What do you usually give up for Lent? Chocolate? Carbs? Social media? This February, literature lover Lizzie attempts to take on the arts student’s ultimate weakness – the penchant for buying books. For forty days and forty nights Lizzie will be going cold turkey: no late night Amazon purchases, no Waterstone’s visits, no charity bookshop detours. Throughout this time she will be documenting her progress to see if it is truly possible for an arts student to live without buying books.

Before starting…

I’ve never given up anything for Lent before. Talking with friends, we have often discussed what would be the most difficult thing to give up, gin, Netflix and chocolate making the top three. As the idea of giving up those essential things filled me with dread, I thought I would try something a little different. But what would still be difficult to give up? My first thought was initially Costa coffee but, then I realized that was just plain crazy and dismissed it.

So I thought that giving up buying books for the 40 days would be the next best thing. Being an English student I can’t give up reading (as that would mean failing second year and/or going insane) but buying books (not needed for my course) would be enough of a challenge! It would be a lie to say that I spend all my student loan on books, or that I am a complete and utter book buying addict, but I am guilty of more than my fair share of reading for leisure when I get the chance. I imagine that I spend a large amount of money on books, although I am not entirely sure how much. Even if they just sit on my bookshelf ignored until the summer, I still end up buying them anyway like some sort of collector. So with this in mind, giving up this semi-excessive book buying is going to be tricky!

The rules are simple, I can browse as many bookstores or online shops as I like as long as I don’t actually end up buying any books. I did think about trades but then realised it would defeat the point. I probably couldn’t have picked a harder challenge for an English student – maybe giving up coffee would have been a better idea.

Week 1

Ok so my first week went pretty well, if you don’t include the fact that I ended up spending an obscene amount of time in between lectures in Portland’s Blackwell’s.  Although I comforted myself with Costa, I actually managed to resist buying any books. I also noticed that the amount that I spent on coffee must have tripled to compensate for the extra money in my purse due to this challenge, but rather than saving me money (which I thought would be an added bonus of this challenge) I’m back to square one, spending money I shouldn’t on things I don’t really need.

“Overall, not a bad start to the challenge, but am hoping next week will be better…”

Eventually though, I managed to drag myself away from all the books in Blackwell’s, having first made a metal list of all the ones I want to buy, and made it to my lecture only slightly late. Netflix has become a welcome distraction to replace all the time that I used to spend browsing books and book-themed merchandise on Amazon and Ebay, or even my favourite, Waterstones. Overall, not a bad start to the challenge, but am hoping next week will be better… These 40 or so days are going to drag.

To be continued…

Lizzie Robinson

Image author’s own

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