Back when I had never heard of book blogging, bookstagram, booktube and pretty much any social media morphed with the word book, my reading ways were very different. Before the Summer of 2016, I barely had any idea what was going on in the bookish world.
It started slowly, with bookish tumblr, I was never active but my feed was filled with pictures of pretty books. I have had goodreads since halfway 2015, but never was active, I just used it to keep track of which books I read. I remember a time when I literally had a list in a notebook somewhere on which I wrote down every single time I finished a book. Now I have detailed lists on goodreads and even excel files.
Before I started blogging, I think I read about 50 books per year, of which most were from libraries. I think I bought about 20 books each year, and these 20 were almost all second hand or thrift store finds. I barely spent any money on books. This all changed when I started blogging and got caught up in the community. I started writing reviews, reading other people’s review and above all adding books to my tbr.
I wish I could look back at what my tbr looked like back in July of 2016, because I’m pretty sure it’s size grew exponentially after that. I still have 11 books from before July on my tbr and I’m pretty sure those were the majority of books. I think all the books on my tbr back then were books I actually owned, were part of a series I had started reading or were by authors I had read books of before. My tbr was almost literally a pile.
So what happened after I started getting more into the book community was that I got to know so many more books, books that were apparently very popular and amazing and of course, newbie as I was, I added pretty much all of the books I could find. This is one of those pitfalls that is very easy to fall into as a newbie.
Back in November (?) I started going through my tbr and it stressed me out, all those books I had yet to read, and half of them I didn’t even know what they were about. I started removing them. My tbr is now not very long but still, it’s stressful.
TBRs are weird mythical things that never seem to end, and I’m always torn about them. Are they good? Wasn’t the way it was back when I had no goodreads better? I just read whatever I felt like reading, whatever I found intriguing in the library. Now I spent hours contemplating which book to read next, reading reviews, adding and removing books from my tbr. Is that worth it?
True, I’ve found more amazing books than I’ve ever read before during my time as a blogger. I’ve found new favourites, read more diversely than ever, reviewed amazing ARCs and learned to love different genres. But on the other hand, reading back then was only for fun, no keeping track, no “oh no I need to read that book right now because…”.
Keeping track of what I’m reading is fun because I can see what I’ve read, I can look back at what I’ve experienced, but it feels like I ‘have to’ read a lot to make up for that long TBR. I won’t simply go to a bookstore and pick up any random book anymore, because is that book worth my valuable time? With over 40 amazing books I need to read, is that one book that intrigues me worth it?
I think we’ve all become a little obsessed with our tbr. At least, I know I have. And I’m trying to keep myself from being obsessed, because I miss that feeling of going to my dad’s bookshelves and just picking up a random book that sounds fun. I miss that feeling of wonder when going to the library and reading synopses of every book, because now I usually go right for the books that I’m looking for. I miss that feeling of not having to keep up with my standards. And I know that they’re completely my own, nobody’s telling me what to read. I’m putting myself on this path of ‘having to read everything on my tbr’.
Sometimes I feel like completely deleting my tbr, but I know I’ll never do that. Instead, I’ve made a someday-maybe list, with all the books that sound interesting, but without the pressure of having to actually read them. If I never end up reading them, I won’t be sad. On my actual tbr are only books I know I really want to read and I will read one day (preferably close). This system actually seems to work for me.
What’s your opinion on tbrs? Did yours change when you came into the bookish community? Do you get stressed about the endlessness of your tbr?
(if you didn’t know already, I have a weekly meme called Down The TBR Hole, in which you go through your tbr 5 books at a time. Go check it out)