How Unemployment Has Changed My Life As A Reader

I used to be the girl who would go to the bookstore weekly and hide the evidence in bags in my car so my family and Will could not comment on the excessive book buying. I hid those bags like dirty little secrets.


I used to be the girl who was constantly buying books online and smuggling the boxes in before anyone could see them.


I used to be the girl who bought books like some people bought lattes.


I used to be the girl who would impulsively buy books she really didn’t know anything about but decided to anyways because somebody on the internet said it was really good.


I used to be the girl who bought books all the damn time. Whenever she wanted. Even when she had shelves of unread books mocking her.


But, as many of you know, I got laid off right before my wedding. I went from working full time and living at home rent free (read: lots of disposable income I should have saved) to being unemployed and now paying for all of the Grownup Things in my own apartment with my new husband. I never thought my time of unemployment would be more than a few months. I thought I’d get a job easily (because I’m freaking awesome?) and be frolicking back in the Land of the Gainfully Employed with my paychecks just burning a hole in my pocket all the way to the bookstore and the clothing store and the makeup store.

But alas, the job fairies have not been kind to me as of yet and I’m still unemployed and, after the first couple months, I realized I had to change my buying habits — with books and in every other area of my life.

Here’s a few ways it has affected me:

+ the amount of books I buy (obviously): I had to severely decrease the amount of books I was buying. I’m talking a lot. I buy a book or two every couple of months now. It’s just not in the budget when it comes to books vs. paying rent. Brand new books have become rare treats to myself or made possible because of gift cards from family. It’s so hard to curb that habit of just buying so many books on a whim and not thinking twice about it. It’s taught me to be a more calculated buyer of books and I find myself spending my money these days on books from authors I know I love or a book I loved as an ARC and know I’ll reread. I still love to go to bookstores but it breaks my heart though I’ve gotten better to appreciate the art of browsing and creepily telling people they should buy books I loved.

+ my relationship with the library: I was a card carrying library patron prior to unemployment but I only went to my library sporadically. Now I go to the library A LOT. I could probably, in this time of unemployment, survive solely on the ARCs that I receive and egalleys I have access to but secret time: I don’t like reading ARCs all the time. I don’t always want to read “what’s hot” and new. I want to browse and find something for myself. I want to check out the backlists of authors I’ve just discovered. I don’t want to feel pressured to be part of someone’s marketing plan all the time. I love my library now and love borrowing books. Even when I get a job, my library is now going to remain a huge part of my reading life and I’ll be forever thankful for a place I can go and get free books from (except for when I don’t pay my fines like I confessed in this post.)

+ the way I deal with book tours in my area: I’ve been lucky that Philly gets some darn good tours and authors coming by. If it was a tour, I typically used to buy one of every author’s book (or more if I loved the author) regardless of if I’d read it and either keep it for myself or give it away on the blog but now I can only buy the ones I know I like/REALLY want to buy.

I like giving back and supporting these tours. Being unemployed meant going to a tour that I wanted to SUPPORT, but hadn’t read any of the authors yet and couldn’t justify buying because Will had lost his job temporarily too, and not getting anything signed and feeling like a jerk because I didn’t buy anything. I’ve been lucky that lots of the tours that have come through have been authors I LOVE so I use my very small book buying budget and am ABLE to buy them (and it happens that Gayle Forman came on my birthday so YAY BIRTHDAY MONEY) and enjoy the signing and support the authors.

+ feeling guilty because I felt like I wasn’t supporting authors: This has been one of the hardest things. Cass just posted about where she talked about supporting authors by buying the books we read and loved as ARCs and when I am not unemployed I pretty much do just that either for myself or for a gift or to donate to a classroom. It’s not the ONLY way to support an author but it’s just a practice I personally like. Buying books is a fun thing in it of itself but knowing with my purchase I’m supporting an author I love makes me happy. I’ve felt so much guilt for the number of ARCs I’ve received and read during my unemployment but have not been able to purchase when I’ve loved them. I know I give back to the bookish community in other ways as I talked about some of my donating practices of my own books to libraries and classrooms when I cull them, but I just kept feeling this guilt for not being able to support these authors. I’ve realized that, in fact, I DO support authors still even though I can’t do it in one aspect I wish I could right now. I talk about these books, I recommend them, I get people to read them or buy them and these are things I KNOW for a fact I’m doing based on readers telling me they bought something because I recommended it or seeing, after posting a book review, that people went off through my affiliate links to purchase it. I have solid proof that I’m still supporting books even if I cannot personally buy as many currently. I also don’t discount the fact that when I donate to libraries and schools I am potentially giving a reader the chance to discover a new favorite author.


I’ve learned a lot during this time of unemployment — I’m better with my money as a whole, I’m less impulsive (and that comes to buying books now too) and I’m very critical when it comes to deciding to buy something. I’m curious if that will stick when I get a full time job but I’d like to think maybe I’d be better about aimlessly spending my allotment of money for books and choose the authors I love, the books I REALLY want to read and won’t let sit for YEARS like some of my books and gift books to people a lot more. I’m really pleased it’s made me fall in love with my library all over again and to be thankful I have a good library with a great interloan library system. So, while it’s been sucky for now, I think I’ve learned a lot and helped some of my habits for the better.

Let’s Talk:

What is your book buying habit like? Have you ever had to give yourself a budget or maybe cut down because of a layoff like I did? Have you reformed from out-of-control-buyer-of-books to a more calculated or less impulsive buyer like I have? Are you just naturally selective of what books you buy?
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’m in the same boat as you! I used to buy books, collect series without even reading them yet, ask for gift cards to book stores. Then my job got cut and I took a lower position, eventually leaving altogether right after I got married/moved. I was jobless for a while and now I work part time, which pays the bills but not the books (or clothes or makeup! lol). I know this isn’t an accurate statement since no money is exchange, but I’m pretty sure I alone could keep my library in business! I have fallen completely in love with my library in the past 2 years! This week I discovered they are starting a teen night, and I actually wondered if it wasn’t all my YA check outs that upped their statistics to make them think they have a huge teen base. When it’s really just this one 28 year old lady!

  2. I’m in the same boat as you Jamie. I am unemployed and any book that comes through the door (ARC, library etc) my dad automatically assumes that I’ve bought it.

    I’ve always loved using the library, but now I use it more than ever. Whether it be for books I really want to read, new releases (especially stand alone books) or ones I’m hesitant on.

    I try to budget for $10 for books, whether that be for kindle deals or bookstore deals (reduced prices on hardcovers).

    I’m also doing a lot more of downloading a preview of a book before I buy the ecopy. That way, it’s still in my library but I know I don’t want to read right away.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re unemployed. It sucks. This is my second round in a 2 year span. But just remember, Libraries are you friend!

  3. Since I start paying back both of my student loans this month I have started to cut back on everything. Because I had to. This has helped me learn to cull books to the point I have a shelf of books that once I read I’ll be okay parting with. Or I’m just getting rid of them because I will never read them. That sounds really stupid to say I found that out when I had to cut back on buying books but I did because I’m finally utilizing what I own.

    I’m even being better about using the library, which sounds stupid because I’m a librarian, but I own enough books to form my own library so I need to start reading them. I am so happy you’re failing in love with your library again. That makes me so happy.

  4. I’m exactly like you were. I live rent free, so whatever I earn is just disposable income, of which I think I blow a lot on books (and craft things). I think though, after a run of a fair few books which I’ve bought and then not enjoyed, I will be joining my library. It seems ridiculous to me that I spend so much money on books that I end up reading once and then passing on. I also think I need to start picking books more wisely.
    Also, I’d totally take a creepy book recommendation from you haha.

  5. This is pretty much where I am right now. I have a really sporadic job right now and most of the money I earn has to go to other important things (e.g. car payment, college money, gas money, etc). I feel rude because I can’t go out and buy books or catch all the latest tours or things like that. But just because I’m on a limited budget doesn’t mean I can’t support the community. If I’ve read something I loved in ARC form or checked it out from the library, I can still recommend the books to people who WILL buy them. It’s all a life matter and I’m sure authors will be much happier if we postpone buying their books in order to keep our homes and stuff.

  6. I’m not unemployed, but I have a pretty low-paying job. It’s full-time, but temporary(it was only ever going to be for a year), so I have to save as much as possible(which isn’t much), to make sure I can transition out of this job and into another one in July, and so between saving, paying rent, etc, there’s not much disposable money there. I don’t really ever buy books brand new–I will buy used, since the bookstore in my town has really great used prices. And I use my library a lot, since I’ve gotten the system of placing holds on books now. This isn’t much of a change for me, though, because before, I was a college student in the same town. I worked part-time the last two years of college, but that was definitely all for rent and such. I have (slightly) more disposable income now, though definitely not by much.

  7. Jamie, this is a gorgeous post. My heart breaks for you, too. I hope you find something soon! As much as I complain about my job not being where I want to/should be in life (especially with a college degree), I’m blessed that I enjoy it, that it’s full-time, that there are benefits. I may not be able to afford to live on my own anymore and remain back home, but I am still very blessed. I try to remember this often when I get down. I hope you find something AMAZING soon.

    And…let me tell you. Working with books all the time and being able to buy them cheaply? It has made my book habit WORK. I expect to buy much less when this situation someday changes!

    I do miss seeing you at more events! I love that you came out to Fierce Reads that day, and was so sad you couldn’t get anything! <3

  8. It was only a year ago that I went from “unemployed” to just “housewife.” Mike and I were struggling, but we were also living at home, so housing expenses weren’t an issue obviously. So I used the library a LOT, and my book-buying was dedicated to used books or bargain books. Unless it was a series or author I was invested in already.

    You are lucky with one thing though, and that is the fact that you have a KICK-ASS library. I seriously miss the libraries in that area because they are amazing and have almost all the new releases I wanted. When I moved to NC, that changed completely. And since Mike and I still weren’t working in the beginning of 2013, I spent the first 4 months or so not buying a single book. It’s tough, but with the ARCs I was getting it was at least easier than it could have been.

    Unemployment is horrible. It’s degrading, almost, all the rejection that you can face while looking for a job. I really hope things start looking up for you in that respect and that you don’t let it get you down too hard.

  9. I am trying to buy a lot less this year because I am getting married in June and also I have many unread books that I need to read. I also use my library a lot. There is a branch about 5 minutes from my house so it’s super convient to go to. It gives me the chance to read a book that might be expensive when it comes out (adult fiction) or try a new author. I also try to only buy books the library does not have or if I read it and loved it I try to wait until it is on sale. That is a few ways I try to save on books because my collection is massive.

  10. Oh Jamie, a girl after my own heart! Let me tell you something scary. I haven’t had a full time job since my son was born almost 15 years ago. I became a stay at home mom because my husband made good money and we thought it was best for our kids (and it was). But the years whizzed by and then my husband’s business wasn’t doing as well. I started really looking for a job about 3 years ago, but lo and behold, no one wants to hire someone who’s been out of the job market for so long.

    I kid you not, before kids when I worked full time, I spent at least $300 or more per month on books! Books are my passion and I collected special signed editions as well as paperbacks and hard covers. But gradually I had to come to terms with maybe buying one or two books a month. It’s been hard, but I’ve sure learned the value of a dollar! Good luck to you, I know that perfect job is right around the corner (and hopefully mine is too:)

  11. I’m glad you mentioned it, because my first thought when I started reading your post: THE LIBRARY! I feel like this is something that people don’t utilize enough (and yes, I am guilty of it too). As promoters of books, I think we need to be better advocates of our local libraries. I am making a change this year and going to visit mine more often. Instead of browsing the shelves at my bookstore, I am going to take a trip to the library. Because like you said, I want to read older titles that may be new-to-me.. so the library is great for that!

  12. Thanks for sharing this. I immediately thought of the Erasmus quote: “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” Best of luck and keep reading!

  13. Last Spring Matt found a new job – better hours, higher pay – and life was great. Unfortunately, by the time summer rolled around (ironically, during the week we had gone away on vacation), he was laid off and since then he’s been struggling to find a new job. This leaves my paycheck the only source of income – and after house/cay payments, utilities, food, gas, there’s barely enough left over. Hell, I feel guilty whenever I make a stop at Starbucks!

    Although I get a crazy discount at work (I pay around $3 for hardbacks, $1 for paperbacks), I’ve cut back. A LOT. Life has a way of forcing you to step back and really think about your priorities. Do I really need this book I probably won’t read for another year? These days, whenever I do buy books, they’re from authors I trust wholeheartedly or books I’ve already read that I desperately need to own.

    & YES to libraries! A few years ago I started going back to my hometown library (hahaha as a child I wracked up fines and was totally paranoid I’d still be in some criminal library database or something). I’m a big supporter of backlists and discovering hidden gems. Luckily for me my library is barely a ten minute walk (perfect during warm weather!) and a super quick car trip when it’s cold.

  14. Sarah (@EscapingSarah) says:

    Jamie, you always have the most thought-provoking blog posts! This made me really think about my own book buying habits and how perhaps I’ve been somewhat irresponsible. Last year, I bought pretty much every single book that I was mildly interested in and now I have a collection full of a ton of unread books. I look at my shelves of unread books and think it’s such a waste that I haven’t been able to read even a fourth of them.

    I am currently a full-time student and so I no longer have a paycheck coming in every two weeks, yet I still have rent and other living expenses that I need to pay. Your post made me realize that instead of blowing my savings from my years of working before going back to school on more and more books that I don’t really need, I should focus on reading all of these books that I’ve accumulated last year. While I’m not putting myself on a strict book buying ban, I do plan on really cutting back on the number of books I buy this year and begin to explore the library more. I have an hourly job through the university (where I only work about 10 hours each pay period) and so I plan on allowing myself to use that, and only that, as “fun money” for books, and leave my savings untouched.

    I really hope you find the perfect job soon. You are so talented, enthusiastic, and friendly, and your blog is one of my favorites out there. Any employer would be incredibly lucky to have you as an employee!

  15. I just about nodded my head off as I read this post! Unemployment sucks. A lot. The job fairies haven’t been good to me either. (Can we threaten them?) I was never a huge book buyer because I was always watching my pennies but for a few years (about four total, I think) I was working at a bookstore and got a 30% discount. Do you know how hard it is to not buy a book when you’re surrounded by them all the time and get a discount? I actually stockpiled a ton of books from that time because I was in university and didn’t have the time to read for pleasure so I STILL have some of those books to read. I don’t even really get gift cards from family anymore since I have a bajillion books of my own to read and am always getting review copies. That’s ok…for now. 🙂 I think the last book I bought for myself was Attachments and I bought it because I STILL haven’t read it (ridiculous) and I was at the ONLY Canadian signing Rainbow Rowell did. I also bought Fangirl because I loved it so and thought my sister would enjoy it as well, even though I borrowed it from the library initially. I live a couple hours away from Toronto and that’s where the majority of author events are in Canada (unless they’re Canadian authors). It sucks but at least I live within driving distance. However, I’ve really had to cut back on the number of AWESOME bookish events I go to because it costs so much to get to the city and into the event. Major suckage. I have also been using my library A LOT this year and it’s been awesome. One of the first things I did when I moved to my new city two years ago was get a library card but I didn’t actively start using it until just over a year ago. It’s a really great system and has a ton of new books. That’s how I read a lot of new releases and series last year! Hm…seem to have gotten off the book buying topic but I thought you’d appreciate knowing you’re not alone!

  16. I know how you feel, Jamie. I was laid off last year and didn’t find a job for 5 months! Now, I found out yesterday, I’m getting laid off from this job that took me so many months to find. Sigh…

    Anyway, I can’t afford to buy books in situations like this either. Can’t afford much of anything actually. Both my husband and I have school debt, a mortgage, and all those other bills. It was very difficult last time and I just hope it doesn’t take as long to find a job this time. It’s very hard, being a lover of all things books, not being able to just buy all the ones I want!

    How long has it been since you were laid off?

  17. Unemployment is SO not fun. I think I bought…maybe 6 books or so in the 8 months I was out of work. One or two were pre-orders I forgot to cancel, and the others were ones I REALLY REALLY wanted (like Thornhill since I LOVED Hemlock so, so much, for example.)

    It’s HARD learning to manage money. But? It’s also a good thing. Even now I’m working, I’ve also had to sort of dial back my random book store binges and really ask myself “do I REALLY want this book?” So it does help, and it’s good to be more responsible. Even if sometimes it’s not fun!

  18. I was unemployed for seven months after relocating with my husband, it was hard. I, too, got to know the library real well. I still use the library as a way to try and curtail my spending, cause it is way to easy to download books onto my Kindle since I don’t feel like I am really paying for them. Then I get my credit card bill….. Best of luck in your job search!

  19. I’m so glad you’ve reconnected with your library — it’s not only money-saving, but for me it’s a great way to discover some older books I hadn’t read. I love just browsing the shelves, reading the descriptions on the back, and coming home with a pile of FREE books!

  20. I have a monthly book budget of $50 (I don’t get many ARCs). I have terrible library habits, but I’ve recently started buying lots of books at Goodwill. $50 goes a long way at thrift stores and I can generally quite a few that I want.

  21. Library is great, and I also recommend the Friends of the Library sales- I always get a ton of books for under 20 bucks. Another thing I’ve started doing is getting on email lists for things like Book Bub- you can enter what kinds of books you are interested in, and what type of software you use for e-readers, and you get daily emails for what books are on special sale. Another lifesaver is amazon prime. You should convince your SO to get it…a lot of used book sellers are fulfilled by amazon, so you can order used books for 2-4 dollars, and get them shipped for free!

  22. I used to do this ALL THE TIME. Like, every single thing you listed. This year, so far, I’ve been really nitpicky about buying books. Well, ever since I had my baby at the end of November, I’ve been watching what I’m spending. Rather than go out and buy all the books each week, I’ll buy one a month, or make sure that I’m buying a book that’s really worth buying. My local library is great, but I already own a TON of unread books, so my goal is to work at those before trying to get other books. And, like you, I could read ARCs and things, but that gets boring after a while.

    Great post!

  23. I never really had a job (4 months, but that hardly counts) and I’m currently studying, so I know it’s hard to not be able to buy all the books you want. It’s especially hard for you since your situation changed so much. I have a budget for myself and I really wish I could find a flexible job, but it’s nearly impossible. Guess I have to wait a little longer, perhaps I’ll get paid for my internship next year.. It’s a good thing you at least learned something from this 🙂 I always like to believe that certain things happen to us to show us something and I’m positive you’ll get a fantastic job!

  24. I have a huge book buying habit, but I blame it on all the truly awesome books that are available.

  25. I completely agree with you – libraries are just THE BEST. I never have the money to buy all the books I want to buy, never mind all the ones I just want to read. It was only recently that I started using my library again as much as I used to when I was a child, and it’s actually so handy!
    Libraries rock socks.

  26. I totally get the unrestrained book buying habit. I’ve had it for years. I was lucky enough to have a job that paid me well enough to support that habit – even when I had stacks of books that I hadn’t read. And I STILL have stacks of books that I haven’t read. I was also lucky enough to be able to retire and still be able to afford to buy books – just maybe not quite as many. Since I don’t drive by the bookstore on my way home from work every day it’s a little easier to avoid the half-hour, $100+ bookstore ‘pit stop’. And I did start going to my local library. Our local branch is quite small, but we do have a wonderful interlibrary loan program from which I can get almost anything I want. My current goal is to read more of the books I already own (some for quite a few years) and buy fewer. We’ll see how long that lasts. It’s just so much FUN to go pick up a bag full of new ones. Good luck on your job hunt!

  27. I think I need to bookmark this post & think about it every time I want to buy anything. Around the new year Hannah posted something about “living with less” in 2014 and I keep trying to remember that. I’m over the 2-mark month from buying any physical books (if I buy Nook books, they are under 5 dollars but it’s been very few and far between since I have a lot of other obligations). I was really just going crazy at the bookstore in the past two years and the last few months have really had me thinking. Why do I need so much? There are easy ways to obtain these things (wait it out to buy it when you have the money, like you did and also borrowing! which I know you do too). I know things are difficult but a lesson like this… it stays with you forever. So I am taking a page from your book (ha) and going to continue to think every day about being picky about what I buy to own. Anyway, longest comment in the universe. We all have to make adjustments and I appreciate you sharing yours.

  28. Even though I have not been laid off from work or lost my job, I am still doing Book Budget posts. I cannot justify spending a ton of money on books anymore. So my goals this year are to read the books on my shelves that I own and haven’t read, limit my spending to $20/month MAX for books and use my library. I still get the odd ARC, but since I don’t ask for any – they are either for blog tours or publishers contacting me. I’m also pickier about the books I accept, so I am no getting hoards of books.

    I think using your library is a great way to still get to read books you love, but save tons of money too. AND I love that you said you get to connect with books that you want to read and not just books of the here and now.

    This was a wonderful post.

  29. I honestly buy way too many books. I have a lot of used bookstores near me, and I usually go bananas there. However, I still love my local library. I have a card with the one where I live and I still have a card with the library in my hometown. I’m always requesting books for them to buy. I figure, if I can’t always buy a book right when it comes out, if I request it and the library gets 5 copies, that’s four copies more than if I just bought myself. And yes, I only buy release day books by a handful of my favorites. Everyone else has to wait a little while before I’ll get theirs. Unless there’s a tour. I’ll reiterate I buy way too many books, and it’s usually because there’s a tour.

  30. I definitely know the feeling. Up until 2 years ago I worked at an art museum that didn’t pay well at all. It was hard to meet all my financial obligations each month, which meant I didn’t let myself have much fun money. I was extremely picky with what I would buy and usually asked for lots of gift cards for holidays! It was also a period where I didn’t read as much as I do now, but it was still hard to make the choices. Especially for adult books, which are always more. I did use the library a lot, which was very awesome.

    Now that I do have more disposable income, I’m freer with my book buying habits but I often feel really guilty! I think that’s left over from when I couldn’t afford to buy any… I don’t think I’m out of control compared to most people but it feels like a lot of books to me! And oh I just love going to the bookstore constantly; Amazon browsing too. I can’t seem to stop and I just stare at books, petting covers, wanting to add them to my collection haha. I’m trying to read the books I already own and haven’t read yet before buying more though.

    I also LOVE going to my local library! A bunch of the branches have great YA sections and the interloan system is great too. I also live close to two other county systems so sometimes I’ll even drive further north to get a library book they have that my local one doesn’t! And if I loved it so much I have to reread it, then I’ll often buy it in paperback eventually.

    So many books, so little time, and so much guilt from different angles! Trying to shake that part and enjoy what I read when I want to read it, and how I want to read it 🙂

    Good luck in your job search, my sister jobhunted for over a year as well and my now husband was laid off for 4 of the first 5 months we dated. We became master of the cheap and fun date! I know it’s difficult but something good is around the corner for you, I’m sure of it 🙂

  31. As you know, we’re currently in the same boat — unemployed and job hunting. In spite of a process that’s sometimes frustrating, I’m still hopeful that only good things are set to come for you and me this year!

    In terms of being unemployed, I’m certainly more careful about how and when I spend my money. I haven’t bought any new books in a while, both because I can’t really afford to and because I still have a ton of books to read anyway. I think it’s actually started to hit me how important it is to budget, whether I’m working or not, so I’m definitely pickier about which books get a spot on the list of “to buys” I’ve got.

    (P.S. The library is the BEST THING EVER.)

  32. I definitely understand what you mean. When I was unemployed (I just got a new job finally. Yay!) I couldn’t buy any books. I still can’t go crazy because Northern VA is crazy expensive to live in. I utilized my library all the time in Washington. I used to go the library all the time when I was a kid but then kinda forgot about libraries or thought they were old-fashioned. But then when I rediscovered the library (and all the crazy technological updates they’ve made) I was in heaven. I could read all the books I wanted for free. I keep a list of the ones I really like and will reread and eventually, as I get the money, I buy those ones. We didn’t have a lot of author events in Washington, but now that I live right outside of DC we do so I will have to kinda figure out how to handle author events and buying books.

    And I totally do that to people in the bookstore! I hope no one thinks I’m a creeper, but I can’t help myself. My husband always hides when I start talking to random people about what books they should buy. Sometimes I think I’m a better bookseller than the store’s actual employees. Lol.

    As always, good luck on your job search! I’m sure you’ll find something soon!!

  33. Girl, I totally am with you on this post. Thankfully I wasn’t unemployed for close to a year, only a few months. But before that, I was literally BARELY making ends meet, having to borrow money from my Dad. There was absolutely no extra money for books, whatsoever. I was thinking about it the other day, I haven’t bought a book in close to 6 months, with the exception of the 2 that I bought with my Christmas giftcard. AND I live in a small town with a crappy library, and no inter-library loaning system.

    I love that this has helped you budget accordingly though! I’m really worried that once I have extra money (just started working again, my first paycheck is next Friday, woot!) I’ll go crazy and spend way more money than I should, just because I’ve been depriving myself so much. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen that way!

  34. When I moved back home last winter the number of books I was buying went way up, even though I had no job. Unfortunately I still don’t have a job and I’ve had to seriously reconsider how I’m spending my money. I have to force myself to look at my bookshelves everyday to remind myself of all the books I have yet to read before I go out buying anything new.

  35. I know what you mean Jaime! Being a college student has made me so much more aware of my expenditures, especially on books. I’ve had to cut back a lot, which makes me a little sad but it has made me aware of the library a lot more. Also, yay for connected library systems, which makes the book possibilities so much broader.

    On the flip side, the budgeting has made me a smarter spender (?) so that’s always good, right? I think it’s also made me closer with my friends, too since we sometimes swap copies of books. Yay for book loving friends!

  36. Jamie, this happens to most of us. It’s a hard thing not to buy anything fun and special for yourself. At least you will still have those books you love to re-read, the library, and other sources of reading material. It’s so hard not to keep buying the new books, but they will be waiting for you when you can afford it.

  37. Love this post!

    And this line made me smile, “Even when I get a job, my library is now going to remain a huge part of my reading life and I’ll be forever thankful for a place I can go and get free books”

  38. I am in the same boat as you! I used to buy books like crazy just because I could and there were so many good ones being released. Now that I’ve been unemployed and job hunting for over a year, I can’t justify buying books unless I have gift cards. Fortunately, my library has had a huge influx of new YA books in the last six months so I don’t feel like I’m missing all the new releases. I hope that you find a great job soon!

  39. Oh I loved this post! So I recently got back into reading last year and after so long without buying books I felt super frugal about buying books. Then as I got drawn back into reading (seriously why did I ever stop) and loving books and getting addicted to series, I bought ALL THE BOOKS. it was bad. it was really bad. Amazon one click? Bane of my existence. It is WAY too easy. So then after looking at my credit card bill and going oh crap, this needs to stop, I cut back and set limits. Especially because I’m a poor dental student and can’t afford it! Even with limits, it’s SO hard for me not to buy books. I walk through B&N and I touch everything and I want everything. Especially when I see new books come out that I’ve been dying to read! The library has definitely been nice and my only problem with it is I tend to hoard library books — oops. So now that I went from buying no books to TOO many, i’ve come to somewhat of a balance – buying ones I love and will reread and trying to use the library more, esp for books I’m not 100% sure I’ll LOVE. I agree about book events! I think the first event I went to after I started blogging, I just got so excited I bought a book from each author there. But it’s really more than I can spend so now I just get 1 or so of the one I REALLY want or the author I REALLY love. it sucks because I mean if i could, i’d obviously buy all of them!

    Sometimes, like for instance the holidays, I lose my mind and splurge on books and now I have put myself on a book buying ban — because I honestly have more books than I can read now! With a wedding coming up this year especially, trying to buy less. It is taking a lot of effort though! Good luck with the job hunt… I am now starting to look and apply for jobs since I’m graduating dental school this year and you’d think sure, I’d be able to get a job. Still so hard…! Good luck!!

  40. I’m sorry you’re still unemployed and I hope that changes for you soon. But yes, this is definitely a time of changing habits and learning lessons. I’m glad you are able to use a good library and have lots of ARCs to hold you over. I too struggle with not buying a bunch of books when an author comes to town. My issue isn’t unemployment, but lack of time to keep up with the 100s of books I already bought in the past few years and haven’t read. So I’m just on a book buying ban because I’m trying to learn better habits. The reasons might be different, but our goals are the same.

  41. I hate being on a budget for buying books, but I am right now and it’s awful. I’m a college student, but I live at home (fairly common in the Netherlands) because my college is in my hometown so I don’t have to pay rent. I’m 21 years old now, but I have had a job since I was 15. I quit when I was 20 to study abroad for a semester. I had a lot saved up then, because of working all the time for five years. But I spent so much, too much actually. I had the best time, but still, now I’m home and jobless. And without all the money I saved. It’s really weird, because I used to always be able to buy so many books and I did it very carelessly. I never stopped to think, is this really necessary? Do I really need this book? It’s hard because I know what it’s like to not be worried about money ever, and now I’m the total opposite. Luckily I have a lot of books I already own and still have to read, but being in this bookish community you see so many new books that interest you and you HAVE to own. But I can’t. 🙁 It’s a tough transition. But I just keep reminding myself that there are other ways to support authors, like you said too! And like you said, it’s probably better to be a selective buyer than the buyer I was before. Especially for my TBR pile 😉

  42. As hard as this time in your life has been for you, it WILL come to an end and you will be a stronger person because of it. It has forced you to learn some important life lessons that are better learned early. I was also forced to learn good spending habits early. I have an automatic transfer take money from every paycheck that goes directly into savings and I give myself a somewhat strict spending budget each month. What money I allow myself to spend I try to spend smartly. I tend to splurge a little when it comes to traveling but I sacrifice a lot in other areas to make up for it. I don’t buy THAT many books and I rely heavily on my library too.

    Try not to beat yourself up over supporting authors. You may not be buying as many books as you like but just by continuing to talk books on your blog and twitter you are supporting and promoting your favorite authors. And once the money starts rolling in again you can always go back and buy all your favorite books that you would have now. 🙂

    You are incredibly brave for sharing your journey with your followers. And I really hope you are able to find a job soon that makes you happy!

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  43. I really love the library and sharing books with friends – it is like a secret club of awesomeness. Someday having a huge library would be really awesome too

  44. When I first discovered Friends of the Library book sales a few years back, I went totally crazy and bought everything that sounded even remotely interesting to me (at paperback copies for a quarter when I was in high school and had tons of disposable income, how could I not?). Unfortunately I’m paying for that now because I have all these books which I still haven’t read and I do continue to buy books which sound more interesting to me now. I just took in a ton of books to my local trade-in bookstore, but then I walked out with a dozen+ books in tow, so it’s an ongoing process. Unemployment is the absolute worst, but it does make you take a long look at your living habits for sure. I feel positive that you’ll find something soon! Best wishes!!

  45. I’m slowly running out of room for books, so I think that will be my biggest obstacle with buying physical books moving forward! They’re definitely not cheap though, so I’ve had to budget myself on how much I can spend on them too. I haven’t been in a library in years (that wasn’t my University library), so I’d be interested to see what the YA selection is like.

    I know the job hunt has been a hard one for you, but I’ve got a good feeling about 2014; with your positivity there’s no way this isn’t your year!

  46. Working at a bookstore is a blessing and a curse for me. Every day I hear the comment, “I couldn’t afford to work here!” I feel like I can’t afford *not* to work there.

    I probably buy 1-3 books a month, most in print rather than e-book version. I just can’t help it; I love books and I love supporting authors I love. I also have a horribly wonderful habit of buying books to make myself feel better if I’ve had a bad day. (What!? It’s better than gorging on chocolate!) There have definitely been times where I try to curb my book buying, but honestly? It’s generally met with little success. The best thing I have going for me is a very understanding boyfriend, haha!

  47. I am still a college student so most of my allowance goes to college-related expenses. I admit I am a very frugal person so I always make sure I am paying my money’s worth. I am very selective of the books I buy.

  48. My book buying habits now are much better than they used to be that’s for sure. I used to buy so many books, just willy nilly, but I have slowly been stopping that. It started in the summer when I got my library card, and I realized that I would have bought most of those books and half of them I didn’t even really enjoy! I then decided I would only buy a book if I REALLY needed it. One of a series that I started, a read it and loved it, autobuy authors… things like that. I’ve been doing much better at keeping the buy monster at bay and I hope it stays like that! I loved reading your story, thanks for sharing it!

  49. I think being broke really does change how you buy things. Like, I am not broke right now, I work full time but I don’t ever spend my money. I used to drive 2 hours in a single stretch to go to book signings, sometimes even farther, but I just can’t justify it anymore, what with my car breaking down recently, paying rent and internet, and more. To me, yes, books are a necessity, BUT I have so many sitting around the house and in my Kindle that are unread, that I would rather let my money sit in my bank account in case I have another life emergency rather than blowing it all on some books I won’t read for 5 years.

    Also, chin up, you’ll find a job. I know it.

  50. I probably bought at least one book every time I walked into the book store, WalMart, Sans, Target.. you get the idea. I’d browse and get so excited for my big bag of books to come in the mail. Amazon too. There were (and still are) stacks of unread books around the house. Then my husband got into grad school.

    We now pay rent, we did own a paid off home. My income alone is a bit less than all or monthly bills now. We’ve moved and I still need reading to burn my down time. Especially since the husband is studying. Reading keeps me quiet so I don’t distract him. But as you know.. times are too right to keep buying.

    So for now, I’m reading free books from the Nook & Kindle store thanks to my mom for getting me a Nook on Black Friday. Yep, I miss holding my “real” books, but we have to keep our sanity somehow right? I feel your pain. Adjusting to only one income and more bills is not a fun adventure.

  51. Great post! As someone with her first big girl job I have been learning how to budget. Over the past few months I have maybe bought 5 books and most were from a used book store. I also only buy books by authors I love or those I’m really excited about. I am thankful to have a great library with lots of copies of the newest releases. I really hope you find a job soon but it’s admirable how responsible you’re being with the money you have. Never let anyone make you feel like you’re not buying enough books or supporting authors. You are one of the biggest book lovers I know!

  52. I used to buy books all the time when I worked at Barnes & Noble, especially since I would get an awesome discount. But now that I work in a library, I find myself rarely buying books. In fact, I can’t bring myself to pay for something that I know I can get for free unless it’s something I REALLY want. I might spend $2-$3 on an e-book now and then, but that’s really it.

  53. Whoa! I had no idea you were in Philly until I clicked your ALA midwinter post off of Twitter.
    Just had to comment because – you can volunteer at the Free Library Author Events, meaning, you can go see the author lectures (FOR FREE) and then meet and assist the authors during signings (win-win-win-win). It’s really easy and the volunteer coordinator at Central is the sweetest and nicest man who ever lived.
    Also, I think there will be some job openings (entry level, alas) at my place of employment (academic publishing, Center City). Shoot me an email and I can forward them as they become available, if that is something you are interested in.

  54. Wow. So funny I should stumble across this post in the discussions, this is my life now. Or to be specific as of October 2nd 2014. My company downsized and unfortunately I was one of those who got let go. Sitting at home (after applying for every job I can possibly find right now) and binge watching Gilmore Girls (thank you, Netflix!) and reading. After the first week, I found myself wanting to interact with humans so I went to our local bookstore. Now imagine my heartache at the fact that…I COULDN’T BUY ANYTHING!! Oh the irony, here I am with this time on my hands now and walking out of a bookstore with nothing in my hands. New all time low, that no one except my bookloving friends could understand. Did I mention I also applied there for seasonal help???

    Now prior to my unemployment, I visited the library maybe once or twice a year. But on my way home from an interview one day I drove past and since there was nothing waiting for me at home but Rory and Paris still battling….I stopped off. And thankfully, my need to walk out the door with books in hand was answered! 6 books to be exact. So now my evenings are spent reading books I would have had to wait to read and saving money at the same time. Oh, and watching Gilmore Girls…must not forget Gilmore Girls 🙂

    • I’m so sorry to hear this! It’s so hard. I know 🙁 It can be demoralizing and every day is a struggle bit it will get better (still telling myself that — I started nannying to make money and am still looking though truthfully not as hard as I should be because I’m just so TIRED when I come home).

      It’s so hard not to be able to buy stuff!! It feels really shitty to be like I CANNOT EVEN AFFORD THIS REALLY SUGARY STARBUCKS DRINK. But honestly? I have realized SO much — even more since writin this post — and have learned how I can live with a lot less. How my closet is full of things I barely wear. How I so easily just swiped the credit card and spent money on a whim. It’s a crappy way to learn a lesson but I’ll take it!

      THE LIBRARY IS THE BEST. I’m telling you…on particularly bad days I would go to the library and do major damage. I would walk out feeling like a BAMF with like 5 or 6 books without actually having to spend any money. I tricked my whole need for retail therapy!


  55. Being a broke student meant I started actively seeking out more indie authors and ebooks, and being careful about what books were on sale when. I have a couple reviews up that were done when I literally had $6 to my name and decided, screw it, I’m going to browse the Nook fantasy under $5 today. My job pays a bit better now, but the habit of looking for indie and epub has stayed.


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