10 Tips for Surviving a Book Buying Ban

If I were an animal I’d be a squirrel.  When times are tough and winter starts closing in I’m expert at saving up and stashing away.  Mr novel project chronicle experienced this first hand a few years ago when we were trying to get our deposit together for the apartment. I just stopped buying all the things and sold a lot my stuff on ebay.  I took extra work where I could get it and refused to visit a supermarket without exploiting at least two deals/coupons etc.  I did all of this for months until we reached our goal.  Then we bought the apartment and were brokity broke broke all over again – easy come easy go eh?

One of the big things I’ve learned during these self imposed saving stints is how to survive a book buying ban. When times are tight, money for hobbies is typically the first thing to go, and so learning how to survive these times of drought is crucial.

However, there are sometimes when a person might embark on a book buying ban for reasons other than money. Like me, right now. If you follow me on twitter you might know that I’m a big fan of #bookadayuk.  You can read more about it here.  This month it’s being hosted by the folk over at we love this book.

On 11th September #bookadayuk was all about books recommended to you by a librarian.  Sadly, I realised that I hadn’t ever been recommended a book by a librarian.  To my delight, twitter responded to my whinge with an outpouring of support from librarians willing to rectify the situation immediately.

These tweets also got me thinking.  I love to buy books and feel that it is important that we bookish types support local independent booksellers by visiting and buying from them when we can.  However, libraries need our love too.  They are an unbelievably valuable and important resource but as the old saying goes if we don’t use it we might just lose it.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to impose a book buying ban on myself until the end of November.  December 1st is my birthday so November 30th seems a good date to end the ban.  The purpose of this ban is not to save money (this time) but to show my support for public libraries by giving them a little more of my time.

If you like you can join in with me on this challenge or start your own – and link back to your blog in the comments so I can follow your progress.

To help any of you starting a book buying ban, for whatever reason, below are my top ten survival tips (with some visual help from the book-reading bear). Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments below.

1 – Visit the library.


Hands down, the library is your best friend when it comes to a book buying ban. You can browse the shelves to get your fix and most libraries will order a book in for you if they don’t have what you are looking for.  You may have to spend time on a waiting list if you are looking for a VERY popular book but now is a good time to abandon the new releases for a while.

2 – Project Gutenberg and other free classic book resources.

Now is also a good time to (re)discover the classics.  If you own an e-reader this will be a cinch as many classics are out of copyright and can be downloaded for free from various websites such as the following:



3 – Explore your bookshelves


If you’re a compulsive book buyer you will almost certainly have several unread books sitting on your shelf.  Dust them off and give them some of your attention.  If they are books you’ve been putting off reading – read them now.

4 – Challenge Yourself

As a keeper of all the lists, I often use my buying ban time to to give them more attention and challenge myself to get through some of these books.  I’ll find out what books on the lists that my local library has tick them off as I go along.

5 – Keep a TBR list, not a TBR pile.


I wouldn’t recommend that you stop reading blogposts, goodreads, newspaper/magazine book reviews – I mean where’s the fun in that? But I would recommend that you keep a list of those books you intend to read based on what you come across, rather than running out to purchase them.  If they are older releases you should be able to get them in the library anyway without a wait and some of the books may have already found there way onto your shelves – Happy days! However, if they are books that you neither have nor the library has – add them to your list and wait for Christmas to roll around (or at least until your buying ban is over – then buy away)

6 – Resist the urge to buy anything because of that awesome 3 for 2, super saver delivery, I just must have it now deal.


I don’t think I need to explain this one. Like taking drugs – just don’t do it, m’kay?

7 – Write something

If you are a writer as well as a reader, you can take the duration of the ban to spend more time on the craft.  It’ll take your mind off the urge to rush out to the bookshop and give your monkey mind something productive to do.

8 – Meditate, especially when all your friends and bloggers are raving about this seasons must read.

Keeping with the monkey mind, sometimes you’ll just have to sweat it out and try to ignore that little critter’s incessant nagging to go out and get your fix.  Meditating can help calm your mind and give you a little break from the cravings.

9 – Set a time limit on your ban

Goals are much easier to keep if you give yourself clear instructions. This includes setting an goal date.  Try to frame the ban (although, in this sense ’ban’ is a poor choice of words) not as an exercise in deprivation but as a means of improvement.  You are contributing to your own well being (saving money, resourcing classic books etc, de-cluttering your bookshelves) and also to society (supporting your local library, meeting and sharing with book bloggers etc).

10 – Keep a book buying ban jar.

Sometimes it can help to visualize your progress.  An easy way of doing this is to keep a jar, a bit like a swear jar, and every time you resist the urge to buy a book or collect a book from the library instead of buying it in the bookshop, add your funds to the jar.

8 Comment

  1. I love this idea – I couldn’t agree more about libraries needing some love.

    My book ban at the moment is all about how out of control my TBR pile is – I can’t even add to a TBR list, because the list always becomes the pile 😉

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Oh man do I know that feeling of the out of control TBR list 🙂

      I’m looking forward to spending more time in my local libraries over the next few weeks.

  2. Great post. Love the book-reading bear and now want one of my own. But you will never, ever talk me into joining you with a book -buying ban. It’s not that I don’t value libraries – I do, and am regular at both my local library and the British Library – but for me, libraries will always be about research and consulting books which I won’t buy. I can’t imagine reading a novel for pleasure without the freedom to scribble notes all over it, and for that the book has to be mine.

    PS I love bookadayuk as well.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Hi Thanks for commenting. Book-reading bear is awesome (as is bookadayuk) 🙂

      That’s a fair point. If you like to write notes in the margins then you really do need to own the book.

      I never write in books (for research or otherwise) so it wasn’t something I’d thought about before. I’m curious how you approach it though. Does it help you to keep track of the novel when you add notes in the margins or do you jot down comments for reviews later on? I’m very interested in what the note taking adds to your reading experience.

  3. I love this post so much. As horrible as a book buying ban is your reasons for doing it are wonderful. I have a great love for libraries, and right now is a tough time in my area for potential library closures, it’s in the local press most days, and the thought of losing the library service just makes me feel really sad, so I’m all for supporting your local library.
    Love your book-reading bear too, so cute 🙂

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Thanks 🙂 I love buying books and of course want to support booksellers and authors but libraries are such an important resource too. Even though I live really near to several libraries I felt like I hadn’t been taking full advantage of them and that this was a good way of pushing myself to reconnect with a vital local service.

      Also, if I can raise a little bit of awareness by talking and tweeting about my endeavor then its all to the good right?

      I’m so sad to hear that there is talk of your local library closing down. There are few avenues for free/low cost education and entertainment as it is (and lord knows times are still tough enough that libraries provide a vital lifeline to the community for many), so I very much hope it doesn’t happen.

  4. Gemma says: Reply

    These are great tips! I couldn’t agree more that we should support our local libraries as they are so important in our communities. I think it’s great that you’re supporting your library in your book buying ban 🙂

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Thanks. I took my first trip to the library yesterday to stock up and I hope it will be the first of many. 🙂

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