Why I Do Book Buying Bans

Not gonna lie, one of the most aggravating things is when people go “suuuuuuuuure” in response to me saying I’m on a book buying ban. A) Why the fuck does literally anyone care what my book buying habits are? (Oh snap, we got feisty real quick.) B) Actually, just circle back to A, that’s my entire aggravation. It pisses me off to no end when I get the hairy eyeball for buying books. Like? It could be heroin? Y’all could just chill the fuck out? Oh, I’m so bitter, wow! Honestly didn’t realize how bitter, haha, this is going to be fun.

I should measure my room at some point so I can honestly explain how small my room is. I have two siblings, and my parents own a three-bedroom house. Growing up, that meant that my sister & I shared a room. There’s a seven year age difference between us, so that got a little dicey in the teenage years, to the point that my dad put up a legit cubicle wall in between us, and that’s how we lived for several years. We eventually became friends when I was in college, but the cubicle wall stayed up because what twenty-year-old wants to interact with their thirteen-year-old sister on an every second basis? When that room doesn’t have a cubicle wall, it’s really decently size, and I weirdly(?) thought that, if ever we somehow managed to get a fourth bedroom in the house, that would be mine. I mean, I’m the eldest, it was my room before my sister was born, it all kind of makes sense, yeah?

I’m bitter about this, too, but I knew that.

And look, I’ll forever be grateful for what my parents did do. They halved the living room, put up a wall, knocked a closet into the garage, and gave me my own room. I’m bitter because both of my younger siblings have giant ass rooms, and here I am, in something that’s probably a six foot square, trying to cram in 700+ books, cat supplies, and my own necessities. For the longest time, I had a twin bed because I couldn’t fit a full and a desk until I eventually just gave up the desk and said I’d write in bed. It was such a struggle to figure out how to put a dresser in my room once I got the full bed, but having a teeny ass dresser in the closet wasn’t working, so I gave up dreams of a fifth bookshelf and just did what I had to. (The other thing I’m bitter about? There is no fifth bookshelf allowed anywhere in the house. I’m allowed to live in my room and nowhere else. Also, yes, I’m almost 30 and living with my parents. I’m 80k in debt because of school; there are no other realistic options. Holy shit, when I can finally afford to move out, Y’ALL! SEVEN BOOKSHELVES! ONE ENTIRELY EMPTY JUST BECAUSE I CAN!)

I think this is explaining a little why I do book buying bans. The way that my four bookshelves are setup is like this: there are six shelves in each case, so the first case is 2 TBR shelves, nonfiction shelf, yoga & Buddhism shelf, 2 adult literary fiction & poetry shelves, and a bunch of random ass books that I don’t mind being on the bottom shelf where I can’t see and can barely reach them. The others follow much of the same pattern, except for the high fantasy, which has its own bookcase entirely. I can’t actually fit a lot of books in my room, and it’s incredible to me that I’ve managed to fit 700+. Like, wow. That has got to be some serious organization.

Look at all my pothos plants, I love them!

This doesn’t even show the fact that I also have a TBR cart, which I bought for aesthetic, and then quickly realized that I actually needed. The cart holds most of my nonfiction TBR books, and I probably need to go through it and dust it since I haven’t read a nonfiction in Satan only knows how long. Whoops? Anyway, I hear you saying, “Well, Mary, just add a third TBR shelf, and that solves all your problems!” It doesn’t, actually. Because then everything gets pushed down one shelf, and then I have no more room on the high fantasy shelf, and then we’re running into a much bigger problem.

Thus, book buying bans. If I have enough TBR books that they can’t fit on the two allotted shelves and the cart, that’s it. No more books. I’ve got to read what I have before I can buy anything else. About a fourth of my TBR books end up being ones that I don’t want to keep, which is a way smaller number than it used to be, thankfully. A fourth is probably even too much because I keep almost every four and five star book, and I’ve gotten good at figuring out what those are going to be for me. I’ve gotten crafty at organizing the rest of the shelves, too, so that I can easily sneak in new, recently read books.

I know what else you’re thinking, too. When I eventually can afford to move out and have more bookcases, won’t I end up expanding my TBR? Honestly, no.

I don’t like having a huge TBR. Currently, it’s overflowing because I bought books for Black history month & to support AAPI authors, and that’s not even to get started on the fact that this post is going up before the Pride haul, which is a solid 20 books long. I also receive about five books a month for preorders, too (sometimes less, thank heck), which means that my TBR is just constantly growing. At the moment, it’s spilled out into a stack on my floor, and I hate it. It makes me constantly anxious. I’ve been in such a mood for fantasy tomes that I was reading about a book a week since they were so long, and I had to give that up briefly to crack through some shorter books because I was Stressed.

It’s reading, so I shouldn’t be, and that was one of my main goals in the last two years–to not stress about reading–but the overflow of my TBR has definitely been giving me a lot of stress, and that, too, is where book buying bans come in. I really like the two shelf rule that I have going. Even if I had more room (I should), I don’t think that I’d allow myself more than two TBR shelves. Not only do they keep the stress low of having a lot of owned books to read, but it keeps me honest about what I do have. If I’m forced to focus on those two shelves, it’s very rare that a book goes unread for a long time. Granted, there are a few books currently on there that have been there since 2018, but no farther back than that. And considering I just unhauled books that I’ve had since 2007 that were still unread? I’m feeling pretty pleased about these TBR shelves.

I like book buying bans. They help me focus my reading, keep the stress away, and just generally help out my wallet. Yes, I’m currently on a book buying ban, and I still bought twenty books for Pride, but at least they were pre-planned purchases (since freaking January, jfc), and I’m not just willy nilly buying things for the sake of it.

I guess this post was two-fold. Don’t knock people who do book buying bans because literally why do you care? And book buying bans can be really helpful sometimes!

Do you ever go on book buying bans?

3 responses to “Why I Do Book Buying Bans”

  1. mphtheatregirl Avatar

    No, despite not having enough space. That is why my books are a combo of kindle and physical.


  2. The Great TBR Challenge – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] here’s the deal. At the end of May, I talked about why I occasionally do book buying bans and how they’re actually really helpful for me. At the beginning of this year, I threw away […]


  3. Book Buying Ban Check-In – Mary and the Words Avatar

    […] when I even went on this year’s book buying ban? I posted about book buying bans in general back at the end of May (warning: that post is realllllll feisty), but I talked about one with Erin at the beginning of […]


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