Tuesday, August 15, 2023

My Book Buying Ban: One Year Later

In August 2022, I ran out of space for new books. They overflowed my shelves, and I started stacking them on the bedroom floor, where I promptly tripped over them. It was a problem. I decided to put myself on a buying ban until I've read (and donated) all my unread books. That was a year ago. Here's what I've learned so far.

🕮  An Update On My Book Buying Ban  🚫

1. I have shelf space now! But I still have too many unread books. When I started the ban, I owned 87 unread books. Right now, I have 43. There are no more books on my floor, and I have plenty of shelf space, but I wish I had fewer unread books. Reading has definitely been put on a back burner in my life. I'm just too busy! I need to get better at prioritizing reading because I miss my books. Currently, I read about 10 pages and then fall asleep for 10 hours.

2. The ban hasn't been a total success. Okay, it's really hard for a book hoarder to completely give up books. I've acquired 8 books during the ban. I've already read 4 of them.

I needed these two for book club, and they weren't available at my library.

I bought this cookbook because (according to medical science) a grown woman shouldn't be surviving on Qdoba and Pop Tarts.

I found this book in a Little Free Library and didn't have the mental fortitude to leave it behind.

I got these from my Secret Santa during Christmas In July.

3. Maybe I'm a mood reader? I've never considered myself a mood reader. I don't choose which book to read based on how I'm feeling or the current season or holiday. I just grab a book and read it.

Or, that's what I thought I did. Maybe I just owned so many unread books that I could always find something to fit my mood. I was mood reading without realizing I was doing it.

As my pool of potential reads dwindles, I find myself staring at the shelf and thinking, I don't want to read any of these right now.

4. My interests change faster than I can read. This is related to the point above. My unread books have been sitting on the shelf for literal years. Back when I bought them, I was a different person with different interests. Do I still want to read these books? (I'm going to force myself to read them because I spent money on them, and I'm stubborn.)

The biggest lesson I've learned from this whole experience is to slow down the pace of my book buying. My interests change faster than I can read books about those interests. I need to chill.

5. In conclusion . . . . I feel like I'm supposed to say something profound here, but I've never said a profound thing in my life, and I'm not about to start.

I'm going to stay on my book buying ban. I'm determined to clear the shelf and own 0 unread books. I suspect I'll enjoy my reading more if I can finish a book shortly after I buy it. I don't want books sitting around for so many years that I lose interest in them.

I wonder how long it will take me to reach 0. And what will happen when I do.

How many unread books do you own?

Have you ever put yourself on a book buying ban?


  1. I have quite a few unread books! I don't put myself on book buying bans because honestly I don't buy a ton of books for myself anymore (I borrow a lot from my sister). Also, it's BOOKS, what could be wrong with buying more? But I can see where it can get difficult to have things hanging around for literally years. Maybe try reading the oldest first? I know it's hard as a mood reader, but at least decide if you want to read or keep those older ones. Don't feel bad about your tastes changing over the years, either! It happens to all of us!

  2. The gifted books do not count as you didn't buy them. Four books is not that many, AND you already read 4. I think you are doing amazing. Any good meals in that meal prep book?

  3. Your goal to own 0 unread books is one I could never do, but I would love to get my own unread books down to a number under 20 instead of over 40. My problem is that I always have too many books checked out of the library which then leaves me no time to read my own books. I have done a little better at limiting my book buying impulses this year. My goal was to limit myself to buying only 10 books...and so far I've bought 14...but I'm going to try and be better through the end of the year. ;D Good luck getting all your unread books read!

  4. I think you did a great job, I would have caved and bought a lot more books even though my shelves are overflowing everywhere. My answer to how many unread books I have is...a lot.

    I've been following Damn Delicious for years and love the recipes they share.

  5. According to Goodreads, I have 391 unread books in my apartment, but over 100 of them are cookbooks so those don't count, right? I'm slowly working my way through them all and am trying really hard not to buy any unless I absolutely have to. lol

  6. PS I just borrowed that Meal Prep book from the library so YOU are not helping me!!!!! (Just kidding).

  7. I'd call the book buying ban a success. I admire your fortitude because I would cave in a matter of days. lol The thought of having so few unread books sounds very Zen, but also very not me.

  8. You need to give yourself more credit for going from 87 to 43 unread books. That's real progress! At that rate, you'll be clear this time next year. And, I don't think a complete ban is reasonable, we are going to get gifts and have book group books that we can only buy.

  9. Your willpower is so much stronger than mine will ever be. I am sure that I have over 1000 unread books and am strangly okay with it. I do think that I can be a mood reader so I need options. You have done great this past year!

  10. I... I think the universe will implode if you reach 0? I mean that is what I tell myself, anyway 😂 No dude seriously, HOW are you doing it!? Like Helen said, you should be PROUD, that is an accomplishment! I have... wow I am afraid to count? So I did a pretty rough estimate by counting books on shelves and then just multiplying by how many shelves of a certain size, and I got 672, so... that's a problem. Can you please be my life coach?

  11. I think you're doing amazing with the book buying ban! Even if you're not at 0 yet and acquired a few books in the meantime, you still halved your number of unread books already and that is an accomplishment! I would not be there yet at the same time *oops* Also, I do relate to your statement of reading 10 pages and sleeping for 10 hours :D

  12. Gulp I admit I have too many unread books on the shelves. I guess it's okay to give away some if you lose interest in them before reading. I don't have a ban exactly but I hardly ever buy them anymore ... unless I plan to read them right away. I think that's a good rule. I do buy ebooks on $1.99 specials which are sitting there forever. I can't help it. I plan to get to them. I think acceptance of our buying addictions is okay. Lol.

  13. I feel you on not being able to read as much anymore. I honestly don't know what happened - I used to read constantly and now it takes me forever to get through a book. Like you, if I try to read at night I just fall asleep!

  14. I think the insight about slowing down the pace of book buying is a really important one! I've had the same situation, where I look at my unread books that I bought a year ago, and just feel very meh about reading them, even at the time I bought them, I was excited for them. I've never actually tried a book ban... I don't think I'd succeed!

  15. You are so much better and wiser than me, Aj. I can't even count how many unread books I own, but it is in the hundreds. Atomic Habits was great. That cookbook sounds amazing. Here's to hoping you meet your goal of 0 unread books.