This Overwhelming Feeling I’ve Been Getting

Back awhile ago I did a whole series on how I’ve changed as a reader before blogging and then after. It was a really eye-opening project to truly look at all the ways I’ve changed as a reader from habits to interests to becoming even more of a voracious reader. But recently I was thinking about one thing that changed a lot — the factors of which I touched on in a few of the posts from this series.

After I become a blogger (almost 5 years ago WHAT), the amount of books I owned SKYROCKETED and also I became so much more aware of new releases and just books in general — something that I never had done before. I got into blogging and my eyes were open to all these books I HAAAAAAD to have. My Goodreads account exploded. It was exhilarating and fun to discover all these new-to-me books. It still is.

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But recently I’ve had some sort of “what is my next read going to be?” anxiety. Sure, the SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME anxiety happens all the time because SO MANY BOOKS SOUND AMAZING AND I KNOW I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET TO THEM ALL. But this is different than that.

I find myself standing in front of my bookshelves (or even at the bookstore or library) and I just feel overwhelmed. It’s so hard for me to decide what to pick next. I’m a mood reader so I can’t do a schedule and, sure, sometimes it’s easy because I have a book club book to make the decision for me…but a lot of the times I just stare and stare at my shelves. There are SO MANY BOOKS I WANT TO READ & so many books I’ve been anticipating and, if I could read them all the same time I would, but staring at my shelves trying to pick just overwhelms me.

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And I was thinking about how I never experienced this pre-blogging. How I had much fewer choices because I didn’t know about a lot of books and I didn’t own that many. When I went to the library or bookstore I didn’t have a million books I KNEW I wanted to pick up. I just picked up something on a whim and that was that.  Sure, there still WERE just as many books to choose from then….but I wasn’t aware of them. I hadn’t heard all these awesome things about them or know the other or have this already burning desire to read them. Does that make sense?

I started thinking a lot about how I’ve heard that too many choices isn’t always good for us — just in general in life. I’ve found it to be true for myself sometimes even though, in my head, I always think I want 100 ice cream flavor options in front of me rather than 15. I think this is why, as I’ve gotten older, minimalism has appealed to me even more. When I have too many choices I spend too much time trying to make the right decision. I agonize over it. It takes me far too long to make the choice. There’s a guy who talks about this, the paradox of choice, and I’m not sure whether or not it’s true for everything (maybe more IS more/better sometimes) but I absolutely see it to be true in some aspects of my life.

I’m extremely THANKFUL that I have freedom in choice. That I have access to and KNOWLEDGE of all these books. That I can hop out of bed and have access to SHELVES upon SHELVES of books. But I will say that sometimes being aware of and owning so many books is OVERWHELMING. I love being aware of all these books out there but it makes my decision of “what to read next??” even harder because I feel like all these books I so desperately want to read are just all vying for my attention. Just yesterday I was lamenting the fact that I have a bunch of unread books just sitting here from authors I SUPER love. All because I have so many competing for my attention.

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It’s a first world problem for sure because I’m lucky to be able to read and have access to books that I’m FREE to choose. I mean, there could be worse problems, right? I guess I could be wondering what to read next and genuinely have NO idea what is out there that I might be into (I know this because I get google searches to my blog about what to read next).

As much as I’m grateful to have a never-ending queue of books to read next, it truly does overwhelm me sometimes to make that choice — to pick that ONE book out of the hundreds that I own or the 1,000 books I have marked as “to read” on my Goodreads list. The book lover’s eternal dilemma, huh?

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What about you all? Do you ever feel this or do I just complicate things too much for myself? Do you believe that having too many options or choices is a bad thing? Tell me your thoughts and feelings!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I found myself with so many library books checked out in October, that I was renewing and renewing until I couldn’t anymore, to the point where I had to put myself on a library ban. Want that new release? Not til you finish what you have, Trina! I’m at the tail end of the books I had back then and next I’ll be moving on to my owned books and trying to get through most of them before I can buy or borrow anything else (with a few exceptions where it would contradict with my yearly reading goals). Of course, in a few months when I finish what I have, I’m sure I will go crazy clicking everything I’ve been wanting for months and months and maybe I’ll be back to square one, but at least for the meantime I feel like I’m accomplishing something, lol.

  2. Oh, sometimes I don’t even need a ton of options. I’m currently stuck deciding between two college living arrangement options and I’m feeling that same thing of wanting to be absolutely certain that I’m making the “right” choice, but having no idea. Ugh, it’s frustrating.
    Book related: Especially when you have new books you want to read, along with some books you want to re-read and not being sure which to do.

  3. I have this problem all the time. I just stare at my shelves and just can’t seem to pick one. I’ll pick one because I was anticipating it so much, but then I’m afraid I won’t like it so I put it back down. I’ll jump from book to book and then I get into this weird slump because I don’t know what to read. Yesterday I picked up a random book thats been on my shelves for a while and I was just sucked in! Having too many choices is a problem sometimes, so I do this thing with my boyfriend where I pick two books and he picks three. He then covers them up and I pick a random one and thats my read. It seems to really help when I just feel so overwhelmed.

  4. I can relate to this, more so because I have so many books to read yet and I’m worried I won’t get to read them all. In reality, I know that if I just stop buying books and taking them out from the library, I’ll be able to get through all the ones on my shelf at the moment, but my bookish heart keeps seeing those new releases coming up, or books that are already out on good reads and then I panic because I need to read those also! I definitely think that blogging has made me panic a bit more about all the books out there that I may or may not be able to read but at the same time, blogging has been good as it’s given me some really good books to read! Just so many choices, so little time!

  5. Perfect timing, Jamie! I actually have a post coming up that talks about how I found a reading system that works for me!

    I totally get that sense of panic at the thought of choosing my next book. Do I want to go for something similar? Do I want to pick a completely different genre? Something old? A review copy? HELP. Yeah I’m right with you there.

  6. Before I started blogging (and thus, making sure to acquire new books on a semi-regular basis), I had this same problem—except it was standing in front of my bookshelves deciding what to reread, because I didn’t really go out of my way to buy books a whole lot back then. I was in college with little money and even less space, so even when I did buy books, I had to keep it limited.

    Now, even though I have many more books to read and much more choice, it’s almost easier for me to decide what to read because there’s finally a regular supply about new books that I’m excited about, and—as a fellow mood-reader—I can usually just say “mmmm…THAT ONE” and be reasonably happy with my choice. I’ve also become better at DNF-ing or going back to books later if they’re just not striking my fancy at that particular moment.

    Don’t stress, girl! You’ll get to them all eventually. 🙂

  7. I feel the same way about pre-blogging and post-blogging reading. I am now aware of tons of new releases and debuts that I was never aware of before blogging! I had a few authors who I loved…and I knew when their new releases were coming out, but not much beyond that. And, I was usually not on the front end of the curve in trying new things…I would wait to hear everyone talking about a certain book being great before I gave it a try. Like you said, a good problem, but still overwhelming!

  8. THIS.

    So much this.

    Couple this with dealing with PSTD (that you didn’t realize you had) and you get a total book reading meltdown of epic proportions. Which is why I just stopped reading almost 2 years ago. I would look at all of the books I had on my shelf that I had been dying to read and… just shut down. My brain stopped. My desire to read vanished. Anything I tried to read was flat. Angering me. So unoriginal. Even my comfort food books (JD Robb’s In Death series, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series) weren’t readable.

    I bought almost no books last year. Partly due to finances, but partly due to the lack of reading. Why buy when everything suddenly seemed less shiny to me as soon as I held it in my hand. It’s hard. Overwhelming. Sensory overload. And I am trying to recover from this little by little. Baby steps.

  9. I completely agree with you! Before I started blogging I would head over to the library, grab books that interested me and work my way through the pile and I’d have a lot of my own books to choose from so I’d choose some of those randomly. Sure, I’d ask myself “What should I read next?” but it wouldn’t take me so long to arrive at a decision like it does now. Now I have to factor in arcs, other review copies and books coming out within the next few days into the equation, where as I had none of this before. A couple of months ago I got so stressed about all the books I’d read and which one I should start with that I actually put myself in a reading slump because of it. I’m so grateful for it all though, don’t get me wrong but it does definitely make decision making a lot harder. Fantastic post, Jamie! Also, if you ever feel stressed or overwhelmed, you can always talk to me on Twitter!

  10. I often think that it would be nice for me to be able to “zero out” all of my unread, owned TBR books because I feel like I spend more time deciding what to read next than actually reading due to all of the choices. I also feel guilty for buying so many books and not having the chance to read them all yet. Maybe I need to box them all up and pretend like I only have 3-5 books and then when I am in need of new books, go “shopping” through my boxes? Hmmm!

  11. Oh yes, I definitely feel this all the time! I’ll go into my room to pick a book and sit down on my bed and just stare at my shelves. I’ll sit there so long sometimes that my sister will ask me if I’ve fallen asleep! And I’ll finally pick something, read a few pages and toss it aside saying “I don’t want to read this!” Or I’ll end up rereading a book for the millionth time (which is what I’m doing right now).

    My sister and I are really bad like this about movies too. We can’t for the life of us manage to pick a movie to watch within 5 (10) minutes. We own several hundred DVDs, have Netflix & Hulu, and there are just way too many choices! Plus, we are so addicted to our phones now that we can’t manage to put it down for an hour & a half usually. So sad.

  12. I have always felt overwhelmed about the number of books I want to read — even before blogging. But, that’s probably because I work in a library….Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and realize I’ll never read them all, but I need to enjoy the process — not so much the “checking off the list” thing. I’m a list maker, so my need to count things and keep statistics doesn’t really help when I’m feeling overwhelmed by books. It’s hard. But I also tell myself how lucky I am to have such a happy problem!

  13. So glad I am not the only one with this problem!
    I always struggle to choose my next read. I usually spend ages staring at my bookshelves before I pick up a book and invariably I end up having to put that book down and pick up a second one because I now know what I am in the mood to read.

  14. I actually get haunted by the physicals sitting in my room. I now like eBooks because above all else, they don’t make me feel guilty. There are just so many books that I haven’t read. Some of which I have no intention on reading! There are also so many choices, making my TBR shelf turn into a bookcase! It’s scary for sure, but there’s also something thrilling in the madness, for me.

  15. Oh yes, I think as I get older I appreciate the concept of less is more better than I ever did before. It’s just that choices are great and all but too many of them simply shuts my brain down. This is mainly the reason I’ve cut down on ARCs because I find them much more stressful than anything. Sigh. =(

  16. Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could agree with you more. In fact, I’ve banned myself from buying books in 2015 (not counting trips to London and NYC later in the year, because that would be cruel).

    I have two bookshelves at my house but the majority of my books are still at my mum’s house, and the amount of time I must have spent sat in front of the shelves, trying to decide whether to re-read an old favourite or try a new book, whether it should be a book that’s been sat there for ages without being read or a brand new purchase… It’s actually making me panic a bit just typing this! So, in the interests of my sanity and my bank balance, no e-books or physical books will be bought in 2015, except for special circumstances. And although I’m not reading as quickly as I’d like to, due to both work (blah) and discovering the joy of knitting (hurray!), hopefully the great buying ban of 2015 will work to clear both my mind and my overdraft. Here’s hoping!

    • That’s a good idea. I’ve slowed down my spending lately too. Trying catch up on all of the lovelies sitting on my shelves needing to be read as well as the review copies I am behind on reviewing.

      Good luck with your ban. And I agree on the trips you should be able to buy some. : )

  17. I have felt overwhelmed in this way ever since I became a librarian, though I think blogging makes me more aware of it because I pay more attention to what I’m reading and what I want to read. And just the extra time I take to blog about books when I could be using that time to read! But I think I just have to live with it. I’ve made a point of whittling my To Read shelf on Goodreads down a bit, and I regularly go through and delete books from it that I don’t think I’ll get to (and sometimes I put them back on later.) I’d love to think of my To Read shelf less as a To Do list (I must read all these books!) and more as a place to get ideas if I don’t know what to read next. Of course I ALWAYS have like 10 things I want to read next, so I’m never looking for ideas! I also have two book groups (one personal and one for work) so that adds a bit to my reading. I often say I wish all the authors would stop publishing for about 5 years so I can catch up 🙂

  18. I’m not a book blogger but I follow a lot of book bloggers and I experience the same anxiety. Sometimes it’s ridiculously overwhelming this anxiety. How to I read the stuff I’ve discovered, the stuff that’s just being released (I am generally way behind but think it would be fun to read what everyone is talking about when they’re still talking about it), not to mention things I’ve already purchased competing with the new add ons to my TBR pile. It is exhausting – and wonderful to hear I’m not alone in this overwhelming anxiety about…books!

  19. I feel this way all of the time lately. That’s why I have cut back on accepting review copies and I’ve made my reading jar. And I’ve gone through my wishlist and really pared it down to just the ones I know I REALLY want to read. I want to read ALL THE BOOKS, but I know it’s never going to happen in this lifetime, so I want to make sure that I’m reading books that I want to be reading and not books because I have to read them.

  20. Do you want to hear one of my biggest fears that is weird? That I’m going to die before I can read all the books I want to read. My husband was like, what the heck, only you would come up with that. but seriously. I have so so many both owned and on my TBR shelf on GR and I WAANT to read them all but TIME! It stresses me out. Can we all just pause life and go on book vacation??

  21. Love this post Jamie! I’ve been feeling the same way lately. I used to have blog tours that would kind of decide for me as to what books I’d read, but now that I don’t really do them anymore, I find myself struggling to choose. I used to keep a schedule, but I have definitely become a mood reader myself, so that doesn’t really work. I made a list of books to read before Christmas break to help streamline me though. They were different genres/age groups so that helped because I could pick and choose.

    You’re right though. Before blogging I was beside myself because I was reading the same books over and over because I just didn’t know all the amazing books that were out there! (I must have read THG, Twilight, and some NA books 10 times! HAH.)

    I agree- sometimes having TOO many books is really frustrating and overwhelming because you know you can only get to so many . Sigh. There are times when I feel so lost over making the decision that I end up not reading at all, which is the last thing I want. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  22. I’m always one that needs a ton of choices or I become stifled, BUT with that said there can be too much of a good thing. It’s like when you sit down at a restaurant and they hand you the menu. The more choices there are, the harder it is to narrow down what you want at that moment. I read like 10 books at once because I can’t just choose one, and because I need variety all.of.the.time. But one way to narrow it down might be to figure out what kind of story you are in the mood for before you look at the books. Do you want more of a comforting, know-where-it’s-leading-to read? Are you in the mood for action-packed thrills? Do you feel like having a good cry or a good laugh? Are you ready to jettison out of the place you are in and discover a whole new one? Narrowing down your mood before you look at books will help you a little bit. That’s the only advice I have, I hope it is helpful!!

  23. I fully feel you on having so many books to choose from and sometimes getting overwhelmed with all the choices. Sometimes I get so anixious over what to read I just decided to buy a book then and there that I want off amazon and stop the choice. I have always been like this though even before I started blogging its just gradually gotten worse since I started to collect all the books. I’m glad others face the same problems as me.

  24. Same here. I’ve been feeling this way for weeks now. So many books, so little time. 🙁

  25. You are not alone! I have noticed the same thing. I think it’s because I am aware of all these new releases, plus all the blogs I read have so many incredible book suggestions. Ugh, so many choices! I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the choices too.

  26. I understand completely.since I started blogging I feel a lot of pressure to read the arcs I’ve received. But there are too many! And what if I don’t like the book or want to read it just then?! I do like knowing more about the newer books. I need to make sure I’ve giving myself time to read for me, not just for the blog.

  27. Ugh, I work full time and have two small kiddos, so the amount of free time I have to read now is not nearly what it used to be, which also means that I have a massive list of books I want to read and not nearly enough time, so choosing the next book is always so hard. Now it seems like I have to spend extra time choosing everything more carefully (tv shows, movies) because I know I have so little time. I’m not sure why I get overwhelmed since I know the books aren’t going anywhere, but at the same time it feels like I need to just find a way to live on zero sleep so I can read the stack of books that are waiting for me. :p

  28. Omg I literally just wrote a blog post about this. I’m not a mood reader and I schedule my review copies so when I’m busy with review copies, I’m okay. But the past couple months have been light on review copies for me. Which at first I thought was great because I could catch up on some books I’ve been meaning to read right? But then when I have to choose my next read, I just sit in front of my shelves or in front of my Goodreads and have no freaking clue which direction to go in. Making that decision is so hard. Much harder than it should be, I think. It was definitely a lot easier before I started blogging. I wouldn’t trade it because I love knowing about all these amazing books, but it can definitely be tough, choosing that next read. Unfortunately I have zero advice. We’re all in this together? You’re not alone? Good luck!!

  29. I’ve experienced this, as well. And as a result, I’m slowly pruning my TBR list on Goodreads, either deleting books or shifting some of them to a “someday” list – things that I might want to read. I’m pruning the physical books I have in the house – also slowly, but I’m letting go of books I don’t think I’ll want to read again, and unread books I’m no longer sure I want to read. I’m even going to delete some of the ebook freebies I picked up from Kobo and Amazon, if I’m not sure I want to read it someday. And I’ve become much more choosy about which books I request from NetGalley or Edelweiss.

    Because you are absolutely right – we can be overwhelmed by too many choices. One solution, as hard as it may seem, is to reduce the number of choices down to something that feels reasonable. Where that number is will be different for each of us, but getting back to a point where you love to read and feel good about the choices you have – that’s crucial.

  30. I think it is a blessing to have so many choices. I strongly believe that whatever book you decide to crack open is the book that was meant to fall into your hands then. Every book is filled with messages and lessons – even the silly romance ones that I love. A book comes into your life and it changes your life.. in very subtle ways. They all do. Every single book is special – so stop stressing so much and just let the books come to you 🙂

    Like Taylor Swift says.. take a deep breath girl x

    http://mystery-girl007.blogspot.com/

  31. I empathize and understand!! There are limitless possibilities yet the increased awareness and number of books we have and receive gives me anxiety too. There’s simply not enough time to read everything. I like to take a break from reading arcs every once in a while and read a published book I’ve been wanting to read. Reading is a past time, it’s something you do because you enjoy it. We shouldn’t have such anxiety over something that we truly love!

  32. I totally get what you mean! Ever since I began blogging, I’ve had a really hard time deciding what I want to read. I know that I have a ton of ARCs that I need to start reading, but I just don’t feel…like I want to read them. Maybe it’s because I feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done, but it could also be because I don’t like to be told what to read. Most times, I read what I want to read. But with ARCs, I have to read them (or I just feel that I’m obligated to read it). It just depresses me that I can’t enjoy reading as much as I used to because of blogging. I enjoy blogging and meeting new people and all, but lately I’ve been feeling the lack of wanting to reading. All I feel is stress that I have a huge list of books to read. I think the best remedy to this problem is to just take a week or so, and just read whatever you want, or just any random book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet. Good luck with your probalem, Jamie!

  33. I absolutely feel this way! Especially at bookstores. I get so overwhelmed, find myself trailing my finger along books just walking up and down the aisles. I want them all!!! And my reading time is never enough. Each minute with a book is a precious one. Sometimes it’s hard to make a choice with all that pressure. I totally get it!

  34. Having so many options can overwhelm our brain/senses, if you ask me. Whenever I’m faced with the task of choosing my next read, I often just grab whatever LOOKS the most attractive to me at any given moment and give it a shot. But there are times when I struggle between options (review, library, gifted, borrowed? fantasy, contemporary, science fiction? adult or young adult or middle grade?) for sure! I usually narrow it down by asking friends or Macky to decide for me 😉

  35. Oh my gosh, even in the high school cafeteria I always joked that choice was the source of all stress in America. It really is a first world problem, as you say, but I feel overwhelmed by choices all the time! I have way too many books checked out of the library right now – I won’t be able to finish them all in the three weeks, so I’ll have to return some unread, but I just don’t know what I’ll be in the mood for next! 🙂

  36. I’m a really indecisive person in general, so I totally have this problem – with everything!! I can spend hours at the grocery store trying to decide what type of snack I want and trying to compare prices to see what’s the best deal! I’m with you on the paradox of choice – I always do better when I have a smaller selection to pick from. I try to focus on a small set of books that are at the TOP of my TBR and try to pick what I’m “in the mood” for from those. Great post 🙂

  37. I’ve noticed this becoming a pattern for myself, as well, as I continue to blog and vlog on YouTube. I didn’t have nearly as many books as when I first discovered Booktube and the world of SO MANY AWESOME BOOKS. It’s hard NOT to pick up books that either everyone’s reading or that sound really, really interesting. I don’t necessarily regret my decisions for picking the books I did, but one of the problems I’m having is not being able to choose exactly what I want to read next because, like you, I am a mood reader. Some days I want to read fantasy, others romance, and others still dystopian or classics. I try picking a TBR every month and hope I get through them, and though that may not always be the case, it is what I do feel like reading at the time – usually. I don’t think that having too many options is a problem, per se, but it does make it more difficult, for sure. The struggle is real, man. The struggle is real.

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