I have a TBR (To Be Read) pile. Most people who buy more than a few books a year do, so I've tended to see it as normal. I tell myself that I don't have a problem; that I read a lot of books so it only makes sense to keep a good supply to hand so I'll never run out.
This would be fine if my TBR pile was a dozen or so books but it's bigger than that. Much bigger.
This year, I'm likely to read between 110 to 140 books.
According to my GoodReads shelves, I have 776 unread books. Add another 10% for physical books lying about that I've haven't put on GoodReads yet then, at my present rate of consumption, I have SIX YEARS worth of books on my shelves.
And every month I buy more.
This is something more than a TBR pile. This is what the Japanese call tsundoku. It describes people who buy books, leave them in piles and don't read them. According to THIS HuffPost article, tsundoku:
"is a Japanese portmanteau of sorts, combining the words “tsunde” (meaning “to stack things”), “oku” (meaning “to leave for a while”) and “doku” (meaning “to read”). "
This word made me think a bit more about my behaviour and what it means.
Am I a BOOK HOARDER? Have I become like one of those people who has nowhere to cook or to entertain because every space is occupied by their collection of Star Wars memorabilia?
Am I a BOOK-BUYING ADDICT, getting my high from the act of buying and shelving a book rather than from reading it? Have I become the book buying version of someone buying every piece of shiny that QVC promotes?
I'd like to say no to both of those things because, if they were true, well, I'd be ill and in need of help, wouldn't I?
Except, I may be in need of help because, when I ask myself, "could you stop buying books for a year?" I immediately start to negotiate. I mean, what about the books in series I've already started but don't own all of yet? Or the Mann Booker List? Or Bailey's or the really cool author that debuted this month? I should be allowed those, shouldn't I?
So, I'm willing to accept that I've been habitually committing Tsundoku for some years now and it has to stop. Except I know that if I try to stop altogether, I'll fail so here's the deal I'm making with myself:
"From April 2018 to end March 2019, 90% of all books I read will come from the TBR pile that I have today."
This allows me about a dozen new books a year.
I'm going to monitor my progress by creating an FMTBR (From My To Be Read) tag for the books I read. I'll also track the gap between buying the book and reading it.
I still want reading to be the pleasure it is today. I just want to be able to root-out the Hoarder/Buying-Addict behaviours that have attached themselves to that pleasure like tics on a dog.
I'll let you know how I do.