Bookish Chat : How many books is TOO many?

August 13, 2014 Bookish chat 34

First off I want to laugh and say there is no such thing as too many books. After all I love books, I love buying books, acquiring books and everything that comes with it. I get just as much pleasure out of getting a new book and the anticipation of the read ahead as I do from the actual read.

reading list

However I also get panicky when I have too many stacked up. When they start to mount up and up, higher than I can possible read no matter how fast or how much I read; then the pleasure diminishes a little. I don’t want to be a book hoarder, I want to read the books I have and enjoy them without cringing about how many more I never get to.

I suppose this is enviable when you are a book lover and there is no way around this. I only have two eyes and so much free time so I am limited in what I can read and want to read in a week. I don’t want to spend all my time reading either; that’s one sure fire way of turning a passion into a chore.

There are a couple of reasons that this topic is on my mind right now.  The first is a blog post written by Terri @Starlight Book Reviews about Keeping a Tidy TBR.  I admire her control and discipline.   And also I’m reading a much-anticipated book at the moment (The Secret Place by Tana French) and I love it so much that I’m reading it as slowly as I can, as I want it to last.  But I’m having to ignore the voice in my head saying ‘hurry up, book are awaiting’.  I am ignoring it but if I had fewer books on hand, I wouldn’t have to work quite so hard to shut it up!

Plus the other disturbing thought in my head is – if this wasn’t an arc would I still have dropped everything to read it?  I think yes, I’m pretty sure I would.  After all this is my favourite author.  But what about other books I really, really want to read?  I have to admit they often get pushed back the line to make room for review copies.  And this disturbs me, I don’t want to do that.

So I’m curious, do you have a number of books in your head that you won’t exceed? That when you hit that limit, you rein it all back in a little until you catch up.

In my head; these are my limits:

  • 20 review books (but I currently have 30). I’m fine with 20 as that is about 6/7 weeks reading and it feels manageable. 30 on the other hand feels like pressure, pressure, pressure! And it’s my own fault; I can’t resist a book that sounds great. But I’m trying to be more disciplined as being over my self-imposed limit is giving me hives.
  • 70 other books – the ones I buy, win, borrow, freebies, etc (I currently have 77). I don’t feel under pressure by these books as I’m under no obligation with them. However these are the books that I wanted, drooled over and acquired with a smile on my face. I WANT to get to these too.

Total : 107 – that’s a fail by my own limits and now I’m thinking I’d like to reduce these figures even further

I’m 7 books over my limit and that difference is more heavily weighted in favour of books I need to review. In some ways, this has happened as my blog has gotten bigger. I often get the books I want now and I’m delighted about that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moaning, I’m just trying to puzzle it all and come with a picture that makes sense for me.  I’m grateful for every single review copy I have gotten and I want to give my honest feedback on them all.  And make time for other books too.

I’m also seriously competitive in every area of my life. Don’t play board games with me, I am ruthless no matter how low the stakes! And that makes me want to ensure my feedback ratio on all the publisher sites is good. And of course I’m the excel queen so I’m always analysing my own figures too which is how I know exactly how many books I have on hand. Which is good as I’m aware but then again bad as I’M AWARE!

I just need to stop now before it all runs away from me. I need to feel I’m in control and even writing this post has given me a sense of restraint. I’m only a tiny bit over my limits and with some careful monitoring all will be fine. My immediate solution is to avoid NetGalley, Edelweiss and Bookbridgr for a few weeks. Or try.  Or wait, not I’ll try, I WILL avoid!  Until I get my review books back to 20, I’m not letting my eyes go looking or my fingers go clicking.

Bookish Chat : So what I want to know is…Do you have limits? Do you count the books? Or do you float along in blissful ignorance? I like the idea of that but I’m too much of a control freak to leave that happen! How many books on your tbr and what is the split between review books and other books?

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34 Responses to “Bookish Chat : How many books is TOO many?”

  1. Cleo

    I try to maintain some order over the books I have for review. When I get them I put them into a spreadsheet with the publication date and a date to start reading… August has been overloaded with too many books published on 14th! Other books I’m not so worried about, I have organised a shelf that hold books yet to be read but that doesn’t take care of all those on my kindle.
    Cleo recently posted…WWW Wednesday (August 13)

    • trish

      I have them in a spreadsheet too so I always know at a glance what’s coming up for publication. Plus even adding them to a spreadsheet makes me slow down as I’m no living under any false illusion as to any many books I have on hand. I include all the kindle ones too as otherwise I forget about those!

  2. Dee @ Dee's Reads

    I’m kind of a floater. I don’t get too many review books around the same publish date (that’s been the most effective way for me to control myself). So I make myself look and calculate when I’d have to review it by (at the latest) and then look at my calendar and if I’m free – I push that free button and download/request.
    As far as books I buy or win *sigh* that pile got out of hand last year. In fact, I stopped reading them and due to that anger and sadness I stopped reviewing for awhile. Since then I realized that if I don’t read at least read one book I bought for every review book, I should just delete my blog because there’s no way that makes me happy! And rightfully so, I just remembered I needed to consider those books as being important too. And I’m having tons of fun reading them.
    I’m scared to count how many review books I have. But your # has me curious. dare I count!? *shudders* If I get the courage to do so, I’ll tweet you my result. Lol 😉
    Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Monster Read-a-thon Wrap-Up

    • trish

      That’s a good policy. I try to read 1 non review book every week but often end up reviewing that one too if I have something to say. It’s NOT exactly a problem having too many books but I need to keep track as otherwise I’d get stressed. Once I get my review books back to 20 and eventually down to between 10 and 15, I think that will be a happier place for me. I have some amazing books that I won and I WANT to get to those but they always seem lowest on my lists. But I am getting some GREAT books to review so I’m not complaining, I know it’s all good really.

      I’m glad you found a system that works for you, I was afraid for a while that you would give up blogging and I missed you. And YES, I totally want to hear your numbers! Go for it Dee!! :O

  3. Charleen

    I think the most unread ARCs I’ve ever had at one time is maybe 5? And even that felt overwhelming. But that’s because I don’t give review books priority over the other books I want to read. I mean, I do in that I try to have them done by the release date… but if that meant review books being the majority of my reading, that would really bum me out. One a month, maybe two or three on rare occasions, is really all I want to allot for review reads.

    And anyway, I’ve been requesting them less and less recently, because I’ve realized most of the ones I request blindly just aren’t anything amazing. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re just okay, but the great ones are few and far between. (And I’ve never given a review copy 5 stars.) So now I’m only requesting ones I was interested in before I saw it on NetGalley.

    As for my personal TBR, I do get overwhelmed by my excel list of titles, but it’s not quite the same as having the physical books. Though I do feel a little bit of failure when I have to return books to the library unread because I checked out more than I could handle.
    Charleen recently posted…July Mini-Reviews

    • trish

      I admire your discipline Charleen! I do love reading ARC’s though so I suppose I’m just trying to find some middle ground. I thought I would have it worked out after nearly 18 months of blogging but I find the longer I blog, the more temptation I have.
      I don’t have a TBR list on excel (I just use excel for books I own), I’m afraid to even imagine how long that would be. There are just so many books I want to read and the thing about blogging is that I learn of more authors everyday that I’d like to try.
      Having a library book is a bit of pressure too as it has a read by date. I know it’s not the end of the world not getting to it but I’d say it’s disappointing when that happens.

    • trish

      I know my reading has changed drastically since I started blogging. And I want to change that a bit; I want to make time for rereading for example, that never gets a look in now. I think just writing this post has made me more aware that I need to cut back on review books a bit. I still love them of course but maybe just less of them.
      It looks like you have a system that is working for you which is great.

  4. anna (herding cats & burning soup)

    LOL nope. I just buy when I see ones I think I’ll like and try not to worry about it. I probably have 1000 print books here waiting to be read. They’ve turned into a focal feature in the living room so it works 🙂 I pick and choose from the pile now and again and just like knowing they’re there if I ever need them 🙂 I’m a total book hoarder. lol
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Bound to Danger (Deadly Ops #2) by Katie Reus

    • trish

      1000 *dies* lol. As long as they don’t stress you that’s all right. I love buying books too, it’s such a feel good buzz 🙂

    • trish

      Hope the funk passes soon xo

      And control, nope not me. Within 2 hours of posting this I bought a book. But it was Cora Carmack and it was on sale; had to be done!

  5. Lark

    I know what you mean about feeling pressure when too many unread books stack up; I don’t read ARCs, but I have a library addiction that gets out of hand, and unread books on my shelf, and books coming in the mail that I just ordered from Powells….so yes, sometimes I feel like I have too many books, but then I take a breath and my sanity returns. 🙂
    Lark recently posted…Between Two Worlds

    • trish

      They all add up so quick, don’t they! Deep breathes and thinking zen thoughts added to my how to stay calm list! 🙂 And I love the choice so it’s a great ‘problem’ really.

  6. Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews

    I hope I didn’t make you feel guilty! That magic number of “TBR” is so different for everyone, so if you’re comfortable with your 107, I wouldn’t worry about it. For me, so many of those books I was “meh” about were NetGalley books, and that was really turning reading into a meh experience when it didn’t need to be.

    Someone made a great comment to me the other day about this: if we can resist those NetGalley and impulse buys and get them from the library if we’re still really anxious to read them, that might cut down on the non-essential books and make more room for the “I HAVE TO READ THIS AUGH SO GOOD” books.

    Best of luck! You can do it!
    Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews recently posted…Review: “The House of the Four Winds” by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

    • trish

      I read that comment and it really is a great point. One I tend to forget.

      And lol no your post didn’t make me feel bad! It just made me think. I love arc’s and all that goes with them. I just need a show a little more restraint and find a bit more balance in my reading menu. I think 70ish is a more reasonable number for me personally. I want choice and the joy of stacks of books and that will give me that without also giving me high blood pressure 😉

  7. Finley Jayne

    I actually don’t own any books, so that simplifies things, lol. I get all of my books from the library 🙂 I did recently sign up for Blogging for Books, but as soon as I read/review a book (there’s a one book/one review policy), I’m putting the finished books in a box, and at the end of the year I’ll be doing a giveaway on my blog for them. I’ve already got one in the box, with bubble wrap lol.
    Finley Jayne recently posted…Bout of Books 11 Reading Goals!

    • trish

      That’s a great way to share the love! Or give it a second chance if you didn’t enjoy it. I read about your first book….yikes!

      I love to reread favourites and looking at my book shelves so I’m happy but I just need to halt for a bit and read what I have!

  8. Wendy @ Book Scents

    You’re so organized!! I have to say I cringe when I even try to think about numbers of books. I went through a netgalley request splurge back in the spring which was a huge mistake bc then school got crazy and I didn’t get to read much at all for a few months. Sooo my ratio on netgalley is the worst right now. Then I went to BEA and got a ton of review copies. :/ I’ve actually read quite a few of those but you’re right – I will push finished copies that i have back. Since I am in the process of moving/unpacking I realized just how many finished copies of stuff I have that I HAVEN’T read. It makes me sad. Sometimes I think, will I ever read all the books I want to read before I die? Okay, kind of weird but… yeah. haha. For instance… I preordered Katie McGarry’s Take Me On, it arrived the day it came out and I STILL haven’t read it. Something I’ve been waiting on!! I just wish I had more time. :/
    Wendy @ Book Scents recently posted…Deeply Dark, Terrifyingly Twisted

    • trish

      I have done that too. I ordered the new Lauren Miller book but months later I still haven’t read it. There is something sad about that. It’s a little scary how quick they all add up though and of course great too. I always have a fantastic selection to choose from, I do love that.
      Oh and read Take Me On soon, it’s FAB! 🙂

  9. Stephanie

    Like most of us, you go beyond the limits that you have set. I have gotten better about not taking too many review books. For me, it was too stressful and took the fun out of reading. I had to remind myself that I started blogging because of my love of books, not reading because I blog. Currently I don’t take more than 8 review books at any given time. I have a lot of older publications that I still have on my TBR and have to have time to get to them.
    Great post.
    Stephanie recently posted…Review: The Circle by K.M. Montemayor

    • trish

      I love the way you phrased that. I don’t want to read because I blog either, that’s a good way of looking at it. I want to spend sometime now catching up and enjoying shopping from my own shelves.

  10. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I limit the review books to favorite authors…and Vine books. The Vine books have a built-in limitation, as we have 30 days to read each one…and when we go to the review page, it ticks off the number of remaining days.

    I am trying not to order too many…five at a time is now our limit on Vine if we haven’t reviewed all of our books.

    So I don’t go in for Netgalley or most author review requests. I buy too many, especially on the Kindle…but I feel as though I can manage it.

    I track purchases, review books, books read and reviewed…all on my Curl up and Read blog.

    Incidentally, I started that blog in 2009 because I had 166 unread books (physical books!) on my stacks.

    Great post!
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGE

  11. Mary @ BookSwarm

    LOL! You sound a lot like me! Of course I adore books and want ALL THE BOOKS but…I can’t. I get overwhelmed when there are too many books staring me in the face. I have three shelves of physical TBRs (though I’m starting to double-stack, which means I need to either purge or read faster) and four “pages” of ebook TBRs (more than five and I get really twitchy). As for reviews, I’ve got too many (I think I’m around 50 at the moment, though I’m doing a review binge today). That’s actually why I’ve started doing “tweet-short” reviews, knocking off five (more sometimes) at a time.

    It does get frustrating because I really do want more (greedy reader!) but I can’t mentally handle more. Gotta cut myself off. Great discussion post!
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Hot Cover Alert, Mini-Review and Giveaway: Nalini Singh’s Rock Addiction

  12. Rita @ My Home of Books

    Missed this discussion a few days ago. I don’t limit the amount of books I buy, except because of the cost, so while I’ll buy new e-books, I only buy used print books or get them in a giveaway.
    As far as request books, this is my downfall. I feel guilty when I ask for a book, then don’t read it right away. I have a Blogging for Books choice that I really wanted, but now I put it aside to read two other books first.
    I have poor impulse control with NetGalley. I actually don’t have a great review ratio with NG (and thus have to be approved for my requests) because I have on occasion returned a book that I requested, and then later realized I wouldn’t like, and didn’t want to read/DNF or give a poor review. That’s my fault though.
    Rita @ My Home of Books recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up 8/16-8/18/14

  13. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I’m at 70+ review books and I have no idea how many other books. It’s out of control. Ideally I’d like to have fewer review books but then something happens and I go on a request binge on NetGalley and all my good intentions go out the window! I’m making progress on my NetGalley ratio but I’d still like it to be higher. Good for you for staying so organized with the books you’ve gotten!
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…This Week in Reading – August 17

  14. Kathy @ My Nook, Books & More

    I’m at 30 books for review and this is because I went crazy on Netgalley (I was surprised I was approved for some of the popular titles). But I’ve learned my lesson and I am concentrating on these (and not signing up for any blog tours). I have over 1,000 ebooks on my Nook. Most are free, so that is where I am limiting my “purchases” from. I still buy ebooks and started my own TBR on an excel spreadsheet so I can keep track of the publishing dates and also where they are (either on my Nook or Kindle app). Good luck on your goals! I know it is hard not getting more books!!
    Kathy @ My Nook, Books & More recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up 16

  15. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    *looks at TBR pile* Limits, what are those? Haha. My Goodreads isn’t completely accurate, but if I look at the shelf: owned-tbr ‎(328) I just.. love to buy books. I want to own them, pet them, display them 😀 I must admit that a lot of those books are bought when I read adult books and I completely switched to YA 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Bout of books Updates.

  16. Cayce

    107 is not that bad, in my opinion. 🙂

    (Haha, I tried to read The Secret Place slowly but failed – ended up finishing it in two days)

    There’s a copious amount of books I might want to read/buy/borrow/win (one day), but I don’t have that many books (actually) lying around waiting to be read. Maybe 20 or so books (plus some manga/illustrated novels) + a few ebooks (5 or so…) And right now I have exactly 5 ARCs waiting to be read/reviewed (and none of them will be coming out for months, so yeah, I’m not worried)

    I’m a bit of a control freak so while I like to have a selection to pick from (because I’m also a mood reader), I do NOT like to have too many unread books. Sometimes I see bloggers talking about having 500+ unread books and I just can’t… can’t imagine what that would be like…

  17. Sandra

    I try to balance my reading; I read one or two books for review and the rest of the month I read books I want to read for fun. I don’t want to burn myself out,or add stress to a hobby that I’m doing for fun.

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