This week I’m sitting down with coffee to rant about book bans.
The Coffee: I’m drinking Kagumoini, a Kenyan filter from Clifton Coffee (one of my favourite roasters) and it is tasting awesome! Kenyans are my favourite coffees when they’re in season. I’m drinking it in my epic mug that turns from black to…something sinister when it heats up.
The Book Rant:
Anyone who has been paying any attention whatsoever to my blog or twitter feed will know that I announced a book buying ban last month. This week, I decided book buying bans are total crap. Here’s why:
I have had a shit week. I fell over at school, running and panicking that my small child was missing (he wasn’t, he’d just gone back to class to rescue a carton of milk). Moral of the story: don’t run, it’s bad for you. I cracked a bone in my ankle and tore a bunch of ligaments; my entire foot and half of my calf are still working their way through the full colour spectrum of bruising. I can’t move a lot and I keep waking up in the night when the covers get heavy or I try to move and my foot reminds me it is hurting. Consequently, I have had a lot of time to sit, read, and contemplate my poor life choices. Firstly, why did I request so many Netgalley books with the same release date? (good work brain, good work). Secondly, what is the point of this stupid book buying ban?
Yes, I know. It’s supposed to be about getting my TBR under control. I have some issues with that too.
My TBR (I’m going to call him Ted) did not exactly sneak up on me and attack unawares. Ted has been a work in progress for the last six years. I know exactly when and how he grew; he isn’t so much out of control as out of sync. I read anything in the region of 100-130 books a year, but for almost two years after my son was born, maybe longer, I couldn’t read books at all. My brain couldn’t concentrate on more than a few pages and I wouldn’t remember the story from one day to the next. This didn’t stop me buying books I knew I wanted to read, I just bought them anyway, and Ted took care of them. I didn’t worry: a home library is a wonderful thing. Books are never bad. Ted is a giant heap of possibility.
I don’t know if other readers do this, but I have always had a knack for finding the books I need to read at the time I need to read them. I read Divergent at a time when I needed to be brave; I re-discovered Sabriel learning to live without her dad after my beloved Grandad died; I picked up The Trick is to Keep Breathing when my depression was trying to get the better of me. Not every book I read is like this: most of the time I read whatever takes my fancy for no reason other than I want to. That said, my knack for choosing the right books at the right times means I’ve avoided almost all possible reading slumps. After the boy arrived, I needed THE book that would speak to me, but I couldn’t find it. I had lost my knack. For the first time I can remember, Ted did not have the answers. (For anyone remotely interested it was Twilight followed by Game of Thrones that pulled me out of the slump eventually). I searched everywhere: I downloaded something like 250 free books in one sleepless night searching for the book I needed to read (mostly misery memoirs). I never found the book I needed: it didn’t exist, but I found a lot of other books. I still couldn’t read them. I bought them, and Ted took care of them. Ted grew.
When I am sad, or stressed, or ill, I read books. I buy books to make myself feel better. I’m not claiming that this is excellent adulting, but it’s how I roll. So, telling myself I wasn’t allowed to buy books this week just made me more cross. I thought a lot about why I imposed a ban, then part way through making a list of all the books I was going to buy as soon as it was over, I started to wonder WHAT IS THE POINT? Why be on a book ban if you’re going to buy all the books anyway? It’s pointless: buy the books a few at a time over the month or buy all the books in one great binge after the “ban”? It’s still the same net result. You have less money and more books. Is that even a ban? What are you achieving? Nothing. The only thing you gain is misery and the opportunity to constantly whine about not buying any books (and I manage to whine about quite enough already)!
Banning myself from buying books is a bit like putting myself on a diet: I could do it if I wanted to, but as soon as I tell myself I’m not doing a thing, I just want to do it. I want to eat the chocolate, cheat on the workout regime, buy the books. I want to do it more. I worked out some creative ways of circumventing the ban, and got myself two “allowed” books. Husband promised me one if I could find an acceptable t-shirt in his dresser (spoiler: I can do anything for a book). I started a Twitter poll to get opinions on whether this was cheating (58% said no, 18% said yes and the rest didn’t know what the actual fuck I was on about). I love the book community on Twitter. I’d already decided I didn’t even care: I was getting that book. Leading me to question even more loudly WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING CHARLOTTE? Just buy the damn books.
Reader, I bought the damn books. I bought four books. I love them. So does Ted.