Blog Post: Keeping Books for ‘Best’!



I downloaded the latest operating system for my iPad last week without really paying attention to what the update would do to my device. The reality is that it changed how iBooks works and as a result I had to re-download and then re-organise all of my books. I have so many ebooks that this is a mammoth task and I wasn’t happy at having to do it but I realised it would be a good opportunity to weed out books I’m probably never going to read and to make sure the books I really badly want to read are where I can easily find them.

Seems like a good plan, huh?

The problem is that it turns out that I have hundreds (well over a thousand actually) ebooks that I classed as being books I want to read as soon as possible! It’s not just ebooks either, I do have fewer print books than ebooks these days but I do still have books that I’ve had for years that I really want to read.

I got to thinking then about why I have so many unread books that I classify as being books I want to read soon and then I realised what it is.

Bear with me here…

My mum used to keep nice things for best. As a result her best things, her most favourite things hardly ever got used or worn. When my mum died I cried so much at how many of her lovely clothes she had perhaps only worn once or twice, and then there were the few items that had had better days that she continued to keep wearing. I realised that day that I was the same as my mum. I had so many lovely things that I kept in a cupboard or away in a box where  they wouldn’t get damaged but what use are nice things if you never get to feel the joy of wearing them or using them.

I take great joy from the fact that every day my husband and I eat with my mum’s best cutlery. I’d always loved her best set of tableware but it came out at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions only. I made a promise to myself on the day I left her home for the last time that I would use this cutlery every day and I have stuck to it. It makes me happy.

Sorting out my ebooks this week I realised that I have developed the habit of keeping my books for ‘best’. By this I mean that when I buy a book that I know I will absolutely love I save it for the right moment, for that perfect time when I can just curl up in the right mood and just read. The problem is that when you’ve saved a book for so long there never seems to be a right moment and the book ends up left unread for months, even years.

It’s such a silly thing to do because I’m usually a good judge of what books I will and won’t like, and so often I’ve sat down with whatever book has caught my attention on that particular day and find I simply can’t put it down because serendipitously it is the right book for that moment in time! 

For example I recently read Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, I had to read it for a specific date as I was on the blog tour but it so happened that it was absolutely the right moment in my life to read it as it had such a profound impact on me. I can’t stop thinking about the story, it completely and utterly captivated me.

I realise now that I need to start reading the books I’m keeping for best, because like wearing a brand new dress when I’m just mooching about the house, it lifts my mood and feels like I’m giving myself a little treat.

So I’m making a new rule for myself that I have to stop keeping books for ‘best’. Books are there for reading, not for cluttering up an iPad or gathering dust on a bookcase. I’m going to think about the best way to challenge myself to start reading these books… I’ll possibly start and write a blog post every now and then about how I’m getting on. If you have any ideas on how best to keep myself on track with this then please comment below.


*The image in this post is also my blog header and was taken where I used to live and I still have some of these books unread on my bookcase but I do really really want to read them so it’s not just ebooks, it’s all of my books!



Do you recognise yourself in this post at all? Do you keep books for a particular time that then never seems to come? How do you make sure that books you really want to read don’t end up gathering dust on your shelves forever more?

79 thoughts on “Blog Post: Keeping Books for ‘Best’!

    • Really? I’m glad it’s not just me. My mum was terrible for keeping things for best and ever since I left home I’ve been trying to stop myself from doing the same. It was quite a shock when I realised I’d developed a habit of saving books as I never used to do it – when I was younger I would always start reading a book as soon as I got it so I don’t know when I started keeping them for the right moment.

  1. I’ve definitely kept items of clothing for best and you’re right they get closeted away feeling sorry for themselves. I’m going to start digging them out. As for books I buy loads of ebook scandal paperbacks especially from authors I desperately want to read. I need to make time to read my books in between publisher review books, I ought to make a system out. Great post.

    • I’m terrible for doing it with clothes too – it always feel wrong to wear new clothes when I’m just mooching about at home so I keep them until I’m going somewhere nice and it’s so silly really as it’s the days when I’m stuck at home that I need cheering up! I was really shocked when it dawned on me that I was keeping books for the right time too, I never used to do it and I don’t know how I’ve ended up like it. I really need to make an effort to read the books I badly want to read. We need a plan… and maybe a support group to keep us on track! 🙂 Thank you.

    • Thank you, Linda. I’ve been trying to break the habit ever since I left home but as you say it’s hard to break habits of a lifetime. I’m much better than I used to be as we live in a small house but it’s still my natural tendency to save things. I used to worry that I’d run out of things to read but with ebooks I know I can always get a new book and will never be caught with nothing to read and yet I still keep keeping books for later! I really need to break this habit and read the books that I really want to.

      • I’m a book magpie too. I see it and want it forgetting that there’s another 400 sitting on my desk. Notebooks are the worst. I never write in them as I don’t like to spoil them! I have dozens…

        • Yes I’m exactly the same – I can’t resist buying new books! Oh no at your notebook collection – I would be exactly the same though. I hate spoiling nice things too (even just by using them for their purpose feels like spoiling).

        • I’m with you on the notebooks – although since I’ve started blogging I’ve designated a couple “blogging notes” and am filling them up. It’s probably because I’m convinced I’ll need one for my magnum opus – although how it’ll be written when I don’t write in them is another question – but when the muse strikes, at least I’ll have stationery!

  2. A great post. It’s hard to weed through the kindle books that I really want to read, especially when it seems that I don’t have enough storage to download all the thousand or so kindle or doc Netgalley books. As for the physical books, that’s easier. I have one shelf and then a container under the bed. The container has the physical books I also have available for my kindle. The shelf is where I’ve deep stacked them. The Books I read or not looking to read right away are in the back row and the ones I love on the first shelf along with the others in front row.

    • Thank you. I have my kindle and iPad books sorted into folders now, and I use Calibre on my computer to store all of my books so I can still organise the ones that won’t fit on my kindle. Print books are definitely easier to sort – I have all my favourite books in a big bookcase in my lounge and then I have my TBR on two huge shelves in the bedroom. I often go through and take out books I no longer want to read but I think because ebooks aren’t filling up my home I’m reluctant to delete them so then I end up a bit overwhelmed with them. Hopefully having them all sorted into folders will help. Now I just need to make more effort to read the books I really want to read!

  3. This is so me!! And I hadn’t actually realised until unread this!! When we cleared out my nanas bedroom after she died, I found so many things that she had also put away for best and never used or wore. Feel quite emotional after reading this as I understand her so much better. And she has left a little piece of her in me!

    • It was such a revelation to me when I realised why I keep so many books for the right time! It broke my heart sorting through my mum’s things and seeing everything she’d kept for a special occasion, it just seemed so sad that she never got to enjoy them. Her mum was exactly the same too. Realising that I’m now doing the same thing but with books was such an eye opener for me and I need to stop doing it. I just need to come up with a plan now to keep me on track! I’m sorry I’ve made you emotional remembering your nan though, sending you a hug. x

      • It’s ok it was a good emotional! And sending you big hugs back as it must have been awful to lose your mum, I can’t begin to imagine what that must feel like. I always think my thing with books is like a comfort blanket, I can’t stop buying them and having them on my Kindle but I too am going to have a clear out. It stems from reading a book I absolutely adored that had been on my Kindle for a couple of years and now I am worried that there is another there but I won’t find it!! x

        • That’s ok then and thank you for the hug back. It was really awful to lose my mum – I was 29 when she died and it’s a few years ago now but I still miss her so much. Yes, that’s the same with me – books are comfort blankets and I can’t stop buying them either. I can see why that would worry you – I’m sure there will be another book you’ll adore as much but I totally understand the fear. Just think that all of the books on your kindle could be books you love! xx

  4. Beautiful post! I recognise it all too well. My mum’s the same: buy pretty clothes and then only wear them on Sundays. We’re not even religious people for god’s sake. But yes, keeping books for a special occasion…I do it as well and it’s just ridiculous :).

    • Thank you. It is utterly ridiculous that we do these things, and such a shame at how many lovely things we leave unworn or unread. We definitely need to start reading the books we’ve been saving for the right time. 🙂

    • Ha! I’m glad it’s not just me! It seems there are a lot of out there doing this – I think we need some sort of a group to get us on track reading the books we’re all saving for some unknown point in time!

  5. What a great post. I do this too, Hayley!

    An example is the latest Shopaholic book by Sophie Kinsella. This being my favourite series in the whole world, I feel as though I want to save this book for maybe when I’m feeling down or want cheering up. It’s almost comforting to know I have an unread Shopaholic book in supply. I completely know where you’re coming from.

    However I will take a leaf out of your book (!) and get reading all the books I have been ‘saving’!

    • Thank you so much. Yes, that’s exactly it – saving certain books so you know they’re there for a particular time when you might really need it. I’m really bad for doing this with series books as once you’ve read the latest you don’t know how long you’ll have to wait for the next one to be out. The problem comes when you have hundreds of books that you’re saving for the right time, I’m out of control! We need some sort of club to get us all reading the saved books!

  6. Absolutely, totally me – I’ve mentioned it in comments on my blog about “saving” the Jane Casey Marge Kerrigan series, and the result is I’m only on book three and way behind everyone else! It’s like a Venn diagram, where the right mood and enough time (say, a free weekend) have to overlap, and they never do! I have HUNDREDS of tree books and even more eBooks (my Kindle keeps warning me about storage), yet sometimes it’ll take me four attempts at books before I’m happy with my choice – constantly wondering if there’s something I’d prefer. Maybe it’s a case of too much choice?! Thank you; I know I’m not the only one!

    • Ha! I’ve not read any of the Maeve Kerrigan series yet but I own the first four books (bought because I love all of Jane Casey’s other books) and am saving them because I know I’ll love them. It’s so illogical! You’re so right about the venn diagram… and usually the exact right time is so tiny it might as well not be there – hence why we should just get on and read the books. My TBR is in the thousands, and my folder of books that I really want to read but am saving for the right moment is in the hundreds! It’s so silly now I’ve realised that I’m doing it. I think you’re right about too much choice – I’m like you and can start quite a few books before I find one that hooks me in. Maybe we should just start reading the one we’ve had the longest and work through! Haha!

      • I’m glad there’s someone out there who’s admitting to having a TBR number similar to mine! I don’t count my Kindle books as they’re “invisible” haha! One problem is, we’re hoping to move house soon, so there’s going to be some difficult decisions to make – I’m not looking forward to it at all, as I’m sure you can imagine!

        • My total TBR (of combined print and ebooks that I own) is close to 5000 now. Some of those are ebooks that I probably should get rid of that I know I’ll never read but I do have nearly a thousand that I badly want to read and yet I keep keeping them for later and buying new ones! Haha at your invisible books! Oooh I feel your pain at moving house with a huge book collection. When I moved in with my now husband he lived in a second floor apartment with no lift and I swear we moved about ten thousand books up those stairs! It really wasn’t worth it though because when we then bought our house (which is smaller than the rental apartment) a year later I decided to have a proper clear out and gradually got rid of a few a time until I’d more than halved my collection. I find with print books that once I start getting rid of a few at a time it becomes easier. Plus think about how your new house might look with your books. I love the fact now that I can display all of my favourite books where I can see them and they’re not all crammed in on double rows etc. Good luck with all though.

  7. I have a book I haven’t read yet because I can’t quite bring myself to read it. I know it will be excellent but it’s also the last of the series so once it’s read there is no more. Apart from that though I try not to keep anything for best. I used to but then I read a magazine article a few years ago about someone whose friend did that with toiletries and then sadly died in their thirties and never used their best toiletries. This made the person realise that the time for best is now, not an imaginary time in the future like you’ve described with your books. After reading that I decided to use things when I wanted and not keep them for a specific time that may never come.

    I hope your new rule works. I know I try and read a book I have bought in between each review book, not sure if that or something like that would work for you or not.

    • Thanks so much for commenting – I think this is how it started for me, that feeling of not wanting a series to end. That story is so sad and does really make you think. I’ve definitely been doing something similar with my books though and need to stop doing it from now on. I like your idea of reading one of your own books in between each review book, I’m going to try that – thank you.

  8. I’m happy to finally hear I’m not alone when it comes to keeping books. I tend to keep all the best things for last, even with food, candy.. You can probably find something expired in the cupboard, and it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I like it so much I’m keeping it too long. I know, I’m crazy.

    • That all makes total sense to me – I used to do it with more things than books. I’ve been known to keep gorgeous, expensive scented candles in a cupboard until they no longer smell of anything at all because I’ve waited for the right time to light them. It’s so silly but it’s hard to break habits we’ve had for so long.

  9. Oh yes, this is so me! I’m a huge YA fan and both Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, and Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare landed on my door mat (love the pre-order feature!) the other day – I’m so excited to read them both but at over 400 pages I keep putting them to the side and grabbing smaller books. ‘I’ll save X until…’ I told myself I was building the tension but I need to get over that and enjoy them NOW! Thanks for the kick up the bum *rushes to put the kettle on and grab a big book*

    • I do that too – keep longer books for when I have time but then the time never seems to come. I’ve realised today that we actually have to just start these books and make the time. I hope you managed to start them today and that you really enjoy them! 🙂

  10. Janet Evanovich is my “special go-to series”. It’s my all-time favorite, I only pick one when I need special cheering up or I’m down, and I force myself to save the last I bought for an occasion, so the dust settles on it. It’s kind of reassuring knowing you have a book at hand to comfort you when you need it. For all other books, I don’t buy them often so I’m always very excited and there is only little time before I pick them up and enjoy them. It would probably be different if I had more books at hand.

  11. I agree. The right moment never seems to come and then the books just stay there on the shelf, waiting. I’m so sorry to hear about your mum. It’s hard for me to deal with the thought of a lost loved one especially after my grams. So hearing about it makes me really sad. 😦
    I was actually here to notify you about the tag I nominated you for. Huh, I’ll just go cry in the corner for a while now.

    • I’m so sorry about your Gram and that my post has brought back sad memories for you. I’m sending you a big hug. I lost my mum a few years ago now and I still miss her but I promise you that you do adapt to the loss and it gets easier to cope. x
      Thank you for tagging me, I’ve had a look at your post and it looks like fun. I’ll try and join in soon. I just need to have a think about the books I’d pick.

  12. Great post Hayley and I recognised so much of it. My mum used to keep things for best and I do too, more so with clothes though than books. When my parents died and I had to clear their house so much of their nice things were packed away. Like you, I use their ‘best’ cutlery set every day, I get pleasure from knowing its being used and no longer just kept in its case in the cupboard. I love stationery and new ‘nice’ notebooks tend to get left in the cupboard for ‘best’ as I can’t bring myself to use them for just random notes and scribbles!

    • Thank you. I’m sorry about your parents. I love that you use their best cutlery every day too, same as I do with my mums. We even use our best plates etc every day too – they were an engagement gift years ago but I swore I wouldn’t leave them in a cupboard forevermore and I haven’t. I’m really proud that I broke the habit I learned from my mum about keeping things for best but my realisation that this is what I’m doing with my books really shocked me. It’s spurred my into action though and I’m definitely going to start reading these books I’ve been keeping for the right moment. I had a big clear out a year or so ago and gave all of my unused stationery to a friend as I just knew I would never use it. I was the same as you – thinking it was too good to just scribble notes in.

  13. Oh I keep all sorts of things for ‘best’ having been brought up by a grandmother who lived through WW2 as a housewife – but I have the impulse control of a choccy-stuffed toddler when it comes to books. I get hold a great book – I must consume it NOW! Only trouble is… I can just read one at a time.

    • I think that’s where it comes from as my Nan (who was a young wife with a child during WW2) was like it and it obviously rubbed off on my Mum and then onto me. I live in a small house though so need to keep clutter under control, we don’t have space to store things. I wish I could get back to reading a new book immediately – I used to when I was younger and I don’t know when or why I stopped. It’s my aim to get back to that and not to stockpile books for the right moment.

      • You go for it! Sadly, though, I cannot claim my greedy gorging prevents my stockpiling of a ridiculously large TBR pile – because I cannot resist adding to it!

  14. Great post Hayley, and one that has clearly struck a nerve. I think we’re all probably guilty of the keeping things for best syndrome. I do it with clothes then realise I’ve “grown” out of them before I’ve worn them. Grown out being a euphemism for put on more weight again. We have some posh Wedgewood crockery that we got as a wedding present that was kept for best and that means we’ve hardly used it, which is stupid as it sits in a cupboard unseen. With books there is also a sense of keeping the good ones to one side which is also daft. With so many to read, everyone should be a good one so no need to prioritise and there’s always others coming along to add to the list once I’ve read my good ones.
    While I try and follow a life’s too short policy to not do things holidays and visiting places it’s odd i don’t follow that through to more personal things. Maybe I should start from now on.

    • I’m the same when it comes to keeping clothes for best and then finding I’ve grown out of them! I’m terrible for keeping some things but with others I’m really good at using them. We use our lovely Denby dinner set every day – it was an engagement present but I wanted to enjoy using it every day and so we do. Yet I keep clothes for best and I keep books for the right moment, it’s silly logic really. I’m determined to make an effort to stop it with my books – they’re there to be read not to gather dust. It’s not like there’s any real danger of me running out of things to read!

  15. Do you recognise yourself in this post at all? Do you keep books for a particular time that then never seems to come? How do you make sure that books you really want to read don’t end up gathering dust on your shelves forever more?

    I do recognize a bit of myself in this post. I don’t think I keep books for best, per say though. As the child of two hoarders, I have come to realize I hoard books. I’m not sure what the reason is, as I am so adamant about not hoarding physical things like either of my parents or my grandparents. I have just recently started up a TBR Jar that I am going to follow strictly. I have a few books I intentionally kept off my list for pre-TBR, so I have to get through them first, but I have already read a couple books out of my TBR Jar. You can read more about it here:

  16. So true! My mom does the same thing (must be generational) and even yesterday for Easter dinner we used paper napkins instead of her beautiful cloth ones. Certain books, I need to read right away, but like you I have at least twenty physical books I have not read as the “time has not been right”. I would love to see your progress on reading through your best.

    • Isn’t it a shame that your mum’s beautiful napkins end up not been used and enjoyed? It’s definitely a generational thing but it rubs off on all the generations after – my natural tendency is to want to keep new things for best but I fight against and am winning (apart from where my books are concerned!)
      I think I’m going to have to come up with a challenge of some sort to get myself reading through my best books and then I can write about my progress on my blog.

  17. I can totally relate to that. Thankfully my unread books are nowhere near that number but I definitely have a lot that I’m keeping for a time when I can savor them. Sometimes though I don’t read books by favorite authors because I’m scared I’ve built them up in my head so much they’ll be a disappointment.

    • Yes, that’s definitely part of the problem – worrying that this book won’t be as good as the last one… or that if you do read it and love it there’ll be a really long wait for the next book.

  18. I thought I was bad with my 300 unread ebooks and few more hundred of paper books, but looks like there’s more of us. Yay! 🙂 I’ve had a book buying ban for the last 3 months to shrink the list a bit, but the dent is so small I may decide to extend the ban for another 3 months.

    • Well done on your book buying ban – I’ve never managed to stick to one, I just can’t resist the books so I’m in awe of you managing three months. I think I do need to find a way to get through my TBR without it getting any bigger in the meantime though as it is out of control!

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  21. Love your post! Don’t worry you’re not alone I do the exact same thing. It’s getting ridiculous the number of books I am keeping to read “later” but later never seems to come around. I’ve decided there are just not enough hours in the day to read, especially when you’re working full time too! 😒

    • Thank you. I’m so relieved that it’s not just me… I’ve definitely realised that I need to do something about it though. I’m thinking of creating a challenge to keep me focused on reading these books.

      • Great idea! Might steal your idea when u decide if that’s okay? Feel like I’m probably missing out on so much! Sorry about your Mum too, don’t know what I’d do if I lost mine – you’re very brave xx

        • Thanks – once I decide on how I’m going to challenge myself to read these books I’d be more than happy for your to join in or to steal the idea yourself. 🙂
          Thank you. Losing my mum was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and I still miss her but I try to focus on the fact that I was lucky I had such an amazing mum. xx

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  25. I think I’m a little bit like you, but not completely. I save some of the last books in series I really love. That way, the series isn’t really over – for me! I tend to buy more books than I manage to read, though, and I really wish to change that. Read my backlist of books that I bought for a reason 🙂
    Great post, Hayley!

    • I do that with series books too, I never want them to be over. I think my TBR is so big for a lot of reasons but this was such realisation for me this week and is at least one area I need to work on. I’m trying to think of a way of making it into a challenge so I can track my progress and keep on track. 🙂

  26. Seldom has a blog post so resonated with EXACTLY how I feel and has mirrored my situation. As I can see by the number of comments on this post – We are not alone!
    I am in a quandary. I have hundreds and hundreds of books in my house (both hardcover and ebook) that I am very much looking forward to reading.
    The main reason I don’t read them is that I have committed to reviewing over 90 titles for NetGalley, Edelweiss, and others. I feel I MUST read those first.
    Another reason I don’t read them is that I love living surrounded by all that rich ‘anticipation’. Anticipation is a wonderful thing. Remember the weeks prior to Christmas when you were a child?
    On the other hand… I’m missing out on what I’m sure will be my favorite reads. Also, I’m getting older – whose to say I will EVER get around to reading them all…. GASP! What’s a girl to do????
    I too lost my Mum ten years ago now. She was a war bride who came to Canada from England. She had known many shortages and ‘did without’ for most of her life. Then when she had nice things in later life she never used them! She died with clothes, linens, jewelry, towels, etc. that were never used. They were ‘too good’ to use. So sad. I am determined to not follow her example in that respect, yet when it comes to books I’m equally guilty.
    If you come up with a concrete plan as to how to get over ‘saving books for best’ please let me know.
    Thank you for this post!

    • Thank you so much for commenting! You sound so like me in how you are with books. I too have a lot of review books that I feel I must read first but it means I’m never reading my own books. I also love being surrounded by all the anticipation but worry that I’m missing out on great books. I’m still trying to come up with a way of making myself a challenge to work through these books alongside my review books. If I come up with something I will share. I’m so sorry about your mum. It’s really sad how many things people leave behind that they’ve never used because it was only for best. I try so hard not to keep things for best – we should use our nicest things on the ordinary days because that’s when they bring the most joy. Yet I can’t seem to do this with books, but I’m going to try to find a way. 🙂

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  28. This was me – not so much because I was keeping them for best – but because I have a short attention span! I’d buy book, desperate to read it, and then a week later, repeat the process with another book. Meanwhile, they stack up. Toward the end of last year I started the massive process of putting them on a spreadsheet, mostly so that I could see what I had and make my reading selections with all the info in front of me. Turns out my TBR stack was 400+ books. So this year (and probably next year as well), I’m simply not buying any new books. So far, I’ve survived!

    • Thanks for commenting. I think there is an element of this with me too – buying books because I really want them and then getting distracted by another new book. I daren’t admit how big my TBR is but I’m not sure that I’ll ever catch up. Well done on not buying any new books this year, I probably need to do similar but I just have no willpower. I hope you manage to get through your TBR.

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