A couple months back, I set myself a new goal. I had two shelves of books I owned but I hadn’t read, and my goal was to cut that in half by the end of 2016, either by reading or donating the books.
I’ve been a monster when it comes to donating the books, ruthlessly pulling books off the shelf that I haven’t read, have read but don’t need to own, duplicates, etc. I also did some serious soul-searching and accepted that no, I am probably never going to read that copy of Ulysses that has been on my shelf since college, so I might as well pass it on to a new home.
I’m pretty sure that between books moved to the donation pile and books I’ve actually read, I got those two shelves down to a solid shelf and a half. Or I would have if I hadn’t gone on a bit of an unrestrained book buying spree this summer. It’s time to take a long, hard look at what I’ve done this summer.
First, there was vacation reading. Ever since childhood, buying books for vacation has been one of my favorite parts of preparing for travel. I’m not gonna lie. I started preparing my books for this vacation a solid month in advance. The first step is always acknowledging you have a problem.
So, I bought Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, and The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh. I thought that was actually quite reasonable, at least if we ignore the fact that I had two shelves of books I could’ve brought with me and checked out a solid half dozen books from the library to read digitally. Maybe this was over-kill for a ten day trip, but we’re not here to judge.
So then I went on vacation, which OF COURSE meant visiting bookstores. I restrained myself and only bought a tote bag on my trip to Elliott Bay Book Company, but then we stopped in at Munro’s Books in Victoria, B.C. I’ve never bought a book in Canada, so no time like the present, right? I was a good tourist and took advantage of their extensive Canadian literature section. I kind of awesomely picked up a copy of Alice Munro’s Dear Life without making the connection that, you know, isn’t that odd that the store has the same name as her? Turns out she and her husband opened it in the sixties. I also purchased Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson because, well, when in Canada? (For the record, I have nothing but positive feelings towards Canada and Canadians and the book’s title is satirical. I think.)
So we’re at six books when it was supposed to be zero, but they were for vacation! Otherwise, I was good, right?
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Purchased from the trunk of my friend’s car. Don’t ask.
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Purchased on my trek to Bart’s Books in Ojai. I had to buy something, right?
- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace. Also purchased at Bart’s Books. I had to buy two things, right?
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. For book club!
- Novels and Stories by Shirley Jackson. This one wasn’t even my fault! A friend in my book club had a second copy and gave it to me. Yes it includes The Haunting of Hill House but it also has a whole bunch of her short stories that I want to read. No, I won’t be returning the other copy I bought because it has this awesome cover.
- Authority by Jeff VanderMeer. Cuz… cuz… reasons?
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It only cost $1.00. How could I pass that up?
Thirteen books when I was supposed to be on a book buying moratorium. Am I the only one who doesn’t actually think this is THAT bad?