The Book Embargo: Redux

Of all the challenges I have set myself this year that one I am finding the hardest to stick to is the book embargo. It actually really makes me sad – which helps me to understand how others feel when they can’t buy anything new. Not buying new things is fun to me. I’d much rather the thrill of the hunt for something second hand than the ease of popping into Target and buying it new.

I am finding it really difficult not to look at second hand books. At the op shop I can’t stop myself from scouring the shelves, sometimes for up to half an hour. A part of me hopes I won’t find anything I want and the other part is kind of breathless at the thought that I might find something special, or a book from my lists.

SAMSUNGSince I forced myself to stop buying books I have read about six books from my ‘to read’ shelves. I have added many more. I have only technically bought three books for myself – two with the vouchers I spoke about very early on and the other last week at the market. It was a really pretty version of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, which is on the Radcliffe list. I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t even feel guilty.

The rest of the books have been rescued from Mum’s discards or borrowed from my parents’ shelves.


I have these fabulous F. Scott Fitzgerald books from the 1970s with smoking hot babes on the cover. I’d love to have all of his books in these editions. They’re not all that fun to read, as the print is tiny, but they look terrific.

I am watching about 15 books on eBay (I have finally learnt where the capital goes in eBay…). When I’m buying a second hand book there is always the chance I’ll find a really great edition with an awesome cover.

Every now and again I’ll find a book from my lists on eBay in an awesome edition and I’ll add it to my watch list. They are there every time I log on to eBay – taunting me. I just know that one of these days I’m going to snap and buy them all.

When I first discovered The Book Depository I went nuts. I bought $400 worth of books in one sitting. My income was much more disposable then and BP went halves with me as a birthday present, but it was still incredibly extravagant. For that $400 I got about 30 books. I still look at it as one of my best ever purchases. Ever. Of those books I have read about half and the other half are still on my ‘to read’ shelves. I play a game with them – we wrapped them individually on arrival. I know the titles of all the books I have in there, but I don’t know which is which. Once I have finished reading a wrapped book I can unwrap the next one. Choosing by shape and size alone is exciting – I never really know what I’m going to get.

Pardon the blurry photo, Little Fearse may have eaten my camera. Here they are, waiting to be unwrapped and read.

Pardon the blurry photo, Little Fearse may have eaten my camera. Here they are, waiting to be unwrapped and read.

Every book contains a whole world. When reading that world blooms in my imagination and sometimes stays there, changing me forever. I just can’t explain how exciting it feels to me looking at all the books I haven’t yet read. I don’t know if I will be able to uphold the book embargo, but I’ll try. I really will.

Mama xo


6 thoughts on “The Book Embargo: Redux

  1. Still early days of our BNN year, but I know books are going to be our challenge. I have a kindle and wish I did get the same joy reading on it, but I don’t. Mine even has a cover that makes it feel like a book. I read quick articles and even book reviews but never a novel. My Mum and in the past my Nana both BIG readers only used the library. They both use their card and their partners. My mum has one bookshelf, when I packed it up for storage recently I noticed the books where all gifts from other people. She felt sentimental about giving them away. We had a good talk because Mum is the Queen of decluttering and this was at odds with her normal practise. So we only packed classics and prizes from her own writing and Grandads writing. See in the past books where so precious they were given as prizes at school. I love that Grandad received a prized book for Sunday School attendance! For the record I too have a book called ‘the black penny’ for Sunday school attendance. We are so talented! I collect old school readers, wow they are such good reading. Maybe we should enjoy books through a book club. I believe they are provided with a selection of books free from publishers. Wonder if there are virtual book clubs, might have a look into that. I am going to use your idea on wrapping books in my shelf, so exciting a surprise each time. Happy BNN to us! 🙂

    • I definitely need to use the library much more. It is really one of the reasons I book embargoed myself. I don’t know why I don’t make the time for this – I guess I’ve been burnt by fines before and don’t want to get lazy about returning things on time. I’m not very disciplined with such things.

  2. aha.snap, fines I use to take toddler pop to the library, she would fill her basket. Then I went to hospital and she went to hospital. One month latter the fines were crazy! I have felt banned from membership ever since. We are just not disciplined enough. For my mum its an “outing”. Opposite Camberwell Library was an art deco apartment block that I lived in with my grandparents (now teachers union building). So if our books were due we went for a walk across the road. I am starting to see what I want, Real books but borrowed online and if you don’t return the book you pay for it! I would also like to share my reading experience. Since listening to ABC radio 774 on Libby Gore Sunday School for VCE students . I want to enjoy my reading experience. Check it out on their website podcast. They have English teachers come in and discuss the themes and give tips. I LOVE it and I don’t have a VCE student. The booklist this year had a lot of new books, so its great to have a chance to hear other interpretations. Joy to my ears ‘you will be marked up if you have an original idea and support your view’. Really that’s what learning is about.

    • There is so much power in that essay you read, as a teacher, that brings up something new that you have not thought of before – or that convinces you to change your mind, or even just question your point of view. It’s what teaching is all about!

  3. Another comment on an old post. I’ve read all your posts on the book embargo etc and the mixed feelings you’ve had. I think this used to be me, buy books, usually new, keep them. Some read, many unread. Now I haven’t bought a book in over a year – except for a couple from a book voucher I got for Christmas last year. I’ve given most of the ones I’ve read away – like you a rarely re-read – and only kept the very special ones. Usually I give to my sister or mum or a friend and then say to pass it on to someone else when they’ve finished with it. Others I took to the op shop. I still have some unread books that I’m working my way through and I still borrow from my sister’s very extensive collection. But I also borrow lots from the library. If i read or hear about a good book, I’ll go straight to the library website to reserve it, then it’s just a couple of days or a week til it comes in. I read pretty fast so the three week borrowing time in enough for me. I love library books, they’re usually big text and hard cover which I probably wouldn’t buy myself (too $$) and there is something about the smell of library books I love too. I really haven’t missed buying books and I get so much more pleasure knowing that any I do end up with keep getting passed on.

    • Thanks for your comment, Barbara. This sounds a lot like the way I interact with books now. Aren’t online library catalogues wonderful?! I love being able to reserve a book when I hear about it. I feel like I have somewhat cured my book buying addiction. I am working my way through my unread books and haven’t bought a book for myself in months. I still loan my books out to lots of people, so I don’t feel like they are wasting space in our home. I managed to get rid of about 100 novels in the last year. Very satisfying!

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