What a diet book taught me about my eBook spending
May 29, 2014 | 2:25 pm
By Joanna Cabot
It seems like every year, I read a book which is ostensibly about one thing, and then turns out to be about something else. Last year, it was a book about autism that turned out to be about the internet. This year, it was a book about sugar that gave me a wake-up call about my ebook spending.
The book was Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub. The author, horrified by a YouTube video on the effects of sugar on the body, resolves to cut out all refined sugar for a year. She brings her husband and two small daughters along for the ride, and chronicles their no-sugar year in the memoir.
The book was very well-done, and did make me think about my own (excessive) sugar consumption. But the really interesting part was the conclusion. Schaub finds that her taste buds adapt during the no-sugar year, to the point where she can’t even enjoy their monthly treat dessert. But instead of celebrating this change, she mourns it. She doesn’t want to be the person who can’t even enjoy a slice of birthday cake at a party. She doesn’t want her kids to be so fearful of the ‘evil’ sugar that they feel shame or anxiety when they ‘cheat.’ She resolves to let sugar back into her life, but in a moderated form—if something is fabulous, it’s fine to indulge and enjoy. But one should not waste their sugar allotment on stuff that isn’t even worth it.
I think, approaching the six-month mark of my Year of no eBook Spending, that it’s time to reach the same conclusion as Schaub. Buying an eBook is not evil. There is nothing wrong with doing it. It is a hobby I enjoy, and I have brought it to an affordable level by at last finishing off some unread purchases and bringing me to-read list to a manageable state. But there are books I bought which alas don’t interest me now, and there are books I want to read which do interest me. Why am I not allowed to get them?
I do have some already-purchased books which I still want to finish. And I do want to remain conscious of my spending and keep it to a modest amount. But I think Schaub has a point—about sugar, or indeed about any vice one has—about saving up for the good stuff. Instead of spending on little $1.99 deals of the day and accumulating book upon book, maybe I need to just save and spend for the ones I really do want to read. Maybe those cheap little dealies are the book world equivalent of the cheap sugar cereals and processed breads, the snack crackers marketed to kids and so on. Why waste your sugar quota on ketchup when you can have birthday cake instead?
I’ll finish out the summer no-buying, I think. I have time to read then, and I can make an honest go at finishing off the past purchases which still do call to me. But then I am going to let my spending guilt go and take a hard look at my wishlist again. If there is a book I want, and I can’t find it via my public library, I’ll buy it, and read it, and enjoy.