It Turns Out I Don’t Want to Read My Own Damn Books

Posted July 10, 2016 by LeahAdmin in Discussions / 32 Comments

I don't want to read my own damn booksA year ago, I was blogging up a storm and blazing my way through the latest buzz books. And I felt a bit burned out, craving the space to amble through the mountains of backlist books on my shelves, savor tattered paperback copies of classics, and re-read old favorites without guilt. A few months later, when I decided to take a break from blogging, I thought the time had finally come for me to do those things.

When Andi announced her intention to focus on reading books she already owns instead of buying new ones in 2016, I was all aboard. I was SO ready to #readmyowndamnbooks. And yet, as I stared at my shelves of unread books over the next few months, they lost all of their luster. The spines looking back at me were books I’ve owned for years but have never felt compelled enough to read. That somehow didn’t change when the flow of shiny new books on my doorstep ended.

So I floundered. I didn’t read much. When I did read, it wasn’t as ravenously as I used to. I missed the enthusiasm of the blogosphere, the thrum of excitement around new releases. It turns out I crave the thrill of the new, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’ve started using the library again, which is super convenient as I work there. It’s nice to not feel limited by the selection on my shelves, which is actually fairly small since I live in a tiny bedroom in a shared apartment, and most of my TBR stash is stored at my parents’ house. I’m enjoying keeping up with the buzz and being able to read new books when my holds come in without feeling like I’m drowning in a sea of release dates.

I feel like I’m finally getting it back, whatever “it” is. Some sense of balance, maybe. Some sense that despite all the changes of the last year, the part of me that can be completely transported and nourished by words is still there. That this key part of my identity is still true, that I’m still me. I’m getting there.

  • I’m about 110% I would be sent into a similar, frozen slump if I tried to read just my own books. I’m with you on craving the thrill of the thew and turning to the library has been a big help with that (less than I’d like lately!). I’m glad you figured out a way to make it work and turn that reading frown upside down!

  • Elena

    Our 2015s were pretty similar, and I can assure you, it will get back. Whatever it is that made you read like crazy, it will come back. And it will be gone again. And it’s going to be awesome.

    This may sound harsh, but I like to think of my past self as book-devouring because there was nothing in life that appealed to me. I craved fiction and escape. But now I feel I am finally leading the life I have always wanted, and that means a lot of time with people I love – people I truly, deeply love – and travelling. That does not leave much room for reading, be it books or blogs, but for now, it’s enough. Maybe you’ve also found the life you want, and you’re in your own awakening. Thanks heavens, we have more options than going all Edna Pontellier and be done with life.

    I hope you find some hope in the story, and I hope that comparing our lives last year only makes us better friends. I know it’s been different, but it’s been so similar, it’s been uncanny xx

    • There might be some truth to that; I have a stronger relationship and better friendships. There’s definitely been a lot of awakening. But there’s still quite a bit of stuff I’d like to escape, hah. Oh, poor Edna! Yes, thank goodness we can choose the shape our lives take. I treasure our friendship so much! Your perspective is always so appreciated and helpful <3

  • The library is the best! I love just browsing and seeing what grabs me. And the hold systems these days, you can still get the latest and greatest within days of release.

    Beyond that, I’d like to start a reading movement that isn’t about hashtags- just reading. Whatever you want.

    • It’s especially convenient because I unpack all the deliveries of new books; I’ll unpack a book that catches my attention and can put a hold on it before it hits the shelves 😉

      Yes! Just doing whatever works for us individually.

  • I’m so so glad you’re getting your reading mojo back! And I totally agree – there’s something exciting about cracking open the shiny new stuff and excitedly discussing it with everyone else in the blogging world. And I too just recently started using my library’s Overdrive system…which is like having a Netgalley without the “feedback form” obligation!

  • I can relate to this! I’m all for reading my own books, but if I switched to reading *all* of my own books, I know I’d miss the shinier new stuff. I try to compromise by doing an every other sort of thing interspersing my own books with newer books for review. So far, so good. Hope you keep on getting the reading magic back!

  • My hashtag would be #justread – I know I can’t commit to only my own books, only new books, etc. I’m juggling a mix right now!

  • I can totally relate to this. I’ve been on a book-buying ban for six months. I’ve only read 2 2016 releases so far this year. It’s wonderful that my TBR pile is shrinking, but I miss all the great conversations about new books.

  • This post is like you went into my brain, organized my thoughts, and wrote them out for me. I have SO MANY books on my shelves I truly and deeply want to read, buuutttt…. I love the hustle and bustle and chatter of *THE NEW RELEASE.* I love being part of that buzz, and don’t see that going away any time soon. I continue to strive for that balance between old and new, so if you figure anything out on that front… share your tips 🙂 Thanks for writing this.

  • Amanda

    As long as you’re reading and happy who cares what it is! I’m such a mood reader I can’t commit to anything!

  • Aw, I’m glad you found your way back to what works for you! I didn’t do Read My Own Damn Books partly because I don’t have THAT many unread books on my shelves (I don’t buy books that often), and partly because I know myself. I always rebel against reading plans like this. It is just more fun to read whatever I feel like reading in the moment!

    • I never really got into reading challenges back when they were super popular because rules just aren’t fun. I know my habits well enough to know I’m not going to follow the rules, and I don’t need that guilt, haha. Mood reading for the win!

  • I’m with Jenny on the rebellion factor and you on feeling like I’m missing out if I’m not paying attention to the latest and the buzziest. I think it’s great that you’ve found a way to get your shiny and new craving in without feeling so beholden to the publishing calendar.

    I think it’s easy to feel like abandoning challenges like this somehow means you’re committing a moral failure. Sure, it’s fun to change things up now and again, but reading should be FUN. If that means skewing your reading toward new stuff, so be it!

  • In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Marie Kondo writes that the best time to read a book is when you first get it. That’s when it’s still charged with the excitement and interest that made you select the book in the first place. Over time, that can fade. I don’t agree with much of what she says about books (she only owns 30 and keeps them in a shoe cupboard), but I do agree with that. And I think the most important thing is reading what excites you – whatever that is.

    I am enjoying my Read My Own Damn Books challenge, but I’m also keeping it balanced – for every 1 old book, I let myself read a galley or library or recently purchased book. That’s keeping me sane and balanced in my reading, for the most part. I am learning that some of my unread books are unread for a reason – I don’t want to read them. I just did another purge this weekend and got rid of 66 books.

    I hope you keep finding new things that you love to read that nourish you – whether they are old or new!

    • I’ve definitely noticed that in my own life, which is why I tend to stay away from used books stores and library sales — places where I can easily leave with a stack of books I’ll probably never get around to reading. I try to only buy a book when I very much want to read that book, and to then read it right away, while I’m still excited by it.

      That sounds like a good balance! And I think weeding out books you’ve lost interest in is a great idea.

  • Ha! This is how I feel! My intentions for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks are well-meaning, but in reality, when I stopped purchasing more books, I began using the library more…and…I am still trying to read all the new (and some old) stuff, so my piles of books are still sitting there! Yikes!! (And I just brought 5 more books home today, though one of those is for my grandkids!) IDK, we just have to persevere to figure out what works for each of us! My problem is that I need to ‘work for’ someone who will pay me to read! Pretty simple solution–just not viable!! 🙂

  • I know how you feel. For me, it’s more that I just don’t want to feel restricted and I’m not always in the mood for the books I have. I think once you start to regiment reading it gets a bit overwhelming.

  • I’m waiting (patiently) for the day that I feel like you do, as you described in your post. I feel like I still don’t have “it’ back. I’m happy you’re back to blogging!

  • I never jumped on #readmyowndamnbooks because that’s all I do read. LOL! I like the #justread movement! I feel like I should read from the library more but I keep thinking I have too many on my own shelves that I DO want to read. Though to echo what someone else mentioned about Marie Kondo, I have been able to let go of several that don’t interest me anymore. Tastes change and that’s OK! Good for you for recognizing what makes you happy in terms of reading!

  • Isi

    lol I just feel the opposite – I’m so happy reading “my own damn books” hahaha
    Alright, it’s not that I read them all the time, but I keep on reading them since I started the challenge and I’m fine with that. I typed a list with my typewriter and I cross out the finished ones – pure pleasure!
    Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you read – old books, new releases – what matters is that you enjoy with it.

  • I go back and forth on this one. I do like the conversation aspect of reading new books and being part of the excitement, but I also love buying books and digging into backlist to find forgotten or unknown stories. I haven’t really figured out how to balance it all, but I would like to get into a habit of reading books as soon as I buy them rather than letting them languish. That would mean a change in my book buying habits, but it might be a worthwhile one to adopt.

  • Megan

    This is an awesome post! I also liked the concept of reading the books I already owned as I was planning my 2016 reading, but quickly fell behind. I was doing better about not buying books in general, but I have been reading (newish) library books almost exclusively. I guess there are worse things!