One thing I’m totally guilty of is adding books to my “to be read” list, and then not reading them for months (or years…) later. This leads to me feeling like a) I’m going to drown under a sea of unread books b) my TBR shelf is staring at me and judging me every time I add a new book to the shelf, and c) I’m having an existential crisis about the fact that I will never get through my TBR if I add 10 new books to it for every one book that I finish!
A few weeks ago, I did a post on the oldest books that were on my to read shelf on Goodreads and in going through some of those super old books, I realized there were definitely books on my “to read” shelf that I was no longer interested in reading.
That sparked some spring cleaning, and I removed more than 100 books from my TBR list. I know, I know, some of you read the books you already have before buying more or adding new books to your “to read” shelf, but alas, I am not one of those people. At the start of the year, I had around 800 books in my “to read” shelf, and I’ve narrowed it down to less than 650 now. I know that’s still a lot, BUT it’s progress! I want to share some of the ways I was able to clean up the list, because I’ve heard from a number of people that it’s hard to decide what to remove!
#1. Low ratings. The very first thing I did was sort my goodreads “to read” shelf by lowest to highest ratings. I focused on books that had an overall rating of less than 3.6 stars, which is generally what I’m looking for before adding a new book to my shelf. If it has less than stellar ratings overall, I likely won’t want to read it.
Now, I know many people read and like books that have low average ratings, because everyone is different, so before I removed these books all willy-nilly, I re-read the book description and read some of the negative reviews. Sometimes, the things others don’t like in books are things I do like, so I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I also looked at who posted reviews. If the negative reviews were from bloggers I trust, that have similar taste in books as me, the book got removed from my shelf. If the negative reviews all complained about the same thing, I removed it from my list.
The only exception here was if I already purchased the book. Often, I’ll buy a book when it’s brand new and doesn’t have many ratings and then months later when it’s got lots of ratings, will find out everyone hated it. I kept these books, but I think I’ll do a Part 2 of my spring cleaning, where I go through the books I already own and see which ones I can get rid of and donate or giveaway.
#2. Sequels to a book I didn’t love. A lot of times, I get really ahead of myself and I’ll add EVERY book in a series to my to be read list before I read the first book. Sometimes, I read the first book and don’t like it enough to want to read the sequels, but forget to remove the rest of the series from my list. In doing my decluttering, I went through and found those books and removed them.
#3. Books that didn’t sound appealing anymore. For me, this came in two parts. First, tastes change, and I am no exception. I started my bookstagram years ago, when I read a lot of YA and chick lit. Which I still read books in those genres, I’m much more selective which which books I’ll read, because I’ve read enough of them to know what I’ll like and dislike. I re-read descriptions and asked myself “if I had never heard of this book and read the description for the first time, would I add it to my TBR list today?” if the answer was no, off the list it went.
Secondly, I sometimes get caught in the excitement of a new book and add it to my shelf in the frenzy! I see my fellow blogging friends getting excited about it, but read the description and feel more “meh” then “yay!” about the book, but I add it anyway, thinking I’ll read it at a later time. I decided going into 2017 that I was going to make it a goal of mine to only add books to my list that I’m really interested in reading, and leave the ones I’m unsure of off of my shelf. They aren’t going anywhere, and it’s not like I’m going to run out of books to read anytime soon, so I also went through and removed any of the books I was unsure about.
#4. Books by authors I don’t like. Sometimes, I just don’t like certain authors. I’m sure I’m not the only one! I can think of one author off the top of my head that generally gets pretty good reviews on all of her books, but I’ve read two of her novels and hated them both. They both got one star from me, and I decided she’s just not the author for me, and that’s okay. I went through and checked the books I did have to see if any of them were by authors I’ve learned that I’m not a fan of, and removed any of them off of my lists.
#5. Books in genres I don’t love. In 2016 I wanted to branch out a little bit and read some books outside of my normal genres. Often, I was pleasantly surprised, but there were some genres I realized that I really don’t like. For example, I don’t like historical fiction. I get ridiculously bored, and haven’t connected with any historical fiction book I’ve ever read. Therefore, off the list went any historical fiction book. I started reading some books in the fantasy genre in 2016, and within the genre of fantasy exist tons of subgenres, and there are some of them that I don’t like. Initially, I had added a lot of highly rated fantasy books to my list so I could read them at a later point, but some of them fell into the subgenres I didn’t like as much. Despite their high ratings, I removed them from my list because I just wasn’t going to be the right reader for them.
Overall, I’m sure there are other books I could remove from my list and not miss, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the fact that I was able to remove so many! I want to enjoy the books I read and not feel like I’m reading them out of obligation. It’s okay to decide you don’t want to read a super hyped book if it’s not something you’re interested in! It’s okay to change your reading interests and stop reading certain genres. I want to keep my list manageable, and I know that you’re probably all thinking that 646 books is still a lot to have shelved as “to read”…and it is, but I’m doing my best to get through them while only adding a small amount of new books to the list this year.
**What do you think? Do you agree with my strategies? How do you go about clearing up your to read lists? Let me know down in the comments!**