Over on Instagram, I’ve mentioned many times that I am currently on a book buying freeze. I am not buying new books for the foreseeable future because, quite frankly, my TBR stacks in my apartment are out of control. I wanted to write this post for a few reasons, but mostly I was inspired to share why I’m on a buying freeze even though I recently started a bookstagram recently. I also wanted to share why I think it’s important to stop buying books periodically and read what you already have. I also want to transform my book buying habits and stopping all purchases for a period of time gives me the space to come up with more thoughtful goals.
During the past week, multiple bookstagrammers that I like shared posts about taking a break from their accounts. For various reasons, they no longer feel inspired or excited about creating content and need a break. Some of them cited overflowing TBR stacks and the pressure to keep reading new book after new book because the books were gifted or they simply feel that if they don’t read it when it’s brand new, the book will be irrelevant for content purposes in a few months. I’m struggling with my TBR because there are so many new books that I want to read, and it’s hard to reach for something older. However, the power of books is that they aren’t supposed to lose their importance, meaning, or clout over time. So, does it really matter when we read something, so long as we read it? I’m beginning to think it does not.
Books are expensive and I try to shop at actual brick and mortar stores because I want to support the publishing industry. While it’s hard to justify spending $28 on a hardcover new release, I prefer it to spending $10 on the same book somewhere else. However, spending more on books means I have to be more selective about which books I read because I can’t buy two or three for the price of one. Barnes and Noble runs specials on new releases pretty frequently, where a new release is 40% off with a store membership. In law school, I studied at Barnes & Noble a lot, so I often grabbed books with gift cards I had when the specials were going … and so began my far-too-long TBR. I kept saying, “well, I want to read this, so I’ll get it now and get to it eventually.” This concept works for one book but not ten. I have so many books that I still want to read but haven’t gotten to, and that is a major reason why I am no longer buying books at the current time.
I also realize, after buying new books while older ones sat patiently on my nightstand, that I am someone who gravitates to the “new.” I revel the feeling of going to a bookstore, picking out a book and returning home and cracking it open immediately. I don’t always enjoy reaching for something on my shelf as much. I guess I don’t get that new book feeling when it doesn’t come directly from a store. It’s a superficial problem, but given this tendency, buying books in advance is a bad idea for me and my wallet because the books will sit there for too long.
I think, however, that I will give myself grace and allow myself to buy books for special occasions. For example, the holidays are coming up and I’ve always wanted to be able to truly enjoy the season. However, as a student, it was hard for me to do that because the holiday season often coincided with finals. So, this year I want to read a few holiday books. I don’t have any on my shelf, so I will have to buy them. This is my exception to my freeze. I will be skipping Book of the Month indefinitely, and I won’t be buying books for any other reason.
My reading is pretty much planned out for the rest of the year. I may tweak lists as the months come because I am a mood reader, so sometimes a book that seems super exciting one week loses its appeal the next. Still, I’m hoping to get through five books a month and have a list of alternates that I’ll refer to if there’s extra time (there likely won’t be seeing as it’s going to be very busy with the holidays and work, but you never know!). I try not to be too regimented in my reading because that’s how I burn out, but I also want to enrich my life by reading more generally and reading more of what I already have! Backlist books are so important, and I want to make sure I reach the books that were on my radar enough that I bought them but haven’t read them.
How do you combat an overflowing TBR?