Book Fast Wrap-Up

Easter Monday is a holiday here, and this year it’s the tail end of my kids’ spring break. I’ve been working at home a lot and taking it a bit easier, so today feels kind of like New Year’s: gearing up to go back to school and work, organizing myself for the final push of the academic year, and generally taking stock. It’s an easier time to make a fresh start than January, since everything is growing and blooming and the days are getting longer and sunnier.

It seems like the right day to reflect on the end of my Lenten book-buying fast (there’s an earlier update here). I had to laugh when Kobo e-mailed me a “please come back” coupon yesterday, right on time. And I was glad to realize I felt no urgent desire to spend it. What are the biggest changes I hope will stick?

1. I shouldn’t buy cheap/sale books that I’m only vaguely interested in, just because they are cheap. It’s kind of like buying those pants that don’t really fit and you don’t like that much but they are sooo cheap, and then you never wear them. (Oh, is that just me?) Yes, it can be a good way to try a new genre or author. But do I really want to? When I have so many unread books that I’m really interested in? Or, you know, was once when I could remember why I bought them.

2. I don’t have to buy every single book by my favorite authors. Not just, I don’t have to buy them on release day, but I don’t have to buy them at all. Maybe one book doesn’t sound like my thing. Another one will come along. This Book Riot post, “When You Realize You Can’t Read All the Things,” made me laugh, especially this part: 

And did you know that your favorite authors often keep writing books when you haven’t even read their last ones? Terrific. Swell. Thanks a lot for being so creative and productive, authors. Jerks

That might be truer of romance writers than any other kind. I give myself permission not to keep up or catch up, unless I really want to (sorry, favorite authors). By the way, I found that quote via one of the great Sunday Links posts at Like Fire. 

3. I love to re-read, and too much TBR pressure means I do less of it. True, my TBR is hardly smaller after the last 40 days (thanks, library!), but I am re-reading Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible right now and enjoying it tremendously. I feel that I won’t have fully assimilated romance-reading until I re-read more. I have been re-reading Heyer since high school, and I have re-listened to some Crusie and Krentz, but that’s about it.

4. Unless I get hit by a bus in the next couple of years, I don’t yet have more books than I can read before I die. But I’m on track to get there, and I don’t want to. I can’t take them with me, and I don’t like useless consumption. There are more good books in the world than I will ever get to read. There are books I would love that I’ll never discover. That can feel like a bad thing, but really, how could I wish it weren’t the case? What if I came to the end of all the good books? But I don’t want to own them all. I’m learning to make better use of wishlists, both at the library and for books I might buy. I don’t use Goodreads this way, and now that Amazon has bought them, I’m even less likely to. But an Evernote list is a handy thing I can access anywhere.

5. What about my Lent wishlist? There’s one author on it I realized I can request from the library (they rarely catalog mass-market paperbacks, which means requesting romance is impossible and finding books I want is a crapshoot). There’s one I wasn’t sure I still wanted, but a second person just recommended it to me. There’s one I probably will buy someday, but it’s by a prolific favorite author and I’ve still got others of hers in my TBR. The rest, I lost interest in. I didn’t even add that many books to the list. I was surprised by how quickly I lost most of my desire to acquire new books; I think it shows how guilty and anxious my TBR was making me feel. (I should read this, I need to read that, I must get the other).

Did I cheat at all? Well, I downloaded a couple of free public domain Dorothy Sayers books, because I’m thinking I might re-read the whole Lord Peter series. And I spent 2 Audible credits. And I accepted a gift book from someone. Otherwise, I’m good.

I think next time I fast, I won’t use the library either. It’ll be just me and my TBR. I might not even wait for Lent. I wonder how long I can hold out without buying a book? Of course, there is that 25% off Kobo coupon . . . .

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7 Responses to Book Fast Wrap-Up

  1. Wendy says:

    Libraries that don’t catalog paperbacks give us all a sad. If it’s not in the catalog it’s basically like not owning it at all. Drives me bonkers!

    My goal this year was to start thinning out my TBR and yeah….that hasn’t happened yet. In a lot of cases I’ve horded so many books over the years that my tastes have evolved, or I haven’t weeded out the backlists of authors I’ve discovered “don’t work for me.” I’ve told myself I would take a handful of books a week, read the first several pages, and then make the decision if it should stay or go. Now I just need to find the time to do this…..

  2. willaful says:

    Sounds like it’s been a really good experience! I’ve been enjoying my book buying fast as well — though feeling the crunch a bit now, since the library delivered all the hot new books on the same day. I suppose for a true fast I should abstain from the library, but I don’t think I can! But I’m catching up with older books, too.

  3. Jessica says:

    You did a great job! And as someone who book fasted for a month not too long ago, I can report that the fast has staying power. I’m buying books again, but at a very slowed pace from my pre-fast days.

    So glad you are enjoying re-reading Mr. Impossible. That is my favorite in that series, and I feel it gets under-loved compared to Mr. Perfect. I should re-read it!

  4. VacuousMinx says:

    Oh, great post! I have a feeling that I’m pretty close to being able to spend the rest of my life reading the unread books in my possession. I’m buying fewer books than I used to (I started keeping track of how much money I spent on non-work books and was surprised at how those small numbers added up). Part of it is that the books that seem most popular now aren’t appealing to me (across a variety of romance subgenres), and partly I’m burnt out on reading the new new thing and having it be a meh experience. I have so many great books in the TBR that I am pretty sure I’ll enjoy if I would only get to them.

    And like you, I want to reread more than I have been. I used to reread regularly, both favorite books and books I tore through the first time. But with reviewing, and also reading more socially, I don’t do that, and I miss it.

  5. Katherine says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. There are a lot of things I do for fun that have become less so, maybe because I’m approaching them wrongly. It’s so monumentally difficult to change my habits, though. I think I need to start fasting now — no reason to wait until next year.

  6. victoriajanssen says:

    I am very proud to say I culled my TBR over the last few weeks and got rid of almost two grocery bags full of books that I’d decided would be more duty than enjoyment, or were in a subgenre I’d grown weary of, or that I’d decided I just didn’t want to read that much. …We won’t speak of how many still remain, of course. *ahem* I still need to cull more, being even more selective this time around.

  7. Liz Mc2 says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! Good to know I am not alone in my problem. My TBR is mostly digital, which is part of the problem–it’s harder to see, and there’s less impulse to cull when the books are not physically cluttering my house (I am bad at culling things generally, though not at Hoarders status).

    I guess this is where I confess that I bought a book with my Kobo coupon last night (it had an expiration date!). It was totally an impulse purchase and not on my wishlist, too. But it was a Victoria Hold and I’d been wanting to try an older gothic. Oh well, my goal was to slow down my buying, not stop altogether.

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