Y’all, I totally forgot to update you on my shopping ban! On January 1st, I completed a four month long ban on buying books.
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I did break the ban at the end of December when I purchased the complete Harry Potter boxed set using a gift card. But it was on sale and my Harry Potter collection seems to have apparated and is probably kicked around in a cottage in Wales somewhere. I’m treating this purchase as less of a failure and more of an indicator that my priorities have successfully shifted.
It’s funny because NOT buying books has actually enabled me to read MORE. Now I go to the library the way I would have gone to the mall. I go to shop for books, and it’s actually thrilling. I love getting the email notification when my Holds on books come through, and I love combing the shelves just to see if anything catches my eye. I have read books on subjects I never would have considered before because I wasn’t interested enough to shell out the cash. Guys, I have THREE library cards.
Resetting my approach to books really forced me to look at the WHY. I was accumulating books as proof that I had read them, physical evidence of my consumption of the written word. Reading a book is, for many of us, an aesthetic experience so it makes sense that shelves of books can also be an aesthetic pleasure. But reading a book is so much more than the physical book—it is taking in what you’ve read and carrying that with you in your head and your heart.
Accumulating books to impress people is waste of time and resources. It took me a while to get there, but I did. That’s not to say I don’t have any books anymore. I still have several shelves, but these are carefully cultivated books that I deem essential to who I am. The books I kept are special, they are the pages that I regularly turn to for guidance or friendship or escape. This, in a way is freeing; I can read a book and not feel guilty because I felt indifferent about it or I hated it or there was only one chapter that was any use to me.