How To Stop Buying Books Faster Than You Can Read Them

Shutterstock / d_odin © book buying habits

This year, I’ve decided to crack down on my book buying habits. My goal is to stop buying books faster than I can read them.

I’ve found that, over the last ten years, my book buying habits have changed drastically.

In fact, prior to ten years ago, I owned hardly any books. I would go to the library and pick out something that happened to take my fancy that day.

Now, I seem to be amassing them like some people hoard tinned food! What am I preparing for? A bookish apocalypse?

A self-imposed book buying ban

So, I put my foot down this year. No more new books until I’ve read all (or most) of the books I have on my shelves already.

Then, once I’m back down to a manageable amount, I’ll be able to go back to buying or borrowing one book at a time.

It’s easier said than done. There are thousands of new books published every year. Tons of recommendations and a backlog of classics I haven’t read yet . . .

There are lots of tips and tricks online on how to go about curbing an out-of-hand book buying habit.

Some set a goal – if I don’t read “X” by the end of the month, then I’ll donate it to charity or give it to a friend.

Others set up “buddy reads”, asking a friend to read the same book to hold them accountable.

Some cut out bookshops altogether like they’re following a very strict diet.

Make it fun

My biggest problem is that I’ve felt overwhelmed or guilty whenever I look at my unread books. The best way to get around that feeling was to make it fun.

Making a game of it has worked best for me. I’ve been reading by association. Pick any book to start with and use one of the themes or settings from that book choose your next book.

You could also try putting the titles of the books you own in a container and randomly picking one out.

And I do allow myself to go into bookshops and to browse for books online. I simply take a picture or screenshot an interesting book if I want to come back to it once I’ve reached my goal.

It has the same instant gratification that comes with buying a book . . . just without the guilt!

This is good advice for any type of shopping to avoid impulse buying.

Make a note of something that you want and come back to it later. You’ll probably find that after a month, you’re not as enthusiastic, or most likely, you’ve forgotten all about it.

Not a collector

The thing is, I’m a reader, not a collector.

I do love to have a collection of books at home. But I’d much rather have a small collection of books that I love, than a larger collection of books I haven’t touched.

It’s been joyful to finally give the books I already own some attention. And to put them back on my shelves looking a little more worn and loved.

Once I kicked the habit, I haven’t missed buying new books one bit.

What about you?

Do you own a lot of books you haven’t read yet?

Is it wrong to collect books faster than you read them? Does it even matter?

Have your book buying habits changed? Why do you think that is?

Let us know on Facebook!

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.