Let me clarify precisely what I mean by a TBR pile. I’m talking about the books you receive from authors, publishers, blog tour hosts, publicists, and other sources in exchange for a review. This is not about books you purchase yourself, library books, loans from friends, or other books you’ve acquired/won without any sort of agreement attached to it.
I started blogging back in 2012 because I wanted to find other bookworms to interact with. I wanted a place where I could gush about the amazing books I read, discover new books, and discuss bookish things. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become a free marketing platform for authors and publishers.
But that’s what happened.
Within a few months of starting my blog, I began getting review requests. Once they started coming in, they didn’t stop. The more I reviewed, the more requests I got. Soon, I found myself with a list of over 80 books to read! I couldn’t keep up and I knew something had to change. It took several tries and a couple years, but I did it! I eliminated my TBR pile!
Here’s why you should do it too.
1. Less Stress
With 80 books in my TBR pile, I felt overwhelmed and stressed. I read as fast as I could and posted reviews just as quickly. I read 20 books a month and could never get ahead. Before long, I started feeling worn out and even resentful of my blog.
Now that I don’t have a TBR pile to answer to, I am virtually stress free! I’m SO much happier and I get to spend quality time with my husband and kids.
2. More Sleep
With a huge TBR pile, I found myself staying up WAY too late to try and squeeze some extra reading time in. On average, I got 5-6 hours of sleep per night. It didn’t take long before I was running on empty. I got sick all the time, I felt depressed and I had trouble sleeping.
No more! I go to bed on time and get a full night’s sleep. With no obligations hanging over me, I sleep well and wake up rested. I’m healthier and happier. I’ve noticed my new-found happiness spilling over in to other areas of my life as well.
3. You’re Not Working for Free
Now that I don’t have a million books that I’ve agreed to market for free, I have more time to work on other aspects of my blog. I started working with a few affiliate programs, writing articles for other sites (and get paid to do it), and even started an Etsy shop for bookish printables.
Once I stopped giving my work away for free, I found ways to actually get paid.
4. You’re Not Spamming Your Readers
After spending all that time, effort, and money on building a following, why drive them away by spamming them with sub-par books? No, I quickly realized that followers will leave and readers will abandon you if you are not trustworthy.
Once I decided to stop saying yes to everyone that contacted me, my review quality, reading happiness, and blog integrity went up.
5. More Honest Reviews
Getting rid of my TBR pile allowed me to be more candid and honest in my reviews. While I always tried to keep things upbeat, I resented feeling like I had to give a cheerful review to a book I hated. I have a hard time slamming a book when I know that the author/publisher spent time and money to send me their book in hopes that I’d love it.
Now, I can abandon a book I don’t like, write a negative review, and simply be more open about loving or disliking a book.
6. No TBR Pile = FREEDOM!!!
The day I finished reading my last review book was the best day of my recent existence. I no longer had anything hanging over me. Worries and stresses about reading and reviewing disappeared. It’s a beautiful feeling and I wish every blogger could feel it.
7. Read Whatever You Want
After I eliminated my TBR pile, I didn’t read anything for a day or two. The freedom was so glorious that I simply reveled in the feeling for a while. Then, I started reading a book I got for Christmas (9 months ago!) and have been wanting to read all year. I love the freedom of reading whatever I want.
That new release that everyone’s talking about? I’m all over it. That series I reluctantly put aside two years ago? I’m diving back in. The latest book to movie that I haven’t read yet? I’m there, baby.
Seriously. It’s fabulous. You should try it.
8. No Deadlines
There’s no stress about posting on a certain day. I don’t have to try and cram a book into a couple days of reading in order to finish it by a deadline or publish date. It’s such a relief to blog on my own terms.
9. No Obligations
It feels like credit card debt. You get a “free” book, but it comes the expectation that you will read it (which can take anywhere from a few minutes to 12+ hours), write about it, blog about it, cross-post your thoughts to retail sites, and promote it on social media. That free book comes with hefty expectations—ones that I don’t have to worry about anymore.
10. Love Reading Again
No book burnout! Now that I’m not spending every spare second trying to speed read through another chapter, I can take my time and enjoy the books I’m reading. If I decide to take a short break from reading, I can.
I even like blogging more now that I can write about books I genuinely love. My blog is finally becoming a channel for expressing my love of books—just the way I always intended it to be.
11. You Can Do Other Stuff
This one is HUGE! Now that I’m not devoting copious amounts of time to my TBR list, I can do other things. Like cook dinner, take my kids out for a treat, meet friends for lunch, painting, designing, and spending quality time with my baby.
I’ve found that life is SO much better without the TBR pile looming over me. I still have books I want to read. There is a stack on my nightstand and another one by my computer of books that I bought or publishers sent to me (unsolicited). However, these books bring me nothing but happiness because I want to read them, talk about them, gush about them. And if I get into them and realize they aren’t for me, I give them to a friend, donate them to Goodwill, or pass them along to someone who may like them.
Do you have a TBR pile? Are you working on eliminating it?
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