It must be a side effect of not going to church–Lent totally snuck up on me this year. As of this past Wednesday, it’s meatless Fridays and no buying books until Easter. And I didn’t realize it was coming until it was too late to indulge in a last-minute book-buying binge.
The meatless Fridays are a church tradition I continue to observe even if I don’t attend Mass, and they’re really not that difficult to keep unless my birthday happens to fall on one of them (March 29 almost always falls somewhere within Lent, but exactly where it lands changes every year). If I’m going to give up something I’ll miss for forty days, books are prime candidates. Giving up reading would be far too much to ask, though, so I give up acquiring. (Mostly.)
(As an aside, I do still subscribe to the principle of “giving up” something for Lent. There’s been a recent shift away from that toward the idea of “giving more” instead, as my friend Melissa shared on Facebook (via another friend of hers):
“For those of you like me who are beginning the season of Lent, traditionally we talk about ‘giving up; things for 40 days like chocolate, sweets, caffeine, alcohol, etc. Don’t focus on that so much, but think about ‘giving more’…more time to your chilThisWhat I’m reading nowdren, more time to reflect, more time to volunteer, more time for quiet, more time to just slow down. Means a heck of a lot more than giving up a piece of chocolate!”
I see the worth in that, really, and I’d like to try to incorporate that into my observance. However, I was taught that Lent is a season of sacrifice, and I continue to follow that teaching as much as I can, although “sacrifice” seems to be an out-of-favor concept these days.)
The book-buying ban has been my regular Lenten sacrifice for at least a decade now, because it is a much bigger sacrifice than chocolate for me…but in all honesty, it may not be quite the sacrifice that it used to be, given the current state of TBR Purgatory. It might be easier to stick to it this year, now that I live in a town without a bookstore; but on the other hand, e-books and audio offer such easy–and quickly gratified–new temptations. Because I don’t buy them, review books don’t count; I don’t get many of them aside from the ones that come in for “work” these days, though, so they really aren’t a big issue (although they are the “mostly” I referred to earlier).
As Jenn pointed out on Twitter, though, not adding to the TBR does–theoretically–provide an opportunity to make a dent in it. Therefore, I’m undertaking a personal Lenten TBR Challenge along with the book-buying ban. I’m not setting a number, but I do have one goal in mind: getting caught up and ahead of my “work” review deadlines and making room for some “just for me” reading. Sacrifice may not be fun, but it can lead to self-improvement.
A book-buying ban may not sound like a big thing to some people, but I know that here in the Sunday Salon, I’m talking to folks who understand that it really can be one. I value that understanding very much, and that’s why I’m not giving up blogging for Lent; although I will probably continue to be somewhat irregular about posting, I’m not prepared to sacrifice that entirely. And oddly enough, despite my religious lapses and issues with the church I know best, I can’t quite bring myself to give up Lent for Lent, either.