The Growing Book Backlog: The Unexpected Ways Your To Be Read List Can Grow

For the past two years I have been ramping up the number of books I read in a year. Books I had either bought or received as gifts have collected dust on shelves or stacks I’ve left on the table. Growing tired of having books that remained unopened, I made it my personal mission to begin ticking off that pile one by one. My ambitious goal has paid off with my list of read books growing steadily, and my list of unread books shrinking. Or so I thought. Just when I’ve been finishing off books I already had, I find myself unintentionally adding a new batch of titles to my to be read pile.

When lockdown occurred in March of last year I saw it as an opportunity to knock back a number of personal goals I had at the back of my mind or were already in progress. Reading more books was high on that list. The growing uncertainty and fear this pandemic brought many of us had people, businesses, and institutions finding ways for the masses to cope. Among those resources to help people try and escape their current reality was to give away free books.

The author Paulo Coelho, who wrote the critically acclaimed The Alchemist, made a few of his books free to download for a limited time last year. Having not read any of his books before, and not being one to pass up free, I downloaded the books that were available. In December my cousin gave me a gift card from Bookshop.org as a Christmas present to buy even more books. It was only recently have I finally taken advantage of that gift card. Before I knew it the pile I had valiantly whittled away over a year was growing in size and number, both digitally and physically.

The allure of free books.

I’ve mostly refrained from buying more books, at least if there wasn’t one I simply had to have, and stuck to what I currently owned or used Amazon Prime’s included list of free books to download and read. The sheer amount of books available on Prime’s reading list is enormous and contains a lot of the classic literature books I’ve always been meaning to read but never got around to. It was through Prime that I was able to download and read 1984, The War of the Worlds, and The Turn of the Screw for the first time last year. There’s a limit to how many digital books you can have at a time, maximum is 10, and when you’re done with one, you send it back to Prime to add more to your library. There’s no time limit to how long you can hold a book on Prime, not in the same way a library has a time limit for borrowing a book, and this has added even more books than I ever expected to the pile.

When access to books is made easy, and at no additional cost to you, it can feed the desire to read more books but at the expense of a never ending TBR pile that won’t quit no matter how many books you check off your list. I have more digital books on my device than physical ones, and it has become a bit daunting to figure out where to begin to start with those once I finish off the physical books in my possession.

My list of books to read has gotten as big as my video games backlog, and while I have two mountains of media to consume during my personal time, not including the TV shows and movies waiting to be watched, it keeps me busy in all the best (and worst) ways possible.

The pandemic and lockdown has been devastating in many ways but at least I have been in good company throughout it all.

Has your book backlog grown or shrunk during the pandemic?


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