Can A Book Blogger Go An Entire Month Without Buying Any Books? I did. This is My Story.

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.  

April Books
The photo is missing one eARC due to it not being photogenic.

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. 

free books
Two of these I won in separate giveaways (lucky!) and the other by basically forcing my boyfriend to buy it for me… 🙂

 

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:

Bookmarks

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:

Untitled design (3)

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. 🙂

  1. The Sea is Ours – by Jaymee Goh
  2. The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria – Carlos Hernandez
  3. Woman Hollering Creek – by Sandra Cisneros

The Sea Is Ours, Quantum Santeria, Woman Hollering Creek

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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41 thoughts on “Can A Book Blogger Go An Entire Month Without Buying Any Books? I did. This is My Story.

  1. When I try to not buy books for a particular period of time. I ‘m ok for a while then ‘accidentally ‘ find myself in Waterstone’s spending an absolute fortune. It makes me worse – I just go crazy.

  2. Haha this was brilliant!! I love how you don’t want to go on another book buying ban now! (I totally agree). Last year I went on two (I know), one of which lasted 3 months – I didn’t quite make it clean but I did only buy about 3 books, so go me! Book buying bans are just the hardest thing and least fun thing ever so this year I told myself I wouldn’t go on one and just go with the flow. Self control over buying books has to be one of the trickiest things to master.

    But congratulations because wowee that was an achievement and a half! I’m so impressed that you stayed strong when you met the authors – I think I definitely would’ve caved at that point!

    1. I am confidence I do not want to do another one! haha.
      It’s great to see other bloggers show incredible restraint and discipline. You’re amazing!

      I did feel terrible not buying their books. But I will very soon and they will know I did because I will tweet AT THEM at about it. 🙂

  3. I tried this back in January and it was the hardest month ever :/ I agree that sometimes there is just an itch that you need to scratch- you get a cool recommendation from a friend, or an online deal catches the eye. It’s so tough!

  4. Oh MAN! You’re amazing! The only way I could ‘ban’ myself for the first three weeks this month was by avoiding all my book-buying environments, i. e. bookstores. The only time I successfully left a bookstore without buying any books was when I went to my book club, but independent bookstore day ruined me. There’s no way I would have been able to resist buying a book at conventions where authors are present to sign their work. I’m attempting the no-book-buying-except-for-conferences for the month of May, so we’ll see how that works out. Also, buying only 3 books after a month-long ban is still considerable restraint, so props to you! I’m glad you were successful in your endeavor!

    1. It would have been smart of me to avoid book-buying environments, but they bring me so much joey every week and I didn’t want to deprive myself of them.

      I wanted to include my feelings of devastation on Independent Bookstore Day, but the post had already gone on so long, so I decided to spare you from the details. lol

      I like the sound of the ban/rules/restrictions you’re setting for May. But that’s the month BookCon happens! In that day alone you will be able to buy enough books for several months. X)

      Best of luck to you!

    1. I do pride myself on my exceptional will power. It’s how I was able to become a vegetarian last year! Of course, I was motivated by health, humanitarian, and environmental reasons – but my iron resolve sure helped.

  5. Hahaha congrats on surviving this truly harrowing ban so that we don’t have! 😀
    I adore the queer xicana books you got!!! I need to get them too!!! 🙂 Also yay for getting the Assimilated that’s on my tbr too. Oh I hope I’ll have more book money once I graduate and get a job. Have a wonderful book buying May 🙂

    1. Thank you, Bina.
      How much longer before you finish your degree?
      Sometimes I miss the days of being a full-time student :'(
      Actually…not really because school consumed my life and I barely had any time for leisure reading. ahah x)

      1. I’ll probably be done around summer/late summer depending on bureaucracy and such 🙂 Haha I think I might finally be ready for fulltime leisure reading, too.

  6. Well done of sticking with you resolution! It is always good to change a routine just to discover new things. I once went on a reading ban for a whole year. It produced an unexpected result.

  7. Wow! Congrats! I definitely couldn’t do that. On paper, I feel like a month isn’t really that long of a time to not buy books, but once I actually set myself to go through with it, I’d realize I couldn’t do it.

    1. I didn’t think a month would be that long either when I initially thought of the idea. But clearly I was wrong.

      Haha, I totally understand if you couldn’t do it. I barely managed to do so. And it’s important to acknowledge our limitations. I definitely learned mine from this experience.

  8. This was hilarious. I only rarely buy books now, so I can’t quite relate to this, but I feel like younger me would have, definitely.

    1. I don’t think I could ever stop buying books. At least I think not. I love the feeling of knowing that my money is going towards the industry and writers who have provided an endless amount of joy and knowledge.

      Thank you for reading. I’m glad I made you laugh 🙂

      1. I support authors by requesting my library buy books AND by supporting my local library at their book sale by donating and buying books. I used to buy ALL THE BOOKS when I was young, but being a poor grown-up put a serious crimp in my style. Alas.

  9. Woohoo! You did it! Your post may have been long, but I loved reading every word of your harrowing story and cautionary tale to other bloggers. 🙂
    It would have been especially hard to hold back at the literary events!!
    A couple of tricks I have for trying not to spend money on books (besides the library) is going to the thrift store and browsing the books there. It’s even more fun than a regular bookstore, because I never know what I might find. And the books are only a dollar each. I’ve gotten most of my book from this place – it’s only a five minute walk from my house, so I go quite often. It feeds my addiction nicely.
    The other trick is to start a cart at a bookstore online, and pretend to be choosing books to buy, and then don’t buy them. Now that I’ve written that down, it sounds kind of weird. I wonder if I’m the only one who does this?

  10. I do like the idea of going thrift-store shopping for books. Sounds like an adventure. There may or may not be any good books on the shelves, but that’s part of the thrill! Thanks for the idea. 🙂 I think I’ll do it after I move into my new place in a couple of wee, because I will invariably need to visit a Goodwill or some thrift store to furnish every corner of the new place.

    That trick about the online cart is pretty strange.
    But I love it!
    Yeah, you’re probably the only one who has ever done that. 🙂

  11. My Amazon purchases last year were in the hundreds (ok so I also get my tea and various school items from them but Still). I can’t even imagine a month without buying books. Though I really do need to get to my own damn books already 🙂 Thank you as always for the inspiration. Though I’m not sure I am capable of taking your lead on this one.

    Also – congrats on the move, and good luck 🙂

  12. Oh my god! Congrats on surviving a whole month! That is an amazing effort. It must have been torture being surrounded by so many books and not being able to buy them – especially at those LGBTQ events!! Your self-control is inspirational, haha.

    Yay for the ban being officially over though! I hope you can buy lots of new books this month to celebrate, haha.

  13. I saw your headline on my blog list and I had to click it immediately. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t buy any more books and then later on I find myself rationalizing a purchase & ordering another book off Amazon. I keep hoping that a book ban will force me to read some of the novels on my shelf that are boring but it never works. I’m going to keep trying.

    1. Hehe, I’m glad it caught your attention. I worked on the right phrasing for a little while 😉
      I don’t recommend doing a book-buying ban, haha.
      We put off novels that look boring for a reason. We shouldn’t force ourselves to read them if we’re not really into them.

    1. Thanks 🙂 I almost gave in on several occasions.
      I am trying to restrain myself in May. I have bought 3 books during the first 4 days of the month… that’s reasonable, right?

  14. Omg this is actually a really nice and clever challenge :O I should do it for may too noo more like JUNE.. since I’ve already bought some books HAH #guiltyy ! I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist .. #bookaddicted LOL there should be a book shopping compulsion group somewhere *sighh – Trang

  15. Catching up on last week’s blog posts… Congratulations! It is quite an achievement. I loved this line: “Do not be foolish. Let me be the cautionary tell and embrace your book-buying addiction!” That made me laugh out loud! Great post.

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