The concept of a zero TBR is something I started seeing pop up around booktube and the blogosphere last year and, at first, I had no idea what it actually meant. What on earth is a zero TBR? Why would I want to be someone with no books to look forward to reading?
That, of course, isn’t what a zero TBR actually means, though—at least it’s not my understanding of it.
I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder and someone who loves buying books and owning books, but it’s definitely something I’ve done more of than I should. I own so many books that I haven’t read that it’s actually pretty embarrassing, and that’s why I’ve got into the habit of culling my shelves around every 6 months. I don’t get rid of books just for the sake of it, though. If a book is being donated to a charity shop, it’s for one of the following reasons:
- I’ve read it and didn’t enjoy it.
- I’ve read it and enjoyed it but can literally never see myself picking it up again. (Maybe my reading tastes have changed since I last read it, or maybe it’s one of those stories I can only enjoy once.)
- I haven’t read it and I’ve now lost all desire to do so.
Something I’ve learned this year thanks to quarantine is that while I do love the idea of having a personal library, I also love the idea of my bookshelves reflecting who I am as a person. I don’t want my bookshelves to only be full of unknowns, but to be full of the books and series I love most. That’s why, when I returned to my parents’ house in south Wales for lockdown, I spent a whole afternoon going through my bookshelves there and being ruthless so that my shelves held either books I love or books I’m excited to read.
Spending so much more time with my bookshelves, rather than with my kindle which usually accompanies me on my commute to work, has made me realise how much I’m missing out on by not reaching for the physical books on my TBR. Not only am I missing out on books that could be potential favourites, but I’m also missing out on chances to clear the space books are taking up on my shelves so I can replace them with books I love a lot more.
There are series I’ve read on my kindle, such as The Diviners, that I’ve loved and would one day love to buy hard copies for my shelves, but right now there’s no room for them because my shelves are mostly taken up with all of the other books I haven’t read yet.
I know for a fact I’m never going to be the kind of person who simply never buys new books: sometimes publishers can convince me to buy a hard copy of a book I might have bought on kindle just by making it beautiful (like The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, for example, which has lovely sprayed edges) and unfortunately I can’t rely on my library to have books that I would like to read because its SFF selection is very poor and inter-library loans cost £4 per book with no guarantee they’ll actually be able to get it for you (and no refund if they can’t).
Going forward, though, I would love to be the kind of reader who’s read the majority of the books on my bookshelves.