We’re big readers in the Astronomer household. I mean, big readers. Eight full bookshelves in a very small house, with no spare capacity. The problem is, is that we’re also stoney broke, and we (okay, I) have the terrible handicap of being physically incapable of walking past a bookshop without feeling the urge to have a nose about, and once we’re in there, we’re certain to leave with a new book or five. In addition to this (very expensive) problem, we’re both very busy – so any new purchases will get added to the pile of “will read, maybe”. Add in Christmas and Birthdays – I’m still working on making a start on my Christmas 2013 pile – and you may start to grasp the scale of the problem. We’re addicted. It’s expensive. And, terrifyingly, it has to stop.

So we’ve hit upon a plan. Out of the blue, we’ve decided that for a whole year, we’re going to stop. No new books. Not one. Nada. Until we can actually read the ones we already have, we are going to cease buying new books. I want to be able to get to next January and proudly (!) say that I didn’t buy a single book this year – a boast I never, ever expected to make.

This means that we’ll actually be able to read all the books on our shelves – or, if not all, at least make a decent dent in the pile. It’ll also encourage us to widen our reading choices – she’s more likely to read mine, and vice versa. Mrs Astronomer has already read one of my military history books (A Brilliant Little Operation – The Cockleshell Heroes and the Most Courageous Raid of World War 2, Paddy Ashdown) which she thoroughly enjoyed, much to my surprise – not normally her thing!

We have set upon some rules, just to keep things fair:

Free books on kindle are fine (Going to read a lot of classics this year, I think).

Birthdays and Christmas are fine (but probably doesn’t help).

George RR Martin’s Winds of Winter is also fine, because we’ve all waited long enough.

But otherwise, that’s it. A tough challenge, but we think we’re up to it. We’ve calculated that we probably spend just shy of £750 a year on books. That’s far too much. I’m eyeing the stack of books I still need to read with grim determination. This year, I will read them all. I will finish the pile. First up is Rory Stewart’s The Marches, which I’m halfway though and is a brilliant take on his relationship with his late father (a 90 year old former colonel and spy), on Empire, the British landscape and reconciling deep rooted Britishness with a overpowering Scottish identity. Like all his work, it’s extremely well written, and if you’ve never read any of his stuff I highly recommend The Places In Between – his account of his trek across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001-02 is a very good place to start.

All that writing about books has left me with a bit of an urge to buy new books. I’ll be honest, it’s been two days and I’m already close to breaking out into cold sweats….

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