The end of a year always comes with some tension. There’s books I want to read, but haven’t had a chance to. There’s books I’ve said I’ll read, but probably won’t. Books from publishers that I considered to cover on the blog and on Instagram. Books I bought on a whim, but aren’t interested in reading anymore. Plus the backlist. OMG my backlist.
Every year, my TBR gets bigger and bigger. And despite the number of books I read each year, it doesn’t seem to lessen. It’s like this snow beast that continues to grow with every dip down a snowy decline. So last month, I did a ruthless unhaul of most of my TBR. I went through my physical books, my ebooks, and even some of the audiobooks I’ve collected and made some very difficult decisions on what I want to keep and read and what I’ll just be leaving for whenever I get to them in the future.
Most of the books I own are sent to me by various publishers and promotional places to possibly promote on my Instagram account and blog. Sadly, I get more books per month than I can actually read. I get A LOT and I’m not complaining about this. I’m so thankful and grateful for all the books I receive, but there’s no possible way for me to read through them all and stay on top of it unless I become super discerning with what I have sent to me.
I really had to ask myself the hardest question any reader should ask; will I actually read this book? And you really need to know yourself if you decide to do this and actually ask this question. Of course books that I didn’t finish or didn’t like are removed right away, but the hardest part was discerning if a book I’ve never read will be worth the read. Obviously, you can’t answer that question until you actually read it. But I trust myself and know what I’m capable of and I took a lot of advice from Marie Kondo. Will this book bring me joy to read? Will it be something I will want to keep for years to come?
My main objective in this is to have a TBR that I can actually get through. Having an objective while you’re doing this will keep you on track. If you don’t have an objective, you might find yourself going through this list and adding things that will again dwell on your shelf. I don’t know if this will in any way help with that, but so far, it’s been in a holding pattern especially now that less books are coming in from publishers. I only plan on doing one big challenge next year, but after that it’s all what I want to read. After this year with the pandemic and always being stressed out and filled with anxiety, I want a year of reading that’s so laid back you’ll hardly recognize my TBR at the end of it.
So I went through all the books. I wrote down every title I decided to keep and created an entire spreadsheet with them. As I read them, I’ll mark them off this spreadsheet. I don’t think the spreadsheet is completely necessary, but at the same time I love spreadsheets.
Any of the books that didn’t make the cut are going to be donated to the local library and used bookshops in the area (eventually when things reopen). If I put it in the unhaul pile, it’s mostly because I could easily get the book from the library. If I fall in love with a book from the library, then I’ll just buy a copy for myself.
As I let go of the books I knew I would either read later or never read, I realized I’ve collected books for series that I won’t read. I’ve got books that sounded intriguing at the time, but truthfully I don’t think I’ll read. Books in genres I don’t read that I somehow kept because I was optimistic that my feelings about the genre will change (they haven’t), and books I just don’t want in my collection.
Here’s some highlights
I decided to let go of series I said I’ll finish, but I never will. That includes Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare. I’ve been saying for years that I’ll eventually read all of Throne of Glass and all of The Mortal Instruments. Years have gone by to the point where I don’t care anymore. I’ve read much better fantasy books since I’ve collected these and I wasn’t a fan of the books in the Throne of Glass series that I actually read. So, they’re going in the unhaul pile.
I always emphasize understanding the genres you really love reading. What are the components of a book that make you read them? Knowing this is a magic ticket to assessing the rest of your TBR. While I worked on this unhaul, I considered the books from genres outside of science fiction and fantasy. Some of the books had magical realism, others had components of science fiction or fantasy in them, but what I realized is that I‘m not that excited about books that feature components of the genres I love. I love me a good old fantasy book and I love a great science fiction adventure. But I don’t think I’ll be spending my time reading about dystopian universes where big box companies like Amazon run the entire world. I’m just not into it!
I didn’t want to delete the books on my e-reader mostly because the e-reader books don’t bother me as much as the physical books I have to look at everyday. So what I did was remove the downloads and kept the book. On my particular e-reader, I have the option to view only the downloaded books. I’ve been using filters and creating collections so I can hide the books I won’t read and put the books I want to read front and center. So far, I like it. I will deal with the books I have on here that I won’t read in the future. Who knows, maybe after I get through the books I want to read, I’ll prioritize the books that I’ve hidden.
Speaking specifically to genre, I also considered the age of the book. I mean, who the book is written for. I love reading YA fiction, but not every YA fantasy story connects with me. Some are spectacular, but there’s a lot of okay books out there too. For those, I took a bit more time discerning whether I’ll read these or not. I took out a ton of the contemporary stories that looked cute, but aren’t really calling me anymore. I kept the books written by authors of color or speak to a group of people since those interest me more than just a love story. Many of the books on my TBR are still YA fantasy, but I’ve eliminated ones I know I won’t like or ones I’ll just read at the library.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that removing these books from my physical collection doesn’t mean that I’ll never read them. It’s just a hassle to keep them. At some point in the future if I decide to read these books, I’ll borrow them from the library. If I like them enough to want a copy, then I can go ahead and buy the book again. I would much rather keep the books that I have read and loved than keep the books that all have big question marks on them.
I know there are probably books in that unhaul pile that I wish I kept or will regret putting there. I’m taking a big risk especially since I haven’t read the books, but I’m okay with it. I’d much rather borrow the books from the library in the future, read it when I’m fully ready to embrace it, and then make my decisions that way. I don’t want the book to languish in a pile for years without ever being read. But I also feel like if I loved the book and want to keep a copy, I’ll buy it.