You know your TBR’s got out of hand when …

This year, I resolved to try to get to grips with my TBR (To Be Read) collection.  My Librarything (LT) Profile currently has it tagged at 2229 which is just over half of my entire collection, but I know there are a lot more that haven’t been entered yet.

The new fun LT stats put my entire library if stacked on top of each other at just short of 400 feet – that’s between Big Ben and The Great Pyramid in height, and if laid end to end, they would stretch nearly 0.04% of the distance to the moon.

But the key statistic which is the most meaningful, is the number of Ikea Billy bookcases you’d need to house your collection …  I assume this means the standard 80cm width version with 6 shelves, single stacked.  I need 26.22 for the books LT knows about.

I have the equivalent of 10 of these dotted around the house, four of which are double stacked, so that makes about 14 – so I’m 12 short.  This means a lot of piles of books everywhere, and a TBR that stopped being a pile years ago, and is now more of a mountain range.

I joined in the TBR dare for three months from January to the end of March.  That was all well and good, reading just books that entered the house before Jan 1st, but due to life intruding, I’ve not got through so many books this year.  Previously, I’ve read two or three books a week, totalling around 110 per year. So far this year I’ve only read 32, and since the end of the TBR dare, I’ve been rather distracted by shiny new books mostly (and understandably!).

The upshot of this is, that despite loving having a personal library to pick from, I’m never going to get through all these books.  If I were able to keep up my 100+ reading rate, that’s over 22 years worth of books to read, without being added to.

I hope you don’t mind this rambling introspective post, but I thought that putting down some of the cold facts might help bring the enormity of my TBR list home to me.

As I sort through piles, I do sift out some unread books to go to the charity shop, or be sold, but I also put plenty back for further consideration.  I keep far less books once read these days which is also a good thing, but it’s the TBR list that worries.

So – I’ve come up with an idea for which I need your help.

Periodically, I’m going to list some books out of my TBR list, and ask you to vote to keep or cull.  Any receiving no votes will go without further ado. Then I’ll keep the top three or so, and try to lose the remaining books.  So watch out for another post containing my first TBR poll soon …

Any other ideas about managing TBR lists would, of course, as always be very helpful.  Thank you!

15 thoughts on “You know your TBR’s got out of hand when …

  1. I sympathise, although my TBR is not as large. It’s still large enough to keep me going for several years – I can’t bear to work out how many years because I suspect it’s more than I have left!

    I have no helpful suggestions – my only thought being that it seems a shame to get rid of a book you haven’t read – not helpful at all!

    I can only say don’t buy any more, but I know that’s impossible. I’m looking forward to seeing keep/cull posts :)

    • Mine will keep me into my late 70s I’d wager. Just seen your post on a similar theme – I don’t have the discipline to do something like 1 in 1 out. Good luck!

    • Hi Jessica. You’ll just have to sneak them in around the house wherever you can. :)

      Our living room though is the only nearly book-free room in the house apart from the kitchen (cookbooks are on the under-stairs shelves). The lounge only has a dictionary and thesaurus in apart from piano music. Even the downstairs loo is home to books – but not toilet ones – travel guides!

  2. Since I am in a very similar situation re TBR – if not worse – I will watch any incoming suggestions with interest!
    I haven’t even dared to begin a count as I have unread books going back a decade or so and I suspect it would frighten even me!
    Junior son suggested a few months back that even at the rate I read, my unread books would probably last until I’m too old to care, and I have a nasty feeling that he is right particularly as the collection has grown since then!
    I suppose I might manage it if I did nothing but read for the next ten years or so, but the chances of that are less than zero so I fear some difficult decisions are due!

  3. One day we must meet up Liz. Our book habits are so similar! Maybe a private library in a climate-controlled self-storage locker would be the answer :D

  4. Relocating to a new city helps, partly because a box of books vanished and also because before I left I had to cull. Then I found that the boxes I used were at the end of thir lives and smaller storage was all hat could be found. That was cull two. Now I am thinking about a fresh clean out.

    I do sometimes think I should just give all the books I have in the garage to charity and see which ones I miss??

    • I think giving the contents of your garage away without sifting would be a very brave thing – I couldn’t have that willpower. I do need to reduce my books seriously though, so I try not to get distracted and too posessive about them and cull a bit more each time. Good luck with cull three!

  5. Oh I’m so happy to find someone with a truly ambitious TBR pile. I think mine must be over 1,000 books (have no means of counting) and I don’t care. I’m stockpiling against ereaders, which I don’t like, and I can’t help it – I love the feel of all those books around, beckoning to me. It’s brave of you to cull, and I can see why you might want to, but I still applaud your collector’s spirit!

    • Thank you!

      I don’t intend to get rid of it all together – but I would like to eventually get it down to say 1000 rather than over 2000. I think I’ll still have more than enough browsing with that number of books and around ten years worth of reading. It is also getting increasingly difficult to find books, as only my few posh bookcases are alphabetised or themed – the rest are random.

  6. Since my great cull earlier this year, I have instituted what one friend referred to as a “bookcase management system.” My TBR pile fits on one bookcase, and if I buy a book to be read (not counting a small stack of five or six review books), there has to be room for it on that bookcase (or I have to read it immediately and not put it on the bookcase).

    I’m trying to also read at least one TBR book for every new book, but I’m not holding myself strictly to that.

    Good luck with your culling!

  7. That’s very disciplined of you Teresa – a BMS should be what I aspire too also, but I don’t think I’ll get there for some time. Meanwhile, I shall continue to spend spare minutes doing more mini-culls.

    One new, one TBR book is a good plan though.

  8. oh. my. gersh. i can’t believe you have that many books. and when can i move in? i’ve always dreamed of having that many books, though i prefer to have that many read books rather than that many unread. i always end up giving away my books even when i love them because there’s just no space…

    i know it may not help your problem, but have you tried a program like paperbackswap to give you credits that would allow you to bring in books you’d rather have?

    • Lisa, – it’s nice to have the choice of some many books to pick from, but I add too many and have run out of room!

      I used to do Bookmooch, but found my books were more in demand than books I really wanted being available, so it was costing me a fortune in postage to essentially give my books away – so I left that after an argument with someone in the far east wanting 6 books of mine which would have bankrupted me to send. So I am a bit disillusioned with that scheme.

      I was also in ReaditSwapit in the UK, which was great as it was a true swap and P&P is more equalised, but doesn’t help reduce your number of books. So a local charity shop is the main beneficiary of those I can’t turn a few pennies on elsewhere these days.

  9. Wow, I thought my TBR was big (112, I think) but all my books fit into six Billy bookcases. Which is just as well because that’s all we have room for right now!

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