What I learned from my self-imposed three-month book-buying ban.

Last year I realised that the link between buying books and reading them had been broken. In the first quarter of 2021, I acquired thirty-four books. A year later, twenty-five of those books remain unread.

I know that buying books is a separate pleasure to reading them but, these days, my books are all digital so the physical rewards of having new physical books in my house aren’t available to me. What use is a digital book that you don’t read? It would be like Silas Marner counting Bitcoin rather gold pieces – where’s the joy?

So, I decided to try an experiment. I started 2022 with a self-imposed ban on buying books until 1st April.

The original ban comes to an end this week, so it’s time to see what I learned from the book-buying ban.

The first thing that I learned is that the book-ban didn’t impede my reading. I read thirty-four books in the quarter.

I sourced most of the books from my (enormous) TBR pile, a few were offered to me for free and one was a library loan.

It turns out that:

  • my TBR pile is filled with books that I’m still keen to read, even though some of them have been there for a long time.
  • some of the books I’ve been offered for free are very good One even made it into my Top Five Best Reads for the quarter.
  • my local libraries ebook and audiobook service is great for getting hold of books that have been in print for a while.

During the book ban, I added to my Wishlist the books that I might normally have bought. Over the three months, I added sixty books to my Wishlist. Reviewing the list today, having allowed my initial zeal to cool, only half of the Wishlist books still call to me strongly and I know that I wouldn’t have time to read all of those even if I bought them.

With these findings in mind, I’ve decided to do a different experiment in the second quarter of the year.

I am going to allow myself to buy three new books a month on condition that I read them in the same quarter that I buy them. The rest of my reading for the quarter will be drawn from my TBR, from free books and from the library.

I imagine that most of the of the new books I buy will be continuations of series that I’ve already started although I know there are a couple of standalone books that call to me quite strongly

If that ratio works and I decide to extend it to the end of the year, then I should reduce my TBR pile by about 100 books this year as well as reading all the new books that I buy.

Let’s see how it goes.

5 thoughts on “What I learned from my self-imposed three-month book-buying ban.

    • Not really. According to Library Thing, my TBR currently sits at 1,422 so I had a lot to choose from. I used my Amazon Wishlist as a kind of nicotine patch – when I saw something I might want to buy, I added it to the list and that was enough to scratch the itch.


  1. I recently bought three used books from Thrift Books, that I’d been looking for for ages. Other than these, I’m trying to remember the last time I bought a new book for myself (I do buy them as presents). I live in an urban area with access to at least three separate library services, and I’m often pleasantly surprised at how quickly that best-seller on my TBR list pops up. (Although I was given a Kindle Fire, I haven’t really figured out how to use it much. I have a few classics downloaded for free onto my iPad for emergencies. Except when I travel, all my reading is analog.)


    • Libraries are a wonderful resource. My local library now offers a wide range of audiobooks and ebooks that I can select online and download on loan.


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