Strategies for Reading Books You Already Have

The pile of books is more than half my height again. It’s getting out of hand because all of a sudden I’m reading six books for an article or I went to ComicCon or it was Tuesday and I was sad about it and, damn it, I deserve good things.

Maybe you just overdid it a bit. Maybe you dream of getting to TBR-zero. Maybe you’re totally okay with the number of unread books in your house and that’s totally awesome. Marie Kondo and I want you to keep whatever brings you joy. I’m just tired of looking at something I was very excited to buy six months ago and haven’t gotten yet.

Maybe the pile of unread books on your bedside table is now higher than your actual bedside table and has become a safety hazard. If you’re doing the math based on your likely lifespan and feeling panicked instead of satisfied, this guide is for you.


Weed the pile

I am going to give you permission not to read the books you have purchased because it is sometimes difficult for me. There’s nothing wrong with deciding that something isn’t right for you. I used to buy books based on what I felt I “should” read. These books sat on my shelf for a long time. Give away or resell anything you’re no longer passionate about. Life is too short to feel like you “must” read anything.

Use your library

It might seem a bit counterintuitive because it brings more books, but instead of buying a new book immediately, I check to see if I can get it from the library. The reservations list tends to be quite long for new books, but it satisfies the feeling that I’ll eventually get the book, even if it’s three months away. A new book every two weeks doesn’t ruin my efforts to read the pile like a trip to the bookstore can. Plus, I’m saving money on books I’m only likely to read once! I always feel like I get a new book treat when those catches come. (Did you know you can pause your takes on Libby when things get out of hand? Not that any of us have a self-control problem when it comes to the books. I don’t know anyone like that. )

Make them visible

This is probably my most helpful tip. Collecting my unread books shows me what to expect and can revive me again for those books I had to have. I had a library reserved for unread books. Now it’s a pile in my bedroom (I need a new shelf, but buying new furniture isn’t nearly as fun as buying books). This article on treating your unread books like a library might also help.

Depending on your level of engagement, it wouldn’t hurt to take a picture of your books and keep it as your phone background. You know, like a reminder for when you inevitably end up at the bookstore. It also helps if you tend to forget what you have at home and are prone to buying duplicate books.

Bonus: make it a game!

I also like the idea of ​​letting chance decide your next read by putting all the titles in a jar and drawing the names. I don’t know if I could make this one, just because sometimes I need something specific. Still, it’s definitely worth a try if you sometimes have trouble deciding what to read next.

How many unread books do you have at any given time? Does anything else work for you? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

About Marcia G. Hussain

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