viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2011

Man vs. TBR


Now that my book-hoarding prowess has been amply demonstrated for any/all of my book blogging peers to take note of (for the record, the list still isn't quite complete), I'd like to shift gears for a moment and deliver a post that's a conceptual slap in the face to both the holiday shopping season and to excess in general: yes, that's right, I hereby publicly announce a plan to limit myself to a grand total of seven new book purchases between now and the end of 2012.  Three reasons why this crackpot plan will fail: 1) I have no willpower.  2) I love buying shiny new paperbacks.  3) Buying books is a noble way to help support the arts--especially if you have no willpower.  Three reasons why this voluntary simplicity plan might succeed: 1) I've been so successful at stockpiling cool books that most chain bookstores only elicit elitist disdain from me these days.  2) I have access to a great university library system that I somehow perennially underuse with my usual buy now and ask questions later acquisition methodology.  3) Simon from Savidge Reads went a whole year without book-buying in 2010, thus proving that it's not necessary to have to pepper spray other consumers to get to that IQ84 Murakami endcap--if you have a well-stocked TBR at home.  More posts on my experiment in fiscal austerity later and/or when I come to my senses and throw in the towel.  Until then, what I hope will be my last three purchases for 2011: Juan Carlos Onetti's La vida breve (Punto de Lectura), José Lezama Lima's Paradiso (Cátedra), and Volume II of Robert Musil's The Man without Qualities (Vintage).  Hey, it's been zero days since my last book purchase.  How about you?

26 comentarios:

  1. Can't stop laughing long enough to comment....

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  2. What a sticky situation you find yourself in.

    Oh well, the arts must be supported (as you said). We can't - no, we mustn't - neglect the arts.

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  3. I tried to limit myself to buying only 10 books this year. I failed. At least having a self-imposed limit made me reflect a little longer than normal before buying, which substantially reduced my purchases. Good luck!

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  4. Heh, crackpot plan is right! ;) I haven't bought a book in 2 months but I always have an end-of-year splurge of sorts and have been looking forward to it. Good luck with you plan!

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  5. *Jill: Ha ha, no worries--I don't have any confidence in my plan either!

    *Rise: A sticky situation indeed if only for lack of storage space. Please note that at my one book a week reading rate, I figure I have the book arts supported a good five or six years in advance!

    *Dwight: Thanks! By the way, I've seen your book-buying tracker and was in part motivated by your example (and for many of the same reasons): "minimizing purchases" will be an excellent fall back plan if the more austere plan doesn't work out for me. Cheers!

    *Stefanie: Thanks for the support for the plan and the evidence that you yourself have been able to go two months without a purchase--good to know that such a crackpot thing is possible! My permissable buy numbers would have been much higher, but I've sort of engaged in some end of the year splurging myself--thus making me want to aim higher (lower) with the 2012 book-buying limitations. P.S. I'm already several hours into hunkering down mode without any noticeable side effects yet! :D

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  6. Ha. This is in fairly diametric opposition to my own plan to spend myself into bankruptcy by buying as many books as I can fit into my apartment (I'll be happy to let you spring for the drinks). My problem is that - being a crass materialist - I'm always finding these beautiful editions that I can't resist. Kindle schmindle...

    Anyway, here's a hand clap for Lezama Lima's "Paradiso" being one of your three lucky contestants.I look forward to reading your thought about it. I've actually asked Santa for its sequel, "Oppiano Licario," untranslated in English but apparently available in French - hopefully in some fine edition beyond my budget.

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  7. Why seven?

    You're a brave man. Just the thought of this is enough to knot my stomach with anxiety ....

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  8. I love the title Man vs. TBR, it's a huge fight for me, though not with bought books. I keep adding good titles reviewed on other blogs, keep deleting some after a while, but have too many anyway for a whole life time!
    I'm very close to my 100 titles for 2011, but out of all these I only bought 3; and only 1 of them was bought in 2011. I get most of my books, on paper, audio or ebooks from my fantastic pubis library, and I get a few others through egalley and the like

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  9. That is an impressive TBR! I think I'll refrain from totaling up my own number and I'm afraid to know....

    Good luck with your quest to buy no books! I probably should join in, as I'm out of shelf space, but alas I have no willpower.

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  10. *Scott: Ha, your plan for 2012 actually sounds a lot like my plan for 2011! As a side note, all three copies of Banffy's Transylvanian Trilogy (in Spanish, though) are supposed to make it through my door before the end of the year thanks to your encouragement. Should I just send you the bill? :D P.S. There seems to be a wave of interest in Lezama Lima all of a sudden, by which I mean that you're at least the second blogger to mention Paradiso after Obooki mentioned it as a "theoretical" Lat Am readalong title for next year. In any event, hope Santa delivers on the sequel for you. Cheers!

    *Lizzy: I'm definitely more foolish than brave, but I guess
    the real test of the matter will come when I see if I can meet my goal during the lean times ahead. The magical number seven was decided on with input from the Mayan astronomical calendars...and the fact that that number would allow me to buy one new book every two months plus a bonus one somewhere along the line for the inevitable breakdown. Anyway, thanks for the visit!

    *Words and Peace: Thanks for the encouragement and the visit! It's actually really cool to hear how well you use your library and how good you are at using all the free resources available to you (I imagine I have many of the same ones but don't take advantage of them often enough). But only one title purchased in 2011? Impressive!

    *Amanda: I'd put off totaling my own numbers for a while, but in the end I got too curious. Since neither of us has any willpower, though, I think you should take advantage of my planned buying slowdown and permit yourself to buy twice as many books next year just to keep the economy alive. Cheers!

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  11. I'd join you in the non-book-buying, but I just know there'll come a moment next year when I'll be standing in a shop and there'll be a book I really want and I won't see the reasons for imposing these strange rules on myself.

    The elitist disdain has become my salvation too after the last few years.

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  12. It's a quixotic but noble mission. I applaud your bravery. with aTBR list in excess of 500 books, I have to accept I will never keep up. I ought to follow your lead, but I feel a responsibility to keep my wish list to a single page.

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  13. I wanted to comment a few days ago on this post but didn't dare leave another cat ralated comment. Here goes anyway. My poor kitty got buried under one of my TBR piles while playing the other day. Lucky no one was harmed but I realized I need to do something about the book buying if the piles start to be a health hazard for the feline friends living with me. But how? I had rules in the past months and it never worked for longer than ...A week? The longest was a 2 month book buying ban but like the true addict I am, the moment it was over I bought twice as many as before.
    I can't believe Simon did that for one year. Pffff.
    Yeah why seven? I would say 12. 1 per month and maybe only new books... altough...
    I will follow your progress.... There are still three weeks in this year to decide what to do...

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  14. Good luck, Richard! I'm sure I could go without buying books for a whole year, but I don't see why I should -- what's the harm in just one quick little book on my way home from work, maybe a couple on the weekend, I could stop any time if I wanted to.

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  15. *Obooki: Your doomsday scenario predicted here is what petrifies me--except for the liberating aspect of the observation that there's no need to apply "strange rules" to oneself should that particular situation arise! Until that day, though, glad to hear that elitist disdain is working its bookly wonders on both sides of the pond.

    *Anthony: I already feel ennobled--or at least more like Don Quixote and less like Sancho Panza in terms of my (book) gluttony--by seeing you apply the term "quixotic" to my quest. Thank you, my good knight! I suspect that my TBR numbers might be closer to yours if I hadn't moved across the country about 10 years ago; I believe I only brought 3-5 books with me, and at least 3 of those remain on the TBR to this day. In any event, I love your rationale for only maintaining a one-page wish list and will keep that in mind for justification should this present mission turn out to be a failure. Happy reading!

    *Caroline: I'm so glad your kitty survived that scare because I wouldn't want to have been laughing so hard over something that ended so badly! Maybe you just need more bookshelves and not fewer books, though? I only lasted a little over one month on my one attempt at a book buying ban last year, so there's no data to support the idea that I'll be able to limit myself to seven purchases in one calendar year. 12 (or really, c'mon, 24) would be a more reasonable number as you suggest, but I did some extra book-buying very recently so I felt the need to limit myself a bit in the future. Cheers!

    *Isabella: Thanks for your support and the undeniable logic behind the expression "I could stop any time if I wanted to." LOL, so true! I mean, I could always go on weekly book-buying rampages each weekend just as long as I'm able to show up for work without any ill effects on Monday, right? It's not like I'm hurting anybody or anything. Anyway, thanks for giving me another escape route should I need one--you're a true pal!

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  16. Richard - Congratulations on hauling in the Banffy books at last. I'll be very curious to know whether they're a translation of Thursfield & Banffy-Katalin's English translation or of the original, since the English translation is rather particular (and its translators probably deserve nearly as much credit as the author).

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  17. *Scott: The Spanish translation of Banffy is direct from the Hungarian, but thanks for pointing out the special attributes of the award-winning English translation anyway (my library has the English version, so I'll be able to compare notes and read the intro you mentioned elsewhere when time permits). I prob. would have gone with the English translation if that copy of the first volume in the trilogy hadn't disappeared within a day of me thumbing through it at the bookstore or if the new prices for it hadn't shot up so quickly online, but I rarely mind having additional excuses to work on my Spanish anyway (plus the Spanish editions, from the Barcelona-based Libros del Asteroide, are quite striking in terms of the design and paper content). Cheers!

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  18. Hello! I cannot tell you how happy and relieved I am to see your TBR list. I dread to think how long mine is, as I am too idle to write it down; it is not as intellectually impressive as yours though.

    I have tried restricting book-buying in the past, but it only led to dreadful binges which left me full of misery and self-loathing and often surrounded by books I didn't actually want to read that much. The only things that have helped have been moving abroad to a country whose language I am as yet useless at and so whose books I am unable to purchase, and losing my job thus becoming Poor. These may not be options you care to pursue.

    Which is a dreary way of saying good luck! I am new to your blog and enjoying it.

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  19. I can breathe a sign of relief. Your list is longer than mine if I don't count the virtual TBR pile I've created on at my public library website. As for limiting buying books for a year I would be happy to join in except for all the credit I have accumulated at several used bookstores around town. Wait. Maybe used books don't count...Do they count?

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  20. With the publishing industry in such dire straits, there just isn't any room for book buying bans (however, holy god you have a long list).

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  21. *Helen: First, thanks for the visit! I discovered your blog recently and really enjoy it. Secondly, the post book-restriction book binge is something I worry about--practiced as I am in the binge part already--but I hope to reduce my backlog to a more manageable number at some point in time. Not sure if this will work, but I thought I'd give it a try. A large TBR does seem like a good back-up plan to cope with those two "successful" options for book cutbacks you mention, but I imagine it's prohibitively expensive to move books abroad plus that second option's no fun in any country. Happy reading to you in any event, though!

    *Gavin: I get the sense that my TBR size is only in the middle of the pack for most book bloggers I know, so no need to worry if yours is smaller (and "virtual" lists don't count since you don't have to store them). I don't generally buy used books these days, but I would count them against my 2011-2012 totals if I did--"new" books meaning anything I don't already own--except in the event that I had store credits like you or if somebody sent me a gift card to use on new books: those shouldn't count at all. Free choices, I say!

    *Selena: Don't think I haven't already considered the impact my book-buying restriction might have on the local economy next year: I'm told that booksellers as far away as NYC are already trembling in fear! In the meantime, I'd still like to get my own list down to a more reasonable number so it doesn't become a magnet for an OCCUPY MY TBR movement or anything like that. Cheers!

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  22. good luck I hope you can do it but not sure why I just buy until mrs stu moans then get rid of some I ve read and carry on buying

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  23. Ooh I am trying to cut back a bit myself, but I fall every time for that 'must support the publishing industry' argument. If I want it to stick around in troubled times, I feel I have to do my bit. The fact I am a book addict is merely tangential... But encouraged to see the cover of Musil here and your stated intention to buy volume two. I am SO going to read that book next year (I've given up on December as a time for serious reading!).

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  24. @Richard - you always make me laugh! occupy my tbr is what i'm going to start calling me list, i think. how clever!

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  25. *Stu: Thanks for the good luck--I'll need it! By the way, your book buying technique sounds like my usual one except for that innovation of yours of getting rid of books on occasion (the horror!)...

    *Litlove: I'm afraid I didn't word my post very well since vol. 2of The Man without Qualities is actually the last book I purchased this year (still waiting for some online "friends" to arrive, of course). Hope to start vol. 1 of the novel very soon, but I'm also trying to revisit an abandoned title or two before the end of the year just to clean up the blogging and reading books. Anyway, love that "the fact I am a book addict is merely tangential" economic argument of yours and will resort to it without shame should my will to stimulate the economy outpace my will to cut back on consumption for a while. Cheers!

    *Selena: Ha ha, thanks--the Occupy my TBR hashtag is all yours then! :D

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  26. I haven't made any announcement (except to me) but I'm working on something similar. I own a lot of wonderful books, and I really, really want to read them. I need to not spend the money. I need to read what I own. I have no willpower either, but I think I can, I think I can.

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