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Why I Don’t Have Any Books on my TBR Shelf

On Goodreads, I have zero books on my to-be-read (TBR) shelf. I do have a pile of physical books that are technically TBR but I really don’t have any books on my digital to read list. Why? Well, I’m here to tell you. But it came down to one thing: anxiety.

This quote just sums it up really! There are so many books that I would love to read and not enough time to read them all. I used to spend a good amount of time of Goodreads adding books that sounded interesting onto my TBR shelf. I’d watch the number grow and soon enough, I had more books that I wanted to read, then I had actually read.

There grew a point where I was browsing through my TBR shelf and marveling at all the books I added that I didn’t remember. There were probably 300 books on my shelf. It just felt overwhelming. And my mortality was realized.

I could never read all of these books in my lifetime! And so many new books get published every year! There are so many classics that I also want to tackle! Not to mention the physical books I’ve collected that I need to read! You can see I was spiraling. It was not a true panic; it was just an unnecessary worry with an easy solution. So, I deleted all the books off my digital TBR shelf. And it was freeing. I did a digital declutter.

I have a short list of books I want to read in my mind but I try not to worry about them too much. Part of my logic is that if I can’t remember the book I want to read, then why add it to a shelf? I rarely struggle with “what should I read next?” It’s more like what shouldn’t I read next? What can wait and what can’t?

I like to read books that fit my life at the moment. What books come to me? Maybe this is a little hippie of me, but I like to read what strikes my mood at the moment. What strikes my fancy or what is interesting to me. What does my life need right now?

I have a ton of books on my real life bookshelf that I haven’t read yet! I also have a problem with buying books and collecting them (don’t we all?). I get I’d say 90% of my books at my local thrift store. They are so inexpensive, I never feel bad about buying them in the first place. But as my room filled with my book collection, so did my anxiety. When will I read all of these books?

I get it! Some people might not think this way. They just see the books as potential. They can read them or lend them without worry. But unfortunately, that’s just not my nature. I want to look at my books and see all the ones I’ve read and enjoyed.

My minimalist and zero waste mindset has helped; I keep books that I truly love and if I haven’t read them yet, that I am going to read. I’ve gotten in the habit of donating books back to the thrift store. Either I’ve read the book and didn’t particularly enjoy it or I’m not interested in reading it anymore. Because someone else can enjoy it more than me!

Thanks to the Bookstagram community, I recently got a TBR cart. I love the idea of having a TBR cart! It’s a place where I can put all the books I have yet to read on my cart. This way I can see exactly how many books I have to read and when I’m tempted to buy more, I can see just how many are on my cart.

Obviously, there are some books I just can’t wait to get my hands on as soon as it’s available. Any Diana Gabaldon fans? I will be buying and reading BEES as soon as it comes out. Part of my new mindset on buying new (not thrifted books) is that if I’m not going to read the book immediately after buying it, then I will wait to buy it.

Again, sometimes books are what my life needs at the moment. I was struggling with my writing and a fellow writer at my writing group suggested Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. So off I went to the bookstore, purchased it, and read it right away. And it was exactly the tonic I need to clear my mind and gain a new perspective on creative living. I’m still thinking about that book months later. The way she talks about ideas visiting us is genius. (You can read my review here.)

What about you? How do you organize your TBR books? I’d love to hear what you think about my new mindset in the comments.

Happy Reading-

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