That’s right, everyone. I am not lying; I did not cheat. I genuinely did not “buy” any books for an entire 30 days! You have no idea how incredibly proud I am of myself.
For those who don’t know and need context:
Starting April 1st, I decided to attempt the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge.
I will admit that I wasn’t very successful at reading all the books I had planned due to matters I’d rather not trouble you with.
However, I did manage to read 6 books in April. It was one of my slower months, but a good one overall.
- Shelter by Jung Yun
- The Vegetarian by Han Kang
- The Book of Negroes by Lawerence Hill
- The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver (not reviewed here)
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – review coming soon!
- Song For Night by Chris Abani – review coming soon!
Two of them were not in the original list I had planned for May, but I’m not going to worry about that. I still read only the books that I already owned.
Back to the topic of not “buying” any new books
As part of the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge, I also committed to a month-long book-buying ban. Mostly because I will be moving very soon and moving is frustratingly expensive, so I wanted to save some money. Also, I wanted to prove to myself that I could exercise restraint when necessary.
But, man, it was brutal.
On several occasions, I thought about buying a few books in secret and never telling you all about it. I figured no one would know except me. But I immediately felt guilty even thinking about doing such a thing and this ultimately gave me the resolve to continue and keep to my word.
How did I survive this month-long ordeal?
The first week was easy enough. The excitement and novelty of the challenge motivated me, so I went along with my days as if nothing was different. No biggie.
However, on the second week, I almost broke down. I go to Barnes & Noble or Book People in my city just about every week out of habit, sometimes simply to be around books, drink some coffee and read for a few hours. It’s a ritual that I look forward to every week. But without the ability to buy books every time I visited, I felt like I was doing bookstores nationwide a disservice by walking out without buying a single book. Usually, I left with a bookmark or some other bookish thing to mitigate the guilt.
I soon realized that I had to get creative. I am addicted to acquiring new books and growing my home library, so I don’t know what I was thinking when I imposed this book-buying ban on myself.
Eventually, I figured if I couldn’t “buy” books with my own money, then I needed to start devising ways to get my hands on new books for free.
Thus, the blog post 10 Loopholes To Exploit When You’re In A Book-Buying Ban was born. Using some of the tips listed in the article as well as a few other methods, I got a hold of these beauties, as well as several eBooks.
During the third and fourth weeks of the ban I was in agony.
I attended two great LGBT events in April, and both were a blast. One was HavenCon, which is just like any other book/comic/nerd convention but it had a LGBTQ focus. There were countless comic books, graphic novels, and books for sale but I couldn’t buy any of them. I wanted to cry…
Buying a bunch of goodies from all the vendors at the Con made me feel better, though. I bought several t-shirts and these adorable bookmarks and trinkets:
The second event was a show titled “A Night of Queer Performance,” which showcased literary and performance artists from my city – Austin, TX. I left the night inspired after seeing so much talent and passion from Austin’s very own LGBT community.
Two writers caught my attention in particular:
Paige Schilt, who read from her hilarious memoir, Queer Rock Love, which is about “a gay, transgender, rock-n-roll family raising a son in the South.”
Dino Foxx, a Queer Chicano Poet who read from two of the collections he’s featured in:
- Tragic Bitches: An Experiment in Queer Xicana & Xicano Performance Poetry
- Mariposas: An Anthology of Modern Queer Latino Poetry
Again, I was heartbroken that I couldn’t buy their books and have them sign the copies after the show. At this point, I was at my weakest. I almost gave in and bought “Tragic Bitches” (don’t you just love that name!?) because I have read embarrassingly few works written by queer Chican@s.
I was standing in line to buy a copy, resigned and ready to break my promise. I figured that nobody really cared about my silly book-buying ban and that you all probably thought I was being ridiculous.
Guilt got the better of me in the end. I was less than a week away from May 1st and even if I did buy the books I probably wouldn’t have time to read them. Which reminded me why I started the ban in the first place — because I have too many of my own damn books to read!
I left the line very conflicted because I didn’t want to disappoint the authors by not buying their work and showing my support. But I also didn’t want break the promise I had made to myself. All this internal conflict over a promise to read my own damn books.
What did I learn from all of this?
That I never want to commit to a book ban ever again. At least not a month-long one. 30 days is simply too long a span of time and it’s too difficult to anticipate exciting book events and releases. And sometimes book bloggers have an itch that can only be scratched with the acquisition of a new book. I don’t ever want to experience the torture and disappointment of not being able to buy any books I genuinely and desperately want.
A month-long ban would be no problem for the average reader, but book bloggers are a special kind of creature. So I definitely do not recommend this challenge to other book bloggers. Do not be foolish. Let me be the cautionary tell and embrace your book-buying addiction!
I am writing this on the evening of of May 1st, 2016. I have lived through one of the most harrowing months of my life and emerged victorious.
To celebrate, I bought 3 books earlier today. I literally realized just now that they are all short story collections! I’m very happy with my choices. 🙂
- The Sea is Ours – by Jaymee Goh
- The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria – Carlos Hernandez
- Woman Hollering Creek – by Sandra Cisneros
This was an incredibly long post! I apologize, but I had too much fun writing it. I hope you got a chance to read it all.
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