Sunday Salon: Giving in to Temptation

Many of you know that I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of unread books I have in my house. I did a big bookcase cull earlier in the year; I’m giving up book swap sites (pending the use of my remaining credits); I’ve switched over to electronic review copies of books when possible (and I’m cutting down on review copies in general); and I’ve given up on my regular bookstore visits, going mostly for special events. When I go to New York during BEA week, I’m probably going to forgo the Book Expo altogether, choosing instead to go to the Book Blog Unconference on Monday and to meet up with blogging friends in the evenings and on the weekend before.

Overall, my plan has been working pretty well. I’ve only acquired 13 books this year. Three of these were for my church’s book group, and I’ve learned the hard way that I need a hard copy that I can write in to lead group discussions. Three of these were from Bookmooch, where I’m slowly using up my remaining credits. Six were review copies that weren’t available as e-galleys (and 2 of which were audio). That leaves only one, Stoner by John Williams, that I purchased for no particular reason. And it’s probably not fair to say I purchased it for no reason. I’ve been wanting to read it, my library doesn’t have it, and Politics and Prose had it on their remainder shelves. I really didn’t have a choice.

Given the title of this post, you might be able to guess what’s coming. I’ve done well so far this year, but I haven’t been virtuously reading from my shelves. In fact, I’ve read an alarmingly small number of books from my shelves this year.

The library has been my book temptress in recent months. I live near the library, and if I feel like going for a walk, that’s often where I go, and I can’t go without picking up a book or three, even if I have a stack at home. I don’t feel bad about that in any way because I know it improves the library’s circulation numbers, and I also don’t commit to reading everything I take out. The only problem is that it keeps me from reading the unread books in my house, and that’s only a problem if I decide to define it as such.

Giving up most hard-copy galleys also hasn’t slowed the flow of review copies. I enjoy browsing what’s available on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and I’ve found some great books on both those sites that I might have had to wait months and months for at the library. I’m learning to balance my willingness to try lots of things and the ease of doing so with e-galleys with my desire not to focus entirely on new books, and these days I’m trying to request galleys only by authors I already like or authors whose books have been recommended by readers whose taste I trust.

I’ve been pretty happy with my reading choices, and I’ve not added to my shelves much. So far, so good, right? Well, yes, but…

My New Signed Copy!

Y’all remember how when I read Marilynne Robinson’s When I Was a Child I Read Books I said I wanted a copy of my own? Politics and Prose must have heard because they offered it as part of their signed first edition club. This club is a lot like Powell’s Indiespensible program, except that P&P uses standard first editions and they don’t throw in a lot of extra stuff I wouldn’t know what to do with anyway. Plus, it’s good bit cheaper, especially if you’re a P&P member. And their selections are amazing. Almost all of them are books I’ve been interested in reading, and the three I have read were stunners. I’ve been considering joining the program ever since it started, and the Marilynne Robinson offer was too much to resist. I took the plunge and got my first book in the mail this week. Now the trick will be reading the books and not letting them sit on my shelves unread for years!

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19 Responses to Sunday Salon: Giving in to Temptation

  1. Amy @ My Friend Amy says:

    Oh that sounds like a really great club! I have to admit I know Indiespensable is impractical for so many reasons, but I still love getting my shipments.

    • Amy @ My Friend Amy says:

      Also I have no idea how you show so much restraint. I wish I could.

      • Teresa says:

        Heh. I don’t feel like I show much restraint at all, but that’s because part of me would like to read everything I have before I get anything else. That part just doesn’t get much say in what I actually do, LOL.

        The P&P club isn’t practical for me, really, but it’s a nice alternative to the Indiespensibles. I’m looking forward to my monthly shipments! It feels like getting a present :)

  2. Melissa says:

    I have the same problem. And I’d intended to accept less review copies this year, but that’s not really working out for me! I’m also using the library a lot more this year, which is good, but it’s not really helping my bookshelf situation. I’m going to try to devote more of my summer reading to books I own.

    • Teresa says:

      I told myself at one point that I wanted to read one book from my shelves for every book I got elsewhere, and that hasn’t happened at all. Using the library and getting e-galleys has helped me avoid making purchases that I’d never get to, so at least I’m not taking in more than I read. I’m calling that progress!

  3. Lisa says:

    When I saw the title of this one, I guessed it might be about buying books – though you’ve been much more restrained than I have. But I’m doing a little better about reading library copies and then deciding if this is a book I need to own. I also have a resolution to read every book I buy this year before the end of the year – so I’m trying not to pile up too many library books. I still want to whittle down the TBR shelves.

    • Teresa says:

      Books are the usual temptation we book bloggers give in to!

      My resolution was to read all the books I’ve owned since 2008, and there are only nine of those, so I’m sure I’ll manage it. I’d like to do a little better than just managing, but we’ll see!

  4. Susan says:

    I have been using the library a lot more than usual this year, resulting in the same quandry you are in: I haven’t been buying as many books, and I haven’t been reading ones from my shelf, I’ve been reading library books instead. So it’s like I’ve been very good on one hand, and still not reading all those books on my shelves, even though I recently tidied the shelves and the books on them are all books I want to read. It is lovely to know I have so many waiting for me to read…At least we don’t have Politics and Prose here in Canada! One temptation less – I say that, and the new Persephone catalogue arrived on Friday. Good luck reading all the new books you receive from P &P!

    • Teresa says:

      My thinking is that if I can keep the flow of incoming books as slow as the flow of books I’m reading from my shelves, I’ll be OK.
      I was just reading the Persephone Biannually this morning and thinking I must order a copy of Harriet, and then I remembered I have about a half dozen unread Persephones on my shelves. Best to read those first, I guess.

  5. I am exactly the same! I live a five minute’s walk away from my local library and it really is an excellent library. I am trying to alternate library books with owned books in order to make some dent in the pile. Good luck!

    • Teresa says:

      My library is a 15-20 minute walk away, which makes walking there a lovely way to get in my exercise for the day–and at least walking limits the number of books I bring home, although not if I go three times in a week!

  6. Jenny says:

    I think it says somewhere in Aristotle that using the library is an absolute good. You don’t need to think of it as giving in to temptation.

    • Teresa says:

      The library visits don’t trouble me, as long as I don’t entirely forget the books I own. The book subscription is another matter entirely. Not that I’m particularly repentant about giving in to that one either, but it was a case of giving in.

  7. Cafe Society says:

    Many of those who frequent the Cafe are also trying to cut back on the number of books they purchase but the members of the two reading groups who meet here would all agree with you about needing an actually copy of whatever the group choice is for that month. Even if you’re not leading the discussion it’s still useful to be able to flick quickly through a paper copy to find the reference you want to back your point of view. By the time you find it in an e-book that moment in the conversation is long gone.

    • Teresa says:

      Most of the people who’ve tried to use e-books for our book group have decided the same thing. It’s hard to stay caught up with the discussion if you’re having to search, rather than flip.

  8. Nicola says:

    Wow you are organised! While I’m working I don’t feel guilty about buying books and I buy two or three a month, although I do try to stick to paperbacks, unless it’s a title I’ve been waiting for. When I retire I don’t think I will be able to afford to buy books but I should have a pretty good library by then!

    • Teresa says:

      It’s not a money issue for me so much as a space one. I live in a small condo and the books could easily take over the place if I let them!

  9. amymckie says:

    Sometimes you just need to cave! I am doing the same this year, actively trying to cut down on unread books and buy less, though this month I did get a few for no reason except to celebrate my love of Toronto ;) BUT I specifically don’t count my Feminist Press subscription because, well, I NEED those! heh

    • Teresa says:

      Absolutely. I can’t do any kind of diet (whether books or food or Internet) that requires me to completely abstain from something. Judicious cutting down with room for treats and splurges is the way I like to go.

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