Books, Books, Books / Flourishing

Buying No New Books in 2022

. 3 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Buying No New Books in 2022

A lesson in self-knowledge

How It Started

I have a nice library, containing many hundreds of books. Maybe 1,000 – even after I Marie Kondo’d 29 boxes of books as a Covid project. And I’ve read only about half the books in my library.

At the end of 2021, I had a thought.  Rather than buying new books in 2022, I would use my library as my own Amazon. Whenever I wanted to buy or read a new book, I would find an unread treasure imploring my attention on my own shelves. And if I came across a book I wanted to purchase, I would add it to my Wish List and consider buying it in 2023.

As I saw it, I would gain in three ways from this idea.

  • I’d save money by not purchasing new books.
  • I’d save time by not searching for new books on Amazon and other sites.
  • Resolution in this area of life would buttress my discipline in other aspects of life.

How It Went

Firmly committed to this plan on January 1st, I girded myself for the inevitable temptation.

I knew I would come across book ideas in podcasts, newsletters and among friends. Their recommendations would undoubtedly undertake to cajole me into a purchase, but I resolved to hold out. Remain strong. Be a rock.

I lasted until January 6th.

Wouldn’t you know, I had to have the paperback version of a book I’d read 10 times. It contained a new Preface, and I needed – to the core of my being –  to read those three new pages for research for a newsletter article.

One leak in the ship. No more, I fortified myself. One lil paperback, and I got back on track.

I lasted until January 15th. A copy of the World Almanac 2022, which I’d given to my uncle as a Christmas gift. It seemed to repose such cool, amazing stats and facts – I’d probably need it for writing research too. Right?

I lasted again until January 22nd. A thesaurus. Because who can write without a trusty thesaurus?

How It’s Going

Then, dear reader, the invading horde breached the wall.

Not pictured: Books purchased since article publication


In retrospect, perhaps, just perhaps, this idea was doomed to failure from the start.

It did provide a valuable lesson in self-knowledge.

The main lesson: I love books. I have loved books since reading the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown at age six. I love exploring humanity and life through books. I love confronting new books. By that, I usually don’t mean ‘newly published.’ I mean ‘new to me’ – most are really quite old. Buying a new book creates a wave of hope and excitement deep inside me. I feel eager to unlock that book – to wrestle with it – to argue with it – to ponder it. To see what divine spark of knowledge it contains.

By joining my library, the book becomes, in a sense, a small part of me. The reading is the main thing, yes. But the sheer proximity to me creates a connection. At least, that’s my distinct inkling.

More than almost anything, I love engaging with the ideas contained in books, as a way – hopefully – toward greater wisdom about our world and myself.


Images created by Olivia Lund.