My name’s Victoria and I have a problem.
It’s been 24 days since my last relapse, don’t look at me like that, I’m not proud
It started, as all torrid tales of tragedy and redemption do, with a spontaneous move
to the City of Love. Now, I know this sounds like a Jojo Moyes novel but stick with
me. Paris is the epitome of ‘all that glitters is not gold’. After four years there, I was
bored, I missed home, and I was paying an extortionate amount for 24sq meters of
living space – not exactly room to breathe, let alone to own much in the way of
In this tiny living space, I had two 2×4 planks spray painted black acting as humble
bookshelves. Staring at it every day (in 24sqmeters there’s not much else to look at)
I dreamt of what could be. Since I was a child I had always wanted to own my very
own library and this poor imitation just wasn’t living up to 10 year old me’s
expectations. I needed floor to ceiling book shelves filled with my favourites old and
new, I needed one of those sliding ladders Belle jumps on in Beauty and the Beast, a
mini-fridge, rabbits, hamsters, chinchillas, 10 year old Victoria did not discriminate.
Anyway, 17 years on from the birth of my dream, in light of Paris’ paltry excuse for
my personal library (and ideas of personal space)
I have developed the tendency to…shall we say…over-indulge in the book department.
If I have to be honest, I have over 500 books and that number, until this January, was growing at an exponential rate, the likes of which can only be compared to the time-to-books-on-the-floor ratio when a day care group enters the children’s library. Yup, it was that bad.
When my books filled my shelves and started to pile up on the floor to about thigh-
height (I’m 5ft 10 if you’re wondering) and we booked (pun intended) a rather
expensive holiday, I decided something had to be done…well my boyfriend decided
(begged) that I had to stop, but this is my blog post so I’ll pretend, in a moment of
altruistic realisation, that it was all my idea.
I instigated a book buying ban. The total anti-thesis to what had become my life, I
was allowed to buy a total of zero books a month, and here’s the crux of what I’m
trying to say; I started to look more to the library to get that quick fix when I was
feeling the aching withdrawals of no new books. I should add that I’m also taking part
in the 100 book challenge, and realistically buying those 100 books would have been
unreasonable (along with all the others I’d probably impulse buy on the way to the
Borrowing from the library has meant I’ve read so much more widely than I would usually, because I’m not concerned with how the books will look on my shelves, or if I’ll really love the story. I haven’t thought of books in terms of ‘are they worth the money?’ because guess what? The point of the library is that it’s free and accessible for literally anybody.
I don’t think I’d fully understood the beauty in that before I was using it out
of necessity and not for a fun diversion. I can safely say I have read so far out of my comfort zone, I don’t have one anymore. I’ve experienced authors, genres, and stories I never would have if I’d continued the way I used to, I mean I even gave Mills and Boon a go! (Don’t bother) I’ll list some of my favourite library-found reads below, I promise you won’t be disappointed in them (did I mention I have excellent taste?)
Now if you’re still with me, and if you are, well done you because I have waffled like
a waffle house on two-for-one waffle Tuesdays, I’m bringing this all to a close with
this thought; If I had bought every book I’d read from the library since my book buying ban started, I would have spent over £800 in 5 months just on books. Books I could get for free!
Let that sink in. Don’t focus on the ‘oh my god Victoria, you would have spent how
much?’ Just focus on the matter at hand, yes I’ve relapsed here and there, I have
ended up buying the books I’ve truly loved the experience of reading but at the end
of the day,
because of the library, I have saved over £800.
Roll on holidays!
Here are the books I’ve loved, and never would have read without the library and my
book buying ban:
Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Shirley Jackson – The Lottery (just eleven pages of WHAT DID I JUST READ?)
In fact, just try every Shirley Jackson title.
Philip K Dick – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Jonathan Stroud – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co)
We would love to hear some of your ‘bookish’ confessions – leave a comment below!