Let’s Talk: Book Buying, Book Tastes, and Academia

I don’t think I buy too many books, but I do feel that I have too many books in my apartment.

When I began blogging a few years ago, I rarely bought books. I preferred borrowing from public and research libraries. Unsurprisingly, book blogs and booktube inspired me to buy more books. To limit my buying habits, I purchased a Kindle. Since I prefer reading Classics, I thought buying a Kindle would save me a lot of money. It did. However, I soon discovered Half Price Books (the second-hand bookstore in my region where all books are half off the original price), and my purchasing increased exponentially. I realized that I prefer to own physical books. I really don’t care what condition they are in, but I want to have my own personal library of books that I have read and enjoyed.

My TBR is larger than I would like. Although I want to keep a personal library, I don’t want to have too many unread books. I worry that owning too many unread books means that I am just a pretentious reader, keeping books that I have never read to feign my erudition. However, I do read a lot. I prefer to read works that are rich in philosophy and intertextuality. I actually enjoy reading the kinds of books that make one sound like a snob.

I blame this on Academia. It’s really hard to avoid reading obscure, difficult books while in a humanities graduate program. Academia teaches us to have very niche interests and to set ourselves apart from the general reading public. I am currently writing a term paper on the influence of materialistic determinism on Diderot’s Le Fils Naturel. All of our paper topics are as complicated and niche as this one. So inevitably (pun intended), the books I read are not the kinds of books the general public reads.

This only heightens the anxiety I have over my TBR. I feel a greater pressure to read the books that I’ve purchased because if I don’t, I come across as pretentious. I have a lot of difficulty determining which books I should review on this blog and which books I should read without reviewing. Will anyone care that I read this study on Diderot? Maybe I should review Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, but how many viewers care enough about Biblical scholarship to read the Art of Biblical Narrative (a fantastic book by the way)?

I have not found a perfect solution to my dilemma, but I have decided to do something to minimize my discomfort. I have decided to limit my book buying and read more of the books on my TBR even if they are inappropriate for this blog. Today, I am giving away a stack of “read” books to the local public library. I don’t want to keep books I know I won’t revisit even if I enjoyed reading them the first time. Finally, I have decided to review less and make more frequent “reading update” posts.

What have you done to address your TBR problems (if you have any)?

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Book Buying, Book Tastes, and Academia

  1. Donating to the library is always a great idea! I also donate read but unwanted books to the thrift store, or, if I’m in Portland, sell the nicer ones to Powell’s.

    As far as my TBR problem goes, last year I had a lot of success with the Mount TBR Challenge: https://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2016/11/2017-mount-tbr-challenge-sign-up.html
    It forces you to read books that were purchased at least in the previous year, so there is no incentive to buy new books and every reason to read old, purchased books. 🙂

  2. I’m also addressing my collection of unread books by reading from these rather than buying anything new. So far I’ve managed three months – ideally I would like to get to six months but we’ll see. As for what to review on your blog – it’s your blog so you decide what goes on it depending on what you want to achieve with it. If youre objective is to provide an online journal of what you’re reading and its mainly for your own benefit, then review whatever you want. If its meant to be more of a way of connecting with other people, probably just review what you think your readers are interested in

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