Monday, February 6, 2012

Bibliomania: One Month In

It has been exactly a month since I stood in the middle of my living room, surrounded by unread books and filled with the resolve that something needed to change.

I didn't have an exact picture of what I was trying to achieve when I embarked on this literary adventure a month ago. I considered creating a concrete goal: to read a finite amount of books or exhaust a particular subject matter. Instead, I am guided by nothing more than whimsy and vague gut feelings.

However, to my surprise, certain rules have started to take form:

3) I must finish any book I begin. My regular failure to do so until now has always gnawed at me. Time to do something about it.

2) I refuse to create a goal number of books to read per month. I am certain that will keep me away from books in which I have genuine interest but may be too long to complete within a particular time frame. Despite the fact that I do not have a purpose, I am convinced this defeats it. However, I will keep an eye on the number of books I read each month and try to create flexible challenges for myself.

Now here's the big one. The Mother of all Rules. The Big Kahuna (or, as my little sister used to say, "The Big a-HOO-ga!"). This rule is so terrifying and potentially insurmountable that I hesitate to write it down. Deep breath. Courage of my convictions and all that. And here goes:

1) I will not buy any books for one hundred days.

There it is. It looks even scarier in print than I had anticipated. I'm reasonably sure that I have not gone longer than one month without buying a book since finishing my first chapter book (Ramona the Brave, c. 1989). But something has got to change.

For some reason, I believed that forcing myself to read every book I own would somehow stop me from buying books- or at least slow down the process. Instead, I spend my free time scouring reviews and salivating. I have tried going to bookstores or websites purely for information gathering, without purchasing anything. "Make it fun! Start a to-read list!" My pretend-jolly inner voice pathetically tries to convince me. "You'll forget about it in an hour anyway." The voice wheedles.

But that's the weird part: I don't forget about it in an hour. The unpurchased book takes hold of my consciousness, making me feel irritable and a little hungover. It possesses my thought process as I drive, sit in class, eat, and otherwise go about my day. It mocks me as I attempt to socialize naturally. This has got to stop.

So, in the time-honored tradition of nonviolent change, I am staging a protest against my pathologically compulsive book purchasing. It will be a quiet protest, mostly consisting of sitting around and reading without spending money. Diet Coke will be involved.

When I told my boyfriend that I was planning to do this, he said I looked like I was going to cry.

"What's the big deal?" He asked. "100 days isn't that long."

"It's over three months." I reminded him. He looked startled.

"That's a really long time." He said. "What are you thinking?"

I'm thinking that I'm not entirely sure I can do this. I'm thinking that it's probably unnatural how worried I am that every single one of my favorite authors (even the dead ones) will magically release a book next Tuesday. But most of all, I'm thinking that I need to stop deluding myself that spending this much money is not a problem.

So, hesitantly and with a deep breath, I begin the next stage of my yearlong literary adventure. Wish me luck.

P.S. I am currently accepting book donations.


MissKimberlyStardust said...

Good luck on not buying books. I have the same roblem as you...I tend to buy them faster than I read them...this has resulted in having 1,200 books...about 250 have been read lol but I can't say no to a good deal!

Anonymous said...

I once had a bet with my boyfriend that I would not buy another book until the end of the year. It was the end of September... So I fully understand what it means not to buy books for 100 days!
It was hard but I won the bet and my boyfriend had to pay for my next book!

Barbara Fisher March House Books said...

That's like trying to give up chocolate - it will never work. Go buy a book - what harm can it do!

Bibliomania said...

Oh, I love the idea of betting someone I can't do it and then receiving a book at the end! It adds deliciousness and competition to the adventure!!

Sharon Henning said...

Now you know why my blog is called, "Gently Mad". It means that I CANNOT resist buying books.
I've tried reasoning with myself- I won't buy another until I've read all the ones in my TBR pile but it doesn't work.

Kathy Schneider said...

Just wanted to let you know that I tagged you!

Ryan said...

I have the exact opposite problem as you. I live far away from any bookstore (about three hours by train) in a non-English speaking country. I have no choice but to read whatever falls into my hands. I recently caved a bit and bought a Kindle, but I haven't bought a book in a few years. Sometimes things get desperate.

But, it's definitely possible and you'll end up reading a lot of stuff you would have otherwise passed on.