So I recently did the Book Buying Tag and was horrified when I counted the number of unread books on my shelf and realized I had more than 60 unread books. It really got me examining why I buy the books that I do and whether or not I need to change my buying practices (spoiler alert: I do).
Now, I realize that 60 might be a small number compared to a lot of other book bloggers and booktubers (I recently watched a video where the booktuber had a TBR closet!), and I know a lot of people like having a large selection of unread books to pick from. If you’re one of those people, that’s awesome! I’m in no way trying to shame you for having a bunch of unread books on your shelves. You do you!
But have you ever critically analyzed your physical TBR? I always vaguely knew I wanted fewer unread books on my shelves, but I never really stopped and considered my buying practices before I counted all of my unread books, which is what led to this post.
For me, 60 is just too many. Having so many unread books on my shelves makes me feel guilty about reading books from the library or buying new books when I’ve got so many books on my shelves that have been there for ages. But not reading the newest books or books that friends recently recommended also makes me feel like I’m missing out, so it kind of spirals in an endless circle.
I know some people just put the guilt aside and don’t let their physical TBR shelves stress them out, but I think mine cause me stress for a reason: I know it doesn’t make sense for me to have so many unread books on my shelves. Books are meant to be read! Why am I buying these books if I’m not going to read them right away? Plus the longer a book sits on my shelf, the less likely I am to be excited to pick it up. And if I’m interested enough in a book to buy it, shouldn’t I be prioritizing it over any other books I want to read?
Looking over my physical TBR shelves has also shown me that I’m not buying the books I want to be reading. I’ve actually purchased a lot of books because I got a good deal on them through Book Outlet or (rare) library sales. But I don’t buy other products solely because they’re on sale, so why should I do so for books? Even if it’s something I’ve heard of and would like to read eventually, I know that the longer a book sits on my shelf, the less interested I am in reading it. In that case, I’d be better off saving the money I spent getting good deals for a bunch of books I might not read and instead using it to buy full price books that I plan to read immediately. That strategy also allows me to be more excited about the books I’m reading.
Plus, I live in New York City; I do not have space for more books! I already have them squirreled away all over my tiny apartment. I’m trying to avoid double stacking them or putting them in boxes or piles in my closet, but it might have to happen soon as I continue to accumulate more and more books.
I think it makes a lot more sense to instead keep organized Goodreads shelves of books I’m interested in and prioritize the ones I’d like to buy and read right away. Then I know I’m buying the books I most want to read, and it makes it even more exciting if I do, in fact, find a great deal on a book I’ve been prioritizing. And if I lose interest in a book on my priority shelf before I get around to buying it, then I can just take it off the shelf without having spent money, shelf space, or guilt on it.
My goal is to get to the point where I can buy a new book or borrow a book from the library and read it right away without feeling bad about all of the other unread books on my shelves (and without them taking up room on my shelves that I don’t have!). I’m not sure what number that will be exactly, but I’m thinking somewhere around 20 to 30 books. That number gives me a selection of books across genres that can accommodate any reading mood I might be in, but is also something that can be turned around every few months so that I don’t have unread books sitting there for years. And it will fit on one shelf instead of taking up two whole shelves and spilling over onto a third!
If you’re interested in what’s currently on my shelves, check out my TBR shelf on Goodreads. I’m planning to keep it updated with incoming and outgoing books and will include tallies in my monthly wrap ups of the progress I’m making on shrinking the number of unread books on my shelves.
Now it’s your turn! Do you ever stop and think about your book buying habits? How many unread books do you have on your shelves? Are you happy with that number or do you think it’s too many? Let me know in the comments!