Impulse Shopping – What’s Your Weakness

Okay, fess up. What is it? What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to impulse purchases? Candy bars by the register? Delicious smelling candles? Workout clothes? Shoes? Tell me!

For me… it’s books.

I’m a book hoarder. No doubt. I love books, I love to read, I love, love, love them.

My aunt likes to tell this story about when she babysat me when I was younger. I think I was about 8 or so and she was staying with us for the night. She put me to bed and went downstairs to watch TV. A couple hours later she comes back up to check on me and I’m… gone. Not in my bed, not anywhere. She panics for a moment before noticing a light coming from my closet.

I was in my closet, with a flashlight and a book, hiding out so I could stay out late to finish my story.

I was a weird kid.

Anyway, that compulsive need to read hasn’t quite gone away for me. But other things tend to get in the way of my reading time – like work, and work, and this blog, and attempting to have a life… you get the picture.

And while I still read more than most people I know, I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. Unfortunately, I still buy books the same way I used to when I read more.

“Oh!” I think, “That books looks interesting! Sold!” The book could be in the checkout line at the grocery store in the cheap romance novel section. Or it could be a Kindle book that was “recommended for me.” Or it could be a book someone mentioned to me in passing that I then make a note of and purchase it with 1-click the next time I’m in front of a computer.

It doesn’t matter. I just fucking love books, okay?

But I spend a lot of excess money on books! It’s especially insane when you figure the number of unread books I still have in my house or on my kindle! It’s most especially crazy when you realize that I have all these unread books and STILL choose to re-read some of the same books over and over again!

So, what do I do? How do I get a grip on this habit?

First things first – I head to the library.


When I was younger I used to go the library with my mom and I had a special book bag. I’d load it up with 8 or 10 books and then plow through them all in the 10 days before they were do back to the library. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s fun to rediscover that sense of wonder and excitement I had about a trip to the library.

Step 2- I turned off 1-click ordering on my Kindle.

I had to! It was consuming my soul! By making it that much harder for me to secure instant gratification, I can stop about 50% of my impulse purchases. That helps

Step 3 – I turn to my Goodreads account

It might seem counter-intuitive to go look at all the books my friends have read, or read reviews of books, or read the blog posts of authors I like when I’m trying to NOT buy books. But hear me out.

I have been using Goodreads for a long time. I’ve got lots and lots of books on my virtual shelves. That means I can keep a log of what I’ve read and when. I can see all the books I’ve put in my “Want to Read” pile – and I can watch that number keep growing and growing.

I can also see all the books I’ve marked as “Currently Reading” and if it turns out I’ve got a month or so without making progress on it, I’ll throw it in the HPB pile for later. I used to try to finish every book I ever started. But after a long slog with the unabridged version of the Count of Monte Cristo, I decided I couldn’t handle that anymore. Life was too short to read bad books.

So I remind myself of all the other books I have waiting for me to read and I try to turn to one of those books instead of picking out a brand new book.

There it is. My secret shame. What do you impulse buy? Tell me about it in the comments? Do you have any tips or tricks for staying away from it?

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