We book bloggers can seem like a miserable lot. Anxious about the huge piles of unread books in our homes. Stressed because we’re behind with challenges and projects. Worried about all the classics we’ve never read. Down in the dumps when we’ve lost our reading mojo. To read our blog posts you’d think we were in desperate need of counselling.
Though many of these ‘complaints’ are not meant to be taken that seriously, I can still sympathise when I read them. I’ve had touches of these feelings myself. I attribute some of them directly to blogging.
It wasn’t until I started this site that I ever planned my reading, let along planned along particular themes or genres. But there were so many challenges and projects doing the rounds that it was hard not to get tempted. Last year I made a conscious effort to avoid signing up to new long term challenges. It still means I can dip in whenever there is a themed read I fancy especially if its something short (like the German Literature Month) that doesn’t haven’t any ‘rules of engagement’ . It’s help assuage any ‘guilt’ feelings that I was falling behind. Now I just have four projects (I refuse to call them challenges): the Classics Club project, the TBR project, Booker Prize project and World of Literature project. They’re trundling along at a fairly slow pace but that’s ok. Nothing dire will happen to me if I slip.
It wasn’t until I started blogging that my other ‘problem’ developed. I acquired books like they were going out of fashion. Yes I’ve always loved to buy books and have always come out of a library with more than I can possibly read in the three week loan period. But never before did I have shelf upon shelf of unread books. But as I started following other people’s blogs and saw recommendations for authors I’ve never read, new titles about to be published and titles that were shortlisted for prizes, my acquisitorial nature went into overdrive. Now I have so many books I’ve had to start making a list.
Like so many other bloggers I have from time to time been guilty of moaning a bit about the stack of unread books. Sure, when I walk in the room and see them toppling over, I get that deer in the headlight look of panic occasionally, that feeling of “Oh hell when am I ever going to read all these??” It lasts for all of thirty seconds. Honestly I love having my own little library that I can browse at any time of day or night. No waiting for the shop or the public library to open. No waiting in a queue to pay. Instant access = instant bliss.
What’s brought all this on you might be wondering? My stint on the soap box was prompted by an item that popped into my in box this week from the Book Riot site. “How to Weed Your Bookshelves” was an account by Jessica Pryde of two distinctly different methods of reducing the number of books in your home. No issues with the content or the fact that on occasions (like house moves) we might be forced to make some adjustments. But that subject line began to irritate me. A weed to me is something undesirable, objectionable, unwelcome; something that needs to be eradicated forthwith. I don’t think of my books like that. To me they are all objects of pleasure. It may be the pleasure of looking at a beautifully designed cover. Or the pleasure that I anticipate I will get from opening that first page and diving into a new world. I refuse to think of them as a problem that must be dealt with or else..
A large TBR is a source of delight not a source of lamentation and woe. Lets treat it as such. Anyone care to join in me in rethinking our attitude to the TBR?