Friday, October 14, 2016

Feeling Frozen...The Book Buying Sabbatical

Happy Fall, Furious Readers! While the days aren't getting too cold here in New Jersey, fall is always a wonderful time to think about preparing your winter TBR, finishing up your reading goals before the end of the year, and considering which books loved ones will be getting as holiday presents. There are numerous book festivals throughout the country and, of course, October marks Comic Con season on the East Coast.

In other words: we are surrounded by books wherever we go and we can never escape.

Oh, apologies, furious readers, I'm feeling a bit sensitive right now. We are at the midpoint of our "book buying sabbatical" and I am learning a few lessons:

1. This is a lot harder than I thought. With my first post, I had written in an optimistic hand, excited for this social experiment. However, I did not consider my book buying habits, which - to be honest - are not healthy. I notice now that we often bought books because we were 1) bored; 2) had a bad week; 3) passed a bookstore; and 4) noticed we hadn't purchased a book in a few days. While these are great reasons in small doses, you tend to purchase books that aren't always on your list and you often end up stacking those newly-acquired purchases on an already-towering TBR pile. The habit of buying mindlessly is something we all must deal with in our consumer culture, but when it borders on wasteful, then we have a problem.

2. I appreciate independent bookstores so much more. We at Read Furiously are firm believers in the power of the independent bookstore (and are very vocal on our favorites), but this appreciation as blossomed and matured into something stronger. While I enjoy our big-box bookstore chains for their convenience, I also noticed that not buying from them is quite simple. Yes, the coupons and sales are fantastic (and there has been many a good coupon that I had to delete from my inbox during this time), but the reader can walk out without a purchase the same way one does in a department store. There isn't a connection between you and the purchase. With independent bookstores, I found this book-buying sabbatical to be much more difficult. Independent bookstores are the cornerstone of a true reader's experience and there is more to it than a shopping spree (which is always great for the bookstore and, when they can afford it, the reader). It's the moment when a reader pulls a book from the shelf and, after perusing the cover and first chapter, makes the important decision to take it home. Book buying is a meditation, a moment between your next read and a possible next favorite.

3. I love buying books for other people. This I always knew, but I've done this a few times during the book-buying sabbatical and it has been great watching the books immediately leave my house (to keep this fair, I did not keep the books in my house for too long in case I felt compelled to read them) and reaching the home of its reader. Like buying a book for yourself, buying for someone you love is a very special moment and without thinking about myself as I entered a bookstore, I am able to put my entire book purchasing energy into that person. It's a really nice feeling.

4. Libraries are the heroes of the book world. I have the joy of living within walking distance of my public library and you can believe I made good use of it during this time. Not only do you feel as though you've been through a "spree" when you leave with a large stack of books, but a furious reader can also take chances on titles they wouldn't normally choose in a bookstore (sometimes wallets have very loud opinions on what to buy or not to buy in a bookstore).

To conclude: so far, so good. I've actually enjoyed this sabbatical and I'm thinking we can make this an annual activity at Read Furiously. Just a few more weeks to go!  Until then, read well, read often, and read furiously!

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