Hello everyone! How are you all doing? I’ve been doing some blog hopping, catching up on all your wonderful posts, and it inspired me to finish this post that has been gathering dust in my drafts. Does anyone else do that? Write 70% of a post then abandon it for ages? (My dog keeps pawing my keyboard in demand of tummy rubs while I’m trying to write this. +++++ < I think he’s trying to say hi 🐶)
Anyway, on to the post!
Over the last year, I developed a really bad habit. It happened after I discovered Bookstagram, then in turn Goodreads. Suddenly, after spending a lot of time away from reading, I was catching up on the releases I’d missed, being bombarded with recommendations. And so…
I started buying books. Lots and lots of books. Everywhere I went, it seemed I was just on a mission to accrue as many titles as possible. Now, I’m not rich. I wasn’t raiding every Waterstones I walked past, coming out ladened down with new releases. Charity shops, discount book stores and supermarket book aisles were my friends. I frequented World of Books (a used book website) and was always on the lookout for a Kindle sale. Now you might be thinking “that sounds great!” I mean, I was getting a whole load of books without breaking the bank.
But the thing is, I started buying books I didn’t even really want to read. My reasons for purchasing grew more strenuous – “I’ve read a good review of this.” “I’ve seen this cover online.” “I know this one is popular.” I wasn’t buying books I wanted to read, I was buying any book I’d ever heard of. And it didn’t get me anywhere good.
Soon my bookshelf was full, and rearranging it to fit more titles became my new hobby. I spent longer shopping for books than I ever did reading. That, or scrolling down Goodreads trying to find something new. And it sucked. Reading is a fun hobby, but I was turning it into a goal. Having this sheer number of unread books staring at me was starting to become overwhelming. Then one day, I decided it was all too much.
I pulled down all the books I didn’t want to read – everything I’d tried but DNF’d, all the titles I bought purely because they were cheap and they were there. They all got put into a bag, set aside to sell or donate. I’d been in a toxic mindset, thinking I needed to have lots of books to be a good bookworm. That’s simply not true. The only thing a bookworm needs to do is read.
Once my shelf contained only books I wanted to read, I counted them all up and wrote them down on a sheet. This was now my TBR in its entirety, the piece of paper I would
live read or die by. Then I took the most drastic action of all – I banned myself from adding anything else to it.
I’m no longer allowed to buy new books. Until that unread pile shrinks, I can’t add anything new to it. And it’s not a ‘read one, buy one’ sort of deal either – I want to actually get through these books, not just read them so I can buy more. There are only a few exceptions in this contract I’ve made with myself – I can buy sequels to books I finish, super highly anticipated releases, and the occasional graphic novel.
So far, it’s really working! When I pull something down off my shelf that’s been sitting there for a while, the anticipation is greater, there’s a feeling of ‘finally!’, and the memory of when I first got the book comes rushing back. Crossing titles off my TBR feels like a real achievement, and it gives me a goal to work towards.
I know as a blogger that it’s hard to ignore the pressure to keep up with a constant stream of new releases. It feels like you need to read what everyone else is reading to stay relevant. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and it sometimes seems like you’ll never tackle the dreaded TBR pile, then let me remind you: you don’t. You’re allowed to read what you want. You’re allowed to blog about what you want. In fact, blogging about backlist books that aren’t being featured on every other blog makes you stand out. You’ll be bringing fresh and interesting content, getting the word out about books people might not have already heard of. So if you feel like you need a break from the new releases, if you want to tackle the books you already have, I encourage you to do it. I’m happier for it.
How do you stay on top of your books? Are you addicted to buying titles then never reading them, like me, or are you a magical unicorn who keeps on top of everything on your bookshelf? And most importantly: would you survive a book buying ban???