A few months ago my book-buying was getting out of control. I couldn’t even pass a bookshop without feeling the urge to buy not just one, but several books.
Wherever we went – the shopping centre, day trips, the library book sale, the local gala, even the village post office – I came back with bags full of books. My bookcases were already full so the new books stacked up on the floor in my reading room ready to be read and enjoyed.
I longed for the day when I would have the time to sit down and read each and every one of them but that day never arrived. Working 60 hours a week as a teacher meant the reading pile never really got any smaller. My book-buying continued. The stack of books got higher and higher and then the one stack became two and then three. They were almost touching the ceiling, but the growing piles of books still didn’t stop me buying more.
I wanted to read them. I desperately wanted to curl up with a book but there were so many other things that needed doing. I became frustrated that I didn’t have the time to read.
Then one day the tower of books came crashing down. I was sitting in the living room marking when I heard the bang.
Chris was working on his laptop. ‘What’s that,’ he shouted looking up at the ceiling like it would cave in at any moment.
I ran upstairs knowing that my beloved book tower had met its end. The books had all fallen forwards, which meant I struggled to open the door. I managed to squeeze in and rescue my books. Chris helped and together we started to rebuild the tower so it was stronger and better than before. This one would not fall.
‘I wonder how much money you’ve spent on books that you’ve not read?’ Chris asked.
‘It’s probably best not to think about it,’ I replied.
Chris had already bought me a Kindle in the hope that it would put an end to my book-buying addiction and stop books from taking over the house.
‘Maybe we should operate a one-in, five-out policy,’ Chris said.
I didn’t like the sound of that.
The Kindle was bad enough but with a one in, five out policy I’d actually have to get rid of some books. It would mean I’d have to choose which books stayed and which would go, and that would be difficult. Too difficult.
We carried on building the tower, and while I stacked the books one of top of the other, I realised that I needed to make a change. I love books and I love reading, but I’d never bought so many books as I had recently. It had got out of control. For me, sitting and reading a book is perfect relaxation. I was buying the books because I craved that relaxation time. I realised it wasn’t just about the books.
Not long after the tower collapsed I decided to leave my job as a teacher and return to magazine writing, which is what I love. Becoming a freelancer meant I wouldn’t have the security of a salary being deposited into my bank account every month. My book-buying binges would have to stop.
And they did. I stopped buying books. I even managed to actually go into bookshops and browse without purchasing a single book. Not one. I’d think about which books I’d like to buy and then remind myself of the toppling tower in the spare room.
My binge book-buying stopped.
As well as becoming a freelancer, I’ve also gone back to university part-time to study for an MA in writing. At the moment I’m studying a module in literature and have just had my project approved – looking at the connection between movement and the creative process. For the purposes of research, I have allowed myself the luxury of buying not just one but three books. They’re essential for my research you see.
As of today, one lovely new book has arrived, one is in transit and one has yet to be dispatched. I ordered them from second hand bookshops through the internet. And because these books are needed immediately – my presentation and essay are due in May – they will not even go onto my to-read tower, but will be devoured immediately. A sign, I think, that my book-buying is now well and truly under control.