Purging the To-Read Shelf


I’m the type of person who has trouble dealing with change and letting go of things. I’m not too bad at DNFing, as you might know, but I definitely don’t DNF as much as I might because I want to know what’s going to happen, or more commonly, I feel like I’ll be left out if I don’t finish a book. Nowhere is this more clear than my Goodreads to-read shelf.

Before the Bookish Purge

There are some books that have been on my to-read shelf for a long time. There are multiple reasons for that, of course. Some are books I just keep putting off for various reasons, and others (as evidenced by the lack of covers in the image above) are books that were announced a long time ago and still have no details attached. However, most of the books at the top of my shelf are ones I added ages away but haven’t really felt like reading yet or maybe even lost interest in altogether. They’re only still on my shelf because I hate letting go of things, even books I might not enjoy.

I was getting sick of seeing the same books at the library and trying to guilt myself into finally picking them up, so I decided to finally do something about it: a bookish purge. Ever since I created my “might read” shelf on Goodreads, where I add all the books that I might want to read but might end of losing interest in, my “to read” shelf seems more manageable and full of books that I genuinely want to read. That only helps with the books I add now, though – what about all the books that have been languishing for years on my to-read shelf?

Here’s where the bookish purge came into play, as you can probably guess.

I did my best to be brutally honest – I looked at all the books on my to-read shelf and asked if I actually wanted to read the book or if I felt like I was obligated to because it’d be on my list so long.

After the First Purge

I managed to get rid of almost 20 books, and as you can see from the picture above, some of those books came from the beginning of my shelf and made a visible difference. Just looking at that made me feel better, like I was under less pressure.

But I felt like I hadn’t done enough, that I had gone easy on some books. So I went through all the books again and tried to be even more critical. Sure, I only got rid of another 8 books, but that was about 5% of my list.

Second Purge – You’re Looking So Skinny, “Want to Read” Shelf!

Maybe getting rid of roughly 30 books from my to-read shelf isn’t that big a deal to some people, but to me, it felt freeing. I think I need to do this a few times a year – maybe once a season? There are definitely some books that are still on my list that I don’t think would last another purge or two – I either need to read them already or admit that I’m never going to read them. I’d like to do this with my “might read” shelf as well, but I don’t feel the same amount of pressure to read them. They’re really just there to remind me that they exist and I might want to read them or I might want to check out some reviews first.

I used this purge as an opportunity to add a good chunk of upcoming books to my to-read shelf, so some people might think that this was a pointless exercise, but honestly it was the purging that inspired me to go out and find new titles to add. Loads of books got added to my “might read” shelf because I was more selective about my precious post-purge to-read shelf, but it was nice seeing shiny new books.

And hopefully I won’t have to end up purging too many of them in another few years.

Also, to those eagle-eyed readers who looked at my tabs on the above pictures, why yes, those are some fanfics opened in other tabs. If I could figure out how to add fanfic to my Goodreads challenge, my numbers would be amazing.


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