“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” (Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus)

I don’t normally do book haul posts but I thought I would just this once, to celebrate the end of my 2018 book-buying ban, which much to my amazement I stuck to for the entire year – not one book did I buy. (Actually, that’s not strictly true, I bought 6 books during the year, but all for other people, and not in a cheating I’ll-read-this-first-then-give-it-away-and-claim-it-was-a-present-all-along way, honest!)

But before I sound too smug (and I do feel pretty smug tbh, I have terrible willpower and never manage to stick to any resolution), it wasn’t a total success. The aim of the ban was for me to read the unread books I own, as my flat was starting to look like this:

There’s definitely a vast improvement, but the discovery of the library fiction section and a terrible reading slump in the latter part of the year meant I didn’t get through as many books as I hoped. So while the ban is over I’m planning to still try and exercise some restraint and get that TBR pile down further.

Anyhoo, on 1 January I ordered some books online which are winging their way to me, and then yesterday, for the first time in over a year, I set foot in the lovely bibliophile’s crack den charity book shop which is almost directly opposite my flat. This is what I came away with:

Yes, 10 books is me exercising restraint. You can see where the need for the ban came from, can’t you? And to be honest, I’m slightly regretting not buying the five or so (OK, it was more like 15) books I additionally considered but returned to the shelves because I am a whole new woman.

The first thing that caught my eye was this little collection of mini-plays by Michael Frayn, out on display because it was in a gimmicky sleeve and who’s going to fall for that and decide they immediately need this book? *cough*

I enjoy reading plays and Michael Frayn is a safe pair of hands, so I think this will be fun.

One of the many joys of charity bookshops is hunting down those green Viragos, and I found a lovely pair of GB Sterns in great condition. I’ve never read any GB Stern but I remembered her name from Jane at Beyond Eden Rock’s Birthday Book of Underappreciated Lady Authors. Part of my new-found restraint would generally include not buying more than one book by an author I’ve not read, but that lasted all of 5 minutes. They were green Viragos! In lovely condition! My willpower can only take so much…

These are the first two in the Rakonitz chronicles and the blurb on the back is really tempting, so I’m looking forward to these.

I bought one more green Virago:

I’m not a massive fan of Shaw but the blurb on the back says ‘Shaw’s view was that the false idealisation of women by men enslaved both sexes’ and he’s dismantling this in a comic way, so maybe this will be where I learn to like him.

Sticking with the theme of buying books because I trust the publishers, I picked up these by NYRB and Peirene:

The Delius is apparently a single 117-page long sentence, which frankly sounds horrific, but I trust Peirene and the translator is Jamie Bulloch who does great work so I’m still hopeful. And I do love a novella, which leads me to these:

The Auschwitz Violin, to my cynical mind, looked like an awful lot of other books with similar titles/themes which publishers love, but its novella length means I’ll give it a go, and it does look promising. The Vesaas I’ve never heard of but the reviews quoted on the back cover are rapturous and I enjoy Scandinavian literature so I’m looking forward to this.

Finally, I was pleased to come across Jill by Philip Larkin because Ali’s review last month reminded me that I wanted to read some of Larkin’s prose. Infuriatingly, that mark on the cover was caused by me trying to peel a label off, which I did carefully but it still damaged the cover:

When I’m in charge of the world, stickers will be banned from book covers, that’s a promise. Then I’ll try and sort out world peace and stuff, it’s all about priorities 😀

And there was no way I was going to let Black Narcissus pass me by, having enjoyed two Rumer Godden novels so much last month, and being a big fan of the film.

So, that’s my first book haul of the year! Looking back on the 2018 ban I would say I’ve learnt these things:

  • At the ripe old age of 41 I can still surprise myself
  • I might actually have some willpower after all
  • Its satisfying to see the TBR diminishing
  • I’m never going to not have piles of books
  • Which means I need to move somewhere with really cheap property prices to house them all
  • I still can’t be trusted in a charity bookshop

How about you, dear reader? Any bookish resolutions for 2019? Have you read any of my haul? Where would recommend I start?

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead with many great reads for all of us 😊 Apropos of absolutely nothing, but just because I’ve been listening to her a lot since 2019 started, here is Kate Bush doing a reggae cover of an Elton John song whilst playing a ukulele*. Because she can, because she’s awesome:

*Thank you Fiction Fan (see comments below)

37 thoughts on ““When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” (Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus)

  1. Although I didn’t do a total ban on buying new books last year I did substantially restrict my purchases – I’ve actually ascribed my total reading/blogging slump that I experienced at the end of last year to this practice so have given myself permission to go for it in 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! And that’s a lovely haul that looks interesting, and so attractive (gimmicky covers ftw!). But did you ever worry about what the people in the charity shop thought during your absence? Did they miss you? Did you let them know why you’d stayed away? if I were them I’d have been holding out a welcoming banner when you returned, and a net of balloons would have falling from the ceiling 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lucy! I was very pleased with my haul.

      I think they missed me, they threw themselves at my feet, weeping profusely, saying “thank the lord, we’ve got rates to pay!” I jest of course, but I like to think my presence stops any worry about revenues 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know which I more in awe of – the fact you only bought 6 books in 2018 or that you had a bookshop across the road from your house and stuck to your resolve regardless. Congratulations. I am going to have to seriously rein in my book collecting and the associated spending this year. So glad you bought a copy of Jill. The only other one of those books I have is The Matriach which I haven’t read yet. Enjoy your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were a few wobbly moments for sure! I basically had to pretend that shop didn’t exist for the year.

      I hope your reining in isn’t too arduous this year. And I hope we both enjoy The Matriarch. Thank you for the prompt to get Jill, Ali!


    • I like your thinking Lizzy – never again!

      I’m so pleased to hear the Vesaas is a gem, it’s definitely at the top of the pile. I’ll pop over and read your review when I’m back at my computer (my phone doesn’t show posts well) Thanks for the link!


  4. I hear you, Madame Bibi! You exercising restraint is rather similar to me exercising that very same virtue… So where you leave the book-buying-ban world, I now enter it, pouring ashes over my head for the size of my unread piles all over the house (that second gif is surprisingly accurate… alas…)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done on your year of great restraint. I found that after doing a similar thing a few years back, the restraint continued into the following year and beyond. I am far less impulsive and I do borrow more from the library – still a long way to go in clearing my own shelves but I’m not significantly adding to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have absolutely every right to feel smug – not buying any books for a whole year is amazing! I don’t know if I’d ever be able to do that, although I certainly need to give it a bit of a rest TBH. Maybe next year…. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All you book-banners who slumped have me deeply worried since I’m planning to practice restraint myself in 2019! Maybe I should just go on a spree instead…

    Black Narcissus is great and just different enough from the film to make it not feel like reading the script. I don’t mean to be pedantic, but it looks to me like Kate’s playing a ukulele, not a mandolin… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think that’s amazing considering the shop is across the road! And your lovely haul is glorious, I love the Michael Frayn matchbox and Black Narcissus – I’m going to read it this year too!

    Liked by 1 person

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