Why I’m rethinking how I buy books in 2016


Every book lover wishes they had beautiful, wall-to-ceiling bookshelves stacked with glossy hardcovers and pristine paperbacks. Another book haul from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, another five or six novels for the shelf.

I’ve not any different, especially when I watch my favorite Booktubers and wonder, “How the heck can they afford this many books?”

Like most people, I’m on a budget. That’s why last year, when my boyfriend and I moved to a new house conveniently located a few blocks from a library, we both invested in library cards. This means I can request books on my phone and then walk five minutes to pick them up once they arrive. This was probably the best decision I made in 2015 financially. (Total, I read 39 books in 2015, and a lot of those I obtained through my local library.)

Borrowing books means I save a lot of money. That also means that I don’t need to scrimp by purchasing books on Amazon for super cheap instead of better institutions, like neighborhood bookstores or other, less dominant online retailers — which tend to sell books for twice the cost but are better alternatives. I don’t have to buy books at all if I don’t want to (although every now and then I cave and pick up a couple, especially when I trek out to Half Price Books).

But never buying books doesn’t sit well with me because then I’m not supporting my favorite authors. That’s why, in 2016 and on, I plan to change how I buy books altogether and how I fill my bookshelves. With the exception of books I can’t find in my local library, I’m only going to buy books on one of two conditions: 1) I already know I love the author and want to support them by purchasing their work, or 2) I’ve read the book previously and adored it.

This works especially well for me because, for one, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books, and I only own a couple of bookshelves anyway — so space is limited. This way, I can also give back to my favorite authors and cultivate a home library of my absolute favorites. I don’t re-read books very often, but I like to admire the ones on my shelves and maybe pass them on to my future kids for them to enjoy. A lot of books I tend to keep also possess sentimental importance to me, so there’s that, too.

How do you determine what books you buy? Are you making any changes to your purchasing habits this year?

New Year’s resolutions: how we should balance self-reprehension with self-rewarding

**Today is the last day for entering my giveaway for a free book! I pick a winner tomorrow. Good luck!**

New Year's resolutions

So the last post I wrote for this blog wasn’t about books, and this one won’t be, either. It’s the end of the year, and I’m juggling a lot and wishing I had time and the money to afford/justify a real vacation. I’m kind of exhausted. And thinking back on the past months, as we all do once thoughts of New Year’s resolutions roll around, I wonder — like everyone else does — how I want to improve for the year ahead.

And that makes me think about how hard we are on ourselves when the thought we end our year on is, “How can I do better?” As if we haven’t been doing good enough.

Part of that is positive thinking: How can we make ourselves happier, healthier, and more successful in the future? But a lot of it stems from poor self-reflection and negative societal values. We’re never nice enough, skinny enough, or rich enough, and January is the first month of the next 12 best months of our lives … hypothetically.

The ritual of looking back on the year that’s ending isn’t all that different from checking off a list of “good” and “bad” things we did every night. Maybe we helped a neighbor or friend. Or we sent a kind email, saved money, paid our bills on time, patched up a relationship, etc. But the list of things we did wrong — or could have done better, or worse, didn’t do at all — tends to run much longer in our minds. I know I do this all the time. I don’t reward myself nearly as much as I reprehend myself for a job not nearly well done. That’s not right.

So my annual resolutions are sometimes fair (work on my novel more regularly) and sometimes a little unfair (blog more even though I’m always so pressed for time). It’s a difficult balancing act that we all do. Some of us are parents. Some of us work multiple jobs. And let’s not even talk about stress!

But this can lead to a lot of flogging and little rewarding for what we have accomplished. Maybe half of our New Year’s tradition of setting resolutions needs to be congratulating ourselves, celebrating the old year as well as the new one, and counting all our successes.

What are yours? I’m proud of myself for getting an article published on The Escapist — expanding my freelance portfolio is and always will be my goal. I’ve been having a great time writing for VentureBeat/GamesBeat as well (it’s been eight months now), and I’m proud of all the hard work I’ve done. I’m also happy to have started this blog and to have the chance to talk with so many of you wonderful people! I’m also excited for having my most successful freelancing year yet, even if the progress is gradual, and for moving in to an apartment with my boyfriend.

In the new year, though, I do want to be kinder, more thoughtful, and concentrate even harder on my writing passions: my novel, my blog, and all of my web articles. Plus, read more books — duh! :P

Of course, I need that break first. Christmas could not get here sooner!

How about you? What are your goals for 2013, and what about 2012 are you proud of?

cat new year's