Shelf-Discipline: How to Read More Before Your Next Book Spree

Posted by Marie on August 31, 2018
At Goodreads, we always encourage our members to read more. But sometimes, the number of books still waiting on your Want to Read shelf can feel a little daunting…

(GIF credit: Black Books)

So we asked avid readers on Facebook and Twitter if they’ve ever tried a book-buying hiatus: a temporary (and we stress temporary), self-imposed ban from buying more books until they finish the current ones on their to-read list.

Needless to say, some reactions were (understandably) strong...

(GIF credit: The Mindy Project)

But overall, there was sound advice from fellow bibliophiles who have survived, thrived, and ultimately enjoyed more stories as a result. Below is a list of some the most popular tips and tricks. Let us know which ones speak to you in the comments.

Happy reading!

(GIF credit: Short Circuit)


1. "I tell myself that I need to read at least three books that I’ve bought and haven’t read yet," says Jimmy.

2. "If I find a book interesting, I take a picture of the cover to add to my to-read list. That way, I can put the book back without truly losing it," says Samantha.

3. "I work across the street from my favorite bookstore, so I park as far away in the opposite direction as possible," says Hannah.

4. "The best way to conquer [a book-buying ban] is by revisiting a library or joining a new library. Also, keeping a record of how much you're saving by USING the library leads to a pretty good high," says Lauren.

5. "I make a list of the books I want to buy and give myself a certain timeframe. If I finish my book buying ban, I start checking them off one by one as a reward," says Josie.

6. "I have a lot of physical books (it’s my preference), but I was still buying and borrowing from the library. So I took little, easy-to-peel-off stickers and put them on unread books, then I ascribed an amount: $2 for each book I read. Now I have a reward system that has me reading the books I own, but still lets me buy new books,'" says Ashley.

7. "Put all the books you own and haven’t read in a stack or [on an] eye-level shelf where they glare at you every time you walk out your door. Visualize it when you’re tempted to buy a book," says Kim.

8. "Can't buy anything when you have no money," says Clay.

9."Tips for sticking with it are to do the ban with a friend or two. It helps keep you accountable. Also, library, library, library," says Elena.



Have you ever tried a book-buying hiatus? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
The Big Books of Fall
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
The Creators of 'Saga' Recommend Books for Their Fans

Comments Showing 1-50 of 262 (262 new)


message 1: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Tomlinson I haven't tried a hiatus yet but need to because my to be read pile is out of control. I like the idea of reading some of the books I have and then getting a reward.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul I have been on a book-buying hiatus for about 5 years now (yes, my to-read pile really did get that out of control).

New books that I want to read all go on my Amazon wishlist and I strongly encourage friends and family to take a look at it when Christmas approaches.


message 3: by Umaymah (new)

Umaymah Paul your self control is from the gods. I've never been able to do this, but today I'm proud of myself because I went Into a bookstore and didnt buy a book


message 4: by Satrina (new)

Satrina T I'm on a little physical book-buying hiatus but I already know the next five books I want to buy. I'm still buying e-books and that is starting to get out of control too.

I really liked the method on number 6 and I think I'm going to use it.


message 5: by Timothy (last edited Aug 31, 2018 07:44AM) (new)

Timothy Jenson I like the idea of reading at least two books before I buy another, or maybe I should up that to three considering all the books I have. I'm thinking of going back to physical books because I don't know what is on my Kindle without looking because I can't see them I forget I have them whereas if they are on a bookshelf I'm reminded of them and sometimes I'll just pick them up and start reading. The only thing about the Kindle I like is the built-in dictionary and the ability to highlight text and make comments and share on Facebook.


message 6: by Alice (new)

Alice Heider I just end up reading books that I haven't marked Want to Read. My number goes neither up nor down. XD Not the best method! At least these books are all from the library, right?


message 7: by Bill (new)

Bill Burris In the old day, if I seen an interesting book in a bookstore, I would have to buy it because I may never see it again otherwise.

Now we have the internet, so I can way until I am ready to read it, then order it.

Right now I am working my way through my 40 year collection of paperbacks.


message 8: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Fruman I've limited my book buying to thrift stores but now I have a TBR room!


message 9: by Nell (last edited Sep 02, 2018 03:01AM) (new)

Nell I need a hiatus plan that works before it gets as bad as the first photo!

Several years ago I tried the #1 suggestion - read three books before you buy one. It didn't work!! I started feeling deprived and bought more book than ever!! I have stopped myself from book buying sprees but buying one or two books at a time really adds up!

No. 7 is completely implausible. I have way too many books for that. All your books fit on one shelf? Are you serious!?! Talk to me when you have bookcases and boxes and stacks of books!

Like Umaymah, I congratulate myself when I walk out of a bookstore without buying any books. Browsing bookstore shelves and noticing all the books I already own and have yet to read has kept me from buying more. Instead I go home and read a book from my shelves.


message 10: by Myrtha (last edited Aug 31, 2018 08:04AM) (new)

Myrtha A few days ago looking at the books half finished or not yet started while adding a new one, I was wondering if I was a book horder. I just can't help it if a new book strikes my current mood. I stop the one I'm listening to (unless is really enthralling) and start a new one or worse, I read/listen more than one at a time (one while walking, another during chores, one on brakes, you get the gist)
I think we should start a Bookaddict Anonymous: Hi, my name is ...and can't stop buying books...


message 11: by Carrie (new)

Carrie I find book buying bans hard, I have tried many times. I think the only thing that saves me is the fact that I don't buy brand new all the time. That is a treat usually when I'm hunting for a book and if I can't find it second hand after X amount of time I usually give in and buy it new.

I go to used bookstores or thrift/charity shops and sometimes they have great deals. I mean can you tell me if you saw 3 for a $1 you would turn that down? So I limit myself in the amount of times I do go to these shops, which is hard in it's self as we love a good thrift store day.

I also go to the library at least once a week, which a great help in the wallet department....sometimes....because sometimes I get so hooked in checking out books there that I neglect my own books that I bought and well that's just as bad as buying more and more before reading. So I've been trying (and not doing that great with) a library ban. But not banning the library but not checking out a like 30 books (not counting my daughters books) at the one time. It's hard like I said it's something I've been failing at but I'm attempting something new with it, forever library book read I need to read 1 or 2 of my own before starting a new library book....it's working as I've just started this method this summer.


message 12: by färbe mich rot (new)

färbe mich rot "Can't buy anything when you have no money," says Clay.

------

That's me.


message 13: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I put my unread books backwards so I only see the pages and when I finished a book I turn it around so I see the spine. It's a nice way because you see your tbr shrinking very much with each read!


message 14: by Daisy (new)

Daisy I have two tricks.

1) I read on a theme each year. Whether that's "1/2 my reading list this year will be Man Booker Prize Winners" or "All my books will be by University of Iowa Writer's Workshop Alumns," or something else, it keeps me from those purchases of "OOH, that looks cool, I should read that."

2) Every few years, I do a "reading down the stacks" theme, where I consciously spend the year reading books that have been sitting on the shelves.


message 15: by Joanna (new)

Joanna The only thing that stopped me from buying books and really made my to read shelf smaller was an agreement with my husband: for every book I buy, I buy him a computer game for the same amount (or more easy: just give him the money). Same goes for him if he buys a computer game.

Since I work at a bookstore I got carried away with buying cheap books. But since we have this agreement I basically stopped buying books at all. It doubles the value of each book and I started asking myself: Do I really have to OWN this book or can I get it at the library as well?


message 16: by Stephanie (last edited Aug 31, 2018 08:38AM) (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald The Never-Ending Cycle in a Book Addict’s Life (by Steph):
1.Purchase books because the description on Goodreads sounds great
2. Feel guilty, so go to the library with my TBR list and load up
3.Feel guilty again because now the books I purchased are being neglected because the library books must be read by their due date
4.Add more books to my TBR list because Goodreads recommended them
Hmm🤔A distinct pattern...
Oh, well, there are worse vicest to have than being a book addict, I guess!🤣


message 17: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald Uh, aren’t there?😬Anyone; I need reassurance here!


message 18: by Emily (last edited Aug 31, 2018 08:42AM) (new)

Emily I am currently on a minor book buying ban
I'm moving and I've been slowly weeding out my less liked books along with the books on my TBR that probably won't get read.
Fortunately I am an assistant librarian at two libraries, so getting more material to read isn't a problem. But both libraries accept donations and I sometimes go home with a book or two that were free or fifty cents


message 19: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Stephanie wrote: "The Never-Ending Cycle in a Book Addict’s Life (by Steph):
1.Purchase books because the description on Goodreads sounds great
2. Feel guilty, so go to the library with my TBR list and load up
3.Fee..."


I do this too! (And yes there are worse vices!)

I currently have a collection development plan to help keep my book purchases down. For fiction, I can buy books by my favorite authors or series, no questions asked. Any other fiction books must be checked out from the library; if I truly enjoyed the book, it can then go on my book purchase list.

For nonfiction, the book needs to fit into certain subject areas I'm interested in. Then I evaluate whether it duplicates other books I already own (ie, does this book on the Battle of the Bulge cover a new angle or simply restates what other books have said?).

When I'm in the book store, I'm taking pictures of book covers so I can research the titles to see if I really want to read it.


message 20: by Dee (new)

Dee Myrtha wrote: "A few days ago looking at the books half finished or not yet started while adding a new one, I was wondering if I was a book horder. I just can't help it if a new book strikes my current mood. I st..."

I usually have 3 books going at a time. A physical book that stays at home that I read on nights, (currently The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George) - a kindle type book to read on my work breaks (currently Legend Trilogy Boxed Set (Legend, #1-3) by Marie Lu) - and finally, an audiobook to listen to during my various work tasks (currently The Lord of the Rings #1 The Fellowship of the Ring (BBC Radio Drama) by J.R.R. Tolkien)

I totally understand the getting sucked into multiple books at one time!


message 21: by Arnetta (new)

Arnetta I make a feeble attempt at it, but fail miserably. I am a sucker for the library sales: a couple of months ago I got 21 books and a great canvas book bag for $7. Today I got 13 for $5 - many on my to-read list. With a total of 9 bookcases in my house and countless boxes of books in storage - I am working on getting rid of books I own. I tend to read and then put on a shelf. I'm making myself be realistic about if I really will get around to reading that book again , and if not - LET IT GO! To not buy more ----- that's a different challenge!


message 22: by JAB (new)

JAB Ever since I started working at a library I barely buy books anymore. Libraries are a great resource for people who can't afford so many books and it helps support the community. If you feel that you have to buy a book, many libraries also have book sales for relatively cheap books.


message 23: by Chloe (new)

Chloe I have pre-ordered all of my most anticipated new releases, and I'm not allowed to buy any more books for myself because the ones I want most will be coming to me! Everything else can wait. I've been making my way through my owned tbr for 2 years and I started with 300. Now I have under 50 and I can finish them all by the end of the year! Then my goal is to buy a monthly book haul and read all of those books I buy that month.


message 24: by Arnetta (new)

Arnetta Stephanie wrote: "The Never-Ending Cycle in a Book Addict’s Life (by Steph):
1.Purchase books because the description on Goodreads sounds great
2. Feel guilty, so go to the library with my TBR list and load up
3.Fee..."


Goodreads has done terrible things to my TBR list - it was well over 2,000. I printed off the list (yes I did as I don't want to forever lose them) and have been deleting off the Goodreads list ever since to get it to a decent level. It truly is an addiction! I add to the list, I buy, I go to the library - and also struggle between reading the library books that looked so appealing to me vs the ones I own. I try hard to have blinders off at the library - but usually fail. LOL....


message 25: by Arnetta (new)

Arnetta Stephanie wrote: "Uh, aren’t there?😬Anyone; I need reassurance here!"

absolutely... It is truly an addiction, but compared to being a drug addict, alcoholic, serial killer (JK) this is way better!


message 26: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Jennifer wrote: "I put my unread books backwards so I only see the pages and when I finished a book I turn it around so I see the spine. It's a nice way because you see your tbr shrinking very much with each read!"

I love this so much that I've just done the same thing!


message 27: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Dee, I started doing that at the beginning of the summer! I used to be a die-hard physical book lover, and if I started a new book before finishing the first, the first wouldn't get finished. Now, reading across three different mediums, I read so much more! I love it!


message 28: by Francine (new)

Francine Paul wrote: "I have been on a book-buying hiatus for about 5 years now (yes, my to-read pile really did get that out of control).

New books that I want to read all go on my Amazon wishlist and I strongly encou..."


Paul, I salute you.


message 29: by Mel (new)

Mel in 2017 my new year's resolution was to not buy any new physical books and it was surprisingly easy. i had a ton of free kindle books, an audible subscription, and a library card, after all. i've been donating boxes of books to the women's prison, hospice thrift store, aauw book sale, etc if i won't want to read them again. recently i cancelled audible in favor of the libby app which i love. i also have credits on paperbackswap.com for when one of my wishlist books pops up there, which isn't very often anymore haha.

honestly i don't remember the last time i bought a new physical book (except as gifts for friends) and i've saved hundreds at least, donated books to several good causes, and still have an overflowing bookshelf. :)


message 30: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I don't need a book-BUYING hiatus so much as a library-borrowing one. I try, every time I see a book on the shelf I have to borrow immediately, to at the same time take home the oldest book on my to-read shelf. But now I have 30 library books at home, over 100 owned books I haven't read, and more on the to-read shelf than I could get to in a lifetime.


message 31: by Megan (new)

Megan Rupp Reading about minimalism has made me reevaluate whether I really need to own loads and loads of books. Now, I mostly read books checked out from my library. And if the library doesn't have it, I may buy the Kindle version, or just choose a different book.


message 32: by Lin (new)

Lin I have separate shelf for them that's directly under a window, so they're well-lit and remind me every time I'm tempted to buy something. Also, I don't buy anything but sequels that have just come out (so bookstagram or booktube doesn't spoil anything) until i finish them


message 33: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Stephanie wrote: "I don't need a book-BUYING hiatus so much as a library-borrowing one. I try, every time I see a book on the shelf I have to borrow immediately, to at the same time take home the oldest book on my t..."

I feel you


message 34: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Megan wrote: "Reading about minimalism has made me reevaluate whether I really need to own loads and loads of books. Now, I mostly read books checked out from my library. And if the library doesn't have it, I ma..."

I'm also into minimalism, so while I do still love to buy books if I'm super excited for it, I only keep the ones that are my absolute favourites, and donate the rest! It feels really good to declutter my shelves often.


message 35: by Chrissi (new)

Chrissi I lived overseas where I didn’t have an English language library, so that was my excuse for buying books in the few bookshops or getting them delivered. I joined the PopSugar Reading Challenge this year and used as many of my books in the challenge. Doing reading challenges and putting time aside to read daily (vs electronic time) helped me conquer my book pile and TBR shelf.


message 36: by Cynthia (last edited Aug 31, 2018 11:13AM) (new)

Cynthia Pratt I got the library extension for Chrome and it really helped me cut back on Amazon purchases as I would pass up maybes if I knew I could get them from the library.....also started reading goals for my favorite authors to read all their books(many of which are in my TBR)...already well on my way to surpassing my 2017 reading goal because better books!!


message 37: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Hall I put myself on a buying ban as a New Year's resolution. Specifically, my resolution was that I would not spend any money on books that year. Somehow, by the end of the year I had acquired 21 new books anyway (giveaways, book exchanges, gift cards). I've given up on bans ever since then. At least I'm not wasting money on a bad habit! Although I am running out of bookshelf space...


message 38: by Shellie (new)

Shellie Taylor LIBRARY LIBRARY LIBRARY. My opinion on this subject might be biased because I work at a library but seriously...LIBRARIES! Your taxes already pay for them so you might as well use them. Especially libraries like mine that are part of a state-wide system, you can literally find anything you want. If you can't find it, THEN go buy it. That's what I do.

Also, buy from Barnes & Noble for the occasional splurge on new items. Amazon is doing fine without your money. ThriftBooks is my go-to place for inexpensive ex-library or lightly used items. You can also find good deals for books on eBay, believe it or not.


message 39: by Judi (new)

Judi Clarke I actually found the Good Reads TBR list really helpful to control my addiction to buying books. I added all my bought but unread books onto my list first, before starting to add new ones that I have come across. Putting new ones on the list helps me NOT buy them because I know that looking through the list will prompt me when I need something new to read but won't let me forget them (which was always my fear - I would see a book and buy it in case I never saw it again).


message 40: by Nichole (last edited Aug 31, 2018 11:11AM) (new)

Nichole I love to own my books, so I will always be a broke buyer. I adore my book pile and long TBR list. No shame!


Mayke (acozyliving)☕️ Really like 6 and 7. I personally don't buy great amounts of book, and the ones that I buy are from thrift/charity shops. The books that I want to buy new are very specific (like the Harry Potter Series). Though I don't go on book buying sprees, which is mainly because I have the magical library card. Most is availably at my library, and the library doesn't run out of books for me. So I stick to the library mostly. Also, I decided that when I have my own apartment I'm allowed to create a nice book collection with all the books that I loved mostly. I do sometimes buy new books if they are not available at my library, but it keeps the expense quite low since a lot is available..


message 42: by Kurt (new)

Kurt No hiatus for me. I've tried it before, with disastrous results. I was on a hiatus for about a year a while back. While putting a sizable dent in my to-be-read pile during this hiatus, when I finally started to pick up some new reads, it quickly outnumbered the books read, thereby putting me in an even "worse" position than when I started. I have now come to the realization that buying more books makes me feel just as good as reading them. Read my lips... No Book Hiatus!!!


message 43: by Ash (new)

Ash Yes I have put myself on a "book ban". Thankfully having a a want to read list has been really helpful to me. It helps me keep track of all the books I see on the shelf (I work in a library) that Im interested in. Right now Im not allowed to bring any books home until I read what I have in my room :)


message 44: by Nicko (last edited Aug 31, 2018 10:51AM) (new)

Nicko (The Cover Hoarder) Clay is right!
Poverty is the best way to minimize your book buying. Personally, before I got a new job in June I bought 12 books book between June 2017 and July 2018 one each month, now with the money I get + the extra money I make for my overtime hours I bought 11 just in August :>) so ya.

Also I have a wishlist in my online store of fantasy series and books I would like to prioritize first when it comes to buying. I'd like to build my adult fantasy and YA fantasy shelf first before I delve into series I know nothing about.


message 45: by Jp (new)

Jp Telangana Library Library #Library


message 46: by Hotaru (last edited Sep 04, 2018 11:51AM) (new)

Hotaru I had to put myself on a strict schedule. I am allowed one trip to my favorite bookstore each month, no more. My partner keeps track, and, when the time has come, drives me down to the bookstore himself and (more or less) patiently waits while I browse in rapture and choose some books from the shelves.

I also force myself to browse using the alphabetical order. I tell myself : "This month, I will only buy books from Authors beginning with the letter A". And so on, working down the alphabet and not cheating to rush to the letter where I have the most "to-read" books on my GR shelves !


Mayke (acozyliving)☕️ See a lot of comments about money and the library. I agree with the amount of money you earn that has an effect on book buying as Nicko says. Before I got my job I spend nothing on books. Now I still don't spend huge amounts of books, getting them mostly at thrift shops. Though I sometimes get a huge urge to buy everything. The other thing named a lot here, the librare, helps me through these urges. Having a big amount of library books in my room helps deciding not to buy the book. Or I look if the books I want are at the library so I can borrow them first there. Then I still have the certain book in my hand, but without the big spending.


message 48: by Shanna (new)

Shanna Overbey I have been on a book buying hiatus for more than 10 years now (unless it's for a charity or something like that.) I lived in a small house and simply ran out of space. And I realized that I had an excellent library system that I had been ignoring. So I became an avid fan of my local library. I have a TBR list of about 500-600, and I go on my library's website and request them. I visit every week to pick up what has arrived just for me. (You know it's serious when you're on a first name basis with half a dozen librarians.) This way, I can also avoid going in the stacks at the library and finding more books that I simply 'must' read right now! I just go to the desk and avoid the shelves entirely. Sadly, my TBR list continues to grow, and many of the books on my home shelves remain unread. Always more books but never enough time.


message 49: by A (last edited Aug 31, 2018 06:59PM) (new)

A I just decided to go on a buying hiatus because my spending has been out of control. Starting from Sep. 1, I choose to not buy any more books until Dec. 1. I think three months is enough time for me to finish most of my books (physical and digital).

Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm temporarily turning off email notifications from places where I usually buy my books. I hope it helps decrease my urge to buy many books.


message 50: by Kate (new)

Kate Willis I love tip #4. I use the library a lot, but I never thought about keeping an account of how much it would actually cost to buy all those books. Great idea.


« previous 1 3 4 5 6
back to top