Purging My Owned TBR Shelves

BACKGROUND

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had problems with the idea of purging the books I’ve read.

I’m not a hoarder. I’m a mood reader, and when I was younger, I had so few books that I was a massive re-reader as well.

Once, when I was about 10 or so, my parents convinced me to purge my books to donate to children in need. I thought, sure, I have everything I need, and I’ve read these books already. Someone else can enjoy them now.

I was fine with it until I had an overwhelming desire to re-read several of the books I’d donated. This was well before social media, well before we even had internet access (Google hadn’t even been invented!), and I had no way to recover those books. I didn’t even understand that most books went out of print at that age.

I haven’t purged my books since.

This wasn’t really a problem for most of my young adult life, because I was a super library user, I didn’t have the money to buy books, and I was happy to re-read. So my tiny home library stayed tiny, and I probably only owned about 20 or so books.

RECENT LIFE

It wasn’t until I moved out on my own and earned my own money, largely post-University, which coincided with the population growth of YA (which turned out to be my favourite demographic), that I really started buying books in earnest. And it wasn’t even the allure of brand-new books. I still have books I bought from second hand shops or book fairs.

In 2013, a year after I started The Moonlight Library, I had 34 owned books I had not yet read. Some time after I started blogging, I unfortunately fell into the trap of feeling like I needed to buy at least one new book every week to create content. Thankfully, I’ve outgrown this. At this point, I started developing a rather strict buying policy and being picky about which books I spent money on. I’m not the kind of reader who grabs something, anything, because it’s cheap or free. I almost always read the blurb, see whether it grabs my attention, and then check reviews on Goodreads, before deciding if I really do want to buy a book. I’m not an impulse buyer.

Despite that, my physical TBR grew every year by an average of about 45 books (sometimes less per year, sometimes a lot more per year), until I realised in early 2024 that it was toppling in at over 700 books. This did include a number of ebooks I had grabbed for free, which helped me learn about curating my purchases of traditionally-published YA.

Reading 700 books at an average of one book a week – because I’m not a super fast reader, I don’t like reading a book in one day, I don’t see the appeal in bragging about the high number of books I’ve read if I can’t remember them, and I also have a day job and a life OUTSIDE of books (shocking, I know!) – would take me roughly 14 years, and that’s if and ONLY if I put a hard stop to buying new books. While I do think I’ve become much better about my book buying as I’ve grown older, I still bought nearly 50 new books in 2023 (including ebooks).

NOW

This all came to head when I recently decided to purge the books I owned and was yet to read. Due to my strict buying considerations, I didn’t actually have many physical books that I owned that I knew I definitely did not want to read. The ones that I did have fell into one of three categories:

  1. Books I picked up for cheap, eg in a bargain bin for $2.
  2. Books I bought second hand as part of a larger bundle that included books I really wanted in it for a decent price – say 40 books for $40.
  3. Books where I had accidentally purchased a sequel and the first book was no longer available anywhere in Australia. With currency conversion as bad as it is for me, it’s often not worth importing books from overseas.

After spending an afternoon combing my shelves, I found 12 that no longer sparked joy. I also went through my ebooks, which were mostly freebies I picked up well before my physical library grew to its current size, and cut well over 50. My owned to-be-read books now stands at 640, including ebooks.

The next day, with my husband as navigator, I drove around to several local Free Street Libraries (also called Little Free Libraries in some countries) and donated my purged books. I felt really good about this. I wasn’t interested in reading them, and I wanted them out of my house right away. I also deliberately didn’t take note of which books I had purged, simply removing them entirely form Goodreads as if they’d never been on my shelves in the first place.

Overall I feel really good about this. It isn’t much when you look at my shelves, but getting rid of those free ebooks has really lifted a weight off my shoulders. I’ve been wanting to dedicate myself to reading more books that I already own for some time now, and even though this year is off to a pretty bad start with me reading a fair few ebooks and library books, I do feel better able to cope with this my groaning bookcases.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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