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Buying Books

July 26, 2016

I made it almost to the end of July before breaking my New Year’s resolution not to buy books.

And I did not so much fall off my resolution as swan dive off it, in spectacular style.


I have bought a set of books, to be exact. A complete set of Jodi Taylor’s Bells of St. Mary’s wonderful, zany, suspenseful time travel series. A series I first encountered in the first months of the year, when Just One Damned Thing After Another was offered on Edelweiss. And I zoomed through reading it, and then was desperate for the second book, which was, mercifully also offered on Edelweiss. Got the third from the library.

So far, so good. Resolution firmly in place.

Realized a few things: One, was that I couldn’t find the fourth book in any library (and I have five separate library cards, so that’s saying something.) And also, that I wanted to spend money to show support and encouragement to both the writer and the publisher, to vote with my dollars, for more Saint Mary’s books. To tell the publisher and agents and others behind the scenes that, yes, I want more madcap and perilous but good-natured takes on history and time travel. Also, dinosaurs and Romans and screwball comedy and snark. And giggling on the subway and staying up late binge-reading. I want more of this, from Jodi Taylor, and from the publishing industry in general.

Also, I want to be able to loan out copies of the first volume, to get friends to read it. And then, ideally, go buy their own copies of it, and the rest of the series.

My main complaint about e-books is that it’s not very easy to share them. There are many advantages to the format, of course: portability, ease of accessing review copies and library books, and having library books zap away to be returned on time… Lending books on Kindle can be done, it appears, but only of books bought through the Kindle platform? Meh.

Secondary complaint: curling up in bed with a book is much nicer, much cozier, with an actual book. Even allowing for a paperwhite, not gorilla glass shiny screen.

This morning, I willfully chucked my resolution,  with a monster book order of the entire St. Mary’s series. Had I been truly thinking through all of the implications of voting with my dollars, encouraging the book economy, I would have placed the order by calling the world’s greatest bookstore, Burton’s Bookstore. Bit ticked at myself for that one.

Amended resolution: no buying books, except through Burton’s.

As I wait eagerly for the fruits of my broken resolution to arrive, a few thoughts on lessons learned.

I did a decent job of relying on my various libraries to get books that looked interesting. Even if, in more than a few cases, that’s turned into buying the books, after the fact. Being able to satisfy bookish curiosity with a test-drive is one of the reasons to love libraries.

I fudged my resolution a few times: I placed a decent-sized pre-order of books on December 30th, anticipating some of the books that were likely to break my resolution. (Sheepish admission: I’ve only read 2 of the 6 I ordered, since then.)

I bought four books that I needed for a project of personal study. They’re textbooks, I told myself.

I convinced myself and my friend Josiah that buying books for each other wouldn’t count as breaking my resolution. (Haven’t read that book, either, but he’s read the book I bought him.)

Bought a whole bunch of music on iTunes, and also, a few CD’s. “I’m not buying books, after all,” I reassured myself, as I bought more music than I have in the past 5 years. Related news: my music collection could use an update, so if you have any recommendations in a blues/rock/folk-rock vein, or other tuneful recs you think I’d like, let me know.

enhanced-27976-1405966713-29The intent of my resolution was to read down the stash of books that I own, as well as those that have been lingering about in my Kindle queue. I can claim only marginal success on this one.

New books, or the promise of acquiring new books, is a big thing for me. I think browsing new books from the library and from book reviewer sites, as well as books that come from lovely generous publicists, was the only thing that allowed me to last as long as I did before chucking my resolution. Sometimes, I think I like browsing, acquiring and novelty even more than owning or reading books. It’s the thrill of the chase. And book-dragon tendencies.

I got books for birthday presents, both requested and books I didn’t know I needed. Thank you, parents!A58DE9FC-931C-4526-9F7C-C93466401598

While I didn’t make much progress reading books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while, I did reread some old favorites like Billy Boyle, and I read what feels like a ton of library books and review books. There’s just something about the novelty of books I don’t own yet, or new books. The bookshelf is always…greener?

Or something.

Lessons learned and resolution tweaks to take me through the rest of the year:

Going forward, I am only buying books from Burton’s. And other independent, local bookstores. (Does the Strand count? I think it does.) For me, and for others.

I feel like the moratorium on buying books might help me do a better job of buying them more intentionally, when I do. Written by and sold by people I really like. Will see how that plays out.

Novelty and reading whims play a giant role in my reading enjoyment, and always have. Even to the point of making me hate a book on the first try, and zoom through it later. This can be detrimental to my ability to review books in a timely fashion, and to any effort to try to read down my TBR pile.

I possibly need to face the fact that I will never catch up with my TBR pile, or the unread books I’ve got all over my bookshelves.

This is not the worst problem to have.



One Comment leave one →
  1. July 27, 2016 4:05 am

    Buying books is not the worst habit of worry. Collecting cats, handbags, salt and pepper shakers might be of more concern.

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