buy fewer books challenge

The “buying less books”-challenge in February

Well. All in all I bought fifteen books in February which is – too much. Four of those were free, one was 69 cents, and three were 99 cents. So it seems I still can’t resist a bargain.

The five free books were: „3 Breaths“ by L. K. Collins, „Public Speaking for Authors“ by Joanna Penn, and „Magical Machinations“ by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I think two of them were incentives for signing up for newsletters and „3 Breaths“ sounded really interesting when I read the blurb. And then there was „Emma Schumacher & Der verschwundene Professor“ which was written by a sewing blogger that I really like to read, and it was free.

Like many people I often don’t read those free books for ages or at all but I’m pretty sure I will read these.

The 69 cent-book was „Falling from the Sky“ by Sarina Bowen. As I said I’m enjoying her books tremendously and don’t want to pass any deals.

I had pre-ordered „Fast-Draft Your Memoir“ by Racheal Herron and „Queen of Gods“ by Scarlett Dawn and then I stumbled over a deal on the Orson Scott Card-book „The Worthing Chronicle“. There used to be a time when I would buy anything Card put out but I have moved away from science fiction in the past years. With „Queen of Gods“ I liked the sample chapter that I read, and since I really, really love Rachael Herron (I’m listening to all her podcasts) and since I have had this idea of a memoir in my head for years I thought I’d take advantage of the special low price for preorder.

Books that were allowed by my rules were: 

  • The third Amber Fang-book by Arthur Slade because I had already enjoyed the first two in the series and can’t wait to read the last one.
  • The Netscher Connection” by Estelle Ryan because it’s the next in the series. I have been making my way through the Genevieve Lenard-books slowly but steadily over the past few months. And I have to confess that I have already preordered the one that will come out in March.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus“ was on my list already, and I finally got it. Haven’t looked at it yet, though.

The books I bought even though they were not allowed by the rules (in addition to all those bargains) were:

  • Dean Wesley Smith: „Heinlein’s Rules“. After looking up his articles on the subject on his website for the third time in a row I caved and bought the whole thing so that I can reference it easier.
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch: “The Pursuit of Perfection”. This was almost the same story. I felt that I needed to read this, and it has helped me, and I didn’t want to spend the time reading her whole blog.
  • Johann Hari: „Lost Connection“. I found an online article about this through an online friend and was totally blown away. I spent a weekend doing nothing but reading this book and thinking about our society and happiness and depression. I can’t recommend this book warmly enough. It did blow my mind.
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch: „Familiarity“. Another book that I felt I needed right now. Bought it, and read through it in one sitting or so. I really like the stories. Another instance where marketing tricks were working on me. Rusch is putting a free story out on her website every Monday, and they often leave me wanting more.

So yeah, I definitely bought too many books in February. I do regret buying the Orson Scott Card because I probably won’t read it at all. Looking around me and thinking about all the projects I have taken on in my life I also just realized yet again that every book I buy is a project too. Every book means that I have made a promise to myself that I will spend several hours on it. I don’t have that many hours. I need to become more stingy with that.

On the other hand, just the thought that I have hundreds of wonderful books hanging around that I can read if I want makes me happy.

And I did read a lot. According to my notebook I read eighteen books in February. One of them was a reread, five of them were in Kindle Unlimited, and a lot of them were rather short.

For the first time in ages I started two books and decided not to finish them. They were both Kindle Unlimited books. I was about to slog my way through them until it occurred to me that I don’t need to. If something doesn’t appeal to me I don’t have to finish it.

buy fewer books challenge

The state of the “buying fewer books challenge” in January

Yeah, that went well. You can now all say that you thought so but –

I did buy fewer books.

Not as few as I had planned on but less than usual.

I can now say that the marketing strategy of giving away book two for free to get someone to buy the whole series actually does work. Ahem. On me.

I have come to love Sarina Bowen’s books and while I no longer receive the BookBub newsletter every week I did subscribe to news from certain authors. So I saw that book two in the Ivy League series was free and downloaded it. Seems I was in a romance reading kind of mood, and since one of my rules is that I can get books in series I already started (ahem) I then went on to buy an read every single book in the series plus the novella.

That series ties in with the „Brooklyn Bruisers“-series so I bought the first one of those as well, and read it. And then I stopped myself and only got the sample of the next one in that series.


Not what I meant when I made those rules.

But then my goal was to buy fewer books, and that I did.

I had pre-ordered the new C. J. Cherryh book in the Foreigner-series, so that was okay, and I bought the next one in Estelle Ryan’s series. I’ve been reading my way through that series for months now, so that was okay as well. Apart from that, I bought about half a dozen Sarina Bowen books. I read „Target“ by L. C. Mawson which I really liked, and went on to sign on to her mailing list and get a bunch of other books by her for free.

I tried reading „It all starts with food“ in German from the library and gave up, so I bought that one in English, I bought „Your Best Year Ever“ which was allowed by the rules (haven’t finished reading it yet, though), and I bought „The Spider’s Web“ because it’s a book by an online friend, and I really liked the beginning.

All in all, I read seventeen books, a lot of them through Kindle Unlimited. Twelve fiction books and five non-fiction. I would have thought I read more non-fiction, that’s interesting.

So not quite what I wanted but I’m okay with the whole thing. It’s a start.

I did not expect not to read „Emergence“, the book I had been waiting for for months. But that’s what often happens with the „new! shiny!“ of new books. Which is why I decided to buy less new books and read more of the old ones.

We’ll see how that goes in February.

buy fewer books challenge

And I’m trying the ‘not buying books’-thing, again

Yeah, I know that this is at least the third time. In a row no less, and it has never really worked before.

The first time I decided to only buy books by certain authors, and nothing else. Next up I discovered Deborah Geary and bought all her books because I wanted to binge-read them. And then the year went downhill from there.

Last year I tried a version of the challenge that was a little less ambitious. Didn’t work either. My budget software tells me that I spent about 70 Euros per month on books. I own enough books, all books that I am still excited to read, to last me for a year. Maybe longer.

I was already committed to this when I read the last post on Raptitude but he says it all much better than I could. Especially the part where he describes the high one gets from buying a new book. And then it sits there on the enormous pile of other books, books that I couldn’t wait to read when I bought them, same as that new one.

Since I do crave the newness I am leaving myself an out, I will stay in Kindle Unlimited. In the last two months I have been finding more and more interesting books on there, and I have been reading a lot of them.

So the rules will be:

  1. The only new books I am allowed to buy are ones that are new ones in a series that I already have bought.
  2. I am also allowed to buy „Barking up the wrong tree“, „Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression“, „The Emotion Thesaurus“ and „Shadow Rising“. I thought about buying all of those right now before my challenge starts on January 1st but then decided against it.
  3. I am also allowed to read as much on Kindle Unlimited as I want to.
  4. I won’t click on any links to books even if they look really interesting.
  5. I won’t download any samples.
  6. I won’t get any free books unless they are already in my ‚buy later‘-collection.
  7. I unsubscribe from the BookBub newsletter.
  8. I will read the excellent books that I couldn’t wait to read that are already on my e-reader and my shelves.
  9. I am allowed to buy the books I already pre-ordered but I am not allowed to pre-order any more books. If they are in a series I usually buy I can buy them just before reading them.

I hope that this will reduce the piles of unread books, and also reduce the feeling of overwhelm. And re-introduce me to the joy of the books I already have here. I also might re-read a book or two, something I used to love. There are books in my library that I used to re-read every year but I don’t do that anymore.

I will report back on how the whole thing goes.

This will be interesting.

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buy fewer books challenge

The lure of the free ebook

I made the bad mistake of subscribing to the BookBub newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe it wasn’t a mistake. It’s just that now I’m getting this newsletter once a day with books recommended to me that I will probably like, and all of these books are either free or very, very cheap. Like the four book box set of cozy mysteries I bought last month that was only 99 Cents.

So my ereader is bulging at the seams, I have more books I want to read than ever and I don’t quite know what to do.

I only get free ebooks if I’m very sure I will enjoy them because otherwise they just sit there and I feel guilty about them and they’re no fun. But I already had like 120 books on my to-be-read pile beforehand and wasn’t making any real progress with that because I kept buying new books.

And I really like the books I got, and I also like getting my books cheap when I can because buying all these books does cost quite a bit of money.

So I’m in a bit of a conundrum here. Unsubscribing from the newsletter would be good for me because then my pile of unread books might get smaller eventually. But then through the newsletter I keep finding authors that I love and books that I love for cheap.

I’m thinking there is only one course of action possible:

I will stop reading anything on the internet and from now on read only books. No blogs, no instagram, no twitter, no forums, no magazines. Books only. At a rate of maybe one book every two days.

Let me see, that would be between five and eight hours per fiction book, that’s about 400 hours for fiction, and about 300 hours for non-fiction, that’s 700 hours divided over the course of the next year, that’s completely doable.

I only need to stop buying books and read for two hours a day, and then I’ll have read every single books I own. Piece of cake…

buy fewer books challenge

And then I decided to not buy books – yet again

Now I can't really get excited about this because I've tried it at least three times before. And failed.

But the thing is that a) I really need to curb my spending and b) I just sorted all the ebooks on my Kindle and it turns out I have 101 unread books on there, and then I looked at my shelf of books yet to read (and the piles around the house) and there are even more.

Now I'm thinking that every single one of these books was one that I really, really wanted to read right now at one point. There are also a few that I bought because they were really cheap but I don't do that anymore.

So. About 120 to 130 books I still haven't read around the house. (This would be the point where I think about a friend who once had to answer a survey about the books she had and had read, and they had to make up a new category for her because she had more than a hundred books at home. Yeah, me too.)

Last year I read 137 books. That is a lot for me, more than the years before. Which means that the books I have hanging around should last me for another year or so.

But then there are all those really exciting and shiny new books out there. The ones I really need to read right this instant.

I've tried it before. I told myself I could buy the books I had already on preorder like new books in series I already love and – and this is very important – nothing else!

Next thing I discovered the “Modern Witch”-series by Deborah Geary, got hooked and there went that.

But this time I'm adamant. I even wrote the rule on the “books I bought in October” page in my bullet journal. It says:

New Rule: pre-ordered books are alright, new books in series I have already started reading are alright, everything else won't be bought, there are still 120 books in the house.

Of course there are many more books in the house than 120 books in the house, these are just the ones I haven't read yet.

Underneath that rule it says,

  • “The Apocalypse Codex” 5.17€ (allowed because I'm reading “The Fuller Memorandum” right now) and then
  • “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” 9.49€

Now I heard about that one on a podcast I listen to. I'm all about self-improvement and productivity (which is a bit funny if you know me in person), and I decided that I really, really needed this book. Right now.

And I bought it even if it was against the rule I had made the day before, and I started reading it right away, and now it's all about things that aren't really relevant to me, and not looking as vitally important as it did a day ago. Also it seems I might not get rich right away after all.

But then I read the new posts on the bullet journal blog, and started thinking about handwriting, and how to improve it because that's something I've been interested in for a while, and I found this book by Rosemary Sassoon and all of a sudden I really needed that book to improve my handwriting this instant.

I am pretty proud of myself. Because despite having that urge, and feeling like I had a bad day, and needing a pick-me up,and even though it was crystal clear I needed that book – I didn't buy it. I probably will – at some point in the future. I like her writing, the book sounds marvelous, But I decided to be sensible for once and first finish reading all the other books beforehand.

Notably her other book “Handwriting of the 20th century” that's right here on my iPad. I really like it but I started reading it in 2012 and have yet to finish it. One reason for this is that with all the illustrations it's uncomfortable to read on the Kindle,and I rarely read on the iPad. But that's kind of an excuse. I still have to read 74% of that.

Yes, I was very, very sure that I would practice and improve my handwriting this afternoon but likewise I thought that buying the third “Larn how to draw”-book would make a significant difference. (Spoiler: It doesn't if your life is full to the brim, and other things are more important than learning how to draw.)

So we'll see how this goes. I am trying to not buy (many) books again.

I really need the money.

I am actually haunted by that PUB,

I am giving myself permission to not read some of the books on that pile if I happen to not like them, though.

And I will certainly buy every book in the “Laundry Files”-series for sure. Also some wicked part of me wants me to admit that downloading samples of “The Iron Wyrm Affair” and “Discount Armaggeddon” really counts as having already started reading two new series.

But it really doesn't.

And I really need to remind myself that there are so many, many awesome books on that PUB.

As I said I'll let you know how this goes.