August 26, 2013

The Curious Reader - Should TBR piles have an expiration date?

First you need to have this book right now. Then it ends up untouched on top of your TBR pile, gathering dust ...

Should TBR piles have an expiration date?

There comes a time in a reader's life when you start feeling like an archaeologist on a dig. Rummaging through your book stacks you constantly find old relics you didn't even know where still there. Granted, there's a certain Kinder-Surprise-flair to this scenario, but it also shows how you're not even close to catching up on your reading.

What's one more in the grand scheme of things?

Before I started blogging I had, on average, thirty unread books nicely stacked next to my bed just waiting to be picked up. Now I'm not going to blame this entirely on having been sucked into the book blogging community, but somehow my current average is, shall we say, slightly higher?

I don't even recall the exact number of unread books I used to own before I took some serious measures of reducing that number. Side note - these measures did not include reading faster! If I had to guess I'd say it must have been around four-hundred or so. That's quite a step forward from a measly thirty books. Looking back now I have no idea how things got out of hand so fast, but apparently they did and no one stopped me.

I'll read it one day! Yeah, right.

One book buying ban which lasted six months, and several book purges later things are looking up again. In fact there's even light able to fall through the windows as book stacks are no longer blocking it. I set myself a limit of how many new books to buy, I got rid of books I no longer see myself reading, and I generally try to steer clear from freebies. As of today I still own roughly 130 unread books, but to me this is quite an improvement. Talk about manageable.

Book buying bans are pretty much self-explanatory, but what's the secret to those book purges I mentioned? Basically, if you don't see yourself reading a novel which you just had to have five years ago, but somehow never got around to reading, you might want to reconsider if it is still a book you actually want to read or not. All those "or not"s have got to go. Period. Not to say that five years constitutes a cut-off date for everyone, but you definitely might want to start with the oldest volumes and work yourself forward. This method sure worked its magic for me, so maybe it'll do for you too!

Read By Date - 31/07/2014

How long have some of your unread books been waiting to finally get read? Have you ever resorted to a book purge to thin out those book piles? What are your secrets to keep those TBR piles at a manageable number?


  1. When I started actually working a real job at sixteen, my TBR pile went down hill... or rather up hill for me and it hasn't stopped. Personally I have a bit of a problem letting books or really anything go, if I paid for it. I hate the thought that I wasted money on something. So I have books that have been sitting on my shelf since I was in high school, with no intention of getting rid of them.

    However, every now and then, when I realize my shelves really have no more room, I go through my books to see which ones no longer look as if they hold my interest. Usually it's only a handful, but enough to make room for my other books. My TBR pile is no where near manageable though, the number of books is actually a bit embarrassing.

  2. I agree with you. However, I keep my TBR bookshelf under control by only allowing a certain number of shelves. It's currently reaching max and that's sad. I do every now and then go and purge my TBR book list, the list of every book that has ever sounded interesting to me and some times when I'm cleaning it up I'm wondering what was I thinking when I added some books.

  3. I have like 24 unread paper books next to my bed (do not even want to count the ebooks) I am planning to read 17 of them when I have time off in a week and a half.
    On my ebooks I have way more and I actually do have an idea about the ones I have. Problem is that new ones are coming and being pushed up front. As this does not mean I do not want to read the others or are not interested enough I will let them be where they are. And maybe someday when I grow tired of the interwebs and hide in a cave I will find time to read them all.

  4. My TBR piles haven't been manageable since the day I started to really collect books, haha. Buying those books and putting them on my shelves makes me happy. Seeing my filled shelves and showing them off also makes me happy. So why wouldn't I buy them? I must admit that it sometimes stressed me out (for every read book, 5 new ones seem to return) but hey, I'll always have something to read right :p

    But, I'm now on a sort off book buying ban. I have some great books waiting and I really want to read them instead of putting them on another pile.

  5. I can't remember when I didn't have TBR piles - or rather bookshelves and they've been steadily getting more rather than less, because as fast as I read them more have arrived! Every now and then it bothers me and I decide not to buy or borrow any more. That lasts a while and then I get over that feeling because actually I like having them there - I'll never run out of anything to read.

    BUT I've recently realised that these books could well be here when I'm not and that makes me sad, so I am going to make a big effort to get the numbers down. I don't think I can bring myself to get rid of books I've bought, but quite a lot came as a result of those bookshop offers - the buy 3 for the price of 2 type - and I think I will weed those out.

  6. I have over 200 unread books (if not more) and I've been trying to read my own books rather than the library's, but so far I think it's been a rather even 50/50. The books in my shelves that I don't want are the ones that have been given to me - I want to read all the books I've bought.


    Once a year we have a book exchange day here in Sweden, so what I do is take whatever books I don't want and exchange them for new books.

  7. I think I've had some of my unread books for more than a year. I've actually started only buying books I see myself re-reading, so that's helped cut down on things a lot, but I do think it's about time to admit I'm not going to read some of the book on my tbr pile and let them go.

  8. I made a spreadsheet of the books that I have received. I put down the title, author and the date received. There are books that have no date (older- 2010) so I read two of them each month. I also go through my bookshelves and cull all the books that I think I am kidding myself that I am going to read. I was able to get the number of my books down by a 100!! Also I am doing my best by not buying any books, I slipped last February and bought three. But I am sticking by guns until the end of the year and then will make up new goals.

  9. I can't count my unread books. I've been collecting them for too many years. I'm getting better at getting rid of books that I've read, but I still have a problem weeding down books that I'm just never going to get to. That's admitting defeat and I'm not ready to do that!

  10. I guess it all comes down to 'too many books, too little time" :) I have books on my TBR pile from 2011, and I am trying to read them, but with 100 books or more, it gets harder and harder... and I am not sure the book buying ban is helping :))