TBRs – ARE THE UNREAD REALLY THE UNDEAD?

Micky here. Whenever I speak to my fellow bookworms about TBRs, I realise I am not alone in terms of the increasing number of unread books on my kindle and the growing stack of unread physical books scattered around my house. I am beginning to believe that unread books are like zombies; no matter how far or fast you run, they keep following in your wake and just won’t give up. They’re coming to get me because I keep ignoring them (Hollis would like to point out she’s probably going to have some weird nightmares about this visual later). So I am going to use this post to out my unread stats, possibly make you feel generally better about your own backlog, whilst also initiating the ‘I wont feel bad about my TBR’ club.

For some time, probably about three years, I have had an ‘owned but not read’ shelf on my Goodreads bookshelf. This is my attempt to try and keep myself accountable to the owned books that I do want to read but, for one reason or another, I just forget about. This shelf includes my ebook and physical owned books. Are you ready for my current total?

Yes, you read it correctly, I have 383 owned books that I haven’t read. This is terrible, you say? I don’t think so. You see, I’ve been through this ‘pile’ of books and I still want to read what’s there. Most months I get to one or two of my owned books, do I keep buying? Yes, but not indiscriminately. If I think back to my ebook buying habits of old, I would click on a bargain, now I always think about whether my library has it and if I am going to read it soon. I have had periods of being in a book buying ban and that’s been good for a time but buying books also brings me pleasure so I’m cool with it if I can afford it.

One of the reasons that my owned books total doesn’t go down as fast as it might considering the volume I read is because I get arc books each month and I prioritise those reads because they are on a deadline for review. Sometimes I have a KU subscription, so you gotta get value for money, library books…and the excuses just keep coming.

All in all, I’m sorry but I just don’t feel guilty about it. I know how many books are on my TBR and I am strangely comfortable with it. Being a mood reader, I know I will always find something on my kindle or shelf that will match my mood. It’s like knowing you have chocolate in the cupboard, yeah? Hollis, give us your take.


Welp, I remember about two years ago Micky convinced (read : guilt tripped) me to add up all my unread physical books as well as sort through my kindle to suss out what had yet to be read — like Micky, and probably lots of other bookies, I was prone to one-clicking freebies and dollar eBooks.. just because (I don’t do this as much anymore. I discovered some chill, also the library).

So I, too, created a shelf to track everything on GR because I rely on many shelves for that purpose (my ARC TBR shelf being my constant lifesaver with regards to deadlines). That being said.. I was not so great at updating said shelves. All that work and did I consistently log purchased eBooks? Maybe one out of every ten. And physicals? I don’t buy many books anymore so this might actually not be too far off the mark but honestly who knows.

Do I now feel obligated to go and tally all my totals so that, come the end of the year, I have proper stats for you? Yes. Accountability for the win! In the meantime though here’s what my shelves look like :

Ultimately though I don’t really feel any kind of general pressure about my TBR. It’s an amorphous blob of a presence in the back of my head; like the thought of property taxes or a Pap smear. I know it’s out there, and I dread looking it in the eye, but it’s also just a fact of life. But less like a Pap smear, my TBR is generally vague. There’s lots of books I want to read. Sometimes I even throw myself a little party for shifting a book off my GR “want to read” shelf and putting it on my “read” shelf instead of just adding to the “read” with library or ARC reads. Other times I go through a big cleanse and delete hundred of books off my “want to read” shelf. It’s an ever fluctuating process. Tastes change, plots that sounded interesting four years ago are just.. not anymore, and if I only get to knock out twenty backlist titles a year? Well, that’s okay. More to savour the next year. The scarier concept (beyond Micky’s zombie scenario) is running out of books to read. Cue fainting gif.


So there you have it! We are a pretty chill duo when it comes to the pressures of reading. But we’d love to hear your position on your TBR stats. Whether it stresses you out, whether you prefer not to know the number, or if the TBR force is strong with you and it is a manageable number. Tell us all the things!

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