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Reading Tips

Practical Tips for Reading the Books You Already Own

Looking for some ways to read the books you already own? Here are seven tips for book lovers.

Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle

How to Read Books You Already Own

Do you have a never-ending TBR list?  How many books are on that list that you already own but haven’t read?  It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of new releases, and before you know it, your shelves are overflowing with books you may never get around to reading.  So in this article, I’m sharing practical tips to help you focus on reading the books you already own and stop ordering new books impulsively when you have too many unread books!

Focus on Reading the Books You Own

7 Tips to Help You Read the Books You Already Own

Organize your bookshelves.

If you’re finding it difficult to focus on reading the books you already own, maybe it’s time to downsize, declutter, and organize your bookshelves.  Start by getting rid of those books you know you won’t read, and the books you’re not sure about right now should go into storage.  Then, only keep the books you know you want to read on your shelves.  You can also trade books with friends or family members.  If someone has a book you’re interested in reading, ask them to trade it!  And vice versa – if you have a friend who’s dying to read one of your favorite books, trade away!

Make a list of the books you want to read.

This is probably the most important tip.  If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to get lost in your books.  So please make a list of the books you want to read in order of priority and try to stick to them as much as possible.

Let’s set some reading goals.

Another great way to focus on reading the books already in your possession is by setting some goals for yourself.  For example, decide how many books you want to read from your TBR list in a certain amount of time, and then go for it!  This can be a great way to motivate yourself and make progress on your TBR.

Don’t order new books impulsively.

This can be tough, but if you stick to your list, you won’t need to order new books.  And if you do find yourself wanting a new book, try to wait at least a week before buying it.  That way, you’ll be sure that you really want it.

Your Library is Your Best Friend.

One way to focus on reading the books you own is by using your library.  If there’s a new book that you’re dying to read but don’t want to spend the money on it, check out the library!  You can still get your hands on the book without purchasing it.  You can also use your library to “try before you buy.”  If you’re unsure if you’ll like a book, borrow it from the library and decide whether or not to purchase a copy after reading it.  While waiting on your new book from the library, you can also use this time to read the books you already own and are sitting on your shelf.

Set aside time each day to read

This doesn’t mean reading for hours on end.  On the contrary, even thirty minutes each day can make a big difference.  This is because so much dead time can be found throughout the day, and occasionally, unplanned moments of free time open up.  So instead of scrolling through social media, pick up your book, grab your e-reader and read a few pages, or pop in your headphones and listen to an audiobook.

Need help finding time to read?  Check out our Finding Time To Read for Pleasure When You’re Extremely Busy.

Mix your reading up

Another way to make progress on your TBR is to try and mix things up a bit.  For example, pick a book from your TBR list and read it alongside a book that’s completely different from it.  This can help keep things interesting and prevent you from getting bored with either of the books.

Join a Book Club

Joining a book club can provide you with a sense of accountability and motivation to read the books from your shelf.  Plus, discussing books with others can make the reading experience more enjoyable.  So I’d like to invite you to join the BiblioLifestyle Community and the Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Club!  This is a members-only community where we connect over our love for books, share recommendations, build lasting friendships, and encourage each other along the way.  Plus at our Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Club, you can bring any book you’re reading to our monthly meetings and tell us all about it.  So this is perfect if you’re trying to focus on reading the books you already own!

Set some limits

Finally, we recommend setting some limits for yourself when ordering new books online.  For example, try only to order books you know you plan to read immediately or within the next month.  Also, avoid ordering books you see everyone else reading that are not something you’d naturally gravitate towards.

In addition, you can make exceptions for a new or rare collectible edition, the latest book in a series you love, or an author whose books you’re being intentional about reading.  Setting limits for oneself is hard and challenging, but it’s a great way to prevent your shelves from becoming cluttered with unread books.

How To Read The Books on your TBR

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you read a bookshelf?

Reading a bookshelf isn’t about literal reading but rather an approach towards managing and prioritizing the books you already own. Start by cataloging your books, and noting the titles you’re most excited about. Arrange these books in a prominent place to serve as a constant reminder. Consider setting reading goals, for instance, pledging to read a certain number of books from your shelf each month. Diversify your reading by picking different genres or authors to maintain interest. Make the act of reading a daily habit, even if it’s for a short period. Lastly, be patient with yourself; the goal is to enjoy the process of reading, not to rush through your books.

What is the best method of shelving books?

Determining the best method of shelving books depends largely on your individual needs and preferences. However, here are a few universally applicable strategies:

  1. By Author: Arranging your books alphabetically by author’s last name makes it easy to locate a specific book, especially if you remember the author.
  2. By Genre: If you read across a wide range of genres, this method can make choosing your next book easier. Cluster your mystery novels, biographies, fantasy books, and so on.
  3. By Color: While this won’t help you locate a specific book, shelving by color can create a visually pleasing bookshelf.
  4. By Read and Unread: This method can be motivating if you’re trying to get through your to-be-read pile. You’ll have a clear visual of your progress.
  5. By Size: Shelving books by height can give your bookshelf a neat and orderly appearance.

Remember, the ultimate goal of shelving is to create a system where you can easily locate and access your books. Experiment and find the method that works best for you.  For more on bookshelf organization, check out Bookshelf Organization: 10 Ways To Organize Your Bookshelves.

How many unread books do you have on your shelf right now? Why haven’t you read them yet and what’s stopping you from reading them?

It’s not uncommon to find more unread books on your shelf than you would like to admit. The number varies for everyone. Some might have a modest pile of 10, some a staggering 50 or more.  As for me personally, I can safely say I have well over a hundred.  The reasons for not reading these books yet are just as numerous.  Perhaps they were impulse purchases made because the cover was attractive or the blurb was intriguing. Maybe they were gifts or books you planned to read ‘one day.’  Personally, for me, it’s a combination of all of the above.

Procrastination, lack of time, or being overwhelmed by the sheer number of options can also be significant factors. Distracting elements such as digital media, work, or social commitments may take priority over reading. The first step in tackling this stack of unread books is acknowledging these reasons and then implementing strategies to overcome them.

Do you have any tips for how to read books you already own?

Do you have any tips on how to read books from your shelf?  What tips have worked well for you?  What has helped you to make progress on your TBR?  Let’s talk all about reading books you already own in the comments below!

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  1. Madeline says:

    Such great tips! Definitely putting some of these to use for 2022(:

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