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Addicted to Buying Books
If you're reading this article then the chances are that, like me, you have a habit you need to get under control. Books spill from the double and triple stacked shelves, more are piled on the floor, on your desk and yet you can't stop yourself from buying more. It's almost impossible to walk past a bookshop without just popping in for a look and how can you pass up the opportunity to check the charity shop for a bargain paperback?
If only we read as fast as we bought. If only we could bring ourselves to give a few away after we've finished reading them!
I am a confirmed book addict. My one bedroom flat is littered with books read once and for the most part, likely never again. Occasionally I rifle through them, looking for a few to give away. I can never come up with more than a handful of mediocre titles at best, things that, knowing what I know now I've read them, I wouldn't buy even second hand. I shame myself into keeping them.
But I have got the habit of purchasing new books under control, for the most part. I've had a few slips this year (including one month during which I bought fifteen new books!) but for the most part I've been able to keep a lid on my book buying.
Give Yourself a Goal
Back in 2008 I set myself the task of reading every unread book on my bookshelf. This actually prompted more book buying until the list grew and grew, spiraling out of control. I had twenty eight unread books on my shelves at the beginning of 2008. By 2009 I had almost a hundred.
I had to do something about my habit which was becoming extremely expensive and so I began to make smaller, more achievable goals for myself. I would read ten, then if I wanted a new one, allow myself to buy it. I soon found I was down to fifty, then twenty-five. At my lowest I had only fourteen unread books on my shelf and it was then that I relapsed and bought fifteen books in one month, twelve of which were on the same day. I'm now back at about twenty books and that includes some pretty weighty tomes so they ought to last me to the end of the year, if not longer and that's my current target- no new books until January 1st.
Organize Your Reading
Create a reading list of all the unread books on your shelf and any books you have to buy for work or for a class. Consult it before you choose your next book and don't buy anything that's not on the list. You can set up a Goodreads account to keep track of your reading list and it's a fun way to meet other book-lovers. If you've got friends in the local area on there then it's a great way to see what books they've got so you can borrow them or perhaps arrange a swap.
Take Advantage of Free Ebooks
One way I have managed to reduced my books purchased this year is by getting myself an eReader and downloading free ebooks from Amazon and Project Gutenberg. There's a wealth of classics available to download on Project Gutenberg and it's given me my first taste of Virginia Woolf, Kafka and Goethe amongst many other brilliant authors. There are a number of eReaders now on the market and Project Gutenberg supports most formats.
If you don't have an eReader then you can still read free ebooks online. If you have an Iphone or an Android then there are eReader apps available or you can download one onto your laptop, tablet computer or PC. If you don't want to download a reader then most Project Gutenberg books are available to read online simply using your web browser.
Join a Library
Its sounds obvious enough but I know lots of people who read a great deal but never use their local library. They'll champion the place but when it comes to going in there and checking out a book, they never do it.
It comes back to my earlier comments about hoarding books that will probably never be read again. I know a lot of readers, myself included, who simply love owning books and enjoy seeing them on the shelves and they will always buy books. But if you're running out of space and need to save a bit of money then the library will help you to choose which ones to buy. Read it first, if it's great then go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy to keep.
Has anyone else got any tips for controlling their book habit?