Does size matter? How big is yours? From bulging book shelves, to teetering to-be-read piles, read this now if you have a serious book hoarding habit.

At this time of year, many of us launch into full-on spring-cleaning mode, with a new year often heralding a desire to wipe the slate clean and embark on a fresh start in a freshly cleared home, Marie Kondo style.

That said, this presents quite a conundrum for bibliophiles. The clue’s right there in the name - we love books, so why on earth would we get rid of our teetering rainbow-esque towers of book spines. Rainbows we’ll never reach the end of because we just keep adding to the pile. Chasing rainbows aside, there are actually plenty of mighty fine reasons to explain this state of affairs. 

Here’s why we do it:

  1. We treasure our favourite books so we can return to them in the future.
  2. We treasure our favourite books as precious objects (these particular beauties ain’t going anywhere).
  3. We buy different editions of our favourite books (see above).
  4. We buy books on a whim as they chime with our current mood.
  5. We buy books for future moods.
  6. We see books recommended on social media, in the media, by friends, and right here on So we buy them.
  7. We feel like branching out into different genres and are overcome with an urge to buy a fresh stash.
  8. We discover new writers and have to read everything they’ve ever written.
  9. We find a bargain we simply can’t leave on the shelf.

And here’s why it’s fine to keep that pile plentiful:

  1. Since good books (especially our favourites) are like friends, how can we possibly have too many?
  2. The books on our TBR (to-be-read) piles represent a universe of possibilities - people to meet, places to visit, stuff to learn, and ideas to ponder. Who doesn’t want that scope in their life?
  3. Related, reading is good for you - really good. It can boost your brain, broaden your mind, cultivate communication skills, and lengthen your life (yes, really - read this), so it seems like a darn good idea to have plenty of books to hand.
  4. Even those novels you struggled to get into and decided to abandon may serve a valuable purpose in the future. That’s one of the amazing things about stories - they chime with us at particular points in our life, so you may well want to revisit them someday. So you have to keep them. Just in case.
  5. Buying new books supports writers, which keeps them writing, which will keep you in new books.
  6. They look good.
  7. Related, they’re a source of pride for many of us who share Insta pics showing just how huge (and pretty) our TBR piles are.
  8. They start conversations.
  9. TBR piles can serve a second purpose as tables or chairs.

You could be collecting, say, thimbles. While that’s totally fine, thimbles can’t (as far as we’re aware) lengthen your life (see point 3).

All that said, if space really is a problem, bibliophiles struggling to beat the bulge could use the library, donate to charity, swap books with family and friends - all noble endeavours that save space while sharing book love.

Taking this to the extreme, we could also implement a book-buying ban until we’ve (almost) finished our current read(s). Alternatively, we could simply embrace the bulge and cast aside any resolution to trim down our TBRs (who were we kidding, right?).

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