Discussion: Conquering Bookish Anxiety


Now, I’ve written posts that have alluded to this in the past, but I’ve never written anything completely about it — and I KNOW I’m not alone in my thinking, and I really have no solution to my problem, but it’s something that I’m working on all the time.

Book Anxiety. 

When I sit back and think about how many books are out there that I want to read, I get stressed. Or, when I read other bloggers’ posts about the new releases in the week, I see all the books I want to read in those lists and know that I’ll never get to read them all — and those lists usually only include books in a certain genre, not ALL the books that are actually being released in a week.

Like I said, I know I’m not alone in suffering from major bookish anxiety when it comes to thinking about all the books that are out there versus how many I’ll actually get read in a lifetime.

I mean, think about it. Tastes change throughout the years. Maybe in a few years I won’t like YA as much as I do now, or maybe I’ll want to read all the classics, or maybe I’ll still be stuck in YA — I just don’t know! But regardless of what genre I’m reading, I know that with every coming week, my pile at home seems to grow, the library constantly gets new books in, MORE new books are released in the book store, and my bookish friends continue to pump up books that just look amazing.

Now, I can read a lot of books in a week. I’m lucky that way. But I don’t read ALL THE BOOKS usually. Instead, I’ll try and read books, do the work thing, do the family thing, do OTHER things that have nothing to do with books, and try to find a balance in ALL the things I enjoy. But then there are time where I feel guilty about doing these other things when I have 200+ books on my shelves that need to be read.

I sometimes wonder if I read faster if it would be better, but then I tell myself that I like the leisurely aspect of reading. You know, sitting down and reading a book, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, and really digesting the voice of the author. If I sped read through a book, I don’t think it would have the same effect on me.

I also don’t want to be a person who consistently finishes a book and immediately picks up another book to read — instead, I’d like to digest the words I’ve read, think about the characters, actually debate what I read in my head and think about what I liked and disliked about it. I mean, I started the blog to remember what I read and if I’m speed reading through books, I would doubt that I would remember as much as I do. 

So, really, in the end, the anxiety stays. I’m really not sure what helps to quell the anxiety — I mean, I feel it over so many things (for example, earlier in the year I got addicted to Doctor Who and had MAJOR anxiety over the show, the regenerations, the changes in companions — my heart was not in good shape) that it’s a difficult thing for me to just say, “You know what? No more anxiety for me.”

And for some, it might seem silly — I mean, there are so many other things out there that are bad or difficult, so many other things that seem more likely to cause anxiety. But still, I’m me and this is what I’m like. Are you like me?

Do you suffer from bookish anxiety? How do you conquer it? 



53 thoughts on “Discussion: Conquering Bookish Anxiety

  1. I often think about all the books out there that I want to read, and I feel like I’m never catching up. On top of that, I think I’m a pretty slow reader compared to most book bloggers I’ve been following. But then I remind myself that this is a good/fun problem to have. I wouldn’t want to ever run out of good reading options, right? I guess, sometimes I feel anxious about it and sometimes I don’t. Unfortunately, I think I am more likely to now that I’ve started a book blog, but the enjoyment I get from it makes up for that. I’ve heard so many bloggers alluding to this same problem, though, that I know we are not alone.

    • That’s so true! Can you imagine finishing a book and then having to wait weeks for the next published book to come out? That would be horrible! At least we have plenty of choices!

  2. Yes, I can definitely relate, as I’m sure all bookworms can! It’s daunting and scary and causes a little panic attack inside my heart every time I think about it. Last month I wrote a post about how out of control my TBR piles are getting, and even just thinking about the amount of books I have at home, unread, scares me! (And I know my piles aren’t even close to the size of many others!)

    For me, it’s pretty hard to get over, btu I do try not to let it stress me out. I think that’s why I made the reading goals I did this year, to try to remind myself to relax and just read what I can, when I can. Because, like you said, it’s impossible to read it all!

    • I’m pretty sure I have close to 300 unread books at home, which I try to think about when I want to buy all the books. I’ve gotten so much better at telling myself that I don’t need a book. And it’s great to just relax! I’ve been doing that this year and it feels great!

      • I’ve finally gotten to that point, too, where I actually can stop myself from buying books because the mounds of unread ones at home cause me anxiety. It’s kinda good to be able to stop myself, but also bad that it’s such an addiction!

      • It’s so bad! I was never like this before book blogging, so it’s kind of nice to get back into NOT buying everything. I’ve been using my library a lot lately and it feels great!

  3. I usually worry about all the books I currently own and the fact that I need to read all of them. I’ve gotten better and instead of flat-out buying books I usually wait or go to the library.
    I don’t think I have anxiety about it, but it really can be overwhelming.
    It’s good that you try and take your time after reading a book to think it over, and having anxiety about anything is never silly, so don’t worry about that.

    • The library is a HUGE lifesaver. I think I forgot about it last year and am just remembering how great it is now. It’s also great to really think about whether or not I actually want a book before buying it. That way I’m not cluttering up my shelf with books I might never read. AND I’m trying to actually read books after I buy them, rather than just putting them on the shelf.

  4. There is no getting over bookish anxiety. I deal with it every day and I have just gotten used to it as much as I can. I have accepted that I will never read all the books I want to read, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still bother me. I stress over the fact that I need to read faster all the time. All I read are ARCs, it seems. And I love them but I want to read my own books too. And yet I can’t stop requesting them because I don’t want to miss out on ANYTHING. Bookish anxiety is the WORST.

    • Yes! It’s the not wanting to miss out on something feeling. When everyone in the blogosphere is raving about a book I feel like I have to read it to see what the fuss is all about — even if it’s a book that I probably wouldn’t have picked up had I not read the fuss. Sometimes I feel like I need to read blogs with a different set of eyes.

  5. I don’t get anxious when I see how many new books are coming out that I want; I get excited! But when I look at all those same books on my TBR shelf at home, the panic starts to set in. How in the hell am I going to read all of those AND still justify buying new books every week?!

  6. I can completely relate to this. I guess my main issue is that if I see everyone else crazing about a book or series I end up feeling obligated to read it when really I should just focus on what actually interests me, not other people. Nice post 🙂

    • Exactly! I think that’s how I accumulated so many books, because OTHER people loved them. Before I started reading all the blogs, I’d get books based on whether or not I would love them. I’m trying to get back into that mindset!

  7. Sometimes I get that way..I would love to read everything on my wishlist, all the books sent to me and ones I see on others blogs,. I often dream of a time stopping device. I read 307 books last year and less than half of what I wanted..LOL I try not to stress, buy the books I hope to read and well I might not read them all but I will die surrounded by books I adore, desire etc. BTW I am a total Whovian and cannot get enough.

  8. I can completely understand the anxiety, I have it too. I worry that people won’t like my blogging because I don’t buy loads of books, or because I don’t do a review every day or every other day. I worry that I’m not going to get through all the books I want to read because the list grows, and I get angry with people when they don’t understand why I keep buying books when I still have loads to read. It’s a hard thing to deal with, and you hit the nail on the head! Great discussion post 🙂

    • When I first started really focusing on my blog, I would buy a TON of books. Now I’ve really scaled back. I feel like if I don’t have an epic mailbox post each week, that’s okay. At least I’m buying the books I really, really want. And I make sure that I blog for me first. So long as I’m happy, that’s all that matters!

  9. Gah I feel like that all the time and it’s hard not to look at all the new releases and be like I want them all! and then realize you still have not read book 1 and this is book 10…yeah.. lol not a good feeling. I been a bit stressed out lately as it is, but I don’t want to feel like I need to read them all. I am also a slow reader, so… I will hopefully get there eventually.

    • I have a series like that on my shelf … I bought 12 books in the series and have only read the first one. Usually I’ll buy the first book then slowly build my collection as I read, but this one has been staring me down! Or if you start a book in a series knowing that the series is crazy long … OR it branches out into other series books within that series. It’s great if you’re loving the series, but I also like to know that I’m trying other books, too.

  10. Thoughtful post! I have a bit of anxiety when I think how there is no way I can possibly read all of the books I want to read. It’s just SO unfair. But that does give me much more freedom to not feel like I need to trudge through a book that just isn’t doing it for me.

    I like that you point out how sometimes you wish you read faster but that you really do enjoy savoring the book and really absorbing it. I completely relate to this. One minute I will be jealous my friends are reading a book a day and then I will turn around and think, well I don’t necessarily want to speed read and not really remember anything about the book later either.

    • Of course, then there are people who remember everything about their books AND they’re a speedreader. I’m envious! BUT if I read hundreds of books each year, I’d wonder if I spent my time wise enough. Did I really do everything I wanted to do, or did I feel tied to my books? There has to be a balance.

  11. I know how you feel. I usually don’t let the books in my possession get over 100. THAT stresses me out more the number of books I’ll never even get my hands on. Audiobooks help me get through more than I normally would if just reading, but I have to be careful of what I’m trying to multitask with when listening to audiobooks. Sometimes I periodically go through my Goodreads TBR shelf and cull out books that have lower than a 3.6 rating or books that I just don’t think I’ll ever get my hands on. That helps relieve some of the anxiety. And DNFing the ones I don’t enjoy. I know that’s a topic that has much discussion, but when you feel so much pressure to read ALL the books, then putting down the ones you don’t enjoy is really the only way to get more read that you will enjoy. I started off slowly with DNFing and just started DNFing a series that I might not have read all the books in that series, after I finished the current book in that series that I was reading. That’s just how I manage my own anxiety. Like you said, it’ll probably never fully go away. And when it strikes you just have to take a step back and change your perspective.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only WE Know

    • I would love to get the books I own but haven’t read to 100 … I’m pretty sure it’s closer to 300 right now! I hate it when people come over and look at my bookcases and comment on a book, but I haven’t read it. I’m working on that this year! And DNFing books is a must. If you’re not enjoying it, why suffer through it? I’m terrible for buying more than the first book in a series, even if I’m not sure if I’ll like it. Then I read the first book and it’s just meh to me. I’ve DNFed a few series!

  12. Ah, bookish anxiety. I suffer from that whenever I look at my TBR and the unread books on my shelves! It’s always overwhelming to consider that I might never read all the stories that I do want to read. That being said, I do my best to remember that I read for FUN. I want to always enjoy reading, and not just feel pressured to do it!

    • Yes! Reading for fun is a MUST! I find that I’m doing that a lot more now that I’ve had a baby. There’s not enough time for me to read a book a day like before … now it’s nice to have that chunk of quiet time and read a little, maybe watch a TV show, or bake some cookies. It’s more of a hobby again.

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  14. Absolutely suffer from it. And the more book blogs I read, the more it seems to grow. I’m not a super fast reader, so there are tons of books out there I will never get to. It kills me.

    • Reading blogs can be terrible for a TBR list! I’m constantly adding books to mine after going through my blogroll. I like to make sure that I add books to my wishlist though, rather than just buy them. Sometimes they seem good in the moment but after a second glance it might not be the book for me.

  15. I definitely have that anxiety! I have so many unread books on my shelf i know many of them will go unread forever. I fully anticipate i will grow out of reading YA in a few years. Right now i read 50 / 50 adult and ya but i think that might be a phase… WHO KNows. I know once i retire ill read even more than i do now. Hopefully then ill read even more

    • Glad I’m not the only one who has those books that might never get read. I like to think that one day I’ll be in the right mindset to read some of them. AND some of them are chunksters which would take me forever right now, with a baby to care for. And you’re right about the YA thing. I do read a lot of it still, but I find that I’m starting to branch out lately. I might go back, but it’s nice to be a little more eclectic with my reading.

      • I have a baby…toddler as well. The thing with YA is I do really enjoy reading it and I always will I’m sure. But I think for like a year I read almost nothing but and that genre has a way of just trending. So you’ll see too many of the same themed book in a rush. I’m so much happier again now that I’ve gone back to reading more adult books. I still read 50% YA though. Makes me wonder if that will teeter off more but I doubt it because I think I’ve always had a soft spot of YA but I didn’t realize before years ago that it was considered a separate genre (way before my book blogging days.)

      • Yes, seeing all of the same themes in books can really make me turn away from the YA genre. I think that’s why I try to branch out into more contemporary books. I envy people who can get lots of reading done with a baby and a toddler (or more!).

  16. Oh, I definitely get the same kind of book anxiety myself. There are constantly new books that I want to read that just add to my already huge list of books that I want to read….and that list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. 😛 I try to relax about it though and just enjoy what I’m reading, too, but sometimes the anxiety does get a bit excessive. 😛

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who gets anxious over how many books there are on my ever-growing to-read list though. 😛

    • It’s so hard when new books are coming out all the time. I feel like my old books are just staring me down wondering why I bought them in the first place. I like to think that if the apocolypse came, I’d be ready to hunker down in my house. I’d have plenty of entertainment!

  17. You aren’t alone. The only way that I can conquer it is to truly not think about it. I have SO many books at home to read but I still check out books from the library. My wishlist seems to grow every Tuesday. I will pick up a few books when I’m able to go to a bookstore and pick up even more if it’s a used bookstore. I’m a hopeless case. I can’t tell you to just get over the anxiety because if it were that simple you would be anxious would you? (I hate people who say “don’t just worry about it.”)

    What works for me is knowing that I’m reading as fast as I can and I’m truly enjoying all the books I’ve been reading. I know that I’ll never get through ALL THE BOOKS but I try not to dwell on that and enjoy the ones that are in my hands. I try not to let all the other books sitting in my peripheral vision and the GoodReads lists on my account steal any of the joy from my current read. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I hope you do find something that works for you! 🙂 Thanks for the great discussion post!

    • Yes! I’ve just gotten back into using the library each week and I’m the same way. TONS of books to read at home, but checking out half a dozen each visit to the library. I guess it could be worse since I’m doing really good at not BUYING all the books.

      While I’d love to speed read, it’s nice to know that I am taking my time and savouring books now. It’s not a mad dash to finish one and get to the other.

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  19. I feel the same way. I think of alll the books I will never get to and i feel all sad and angsty. Oh well I hope Heaven has all the books then I can read for all eternity.

  20. I definitely suffer from bookish anxiety! I don’t even want to think about the fact that I am most certainly going to die before I get the chance to read all of the books that I want to read. Like…it’s not even going to come close. And that’s SO DEPRESSING.

    But I guess that’s why I let myself DNF books as much as I want. Ain’t nobody got time for that when there’s thousands of other amazing books out there! 😉

    But, yeah, sometimes it gets stressful, and I definitely do want to have balance in my life, too. I don’t want to miss out on important things because I can’t put down my books. That’s not the way to live. But at the same time, I do still want to read as much as I reasonably can, and try to push myself to read more and read faster.

    I don’t really “speed read,” I don’t want to miss out! But I do think that my reading ability has gotten faster with the more books that I read, and I guess that’s good!

    Great post 🙂

    • Allowing yourself to DNF a book and not feel bad about it is key! I mean, why suffer through a bad book when there are so many better ones out there? I think having a baby has helped me realize that there are other things to life and that putting down a book is okay. Even if it means reading the same one over and over again because it makes the baby smile!

      I think my reading has gotten faster, too … I’m still not as fast as some people, but I’m happy with it.

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  23. YES I suffer too. I have over seven THOUSAND books on my Goodreads to-read shelf. It has become just a shelf of books that interest me, because there’s no way that can be a realistic to-read, right? I have so many physical books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet, not to mention all the virtual kindle books. Yikes! Not enough time in the world. But I try not to worry about it too much, cause I do still need to enjoy the books I do make time for 🙂

    • Yikes! Thousands of books? That’s a lot! My TBR list ONLY consists of books I own, so thank goodness it’s not that high! Virtual books pile up so fast — and I really haven’t even used my ereader this year at all! That’s making it easy for me to shy away from those books.

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