Moving from college towards a new stage of life and living situation has meant purging belongings that don't make the cut. As someone whose first thought when it comes to favored belongings goes straight to my book collection, it was not easy to consider--let alone go through with--purging books from that collection. Especially when I never got around to actually reading many of those books.
Alas, I did the unthinkable, and I will tell you why I feel lighter for having done so.
Reading has been a primary interest of mine since childhood, but my reading frenzy slowed tremendously partway through high school and into college. Homework, required reading, and extracurricular activities took its place. My TBR shelf mocked me for years with unfinished series and dozens of interesting debuts that I couldn't or wouldn't squeeze into my schedule.
I didn't feel entirely the same during that period of time. Books were a huge part of my life previously and the focus of my ideal future, so the lack of regular reading time left a hole that nagged at me constantly. How could I leave the third or fourth book of a beloved series sitting on a shelf unread? How could I improve my writing or stay current in the industry if I wasn't reading books?
Eventually, a few good books pulled me back in and I made it a personal mission to prioritize reading once again. But the TBR shelf remained. Staring at me. Shaming me for abandoning it all those years. And what did I do?
I bought more books.
I wanted to read new releases and stay current with the market. I gave in to their irresistible siren's call. They were fresh, and new, and--as I eventually realized--they did not remind me of times I wished to forget. The books on my TBR shelf dated back to high school. After years of feeling pressure to catch up with books I had long abandoned, I finally realized what I wanted most was to move on.
Culling my TBR shelf was not easy. It required giving up on series I had once cared about but would probably never fully connect to again. It meant discarding books I had barely even touched, which felt like a complete waste. But it also meant freeing myself of a burden I hadn't realized had become so heavy. It opened my shelves to new possibilities and new adventures, which I am excited to experience.
The books purged from my TBR shelf will serve a much better purpose in the hands of their next owners than they did accumulating dust on my bookcase. The TBR shelf is an iconic piece of a bookaholic's existence, but if your TBR shelf plagues you as much as mine did, consider taking another look and deciding which books you truly want to dedicate your time to, and which are there out of pure obligation. There's a chance you will feel much lighter afterwards.
Besides, trimming a TBR shelf doesn't mean you no longer have a book obsession. What did I do immediately after purging mine?
I went to B&N and I bought more books.
I write YA fantasy and contemporary fiction. This blog is dedicated to thoughts and advice on writing and publishing, as well as various interests related to the world of Young Adult.