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  • Jane McGarry

The New Year vs The Bottomless TBR Pile

Ah, the new year, that special time of year when we look back at what we read in 2022 and plan out our reading lists for 2023. If you are anything like me, this is a daunting task. I’m going to be honest here, because I feel like my fellow readers will understand—my TBR pile is out of control in a massive way. My once perfectly organized shelves now groan under the weight of double stacking, any hope of organization long abandoned. Seriously, I could buy no books for several years and still not catch up. With all the best intentions, every January I excavate the piles and pick out the books I will absolutely, most probably…um…maybe, try to read. And I do, I really do, want to read each of them, but here is the conundrum: I scroll through Insta, or stroll through a bookstore and there they are—ALL. THE. BOOKS.

The “twisty thriller” book. The “everyone is talking about it” book. The “I already have the first book in the series” book. The “it’s just so pretty” book. You get the idea.

Thus, the pile continues to grow. Exponentially.

Like many of you, I took part in the 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge. And total sidebar here but—some of you read 100+ books? In one year? How? Is reading your superpower? I bow down to you and your abilities. For the rest of the mere mortals out there like me, the total is, well…much lower. I read 22 books last year, two more than my goal (I can hear the 100+’ers chuckling, “Amateur”). For me, the low goal helps keep unnecessary stress out of my already busy life. Reading is one of my few pleasures. While others might love the challenge of a loftier total, I don’t want to feel pressured to read and lose the enjoyment I feel when savoring a good book.

But that’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it? It’s not one size fits all. What, when, how, and why a person chooses to read is an individual decision, yet the essence of a “reader” is the same in all of us. The power of books lies in the ability to transcend age, country, and time. All stories connect us, let us know we are not alone in this world. Through Insta and Goodreads, I have met a wide range of people and though we may not share the same culture or like the same genre, our love of books bond us with its uniquely unifying magic.

So, I am sure many of you understand the comfort of a large TBR pile, to have volumes waiting for you like long-lost friends. In those chaotic stacks dwell stories yet to be discovered, life lessons yet to be learned. Now that I think of it, rather than upsetting me, the ever-growing accumulation reminds me of the many tales I am privileged to look forward to and how they will surprise me, make me reflect on something in a new light, and help to define my thoughts about the human experience. And with this justification argument in mind, I won’t feel guilty when the next package of bookmail shows up. And neither should you! (You’re welcome.)

Whatever you read in 2023, whether you pick books from a giant TBR pile, or stumble across them as you go, I hope you love them all. Please keep sharing your reviews and thoughts with the rest of us, enhancing the connections that are so special in the reading community. Books shape who we are, both individually and collectively. Readers are the link between these stories and humanity. And, in my opinion, readers are the most awesome people out there—even you 100+’ers!

Happy New Year!


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