BBB: The Book-Buying-Ban

I have heard of the concept of a book-buying ban before but never really thought about doing one myself or what it would entail. It weren’t until my recent book-splurge and ultimately trying to find room for all my buys, that I started to realise how many books that are still unread on my shelves. It was something that I couldn’t help but think about more and more until I recently decided to list and count all those unread titles on my shelves -and let me just say, that number is way higher than I care to admit. So yes, it’s been made abundantly clear that I need to go on a book-buying ban.

Naturally, I started to search around a bit -seeing what rules others have come up with. I found and read this article, which gave me so much to think about and I found it incredibly relatable. Like some people who binge-shop online or indulge in far too much chocolate to feel better, I buy books. This is something that I’ve only truly realised whilst looking back over this past year. It’s been quite a turbulent one and I think I’ve used books as not only escapism, but also the promise that there is better ahead. The books that I buy to help make myself feel better in those moments are always to my taste but I seem to get them home, rearrange my shelves and put them in their new homes; and that’s about it. I often can’t bear to abandon the book that I’m currently reading and then once I’ve finished that, I become distracted by other reads; completely forgetting about those additions to my shelves that once filled me with such hope and joy. This cycle repeats itself again and again until -well now, when I’m feeling not just guilty but also overwhelmed by the sheer amount that I still have sitting unread. Due to this, I simply must make a change and address the situation now while it’s still somewhat manageable.

The Process

I thought a book-buying ban was pretty simple and would have very clear-cut rules but upon reading the amount i have about the subject, I’ve come to realise that everyone does theirs in a different way. Some do a month on a month off buying/borrowing books, others commit to a whole time-frame like a few months or even a year. Others commit to a specific amount of books to read and use that as their target. I think I want to do an amalgamation of this.

I know that I want to get my unread read pile down significantly and this in itself is quite a tall order considering how many I currently have, but I think that I’m mentally setting my goal at around fifty books (yes, I do have quite a bit more than that unread) and the timeframe of a year. I have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge number at fifty the past few years and have reached it comfortably so I think 50 is a good number for a year at my reading speed. As mentioned, I do have more than this unread but I am also taking into consideration that a lot of these are anthologies, collections and chunky books that are more like compilations that you work through over years; being able to pick them up whenever you want.


I know exceptions seem more like excuses but I do feel like I need to make some exceptions to this ban. The first being pre-orders. While I realise that technically speaking pre-orders are book-buys, I do already have two pre-orders paid for already -long before this idea had even come to me and so I can’t really cancel them now (I mean, I could but lets face it I really don’t want to). These books have already been put on my unread list so they don’t slip off the radar and I plan to get them read as soon as I have them.

Vouchers and gifts also seem like somewhat an exception. Vouchers usually have a pretty long use-by date so I don’t view that as much of an issue but books as gifts seem a bit more tricky. I often ask for certain titles for gifts but as I am trying to become a better book-buyer, I need to either make better and more considered choices in the titles I ask for or simply keep it to asking for vouchers -I’m not so sure yet. I think I need to think this one through a bit more.

The last exception is a trip. I was gifted a trip to Hay-on-Wye back in 2021 and we had planned to go earlier this year but unfortunately, we both got Covid and had to postpone. Alas, I am still owed the trip and I still have an envelope of cash that I was gifted with the instruction of using to buy whatever books I wanted. While it does go against the ban, it would be wrong to use the money in another way or shun the trip so instead this will have to be my biggest and perhaps main exception.

End Goals

My end goals for this challenge are pretty straight forward:

  • I want to read the great books that I already own and combat my constant rereading of certain favourites that I have. I often reread books such as The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and the Frey & McGray series by Oscar de Muriel and while they are some of my favourites, I feel I need to explore some of the other great book worlds out there.
  • I hope to become better at identifying if and when I’m emotionally motivated to buy books, and hopefully prevent this in the future. I’m really hoping that I can make better and healthier habits to avoid this routine I’ve got myself into.
  • Last but not least, I want to become better at selecting books. I want to make more thought out choices when it comes to the books that I spend my time and money on; and in the process think more about why I’m buying it. Is it for the pleasure of the story, to help me with something or because it’s something everyone else is reading and I want to fit. I think that is something worth thinking about.

I’m planning on starting this ban when 2023 commences -more because I think it’s a great way to ‘bookend’ the ban within the actual year structure itself. I also think it’s better this way as there’s a few things I want to do before the ban officially begins and I would quite like to get somewhat a jumpstart on things. I have already listed and counted the unread books on my shelves however, I would like to rearrange my shelves so that all of my unread books are grouped together in one area. I think this will be a great tool in aiding my progress and prevent me from skimming the entirety of my shelves and potentially revisiting books I have already read. Instead, I can simply go to that one area, choose an unread book and get to reading without any distractions. That’s the plan at least.

So there we have it, that is my plan of attack and I’m hoping it goes accordingly. If there are any changes or amendments to this then I will update you lovely lot; and of course, I will be doing progress reports and updates on how this is going along the way. I must go now though -I need to rearrange my bookshelves.

Cheerio for now!

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