Recently, I read a tumblr post which has been around for a while, which hypothesises that cognitive dissonance plays a part in why some people just never get to the end of their TBR piles.
Basically, there was an experiment where people assigned values to a number of objects. Then they had to pick one to keep, and re-rate all the objects again. When they rated the objects again, they gave higher values for the one they kept, and lower values for the ones they didn’t choose. The post hypothesises that something like this is happening with choosing books to read from your shelves: the book you’ve just chosen becomes more appealing to you, and the ones you didn’t choose less appealing, because your brain is working overtime to justify your selection.
This came up in the gratitude thread, and I’m moving it here because I think it’s of wider interest!
So, tada, here’s my reply:
I was wondering about this too! For me, I have the future goals because I have a problem with “out of sight, out of mind”, and they have been a net improvement in that sense… but they probably do add to the “unchosen books” effect as well.
I think I’m going to create a shortlist of books that right now at this moment I want to read, and then use a random number generator to go through them in a random order. That way I know that I really want to read all of them, regardless of the order in which they’re chosen… and the random choice means I can’t end up putting a specific book to the end of the queue (either because I’m saving it or because it’s too heavy to fit in my bag or any other reason), and the “unchosen books” effect doesn’t get a say in the matter.
I’ll make the list pretty short to allow for changes of whim and mood, because I do read very much according to whim and I don’t want to take the fun out of it. Maybe 5 books? And probably I’ll beemind that as well, so I stick to it. (I usually read multiple books at a time, so I will also keep doing that and just ensure I have one book from the random list on the go at all times.)
If anyone else wants to join in, we could get accountability here… I will also probably make a Habitica challenge for it as well.