Saturday, January 9, 2016

Resolution Retrospective: 2015, Banned from Buying Books

It was like finally letting out a breath you've been holding for way too long. As soon as the sun dawned on the new year, I was reaching for my Kindle with an intent to do some damage, and shortly thereafter, out the door and sprinting towards the nearest Barnes and Noble. It was finally over: I had successfully carried out my 2015 New Year's Resolution, to abstain from purchasing any and all books in a calendar year.

The original intent of the challenge was to 1. stop spending so much gosh darned money on books (I am a college senior, after all), as well as 2. make better use of the veritable cornucopia of books I already own and have not yet read. I was definitely successful on the first front, and only slightly less so on the second, but while I saved some moolah and cleared out some real estate on my shelves, the challenge also gave me an interesting perspective on how I personally participate in one of my favorite past-times.

And now, after returning to the readerly realms I'd left vacated for so long, I'm finding that I've taken away a lot more from this experience than just a few extra dollars in my bank account.

  • I am now intimately acquainted in how to get the most from my library system. There are so many options available to you to pick up exactly the kinds of books you want, without having to spend a dime. I can now consider myself an expert in everything from the books you can download through Tacoma's ebook program, to how to maximize my options in requesting titles for pickup. I am a library fanatic. 
  • I've thrown into sharper relief the kinds of feelings I associate with getting new books. Believe me, the triumph of finally running into Barnes and Noble to the interior mental soundtrack of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" faded once I was weighed down by eight different titles. Looking at the books in my hands, and knowing that each would set me back a substantial amount of money, I was forced to pause and reconsider my options. I was still ecstatic to purchase the books I did, but carefully considering them beforehand made buying them that much more rewarding. I can purchase anything I want...but I don't have to purchase everything I want. 
  • I know now that sometimes, buying things in hardcover is important. Every hardcover I read this summer, whether it was a library rental or a loan from a friend, impressed me with its heftiness. I had forgotten how fun book jackets were, too... they're so pretty, and like a little built-in bookmark! Whether it's a recent release you don't have the patience to wait for, or a title you know you'll have for a while, sometimes the extra splurge is worth it. 
  • I also know that sometimes, buying things on your Kindle can end up being something you regret. I can't tell you the amount of times over the summer, where I ended up wishing after the corporeal copy of something I already knew was stored in tech. I have every single Throne of Glass title on my Kindle - including all of the individual prequel novellas! - but I'd rather have them on my shelf. I would have been all too happy to shell out those extra few dollars on top of Kindle pricing in order to hold them in my hands. 
  • I believe even more fiercely that there is no excuse for downloading pirated material. I do not have to explain this to you: I am choosing to believe that if you are reading this, you are all adults, functional humans, and moral, upstanding citizens. There are so many options available to you, to get reading material either for free or in a way that is steeply, steeply discounted. Downloading books illegally is a lazy, impatient, apathetic, ignorant, shady thing to do, zero exceptions. 
  • I believe a lot more in the importance of lending books to your friends. God bless the beautiful humans in my life who willingly entrusted me with their books, especially those that were recent releases. Without you, my reading pile would have been decidedly less fulfilling, because I wouldn't have had as many wonderful people to talk about those titles with. 

And even through all of that personal growth, I still managed to have my best reading year ever, with 79 titles completed over the course of 2015, without exercising my ability to freely purchase books! Now, I may not have as lofty goals for this year, but I'm hoping to utilize this same resolution in future years, the next time my TBR shelf starts looking a little too jam-packed, or I lose perspective on why I love doing what I do.

Thank you to all of my family, my friends, and my local librarians for making 2015's resolution possible. Here's to an even better and brighter 2016!

Would you ever participate in this kind of resolution? Let me know, in the comments below! 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on staying true to your resolution!! That would be really hard for me, too. I'm trying something similar this year (less buying in general), as well as reading unread books I own. One incentive is if I don't like the book, it'll make room for more...and hopefully I'll be more selective when I feel like impulse shopping. :)