A few weeks ago, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and it got me thinking about how I’ve changed as a reader and a book buyer over the years, specifically since I started blogging in 2013. I figured it’d be fun to write a blog post about it – and I’d love to hear about how your reading and book buying habits have changed as well down in the comments!
I’ve always been a reader and I’ve always had books, although I also borrowed many books from the library as a child. When I moved out of my parents’ house in 2012, though, I left most of my books there, since they were mainly children’s novels. In fact, I just realised that I didn’t even have any bookcases in my first student room. Wow, that’s such a weird realisation! I can’t imagine my home without my bookcases now! Back then, I think I had one single shelf, which had my Harry Potter books and maybe a handful of others. Oh, and I think my Twilight boxset was there as well. At that time, I’d just started university, and I don’t think I was reading much besides the novels I had to read for my literature courses. I was too busy with university, making new friends, my first boyfriend – my first heartbreak… Reading just wasn’t a thing I was focusing on back then.
Let’s skip to the summer of 2013 – I had moved into another place a few months previously, and one of the first things that moved in with me there were two brand new, white Billy bookcases from Ikea, which I still own today. My book collection had grown a little bit; mostly with books for university. I had a shelf dedicated to course books, as well as a shelf with all of my cookbooks and baking books. During that summer, I started to read more again and I started to buy more as well. This is also around the time when I really started to discover all of the great YA novels out there. It’s when I read my first John Green novel (The Fault in Our Stars) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I wasn’t a big fan of, sadly). It’s also when I found out about Goodreads and book blogging and I became intrigued.
So, in October 2013, I started this blog. The reason was two-fold: I wanted to write about the books I was reading, but I also wanted to motivate myself to read more for fun, even when university took up a lot of my time (and then there was the baking, of course, but that’s a different conversation). It’s turned out quite well: ever since I started blogging, I’ve read way more than I did previously – and I’ve had such a good time.
Of course, I also started buying way more books. That was partially motivated by the fact that getting new books is exciting – even if you don’t read them straight away (or even years after buying them…). Another reason, however, was that I felt that in order to be a good book blogger, I had to have a lot of books – although I’m not sure if I realised at the time that I was thinking that way. At this point, I also had a Sony e-reader, but I rarely used it; partly because it was an absolute pain in the ass to transfer books on there from my computer, and partly because I simply preferred reading physical books. In the end, I think I only used it a couple of times, mostly for ARC’s (Advanced Readers’ Copies) that I received from publishers. The poor Sony has been gathering dust in a closet for years now.
My book collection started to grow with all of the books I encountered through the book community and my Billy bookcases started to fill up. In 2016, I moved again, and all my books moved with me because why on earth would I get rid of books? I didn’t know about the concept of an unhaul and I loved seeing my shelves get fuller and fuller. At some point, I bought an extra bookcase for my growing collection, which started filling up pretty quickly as well. In comparison to other bloggers and vloggers, I wasn’t buying that many books, but I think that I was definitely buying more than I was reading on a yearly basis – especially when I got a parttime job working at my local bookstore in 2017 and I got a pretty sweet staff discount.
I did start to think a bit more about my ratio of read versus unread books around this time, though, and space for new books was also becoming an issue. Somewhere along the line, my thoughts on unhauling books changed, and when my boyfriend and I moved in to a new apartment together in the summer of 2018, I got rid of a good amount of books that I no longer had any interest in; either because I didn’t want to read them anymore, or because I did read them and didn’t really enjoy them.
I started to look at my shelves differently: for years now, my shelves have been a source of great comfort and joy for me. Just looking at them can make me feel happy and, like I said, I can’t imagine my home without them. But I have grown a little more critical of what should be on those shelves. At the start of 2020, I decided to keep track of my book buying and of whether I was actually reading the books that were already on my shelves. I made a list of all of my unread books (there were 90 of them) and every time I finish one, I get to colour in a box (I love colouring in boxes – it’ll get me to do things). I also keep track of which books I bought, and I’m curious to see how many unread physical books I will have by the end of the year.
I’ve grown much more critical of the books I’m buying this year. Over the years, I’ve bought so many books that have then sat on my shelves for years before I finally read them. There’s nothing wrong with this, but somehow, I’m no longer really comfortable with it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to populate my shelves with books I love and not with books that don’t mean much to me or don’t excite me. So, this year I’ve decided that I will only buy physical copies of books that I’m actually really excited to read, either because they’re by a favourite author or because the premise just sounds really good.
That’s also where the Kindle comes in: I can now read books I really do want to read but don’t feel the need to own a physical copy of. If you’d asked me a year ago if I wanted to buy a new e-reader, I would’ve told you “absolutely not, what would I do that for?” Now, however, I realise it can actually enrich my reading life: it’ll allow me to pick up books that I wouldn’t have otherwise just because I didn’t want to fill up my shelves with them. I do have a rule, though: I’m only allowed to buy an ebook if I’m going to read it right away. That way, I’m preventing myself from just buying all the books because they’re cheap and being left with a gazillion unread books on my Kindle. It’s been a pretty solid system so far!
Will I still occasionally be buying books I won’t read until years later? Probably – and that’s fine. But I’m enjoying my new system and I like that I’ve grown a little more aware of my reading and buying habits.
Well, this has become quite a long story, but I enjoyed getting it all down! If you’ve read this far – thanks! I’d love to hear about your evolution as a reader down in the comments. Do you buy a lot of books? Do you mostly use your library? Let me know, so we can chat about it!