Monday Musings | Book Buying Bans and TBR Guilt

Monthly Summary July 2014

It seems like the more I blog and interact with the online bookish community, the longer my TBR list becomes. I know this is a common “problem” and there have been many great articles that address “TBR guilt” and how we shouldn’t feel ashamed, but for me there is a limit to my funds and space when it comes to books. Because of this, I’ve been thinking about book buying bans lately.

I had never heard of book buying bans before becoming a book blogger. It seems to be quite commonplace in this section of the blogosphere and I’m starting to understand why. I hear about new books every day and that means that I’m adding books to my TBR (mental or physical) on a pretty regular basis. This has resulted in an over-flowing bookshelf and stacks and stacks of books lying around my house unread. In the interest of my wallet and living space, I think it might be time for me to implement this dreaded book buying ban.

But before I do anything rash, I want to ask you about it! Have you ever gone on a book buying ban? How long were you on the ban for? Did you find it useful?

I’ve put myself on “unofficial” bans before but it never really lasted for longer than a week or two. My reservation with this money-saving/space-saving method is that once I lift the ban I’ll go crazy and just make up for lost time by buying a ton of books anyway. Wouldn’t that be counter-productive and just make myself feel worse in the long run? Should I just embrace the fact that I love collecting books because of their potential?? Or maybe it’s time that I pay more attention to my “Books bought/Books read” ratio and only reward myself with books if I’ve read a certain amount each month. I don’t know!

Bookish friends, how do you manage your TBR? Do you feel TBR guilt or do you just accept the fact that there will be books on your shelf that you may never read? 

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39 thoughts on “Monday Musings | Book Buying Bans and TBR Guilt

  1. Steph Furlan says:

    Completely understand how you feel and I’ve been considering a book buying ban myself. Though I do think I do a good job of reading most of the books I do have. A lot of the ones I haven’t read are due to putting them on hold for ARCs which have review deadlines, but I feel like I’ll eventually get to the books I bought myself. Sometimes, I feel a little jealousy towards some book people with their massive book collections since mine seems so small compared to theirs. On the other hand, I’ve used the library often when I was younger and even now. So that does help with saving a few bucks. Also, it helps save space for books on my shelves and some books are just an one-time read anyway that I’m glad that I didn’t buy them in the first place.

    • kmn04books says:

      You should definitely be proud that you keep on top of the books you’ve purchased! I have to be better at that… I have SO many books that I own that I haven’t read – eek! Keep up the good work 😀

  2. Sandra says:

    I was just thinking about this the other day. I have book buying guilt rather than TBR guilt. I used to be the type of person who would use the library very regularly and check out as many as 10-15 books for a 3 wk period. I now find that I can’t be bothered to go to the library and be put on a waiting list for books, so I buy them. I think there are a few reasons for my turnaround from “get it free” to “buy it right now. One is most definitely my Kobo, so easy to click and get a book any time, day or night. Another reason is the internet, I want to read the same books that I am hearing about now, not 6 months from now after everyone has already read it. Another reason is that we live in a small community with a very limited public library with very long wait times for books. I don’t think it’s because so many people want to read a book, it’s that with the library’s limited funds, they can’t order every single book I want. Unless there is a big demand for a book, we don’t get it. When I move back to the city, and get that city library card in my hands, I am sure I will visit more and get back to my free books. Another reason is also because of the internet, I interact with a lot of authors now and feel good if I buy their books. I’m sure they are happy if the library buys it also, but I feel I am contributing to them more directly if I buy the book myself. Anyways, a book buying ban would probably be a very good thing for me, if I could actually do it! I don’t have a lot of willpower when it comes to reading, lol.
    Wow, I think I just wrote a blog…..

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha! Thanks for your comment, Sandra! I think all of the reasons you gave are legitimate reasons for buying books. If you’re reading them all then there’s no reason to feel guilty, right? I hear you on the e-book front though – they make it SO easy to go on a book shopping spree! (I don’t really have the willpower to put myself on a ban either… maybe I’ll set myself a monthly limit instead?)

  3. aryathefangirl says:

    I tend to use the library for most of the books I read. Either from the physical library or their website. Recently since starting blogging I have been reading exclusively review requests for indie authors so I don;t really have a buying problem. i tend not to buy books if I haven’t read them unless its by an author I already love. I guess in a way I have a book buying ban set for myself in that since thought. Best of luck to you and finding what works best for you!

    • kmn04books says:

      You know, I actually used to do that too! I think, because I was a student before, that I really had to love a book (and know that I would want to re-read it) before buying something. Now that I work full time and have a bit more to spend I’m a little more lenient. I think I should look into borrowing ebooks from libraries though; it sounds really convenient!

  4. Charleen says:

    I’m like Arya, I’m pretty much on a permanent book buying ban, just from the nature of how I read. Nearly everything I read is from the library, so I do still have some TBR guilt in that I have so many books on my list that I may never get to read, books that have been on my list forever that keep getting overlooked for newer ones… but I don’t have hundreds of dollars worth of unread books lying around.

    My version of a “book buying ban” was when I’d stop reading reviews so I could chip away at my virtual TBR without adding to it. Now I’ve stopped reading reviews altogether (which has helped with my time management as well as my TBR), but before I would take a break for a month or so, just to keep that TBR from growing, at least for a little bit.

    • kmn04books says:

      I think that’s a smart strategy to stop your TBR from becoming too massive! Lately I’ve only been reading reviews of books that I’m interested in/have had on my radar so I think that has helped a bit! Also, because of my guilt, I’ve been a little more choosy when deciding whether or not I want to read something… so that’s a start! I definitely think I should be using the library more but sometimes I just can’t resist the new releases!

  5. Naomi says:

    I came to terms a long time ago with the fact that I will always have books on my shelf that might never get read. Now, I am happy to just look at them and know that I can read them whenever I decide to, even if that is never. And, my friends can borrow them when they want. I have never put myself on a book-buying ban, partly because I really don’t spend a lot on books. I hardly ever buy them new (and when I do it is usually because I have received a gift card for my birthday!), and when I want to read a new book I usually borrow it from the library, or even from my mother (she’s more likely to buy the new ones – lucky for me!). Most of the books I buy are somewhere between $1 and $4, most closer to $1. Finding the good deals is half the fun. Everyone is different, though, so whatever you decide to do, feel good about it!

  6. Ri says:

    I’ve never gone on a super intense book buying ban. I did manage to go the entirety of July without buying any books. (Though i did win a couple, so I didn’t stop bringing books into the house) I don’t think I could every stop outright, because I would then end up purchasing other things instead of books. If I don’t stop then at least I can control, how much I spend on it. I find that’s a lot easier than just stopping myself from buying any. (I can literally justify anything to myself. My excuse for buying books? At least it’s not nail polish. I have a lot of that too.)

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha I think I try to justify it to myself too. “At least it’s not (insert ANYTHING remotely bad)…” haha. I do think that I’d just splurge on books the second my ban is over though, so maybe that’s not the best strategy for me. (Must learn to have self-control!!)

  7. bookmarklit says:

    I’m trying out a small book buying ban for October. I have too many books on my shelves and not enough money in my wallet! I’m going to restrict myself to library books too so I can plug away at my TBR without spending money

    • kmn04books says:

      The library is a great resource! I’ve stopped going recently just because I have SO many books at home and it makes me feel guilty getting more books without reading the ones I have, but I’m definitely a fan. Can’t wait to hear how your ban goes! (Maybe your success will inspire me!)

  8. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says:

    I’m pretty good about not buying books because I don’t have the extra money right now, but when I’m at the library, I’m bad about checking out more than I can read! 😉 Great stack of books there, though. I soooo want to read Landline!

    • kmn04books says:

      Yes – I’m the WORST at checking out books that I don’t end up reading! I borrowed 2 books (The Children Act and Mrs. Hemingway – two books that I’ve been dying to read) but somehow I still haven’t read them?? I think it might have something to do with my September slump, though I’m hoping I’m crawling out of it now! You should definitely see if you can get a copy of Landline from the library! It’s a fun one 🙂

  9. tanya (52 books or bust) says:

    I prefer to think in terms of a book diet. I’m not going to stop buying books completely, but I’m going to watch my intake and consider my choices carefully. I basically categorize certain books as ‘buy worthy’ and others as ‘library worthy’. Sometimes i go on a binge, but for the most part i stick to my diet.

  10. Alice says:

    I went on a ban once, I didn’t enjoy it. I find – especially when I’m in a reading slump – buying a new book to fall into is ideal. I just try and contain myself each time I buy. You’re right, book blogging can be dangerous for the purse and the TBR pile 🙂

    I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty about my TBR and I have so little space if I know I will never get to a book off it goes to the charity shop for someone else to love.

    • kmn04books says:

      I think I should start giving away the books I don’t think I’ll read too… Actually, one of my goals this summer was to drop some books at my neighbourhood Little Free Library and that was a lot of fun when I got around to doing it! I agree that buying a new book to get out of a slump always helps, too.Thanks for commenting!

  11. writereads says:

    I myself don’t use book buying bans, I simply budget a certain amount of money per month for books. I have allowed myself $100/month on books. I don’t always spend that much, but that’s the limit. Once I spend that, I’m not allowed to spend more that month, everything else must come from the library or get put on a “to be bought” list for next month. -Tania

  12. Angélique says:

    I found that it helps to keep a (more or less ordered) want-to-read list so I don’t forget books I bought and haven’t read yet. Also, I avoid bookstores and the library when I know I already have books to read. Finally, I found that using the library made me more reasonable: I know I have three weeks to read what I borrow, so I don’t go back home with ten books!

    • kmn04books says:

      You’re much more controlled than I am, Angelique! Sometimes when I see something I want to read, especially if I’m at the library, I always have the urge to pick it up! I guess it all comes down to practicing self control…

  13. Little Lindsey says:

    Sometimes, I just have to start book-buying bans. Sadly, they never last for very long though. I have a nook books under $5 addiction, and so I catch myself on that webpage at least once a day, looking to see if there are any good deals on books I’ve been wanting that are marked down for a limited time, or if there’s anything new that sounds good. I seem to be on an unconscious book ban currently, because nook books under $5 isn’t looking as appealing lately. But I’m always looking for a bargain.

    One thing that has helped me the most is when I find a book I want to read, I check my local libraries to see if they have it. So that when I put it on my goodreads, I flag it as a library book, and therefore won’t buy it when the time comes around that I want to read it. This has helped a lot with my impulse buying because I also check nook daily find every day, so if the daily find is at the library, I pass on buying it.

    Another thing that is helping me is I don’t buy every new release I want right away. I look at what is coming out each month, and figure out which ones I really need and which ones I can wait on the library getting, or the price dropping after the initial rush.

    Granted, I buy a lot of ebooks, so that helps on the space issue, but not necessarily on the money issue. Good luck!

    • kmn04books says:

      I think the biggest thing for me is the new releases part. I always want to be reading what other people are reading when they’re reading it! Haha. Plus… shiny new books! I definitely think I should have a system like yours though. I think it would help a lot! It sounds like you’re at least getting a good deal on the books you get and without the space issue it’s not too bad. Thanks for your comment!

  14. Leah says:

    Oh, this is so tough! My general rule is that I can only buy a new book if I’m going to read it IMMEDIATELY. This way, I don’t spend $25 on a new hardcover and then let it sit on my shelf forever.

    However, this doesn’t apply to used book stores or library sales, where I can get books for just a few dollars. That’s where my real problem is 😛

    • kmn04books says:

      Yes, that’s the worst! Whenever I buy newly released hardcovers and don’t read them until months later it always feels like such a waste. I think your way is a great way to do it. I don’t stumble upon library sales too often, but as you know, that BMV at Yonge and Eglinton is DANGEROUS.

  15. Milliebot says:

    I went on a ban in April. Lasted the whole month without buying a book. It was torture and I didn’t feel it was productive. I went crazy in May as a result and bought a ton. I’m better off just buying when the mood hits, which is usually a couple times a month

    • kmn04books says:

      That’s what I’m worried will happen to me if I go on a ban. From reading the comments, I think setting myself a budget and sorting books into a “to buy” and “to borrow” pile sounds like a realistic system that could work! A couple of times a month doesn’t sound too bad to me though! 🙂

      • Milliebot says:

        Haha yeah, a couple times a month could still be me buying 9 books at a time. But that works for me. I do think that having a budget would be appropriate. That way, you can still buy, but not too much. Maybe it sounds materialistic, but buying books makes me happy, so why would I stop?

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