If you spend any time in the book blogger/Instagrammer sphere you’ll come across the acronym TBR, which stands for to be read. Any reader will have a TBR list of some sort, even if it’s just mental. Spend enough time in bookshops and libraries or following authors on Twitter and your list just starts to grow.
I don’t have my TBR list in one place. Some of it is mentally recorded, some books are listed as ‘Want to Read’ on Goodreads, I sometimes use my Amazon wish list to record books I want to read, and there are the books I’ve bought or been bought but haven’t go round to reading. Since I don’t have my TBR list written down in one place, I’m not sure how many books are on there, but I’d have to guess it’s in the region of 250 books. And then there are the books I feel I ought to read someday, like Proust’s In Search of Lost Time or War and Peace, that float around on the periphery of my mental list.
I tend to read around 25-35 books per year, although I did once manage to reach my target of 50 and it looks like I’m on target for 50 books or more this year. I don’t know how many books get added to my TBR list every year, but I can guess that my list is growing at the same or a higher rate than I’m able to read through it. Every now and then I vow not to buy any more books until I’ve read all the ones I own, but that never seems to last too long. I’ve spent the last few months interning at a publisher, so the free galleys haven’t helped much! I’m also incapable of going to the library without leaving with a big stack of books.
I don’t think I’m ever happier than when I’m sat in a comfy chair with a book and a cup of tea. It’s how I try to spend as much of my weekend and vacations as possible (one of my best vacations ever was probably one of the worst ones for my husband – he managed to twist his back and was confined to an arm chair for the entire week. I got a lot of reading done!). I also read on the subway and the train during my commute and I’ve recently gotten into the habit of reading a few pages in bed before I go to sleep (to the detriment of my sleep).
But I have to accept that I will probably never be able to read all the books I want to read (after all, they keep publishing thousands more each year). It’s a sad realisation, but I also have to remind myself of the lessons I learnt from my 50 book year: What I need in 2018 is more books that nourish me, warm-bowls-of-soup books, books after my own heart. It’s not about how many books you read but about reading books that are well and truly after your own heart.
And perhaps there is something to be said for never getting round to reading Proust or War and Peace. Whenever I visited a new place, I quickly realise that at least half the fun of the trip was the anticipation of it. Perhaps some of those unread books on my shelves should remain that way, so that I can have the pleasure of pulling them off the shelf, flicking through them, anticipating what lies inside, and then sliding them back on the shelf. Perhaps…