TBR piles; Librarything and new rules

Ahh, quite time. I am sitting here with some tea and a slice of pizza from my son’s 18th birthday party. Life is good. I just finished cataloging all of my books on Librarything. I bought a Librarything cue cat scanner that makes cataloging easy.
For those of you who may not know about Librarything it is a community website devoted to all things related to books. The site allows its members to have private libraries. Non paying members can add 200 books to their own library and paying members’ have unlimited space. There are groups to join, Librarything ARC book draws and more. Check it out as it is a lot of fun and a great cataloging tool. I have 540 books in my library; 107 of which are on my TBR shelves, which leads me to a questions: Why do we keep unread books on our TBR piles?

First I have to admit, I have several unread books that have been sitting on my shelf for over two years. These are mostly fiction which may explain why they sit on my shelf. I read mostly nonfiction and when I do read fiction it is a title that sounds so good I have to go out and get a copy immediately. I end up getting the bulk of my fiction from my local library so I read them right away. The fiction that sits unread in my shelf are books that sounded good at the time, but ended up in my hands weeks after I heard about them. They come from Paperback Swap or from online friends so I am able to hold off on reading them. By the time I get to them they no longer hold any appeal yet I keep them. Why?

For a long time I felt better knowing I had books available to me at any given moment. Somehow just looking at a pile of unread books was a comfort. Now as I clean clutter from my home, I turn to all these books and wonder why I need to hold on to them. I no longer feel comforted by them, rather I feel crowed by them. My shelves were starting to house more than they could hold and for the first time in my life I had books piled on the floor. I did not like the look of this so for the past two weeks I have been clearing books from my house. Last weekend I took three bags of books to my local library and today I have another bag for them. As I cataloged the last of my books I took a hard look at my TBR shelf and came up with some rules:

1) When a book comes in the mail I am going to date it and if it has not been read in 6 months I will reevaluate my need to keep it.

2) Before I look for a new piece of fiction I will first look at my TBR pile; surely there will be a book worth reading.

3) If after a year I still have not read the book I will post it on Paperback swap or donate it to my local library.

4) Before I order a book from Paperback Swap, one that sounds good on a recommendation, I will sit on the decision for a day or so, reading other reviews. Hopefully this will either make me really eager to read the book as soon as I get it or show me that the book may not be for me.

5) Instead of ordering every book that is recommended I will add t titles to an Excel spreadsheet called Books I want. I used to do this years ago and found it was a good way to keep track of recommendations without having unread books lying around. My hope is that as my TBR piles dwindle, I can add more from my Excel list.

Another reason I have unread books is because of my need to learn everything about a subject of interest. I have many science books waiting for me to read from my physics kick. This month I am into evolution and have added books on the subject. I am not I could let go of these books as I hope someday to get to them. Maybe this is the ultimate reason we hold on to our unread books; we hope that someday we will have the time and desire to read everything we have collected.
So dear readers, do you have a TBR problem? Do you look at your shelves and wonder why so many books have sat for years? What are your tips and tricks to keeping your TBR piles from taking over your life or do you like having a lot of unread books around the house?

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

5 thoughts on “TBR piles; Librarything and new rules”

  1. Hi, SariJ! Oh my goodness — such stringent rules on books! If only I were as disciplined as you to be sticking to rules on book buying and book swapping. (I'm a big fan of the former, but not of the latter.)


  2. Well Peter, I had to do something, my room is being over run with books. Now if I had some nice shelves as many of your followers do, I would not stress so much LOL


    1. Well, I no longer buy as many books as I did 5 years ago. It’s been ages since I’ve received anything from Paperback swap. And yes, I make a clean sweep of my shelf. It is the one thing that remains constant, I cull my shelves of books that have sat for more than two years. Oddly, the number, 107 seems to be another constant. Now, that is worth considering.


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