I have not done New Year resolutions in a long time. A reflection of my spending habits, especially in the last three months, have made me realise that I’ve been using retail therapy as a crutch for dealing with stress. For the coming year, I want to develop better financial habits and follow a stricter budget, so I am embarking on a low-buy/no-buy across the board. I won’t bore you guys with my goals for beauty/skincare/clothing etc, but I did want to share my goals book-wise with you.
Why I’m Doing a Low-Buy
Although I have always been a collector of books, but since I joined blogging and bookstagram, I have to admit that my consumption has gone into over-drive. Personally, I don’t have the physical space in my life to store all of these books – and the frequent need to unhaul and donate is a source of constant stress. I can’t help but feel I am being wasteful whenever I do a clean-out, especially if it’s for titles I have not read before. It makes me want to examine the books that I plan to purchase and whether they will become a permanent addition to my collection, or just another source of stress later on. I am currently purchasing/receiving more than I can read, and I felt this needed to change.
I got stuck into a rut where I associated acquisition of new books to the success of my blog, and I forced myself to constantly pre-order new releases despite having a significant backlog of books I have not gotten to. It was not enough for me to acquire an e-book or an audiobook, whenever I loved something I wanted a physical copy, even if I know I would not re-read in the foreseeable future because of my massive TBR pile. This was fuelled partially by my desire to take a pretty photo for social media, but also out of a sense of obligation to the author and publisher of my favourite book – because how could I claim to love something if I did not support it in every avenue possible. This thinking was both outrageously privileged and out of touch, given that I understand perfectly well that there are many avenues to support a book without owning it: promoting it on your blog, talking about it on social media, ordering it at your local library.
Being a blogger, I am also fortunate enough to receive copies of books for review, and this often results in me owning numerous copies of a book. I know that some people in the community enjoys having several copies of a title they love, and I am definitely not passing judgement on that. However, for my current living situation, along with the fact that I never reread books, having numerous copies of the same thing is not viable.
My Rules for the Low-Buy
As book is my main love in life, and blogging is my main hobby, my rules are less stricter than it would be for my clothing/makeup budget.
I am aware that I am financially privileged enough to be able to call the following a low-buy, but I wanted to set myself up for success instead of making up rules I would break within the first month of the year. I am also lucky enough to be in close proximity to excellent libraries and have access to incredible e-loaning services – which makes my goals all the more achievable.
- Buying 3 books a month, this includes pre-orders and both physical and e-books. This can roll-over each month, e.g. if I only buy 2 books in February, I can buy an extra book in March. However, I cannot borrow in advance e.g. buying 4 books in February and promising to only buy 2 in March.
- I will be keeping my Audible subscription (meaning I get one audiobook and a total of 4 new books a month).
- I will be cancelling my Scribd subscription. At the moment, I don’t think the platform is adding any value to my TBR, especially with the way that it limits the number of books you can loan per month.
- Use the library for books on my wish-list that did not make it to the purchase list. I will only borrow a maximum of 4 books a month from the library, because I know I can’t read anymore than that and I want to minimise my risk of incurring fines.
- Publishing at least one book review for every new book that I acquire.
- Reading two back-list title (more than one year old) every month. It’s very easy for me to get caught up in new releases as a blogger, and there are so many older yet excellent titles on my shelf I am neglecting.
- No more impulse purchases, as I find I never end up reading books I randomly pick up on Kindle sales.
- Make a wish-list one month in advance before purchasing/pre-ordering books for the following month.
- When it comes to works of debut authors/authors I have not read before, read at least five reviews from people I trust before putting a book onto my wish-list.
- Before requesting any books for review or accepting blog tours, consider it for one week. Be OK with missing out because I waited too long, it happens.
- I want to make a personal choice to prioritise supporting AoC, especially WoC. Cishet white dudes are at the bottom of my purchasing hierarchy, unless they happen to be Pierce Brown.
- Cancelling all of my subscription boxes. I did not have any interest in the books that ended up in my last subscription boxes. I have also learned that my personal taste for fashion/homeware means that I do not end up using the necklaces/merchandise that ends up in these boxes. I also end up with a hundred different art print that while beautiful, just ends up collecting dust on a forgotten shelf. I know that there are many people who love subscription boxes, and I am so grateful to many of these businesses for commissioning my graphics, however, I have learned that the only boxes I do enjoy are ones that are specifically targeted towards a fandom I like.
- I can only buy one fandom-specific subscription box every quarter, this does not roll-over.
- Likewise, I cannot buy any pins/bookmarks/bookish candles/tote bag/art print – because I have a track record of promptly forgetting about them the moment they arrive.
January 2019 Progress
I started pre-ordering January titles over Christmas, prior to deciding to do a low-buy. Thankfully, I did not breach the budget significantly. However, knowing how easy it was to spend my budget, I need to be more selective in the future.
My January Preorders:
- The Wicked King by Holly Black: This is one of my most anticipated book release of 2019, so it was inevitable it ended up here. As evident, I loved The Cruel Prince. I actually got a copy of the book in the mail last week from Allen and Unwin, which I did not expect. I am immensely grateful for being able to read the book early, but I plan to finish reading it by the end of this week so I can pass the copy along to Alex.
- The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: A heist book set in Belle Époque Paris, written by one of the most talented writers in YA? Yes please. I loved the author’s debut series for its lyrical writing, so I know I will continue supporting her. I decided to get myself a hardcover copy instead of ordering a subscription box, because of my personal issues with subscription boxes listed above.
- Kingdom of Copper by S. A Chakraborty: City of Brass was hands-down one of the best fantasy debut I have ever read, I loved this rich world and its complex characters. I can’t wait to dive back in, but I must also make a promise to myself to reread the first book before diving into the sequel to immerse in the world again. If I did this order after commencing my low-buy, I would have waited until after my reread to obtain this one.
- King of Scars Illumicrate Box: I spent a significant amount of money obtaining this box, and I am still convincing myself it was a good decision. The exclusive Illumicrate edition is bloody gorgeous, and Leigh Bardugo herself had a hand in curating this box. The last Illumicrate special edition box (featuring V. E. Schwab), also came with five items that I adore and use on a daily basis (the tote bag, the key chain, the mug, the water bottle, and the book protector). However, I did not love the original Grisha Series – especially not to the same extent as I love Six of Crows, and the latter won’t be featured in this box. I felt I purchased this as a consolation prize because I missed out on the first Illumicrate Grisha Box. If I was on my low-buy at the time this box released, I likely would not have bought it.
- I have two existing Audible credits, and another due in mid-January. I will likely use one for The Wicked King as I loved listening to The Cruel Prince on audio (how else can you do justice to the litany of ‘Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude’). I am also tempted to get Kingdom of Copper as an audiobook, as I love the narrator in City of Brass. However, I will wait until I reread the book before committing. What do you think I should check out on audio this month?
I also have a few books that I plan to read and review in January 2019, received courtesy of their respective publishers:
- The Girl King by Mimi Yu: This is an Asian fantasy featuring two sisters and their quest for the throne, which sounded very much up my alley. I have an e-ARC of this as well as a finished copy thanks to the team at Hachette Australia. I initially wanted to pre-order this, but after reading 60% of the novel, I realise did not enjoy the book enough to justify owning numerous copies. I will support it by reviewing and promoting it on my social media instead.
- The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden: I love this series, they are the perfect books to sink into during those long and quiet nights. They are the best Russian-inspired fantasy in YA at the moment. However, I need to review both the second and final book this month, as I have not mentioned the book on this blog since The Bear and the Nightingale. I don’t actually own any finished copy of this series, as I usually received e-ARCs or ARCs from Penguin for review. I am still deciding which edition I want to own before making the purchase.
- I am also planning to review The Wicked King, The Gilded Wolves, and The Lost Man in January.
Backlist Titles I’m Reading in January
Here are the two I am waiting to get to this month, one is a novella so it should be easily achievable. I won’t be reviewing these, so they are more an indulgent leisure-read.
- Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan Mcguire: I am listening to this one on audiobook and as always, Seanan Mcguire has me under her spell. The narration also goes perfectly with the whimsical writing style, I am loving it so far and should be done with another couple of gym sessions.
- Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare: I listened to Lady Midnight over the Christmas break and the Blackthorns and Emma Carstair has my heart. I have the next two on audio as well and will be slowly making my way through them over the next few months.
I won’t be borrowing any books from the library this month, because I have plenty to keep my occupied between my pre-orders, review titles, and backlist.
Plan for February 2019
- The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo: Early reviews are buzzing over this historical fiction set in 1930s Malaysia. It sounds eerie and enchanting and a glimpse into the world of colonial Malaysia. I am the first on my library’s waitlist for this, so chances are I will get to it before the end of the month.
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: Early reviews mention talking dragons, queendom, and gay ship galore, so I am very intrigue. However, I did not love The Bone Season and have yet to continue with that particular series. I was impressed by Samantha Shannon’s eye for detail when it came to world building though, so I am interested to see how that translates to a high-fantasy series. I am on the first on the library wait-list for this one as well.
- On The Come Up by Angie Thomas: Come on, it’s queen Angie. THUG was a phenomenon, I can’t call myself a YA Book Reviewer without checking this one out.
- Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte: There are barely any fantasy in AusYA, so I am gonna support what I want to see in the world. Murder mystery meets fantasy is the sub-genre I never knew I wanted. Will consider picking this up in a local bookstore, but I have also requested it from the local library.
- There are couple of titles I am interested in, but will wait for more reviews to roll in: Dark of the West, The City in the Middle of the Night, We Set the Dark on Fire, The Ruin of Kings.
February is a bit of quiet month, which is probably for the best because I need to save up for the releases of March through to May. There are a LOT I am interested in in that period.
Let me know what you are picking up in the coming months and what your reading goals for the new year is! If you have lists of upcoming releases, I would love to see them, as they will be helpful in allowing me to plan out my purchases. I hope you are all having a wonderful 2019 and I hope you will meet all of your reading goals!