Before joining bookstagram in July 2019, I had exactly no books on my TBR. A big fat zero. I received a couple of books for my birthday as I knew I wanted to get back into reading, but I had already read those before starting my bookstagram page. I remember ordering And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, and posting it as my first bookstagram photo, intending to read it immediately. Ironically, I still haven’t read it.
When I started following hundreds of amazing bookstagram pages, all recommending and loving different books, it was difficult not to add them to a list, and even harder not to buy a few whenever I was out and saw them. After all, I was trying to build up a collection of books that I would love.
I definitely achieved that goal. 6 months down the line – I can hardly believe I’ve been part of this community for over half a year – and I have amassed a collection of over 100 physical books on my TBR. Most of these have been from charity shops, so my collection hasn’t exactly broken the bank, but a substantial amount are new and several have been kindly sent to me by publishers and authors. I am assuming I will continue to acquire more books this year through various means, and so my TBR will only continue to grow.
Unless I can read faster than I can collect books.
So, I have decided to tackle my giant TBR head on, and am aiming to reduce it from around 100 to around 50, regardless of how many new books I acquire this year. I’ve set myself the goal of reading 100 books this year, so to maintain a physical TBR of 50 or less I have allowed myself 50 books that I don’t already own to come into my life. Whether I read all 100 of the books I currently own, or 50 I currently own and 50 new this year, it doesn’t matter. My TBR will have shrunk considerably, rather than staying around the same size, or, worse, growing in number.
Saying No to Arcs and Requests More Often
I am always honoured whenever a publisher or author reaches out to me and asks me to review their work. Writing a book is such an incredible achievement, and I am always so grateful whenever anyone contacts me that I almost always agree to read their work. Unless it is a genre I definitely will not enjoy (think sci-fi or horror), or I know that I am too busy to take on a request, I tend to accept a review request.
This year, I need to be a lot more selective with my review requests. I really struggle to say no, but I am going to have to practice. I am hoping that my review policy on this blog will help to narrow down the requests I do receive, and I am aiming to only accept ARCs for books that I want to buy when they are released anyway, or books that sound like something I’d love, not just something I might enjoy. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of books entering my tbr, and will also give me more time to read books I already own.
Buy Less in Charity Shops
I tend to go a little crazy in charity shops. Through bookstagram and blogs, I have been exposed to hundreds, maybe even thousands of books, and so when scanning titles in charity shops it is very easy to find books that I have seen, and because they are so cheap, I often buy them without a thought. I really love charity shops and I can’t commit to a book buying ban or a charity shop ban, but I just need to be a bit more thoughtful about my purchases, and not just pick up books I wasn’t looking for because they’re 50p!
I have made a list of authors and books whose work I would like to read in my notes on my phone. When visiting charity shops, I aim to stick to this list and only buy books that I wanted to read anyway, and try to resist the urge to buy books I’ve never heard of.
I thought I hated audiobooks, but at the end of last year I gave them another go and I actually really enjoy listening to them. I am still quite picky, and if I don’t like the narrator’s voice I won’t listen to it, but otherwise I really like them. Listening to audiobooks has helped in upping the number of books I read each month, as I have plenty of commute time on the bus to uni or walking around campus that I can use to listen to audiobooks. I have a list of audiobooks I can download from my library for books I already own a physical copy of – listening to the audiobook instead of physically reading should hopefully increase the number of books I read and reduce my tbr.
Setting Goals and Challenges
I am quite a competitive person, but I don’t like feeling pressured to read. If I feel stressed or pressured into reading, then it stops being enjoyable, and I end up in a reading slump. To compromise, I am trying to set low-pressure challenges. My first aim is to read every book on my shelf (at university, not at home!!) before mid-February. In February, my family are coming over to Lancaster to visit, and we are going to visit a massive secondhand bookshop in Kendal where every book is £1. I’ve only been once, but I left with 7 books and could have easily left with a lot more! I am going to visit it regardless of how many books I have read, but my aim is to have a fully read bookshelf before I inevitably fill it with a ton more books that I haven’t read. I then plan on setting similar challenges, like my aim to read 100 books this year, to keep me motivated to read.
So, these are a few of the main strategies I will be using to try and reduce my tbr. The most obvious one is obviously to read more, but I think that is both fairly obvious and also something that I am already achieving. I have a pretty good routine going for when I read, and I managed to reach my January goal of reading 10 books.
Are you trying to reduce your tbr? How are you hoping to achieve it?