Rant about my TBR

Posted July 26, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 24 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about my TBR piles lately. I have this weird love-hate relationship and at the moment I’m feeling very stressed over it. You know that feeling you get when you see the piles of books you have on your shelves to read and you get that feeling that you have books coming in faster than being read? How do you deal with that?

I recently watched a vlog about killing their TBR and taking a minimalist approach to their bookshelf. I love that idea but I can’t help but feel like that would never work (for me anyway). I buy or receive books and I have every intention of reading them but then more books come in and those are new, exciting and shiny and they distract you from the books you already have.

I’m not the kind of person that can just organise my reading and have a pile of books to read and not waver. When I finish one book I tend to pick up whatever I’m in the mood for at the time. I love this reading on a whim approach to reading and it takes me through some interesting journeys but it isn’t very efficient. What about all those ARCs that I should be reading or those new books on my bookshelf? I have to force myself to read my book club books at times and that isn’t really ideal but it needs to be done.

This is a bit like a rant at the moment but I don’t know the answer, what should I do with my TBR? I’ve thought about culling my bookshelf and even getting rid of books I’ve not read just so I can have room for new books but that sounds scary. I know I can buy the book again if I decide I need to read it but giving up books is hard, too hard in fact. I probably can look at my shelves and wonder about some of the books. I know I’ve brought books in the past, excited to read them but then I lose interest and they just sit there waiting. I know it is the hype that is problem but I tend to think that my reading tastes have evolved so much that I’ve outgrown those books as well.

I need to take a year off work and dedicate my entire time to reading the books on my bookshelf; I think that is the only way I’m going to get a handle on my TBR. I’ve tried giving up buying books for a year but that didn’t work, it just forced me to use the library more, and I still use it frequently. I know, as far as problems go, this is a pretty decent problem to have but I just felt like ranting and wanted to know if people had advice for dealing with a TBR that won’t stop growing.

24 responses to “Rant about my TBR

  1. frellathon

    This was my problem for a long time. I was so excited about all the books being offered but then more came in and I got further and further behind. I was so stressed over this and virtually stopped reading because of all else that I had on my plate. I’ve decided to accept very few books now because of it and hopefully keep the stress/guilt of not getting to every book under control

  2. Debbish

    I actually get more angsty about the reviews I have to do AFTER reading. I do stress about books piling up but tend to find the ‘reading bit’ the more enjoyable (obvs!) and then have to force myself to sit and write about whatever I’ve just read in a timely fashion so I don’t forget.

    Having said that I seem to have half a dozen books in NetGalley waiting for me to read them, or none!

  3. sherry fundin

    Hi Michael. Read your interview at Jess’ so I thought I’d come by. I am with you about the TBR, but I am retired and still cannot get to all the books. I just keep adding more and the older ones get shuffled somewhere into my Kindle. I love physical books, because I can see them and move the read from the unread pile to the read pile. Now, the big problem is reviews. I want to review and share them all, even the bad, though thank goodness there are not many of them. Anyhoo, nice to meet you. I will be back. ^_^
    sherry @ fundinmental

    • Michael @ Literary Exploration

      I had to get into a habit of writing every day, it’s a good habit and it helps with reviewing

  4. Violet

    If there is ever an apocalypse and they stop printing books, we will be ok. 🙂 I do undertand the TBR stress, though. Maybe you could trade-in some of the review books that you’ll probably never read, or read again, and concentrate on building collections instead? Not a lot of review books are ‘keepers’ are they? Idk. I get most of my fiction from the library and restrict my buying to non-fiction and classic novels. I’m a bit allergic to paying for a book I’ll only read once and maybe not even like. 🙂

  5. This is something I think about a lot but have never quite been able to manage successfully. I have a huge TBR on Goodreads and what I like about having so many books there is that sometimes I pick a book at random and it makes for a fun way to choose books. But other times, I’m looking at all these books and I don’t know if I’ll even read them all.

  6. Ryan

    I quit worrying about it years ago. I know I’ll eventually get to them, and if there is ever a time I decide I don’t want to read it, maybe my tastes have changed since I picked it up, I have no problem culling it from the herd.

  7. thomasatmyporch

    I think guilt about TBR shelves is often generated by the presence of ARCs and the often silent but implicit publisher expectation that you read and review them. If you were going to free yourself of anything, I say free yourself of the ARCs.

  8. Mishf

    It’s a battle I’ve been having over the
    past couple of years, stressing about my TBR. For the past year, I’ve tried doing something about it.

    I’ve been selective about the books I’ve bought or requested from Netgalley. I’ve had a 1 or 2 of lapses but I’ve quickly realised and gone back to being firm with myself. I’ve also donated books I’ve read, which didn’t appeal to me, to free up some space (exactly what
    Violet said).

    While I haven’t reduced tbr dramatically but it hasn’t increased. And I’ve read some of those books that have been sitting on my shelf for years.

    I think my next step for me is to donate/cull the books I haven’t read and that I’ve grown out of (chick lit and YA paranormal). I’ve been thinking about this so much since it was brought up on twitter (and now with your post), and while hate the idea of departing with them, it makes perfect sense…Just have to find the courage to do it one day.

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