TBRs used to excite me. It was like having my own personal library.
But as time moved forward and those books remained untouched, dust slowly gathering on their pages, there was something ominous about their presence in my life. It suddenly felt overwhelming.
Bookstagram and Booktube have always had an issue with competitive reading. You have to read 10 books a month to stay ahead of the curve, to reach every single re-read, to beat out everyone else to show that you are the most impressive reader around.
And so the TBR grows, and grows, and grows until there is no end. There is no end to the number of books you own. There is no feasible way that you will be able to read all of that.
Books you bought years before that you have no interest in. Books you don’t even remember buying. They stack up until you are enclosed in a tiny fortress of unread books that trap you. Buying more only worsens the problem. Goodreads only reminds you of how much you have to read.
It’s the only time in my life that I’ve wished my shelves were bare. That I could just start afresh. Despite selling or donating over 100 books I still feel that crushing anxiety.
Is this the consequence of turning such an individual act – reading – into a social media community?
In my life, I’ve never really had people I could talk to about books in the way that I wanted to. I wanted to geek out about them, to give my thoughts and feelings, to love them with other people. As I’ve gotten older I’ve managed to gather a few unlucky people who get to listen to me rant about books, but that circle is very small.
Which is why I think so many of us turn to booktube. Even as a passive watcher I felt involved in a community of people who thought and felt in the same way that I did. But naturally when surrounded by so many other people that are passionate about the same thing, you feel a pressure to keep up.
It’s no longer just about reading for you.