When I wrote the other days’s post about some of the tbr (to be read) books I recently acquired, there were more books in my tbr pile than I could read in a year. I had been hoarding (yes, I used that word on purpose) the books for several different reasons:
- Some were books that I’ve been hanging onto for years with the intention of reading “eventually”
- Some I kept because they were gifts (many of these also fell under the previous criteria and were topics that I was no longer overly interested in)
- Some I was keeping because they’re e-books, which means that I couldn’t pass them on to another reader (i.e. if I deleted them, the money was wasted)
The long list stressed me out almost as much as my old “want to read” list on Goodreads, which was, as mentioned last year, 200 books and growing. I weeded that list and decided to limit the list to about 20-25 books at a time. Though my tbr collection was only about 60 books, that’s still too much for me. It was also a little disheartening as I’d weeded the collection last year. Though, in retrospect, all I did was remove the ones that were easy to get rid of (used books I’d grabbed on a whim at library book sales, free books I’d found in the mini free libraries in my neighborhood, books that I had zero interest in, etc.). This time, I was ruthless and I made myself think hard about why I was keeping some of the books. A lot of the books were ones that I could easily get at the library. Some were books that I only kept because they related to past passions that were now nothing more than mild interests. I even had a few that I had already gotten rid of, but then snuck back in the pile (I’m one of those people who will second guess my decision if I leave things laying around, and I’d taken my jolly sweet time removing the last pile of weeded books from my home – a mistake that I will not repeat).
I made myself weed, weed, weed. This included e-books, which I’ve typically just archived for later because deleting them is just throwing money away (at least with paper books, I can pass them on to a new reader). Thankfully, I tend to only buy two types of e-books:
- e-books that I can download to read on any device with any program (i.e. files that aren’t locked down to specific software)
- e-books with big discounts (think $2-4 books)
I kept all the ones that I could easily archive on my computer and allowed myself to delete as many as I wanted/needed of the others. Yes, I wasted some money, but it wasn’t that much in the end (and reducing the stress of an giant tbr list made it worth while).
Now, the collection is just 32 books, half of which are e-books that I want to at least skim through (some are reference books, so I may just read the relevant sections before archiving them). A couple of books that I got rid of have been added to my “want to read” list or added to “for later” lists via my library, but not many.
I have always had a bad habit of buying more books than I can get through in a reasonable amount of time, especially if they are cheap (used books, etc.). Realistically, I should be getting rid of books that I haven’t read after a year or so, unless I can’t find them at the library or they’re a special edition. I’m pretty happy with my tbr pile as it is right now because I have genuine interest in reading all of the books and it’s not unreasonable to assume that I could, if necessary, read them all by the end of this year.
You wouldn’t know it from the number of books I bought last fall, but I am trying to be more careful about the books that I buy so that I don’t end up in this same situation again. So far, I’ve been pretty good – I have at least started reading most of the books I’ve purchased fairly quickly (the exception being the ones I bought in December, as I acquired more over the holidays and had a bunch of library holds all come in the few days between Christmas and New Years).
I’m going to continue to track the books I have and actively try to keep my tbr pile at a reasonable level (ideally, around 20-25, just like my “want to read” list mentioned above). With e-books, I’m going to avoid buying more until I’ve got my unread e-books down to less than ten. And, with paper books, I’m going to continue having two defined spaces for them at home: on my bedside table and in a small corner of my book shelf. I’ve been finding that limiting the physical space they can be in and having them where I can see them each day has helped me to avoid buying too many new ones.
While this is mostly about reducing stress in my life, it’s also part of my continued work towards living a more minimalist lifestyle. I love owning books, but as much as I adore the idea of a massive personal library, I don’t see the point of it. I rarely re-read books and I only want to keep books that I truly love or that I think the niblings might like to have in the future. Things are great. Things weighing you down are not.