My To Be Read book piles are scary. I suspect pretty much everyone who loves books has a TBR; if they’re not the sort who keep physical books around, or the sort to equivalently load up their e-readers, I would bet lots and lots of money that almost every reader out there has at least a mental list of books she would like to read someday.

My TBR consists of four boxes atop a footlocker. With some loose books on top. And a stack atop a nearby bookshelf, which is also full of TBR, all of it nonfiction. And a box completely full of short story collections. And various books on the shelves, mingled in with other books I have already read. And that little box I tried to hide beneath the couch. That’s not counting my wishlists, of course.

Does my giant collection make me stop buying books? Or even consider stopping? No. Because there might be an apocalypse, and I would definitely need something to read after civilization collapsed. After I read them, I could use them for insulation, or perhaps stitch covers together to make clothing. Best of all, I might be able to trade books for…more books.

I am trying to do better about getting rid of books. These days, I continually remind myself it’s all right not to finish reading a book if I’m not enjoying it. As soon as I’ve finished reading a book, or even when I’m close to the end of one, I try to think about whether I should keep it or share it. (“Share” feels better to me than “get rid of.”) I’m trying to be more ruthless about sharing books I didn’t adore.

I only have so much room in my apartment, after all. And I need room for the To Be Read.