Bookish Life

The Minimalist Bookshelf 101

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*There’s a saying going around on Bookstagram that says, “It isn’t hoarding if it’s books”. And that is the worst advice I’ve ever heard about owning books. One of the most prominent topics discussed on bookstagram is how we will never get all of our unread books read before we die. The simple reason is that we buy too many books in the first place. We buy more books than we can possibly read in a month or a year. Read on for my tips to keep that tbr low and manageable.

How many books can you really read in one year?

A great way to control your tbr is to buy fewer books than you can read in a month or year. If you know you can only read around 4 books a month or 50 ish books a year then you buy less than that. I’m fairly certain my jaw dropped when I was told this. Like what? This would make my reading life soooooo much better. And save me a ton of money! Plus I would only be buying books I knew I was going to read right away.

Are you going to read it soon?

Another rule I’ve started living by is to only buy a book I know I’m going to read in the next 30-60 days. The reason we buy books in the first place is that we got excited about them and we want to experience what everyone else has experienced. It’s a good rule of thumb to read books soon after you purchase them. That way your enthusiasm for the book doesn’t die off and it doesn’t become that book that’s sat on your shelf for five years unread. Which I have never done. Ahem.

Book box subscriptions.

I love me a good book box, and there are so many out there! I was subscribed to Owlcrate and LitJoy Crate at one point. I’ve purchased several one-off boxes and I’ve enjoyed getting them. It was like Christmas every month. But I realized that most of the time I was not interested in the book. A lot of these companies don’t tell you outright what the book is so there’s a good chance you won’t like it. The other thing I didn’t like was getting a bunch of merch for fandoms I either didn’t know or didn’t like. It was a pain trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff I didn’t want. And it was a shame to get rid of all the special edition books that I just wasn’t interested in reading. I’ve since stopped any subscriptions and I only buy boxes for fandoms that I absolutely love.

Book Outlet. The holy grail or not?

I am a bit jaded now when it comes to the website bookoutlet.com I have gotten some pretty shoddy books from them. Once I paid $8 for a book that I was really excited about. When I got it I was less than impressed. It was not a scratch & dent copy so I was expecting a nice book. I got what looked like a library discard that someone had ripped the glued-on plastic cover off of. It was in terrible condition and I ended up throwing it away. I was so upset that I haven’t bought anything from them since.

They also get you with the spend $35 get free shipping deal. You can get a lot of books for $35 from them. The unfortunate part is that I never read most of them. I would say that out of all the books I’ve purchased most of the ones I got rid of were from Book Outlet. That’s over 60 books that I’ve gotten rid of unread because I was just not interested in reading them. The only reason I bought them was because they were cheap. Which is not a good enough reason in the first place.

Those are my top tips for keeping your tbr manageable. I know that number is different for everyone. You may be comfortable with 200 or even 500 unread books on your shelves. (Man, just thinking about that stresses me out.) I’m more comfortable with less than 50. I know some prefer one or two or zero. It’s all based on personal preference and I want you to do what you like. Don’t let me shame you because of your unread book count. All I ask is that you take a hard look at what books you do own and see where you could make small changes. All it takes is a first step.

Ways to stay accountable.

You may be wondering how to stay accountable when it comes to not buying books or keeping your physical tbr low. One of the best things you can do is join a community on Instagram that is dedicated to this. My favorite is The Unread Shelf Project. It’s all about reading books on our unread shelves and minimizing the new books we buy. Whitney, who pioneered the #unreadshelfproject also has a yearly challenge to help you check books off your tbr. I haven’t done the challenge but I think I will be joining it in 2020.

Another great way is to share the tips in this blog post! By sharing with others you’ll get excited each and every time you get someone else excited about controlling their tbr. I know I get excited when I share with others.

Making progress.

I still have a pretty big unread shelf. I have around 74 books that I own and haven’t read yet. But that is a huge change from the 160 I had just a few months ago. Now I feel like I’m actually controlling my hobby and my hobby isn’t controlling me. One of the best things I did was to just stop buying so many books. This month I bought one book. (I know, I’m just as shocked as you are. Lol.) One of my big goals for 2020 is to really work on getting that number a lot lower. I would love to have a physical tbr of ten or less books. It’s hard to feel guilty about book purchases when you know you are going to read it sooner rather than never.

I hope some of these tips have been helpful for you! If you have any other tips I would love to hear them!

Happy reading friends,

Alicen


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