31 March 2015

To Be Read

My TBR stack from last summer

As a person who likes books and the internet, I'm fairly familiar with online communities of people who love to read. People of the internet are constantly coming up with new slang and terminology, and I didn't venture long through the circles of book bloggers and vloggers before I came across the term "TBR," or "to be read." A person's TBR is their list or stack of books that they own but have not yet got around to reading, and the general consensus appears to be that the rate at which a book lover's TBR grows outstrips the rate at which they actually read the books in it.

I've mentioned before that my personal reading rate is relatively slow compared to many book lovers'--I  finish one book about every two weeks. Given my slow pace and my love of books, you might think that I would have even more difficulty getting through a stack of books to be read than an average reader, but this isn't the case. In fact, I was quite amazed when I first learned how widespread the problem of an ever-accumulating to-be-read stack is in the online book community, since a year has never passed in which I did not, at some point, run out of new books to read.

I think that my consistent completion of my to-be-read stack is the result of the ways in which I get new books. The vast majority of new additions to my personal library are gifts that I receive from my family at Christmas and on my birthday in April. I'll typically be almost done with my Christmas books by the time my birthday comes around, and I'll reach the end of my birthday books sometime in the summer or autumn. When this happens, I'll borrow books from my mother and sister, re-read old favorites, or I'll be fortunate enough to get a gift card from my parents to treat myself to a few new books that I select myself. As a teenager I occasionally used to pick up an extra paperback from Borders or our local discount book chain when out shopping, but since these stores closed I hardly ever purchase new books for myself out of the blue.

Being a book lover on a budget can be hard, but I've never felt deprived of reading material thanks to my family's generosity and the wealth of free public domain texts online. And just as I believe that one's love of books isn't measured by how quickly one reads them or by how much time one devotes to a single reading session, I believe that the measure of a book lover is not the height of their to-be-read stack. In my opinion, a true book lover is someone who reads and appreciates the books they have--regardless of how many or how few those books may be at any given time.

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