I wanted to write today about TBR guilt (otherwise known as feeling guilty about the un-read books on your shelves, those to-be-read). I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, as a Bookseller’s daughter I pretty much had an entire bookshop’s worth of TBR and as time has gone by I’ve not lost the habit of always having a tower of un-read books to hand. I’ve definitely experienced the TBR guilt which I’ve seen cropping up in so many BookTube videos recently. As I spoke about in my post about re-reading, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of books I have on the shelves which are yet to be read. At the moment this totals about 60 books, to some this will be a ridiculously large amount, to others just a drop in the ocean.
TBR guilt is a funny thing. The definition of guilt implies having committed some sort of crime or offence. But who exactly are we offending with our un-read books? Yet I know I sometimes feel that I shouldn’t have purchased them, a guilt brought completely upon myself. I get a lot of pleasure from my bookshelves – reading the books but also arranging them, styling them. Knowing the world of possibilities contained within them. I don’t want to feel guilty about them. But how to shake that feeling that you really just have too many?
I didn’t really know until I came across this gem of a video from Danika Leigh Ellis in which she talks about the ‘Trophy vs Working Library’. In the first instance, just thinking about my books as my own personal library was a step for me, and it is a step I like! I like the idea that I am collecting around me a library of books, it’s something to be proud of. The point that Danika makes in her video is that un-read books are nothing to be ashamed of, but are in fact the point of a ‘working library’. I am definitely in the camp of a mixture of the trophy and working systems. I love to have books around me that I have read, that mean something to me, or quite frankly look nice on my shelves! But absolutely these shelves SHOULD include un-read books. How exciting to be able to walk over to shelves in my own house and have a variety of genres and styles to pick from. Hell yes to my own personal library! In the last couple of years I have made an effort to only keep books that I want to read again, were special to me for some reason, are beautiful editions or I’d like to recommend to my husband. I’ll admit that still totals quite a lot of books, but it has helped create what I now see to be a set of highly curated bookshelves.
I’m not quite sure I’ve totally eradicated TBR guilt quite yet, but I’m getting there. And now I’m off to delve into my library to decide on my next read. Perhaps it will be a life-long addition to the shelves, or perhaps it will be added to my next charity shop drop. Either way I’m excited to find out!
Let me know your thoughts on TBR guilt, and how to tackle it, below.