Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Discussion: TBR Shaming

We all have TBRs - to be read piles. This TBR may include absolutely every book under the sun that we own that we haven't read yet. It might include positively and absolutely every book we want to read period, whether or not we own it. Or it might be the books we pre-select to read every month. Me? I have a TBR for the month. It's a lot easier to face a 20-something pile of books rather than look at my shelves and see 300+ books that I haven't read. That's when I start feeling overwhelmed, don't know where to begin, and want to cry.

But something I've noticed in the book community - especially on BookTube - is this underlying shame. It's like we feel obligated to feel bad about how many books we have to read; how many we own; the slow rate of our progression through said TBR. And my question is: Why?

Why do we feel ashamed? Why do we feel embarrassed? We are book lovers, book reviewers, book collectors. We live and breathe books. So it's only logical that there is always, always, always going to be more books to read than we can get through in a lifetime. For every book we read and gleefully move to the "read" pile, there's going to be twenty more released in the following week (if not that same day) that we're going to want to read. It's an unending cycle. We may cull some books from our TBRs, but we'll replace them with five new ones.

Is it an inherent sense of competition that makes us feel so defensive or shaming of ourselves? We see other people who read twenty-something books in one month and we're envious because we only got through five? And because of our slow pace, we feel like we don't have to right to call ourselves bibliophiles?

Me personally? I don't feel guilty about my TBR. Yeah, I remember when I could read twenty-seven books in one month, and I am immensely impressed with other bibliophiles who can do that. I tip my hat to them. Sometimes I'm even a little envious, and I wish I could go back to that reading rate. But the truth is: we all read at our own paces. We all have different lives. Some of us can maintain a busy social and work life and still balance fifteen books. Some of us can't. I'm one of the latter people. I want to give my time and my energy willingly and fully to all of my activities, and that sometimes means spending a little less time with my books and therefore reading at a slower pace.

And that inevitably means my TBR will get bigger and bigger and bigger. . . .But unless I have that moment where I feel overwhelmed, I don't really care! I'm collecting future adventures and worlds I can visit! I will never run out of stories. And to cut back on the overwhelmed feeling, I concentrate on a set number of books every month (my monthly TBR) and no others. When it comes to buying books I haven't read, my thoughts are: why not? I'm a collector, that story will be at my fingertips when I decide to read it, and it's not hurting anything.

So what are your thoughts on TBR shame? Do you feel it and why? How do you manage your TBR?

Keep reading, my friends! 


  1. I don't generally feel bad about a slow reading pace (unless it's due to time wasting like too many Netflix binges 9.9). I do feel bad about all the unread books on my shelves, but that's more a money thing. I spent money on them, and I haven't read them = wasted money. I either console myself by thinking about what a lovely home library they'll make someday, or, if I know I'll probably never read them and they have no sentimental value, hand them over to someone else if the opportunity arises. :)

    1. I temporarily felt guilty about my slower reading pace when I first had to slow down. But now I've embraced it and use it as way to absorb the stories more thoroughly.

      That's awesome that you pass on unread books to people. I usually do that, too, though I haven't yet gotten into the habit of getting rid of books I haven't read. I know I'll read them someday and that's why I bought them. :)


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