But I don’t know… I refuse to feel bad about spending money on books. As long as I’m not completely broke and my bills are getting paid, then I’m cool with it. We all work hard for our money, and if books are our guilty pleasure splurges… well, there are much worse things to spend money on. And you know, buying books DOES support bookstores and publishers too, yada yada yada. I bought 3 books today – 1 want to start immediately, 1 I want to get to soon-ish, and the other I know I want to read eventually, and it was only $6, so I grabbed it. AND I have 3 graphic novels on their way to me from Amazon. I LOVE BUYING BOOKS AND I CAN’T DENY IT. Lol.

    Anyways, I’m tired and rambling. I hope you can succeed in curbing your book buying and reading more of the books you already own! :)

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