It Turns Out I Don’t Want to Read My Own Damn Books

I don't want to read my own damn booksA year ago, I was blogging up a storm and blazing my way through the latest buzz books. And I felt a bit burned out, craving the space to amble through the mountains of backlist books on my shelves, savor tattered paperback copies of classics, and re-read old favorites without guilt. A few months later, when I decided to take a break from blogging, I thought the time had finally come for me to do those things.

When Andi announced her intention to focus on reading books she already owns instead of buying new ones in 2016, I was all aboard. I was SO ready to #readmyowndamnbooks. And yet, as I stared at my shelves of unread books over the next few months, they lost all of their luster. The spines looking back at me were books I’ve owned for years but have never felt compelled enough to read. That somehow didn’t change when the flow of shiny new books on my doorstep ended.

So I floundered. I didn’t read much. When I did read, it wasn’t as ravenously as I used to. I missed the enthusiasm of the blogosphere, the thrum of excitement around new releases. It turns out I crave the thrill of the new, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’ve started using the library again, which is super convenient as I work there. It’s nice to not feel limited by the selection on my shelves, which is actually fairly small since I live in a tiny bedroom in a shared apartment, and most of my TBR stash is stored at my parents’ house. I’m enjoying keeping up with the buzz and being able to read new books when my holds come in without feeling like I’m drowning in a sea of release dates.

I feel like I’m finally getting it back, whatever “it” is. Some sense of balance, maybe. Some sense that despite all the changes of the last year, the part of me that can be completely transported and nourished by words is still there. That this key part of my identity is still true, that I’m still me. I’m getting there.

Take it Off: On Decluttering My Bookshelf

Is there anything worse than coming home from a library sale or used bookstore, going to shelve your beautiful new books, and finding that there isn’t space for them? We’ve all been there, and unless you’re a lucky duck who has room to add another bookshelf (or has no problem stacking your books on the floor, which, I mean, we’ve all been there), you’re going to have to get rid of some of the old books to make room for the new ones. Here’s the question: Do you get rid of books you’ve already read, or books from your TBR shelf?

A few weeks ago, a discussion on the Books on the Nightstand podcast got me thinking about this very topic. I realized that I tend to have a much easier time getting rid of books I have read and didn’t care for than books I haven’t yet read. When it comes to books I have read, I enjoy having a curated shelf; it’s nice to look at my bookshelves and only see books I love (plus a few classics that I feel like I should keep so people will think I’m smart). To me, there’s no reason to hang onto that book I read five years ago and didn’t like. If there’s no chance in hell that I’ll ever re-read a book, I’m pretty okay with letting it go.

Unread books, on the other hand, are filled with so much promise! How can I get rid of a book that could become a favorite?! It doesn’t matter that I bought it for a dollar at a library sale; I was so pleased to find it, and I’m still dying to read it. So what if I’ve had it for three years and I rarely have time to read backlist? This is why more than a quarter of all the books in my apartment haven’t been read yet. They come in faster than I can read them, and they’re so hard to get rid of!

How do you approach culling your bookshelves? Which books are the first to go: Books you’ve read or books you haven’t?