Too many books

June 21, 2017 § 4 Comments

A few days ago I was looking at our bookcases. There are two of them, with double rows of books on most of the shelves. These are the books that have been read, although there are many on there that haven’t read, or that I would like to reread. Then there’s the bookcase in the bedroom, which is where I store the unread books plus a few reference volumes I use for work. That too is starting to need books to be stacked in double rows. I realised that if book-production ceased right now and if libraries were shut down, I would still have probably a decade of reading material if I read every book in the house.

I never really had a TBR pile until I started blogging, though. Before that point I was happy just reading what I found at the library, even if it didn’t always quite match my taste. I had trouble choosing books in shops. I would narrow it down to just a few, and then end up putting them all back on the shelf in case they were disappointing. When I got books for presents I would keep them by my bedside for a while, savouring the newness.   But since starting the blog I’ve focused much more on the specific things I like, I’ve gathered a few subscriptions, I’ve been sent review copies, and I’ve bought books that I knew I wanted to read at some point, mostly small-press titles. Whenever I go to England I always return with a very heavy suitcase. And then I made the mistake of starting to listen to the Backlisted podcast, and every episode adds at least one book to the TBR, either real or virtual. (I don’t buy books from Amazon but I love using it as a filing system for books I’d like. I’ve got several hundred on it right now…)

Then I came to the end of a pile of books that I’d had to read for various review- or work-related things and realised that I hadn’t simply chosen a book for ages. There were always at least two or three I needed to get to. At the same time, Tony at Messenger’s Booker started his own book-buying ban, deciding to read fifty books from his TBR before buying any new ones.

So I’ve decided to do the same thing. It doesn’t mean that no books will arrive–I’ve got subscriptions as well as a long list of books on hold at the library–but I am going to read fifty from the TBR shelves before I buy anything else. Too many books: it’s a nice problem to have, but I also liked it when becoming the owner of a new book was a little rarer, a little more special.

I’ll write about some of them–not reviews, maybe, but thoughts–but this is mostly going to be about the reading.

 

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§ 4 Responses to Too many books

  • roughghosts says:

    I’m aiming for 25. I may have to retreat to a cave to accomplish it though.

  • Rohan Maitzen says:

    This is a good resolution. I’m not making one myself because then I’ll be shamefaced if I break it, but I do have a lot of books I genuinely want to read on my shelves — and I too am starting to feel that it would be nice to just choose more often, instead of turning to whatever book is my next chore. One bright move I made this summer was planning an essay on some old favorites, so I “have” to reread them!

    • It’s funny, isn’t it–the “obligatory” books are all books I have chosen, even if I end up not loving them, so why do they sometimes feel like chores, or just not what you want to read right then? I suppose that’s why they say don’t turn your hobby into your job, although it’s a pretty minor downside.

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