I touched upon this issue a couple of days back when I did the Intimidating TBR Pile Tag and I just feel that I need to talk about this more. The topic in discussion is that having a a large number of unread physical books is good.
Firstly, let’s talk about TBR. What is a TBR? Widely known as ‘to-be-read’, TBR means any book which you want/have to read. However – among a lot of bookish platforms nowadays (Booktube, Bookstagram etc.) TBR has exclusively come to mean ‘physical books which you own but have not read’. And, this general notion is something I dislike and disagree to.
I don’t think a TBR pile can ever have a limit. If I see/get to know about a book which interests me/which I want to read, it immediately makes it to my TBR list, regardless of whether I own that book or not. Nowadays it’s like the deciding factor of a book making it to the TBR is not whether one actually wants to read the book, but rather whether the book has been purchased or not. Which is shallow, and meaningless, and stupid. If I want to read a book, then that should be when it becomes a part of my TBR, not when I buy the book, which might take ages. Which takes me to the conclusion that technically, since there are innumerable books I want to read, I have an infinite TBR.
A lot of people consider their TBR as the ‘unread physical books they own’ and (now we get to the second topic I’d like to discuss) complain about the vast number of books they own. Almost everyone (including me) are worried about their bad book buying habits, but for the wrong reasons.
Excessive book buying can be bad for your wallet, unless you’re a millionaire, and that’s the only reason why I look down upon buying too many books. I don’t care that I have a lot of unread books. I don’t care that I buy books at a faster rate than I read them. I don’t care. As long as I’m reading, I don’t care that I own so many books I’ve still not touched. I feel like it’s an alright situation till your unread books are lower than your read books. Even if you own more unread books, as long as you’re reading something, it’s fine. Doesn’t matter. As long as you don’t own a thousand books and have read only a pitiful fifty of them (which then becomes being pretentious), you’re doing fine and you don’t have any need to be ashamed or sad or feel behind because they are your books, you are the one buying them, and you have the right to decide what to buy and when to read and so forth.
So I especially dislike people who judge others because they apparently ‘don’t read books they own’. That day, a friend of mine came over to my house and fingered my copy of The Colour Purple (which I haven’t read) and she has because of some school assignment or something. The moment I revealed that I hadn’t yet read it, her nose twinged and she looked at me in this sick, haughty air that I felt like banging her head with that same book.
I like having lots of unread books in my home. I like to have my options open; so that when I finish a book, I can rush to my bookshelf and have a variety of books to choose from a variety of genres, at my disposal. I have books with me which are as old as 8 years and I still haven’t read. I have books which I bought in a moment’s excitement and came home and instantly regretted. I have books which I bought with a lot of hopes and then later got disappointed with. I have books I have lost interest in.
And you know what? I’m not ashamed.