Book-Related Anxiety. It’s a Thing (and I Have It). Let’s Discuss.

Posted February 25, 2020 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 66 Comments

I realize this sounds like a joke. Book-related anxiety? What even is that? Being stressed about your bookshelves not being organized enough? Anxiety over not liking a book? Being worried that you might be crushed under your TBR?

Well, no.
(And sort of yes—except for that last one. I don’t really think I’ll be crushed by my TBR—though I could be injured.)

Except I’ve realized that I have actual anxieties that are related to books. This probably isn’t healthy, but I don’t know how to get rid of them besides telling myself to stop freaking out. Which doesn’t work all that well.

Some things I stress out about:

  • I can’t read all the books. 

    This sounds obvious and utterly ridiculous, but I actually have a physical anxiety response when I think about all the books I want to read and the impossibility of reading them all. I’ll be reading someone’s post about an amazing book … and start to think about the fact that it’s been on my TBR for so long … and then I think about all those other books that have been on my TBR for so long.

    Literally, writing this right now is making my chest feel tight and my head tingle—I start to have a panic response.

  • I’m behind on reviews.

    It seems that no matter how hard I try to stay on top of the review books I receive, I’m still behind. At one point, I had a list of seven books for review that I just kept pushing back in my calendar. And back. And back. Just thinking about it made me want to scream.

    I did actually come up with a (semi-)solution to this problem, though. I created a spreadsheet with my backlist review books in it and vowed to read two a month. Somehow just having them written out in spreadsheet form and having a plan to tackle them has helped me feel more on top of things.

  • I have more books than will fit on my shelves.

    I realize that this just sounds like a ridiculous problem, but I spend an inordinate amount of time reorganizing my bookshelves because of it. I’m constantly trying to figure out where I can squeeze one more book in or arguing with myself over which ones I should get rid of. My husband bought me three giant bookcases a few years ago (plus I have another big one in the office and there are bookshelves in my kids’ rooms), but they’re still overflowing. There are piles next to the bookcases and on my nightstand and in my closet… Okay, I have to stop thinking about this now because I have the urge to get up and do some more reorganizing.

  • I don’t read many non-review books.

    This actually goes hand-in-hand with all three of the last bullet points. I’m behind on reviews, so I feel like I can’t read books that aren’t specifically for review, so the books I’ve bought end up gathering dust on my shelves, and all of that leads to anxiety because … I can’t read all the books of ever!!! (Why, oh why?)

  • I can’t finish series. 

    I have so many series that I haven’t completed that I loved. But I just can’t manage to read the final book. Why do I do this to myself? I wait so long that eventually I feel like I can’t read the final book because I won’t remember the previous books well enough. I’m making myself crazy!

    One of the most recent examples of this that I can think of is Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake. I ADORE this series and I want to know how it ends! Why haven’t I read the final book?

    The only reasoning I can come up with in these cases is that I have some sort of innate fear that I won’t like that final book and I’ll ruin the series for myself. Or maybe I just can’t bear for it to be over? I don’t know, but this is a horrible reading habit that stresses me out … I wish I could stop.

  • I really, really, really want to see my own book on my shelf someday.

    In the early days, the publishing journey felt like it was going swimmingly … I got incredibly positive feedback from an editor! Woo hoo!! I got an agent! Woo hoo!! I workshopped my book, and an actual published author I respect was impressed! Woo hoo!!

    But here I am a year later, and things have sort of started feeling … stalled. I know this is how it is. I’m aware that publishing is almost always a long haul, and I just need to wait until my book reaches the perfect person’s hands at the exact right moment. I still have faith it will happen. And if it doesn’t happen with this book (right now), I just need to keep writing so it can happen with the next book. But I’m not going to lie, it can be discouraging. And anxiety-producing.

    Imposter syndrome is real, people—and I think at least half the publishing battle is overcoming it so you don’t just plain give up.

    But my husband said something to me last night:
    “No matter what happens, you know you wrote a really good book. People who know what they’re talking about have told you so.”

    I can’t tell you how much those simple words encouraged me.


So, maybe, just maybe, I can let go of some of that anxiety and just enjoy my writing … and my books.


Do you have book-related anxiety? I wanna know!


This post has been linked up to the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge!



66 responses to “Book-Related Anxiety. It’s a Thing (and I Have It). Let’s Discuss.

  1. Hahaha, I can relate to so many of these! Even the last one – and I haven’t even written a book yet! But especially wanting to read all the books – it’s too sad to contemplate. I know you’ll get lots of sympathy from others with similar anxieties, so I hope we can all find comfort in knowing there is someone who understands, even if non-bookish friends and family find us a bit insane.

  2. Danielle Hammelef

    You and I share these issues. I see all my unread books and it makes me anxious. I want to read all the books. Maybe if I could clone myself… Thank you for this post because I didn’t realize others were also feeling this way. My books can be found in almost every room in our house (NEVER the bathroom) and I know my family thinks I’m obsessed (they’re right though).

  3. Omg, I can TOTALLY relate to a lot of these! I think specifically the first three points are things I am definitely anxious about. I’ve had to go through my shelves multiple times in the past year to see what can be donated to make room for more books. Funnily enough, the books I add are books that are simultaneously added to my TBR list, haha! You are definitely not alone!

    Kim @ Kimnilegent recently posted: SERIES REVIEW
  4. I stopped accepting review books. I only read books that I want to read and I review all the books I read. I don’t get behind on reviews because I write the review right after finishing the book. I will not start a new book until the review is written. I blog ahead. I already have reviews written for June. I’ll never get to read all the books I want to but I will try. lol

    Mary Kirkland recently posted: Review: Disease X by N.J. Croft
  5. I can relate to most of these issues although I think you might just have a few more books than me! I’ve really hauled back on review books, I want to read my own books, but recognising I am limited – and just can’t read everything. And then today I felt a bit of anxiety when I went to pick up a book from my TBR only to discover on Goodreads I’d read and written a short review. Do I read it again. Maybe I need to.

  6. I’ve never framed it in this way, but what you say about book (and writing) anxiety makes so much sense, and I am so right there with you. Even with all of my plans and schedules, and ideas, I still can’t keep up with all of the things I want to accomplish and it does create anxiety! It’s like you read my mind! And…….I have so much faith in you and your writing – hang in there because good things are happening!

  7. This is exactly why I rarely accept review books. All my unread books make me anxious. I can’t read fast enough! Writing causes the most anxiety for me. I had the opposite experience to you with my stuff. I was told by editors/agents/professors that I suck. I completely agree with them. But, it’s hard to quit writing when I’ve been doing it pretty much every day for 2/3 of my life! I’m trying to quit slowly.

    • I’m really sorry that you’ve felt like you’ve only gotten negative feedback—that has to be so discouraging when you’ve worked so hard. I’m guessing you’ve turned their constructive criticism into “you suck” in your mind, though—because that is so easy to do. When the nos start rolling in (which they inevitably do), it’s really hard not to internalize that. Maybe now is not your time, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up completely!

  8. I did this with the last book in a favorite series also… and yes, it ended up being so long between books (my fault, not the author’s) that I forgot what had happened in the book prior to the final one, and so I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if I’d remembered the smaller details of the series plot. I try not to do it anymore, but… well. I’m only human.

    Also, I do have lots of writing-related bookish anxiety. I try to avoid it, but I think it’s part of why I haven’t finished anything lately. I’ll get part-way through a story, but then think it’s not good enough and lose interest (no matter how good it actually is). Then again, there’s also the anxiety of “if I finish something, then I need to take the next steps and find an agent / publisher / etc.”

    • I often end up doing a reread of earlier books via audiobook when it’s been too long. Audiobooks usually feel like “extra” books to me, so I give myself permission to reread that way.

      And I totally understand what you’re saying about stopping writing because you don’t feel like it’s “good enough”—I wish I could say that feeling goes away, but … The best thing I can say is to just keep going and remember that early drafts aren’t great and that’s okay. 🙂

  9. I can relate to not finishing series. This happened to me with The Mortal Instruments series, Bloodlines series, and there’s another one I’m missing. I’m slowly getting into finishing them. THe reason why I never did was because I was so scared and sad to say goodbye to the characters so I never went through with reading that final goodbye.

  10. I can, literally, relate to ALL of these! Why do we do this to ourselves?! Reading is supposed to be enjoyable! But, it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to read a book that I bought myself and not one that I don’t HAVE to review.
    And, yeah, there are SO many books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet. :/
    Hi, by the way! Been following for awhile! And, I’m also a homeschooling momma! 🙂

    Christine @ Captivated Reading recently posted: Can’t Wait Wednesday[4]
        • Time really does fly—it’s hard for me to believe my oldest is going away to school in the fall (she’s at community college this year and still lives home—this would have been her senior year if she’d gone through public school).

          By the way, I wanted to tell you that I tried to comment on your blog but got an error—something about Java. I think it’s happened to me before as well? Just wanted to let you know, in case it’s happening to other people too!

          • And, I’m impressed that your daughter is at community college!! That’s what my goal is for my oldest in a few years! He’s only 13 now, but I’m hoping he can start taking some classes there at 16.

            Thank you so much for letting me know about the comments! I think I fixed it! 🙂

            • My daughter actually took her first class at the community college when she was a freshman (and only 14). She really wanted to take Japanese, and that was the only place we could find it. Then, sophomore year, she started taking math classes at the college and we just expanded from there. She’s going to end up transferring to Illinois Institute of Technology as a junior, which will save a lot of money since she wants to get her Masters there as well.

  11. just today I found my selfasking google “do I have a book addiction problem.” And I didn’t find anything that suggested that it was a serious mental health issue. But the weight of the unread and the unreviewed is heavy, the desire for more more more is insidious, and the sadness of not rereading and appreciating the books I love is also real. I chose “control” as my word for the year, because I don’t want to feel like I’m drowning…it’s not going very well, because when I’m feeling down at work I’ll comfort myself by requesting books from the library…which then leads to guilt when I don’t read and return them in a timely fashion. I’ve read around 70 books so far this year, and enjoyed many of them, but it hasn’t made a dent.

    • Yes! I can so relate!! Oh, and the library thing is one I didn’t mention, but I should have. I’m TERRIBLE about checking books out from the library and letting them sit until past the due date. I always joke that with all my fees, my librarians must either hate me or love me. But, yeah, I feel like I sometimes have issues with books that cause me actual physical anxiety.

  12. shooting

    Oh gosh yes, I feel you on some of these. I definitely freak out about my lack of being able to read all the books I want. I keep having to purge some of the books I have that I know I’ll just never get to, but I STILL don’t have room for all the books. So.Many.Books.

    I love what your husband said about your book – that’s SO true. And I think it’ll happen for you, though I know it’s a long process and anxiety inducing. I’ve heard about a lot of authors that don’t sell their first book – the one that got the agent – so maybe it’ll be what you’re working on now, and the book you already wrote might get published later!


  13. I can relate to your anxieties! I can’t read all of the books I want, and it feels like my time is torn between non-review books and review books. I often delay relating later books in a series because of an irrational fear that the next book won’t live up to my expectations. On writing: sometimes, depending on my class schedule, I have to pick between reading or writing. I also go into workshops expecting to disappoint only for people who know what they’re doing (I love their writing) give me positive feedback.

    It’s great to hear that your book has been so well received. Your husband gave great advice. Best of wishes with the publication journey. I look forward to one day reading your published work!

    Crystal @ Lost in Storyland recently posted: How I Organize My E-Reader
  14. Krissie

    Hey. Just read your post and I can relate to a lot. When I bought too many books my husband and I made a deal. For every book I read I get to buy a new one. So the old ones get read. Sometimes. It’s not perfect yet. Whenever I bought one whiteout reading another one first I had to read two.

    I also know what you mean when you talk about not finishing series. I tend to be afraid to hate the last book (happens so often), so if I don’t start it I can’t hate it. btw have you tried Recaptains (I think that’s what it’s called) they summarise books for people who forget (literally everyone I know except for my husband forgets what happens in the books they read)

    I hope you can overcome the anxiety somehow because it’s sad to have a hobby that’s more stressing than relaxing. And when you do tell me how 😉

    Greetings from Austria

  15. GOODNESS I relate to this so much! And I love the old mantra of “this is supposed to be fun, not stressful!” but like, sorry, I operate at a fairly high level of anxiety right out of the gate, why would books be any different!? I am SO stressed right now because I *might* have overrequested for March (I definitely did) and I am not going to finish all my March books before March and now I am tired and panicked and UGH. So YEP, all of the books i actually bought are still sitting on my shelves and I sob.

    Also the actual writing books must be beyond stressful. I feel like I don’t know if I could ever actually put myself out there so maybe I will just not ever be a writer? Honestly, I am too overwhelmed and tired to know what I want to be when I grow up. Let’s give it a decade or so ?

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Reviews in a Minute: February Finale
    • I knew that writing would be stressful, but I’ll say that I honestly didn’t know how often self-doubt would rear its ugly head. The waiting process is HARD and it makes working on a new project hard as well. (I think that’s the part I’m most surprised about. I thought writing the next book would be easier, but it’s not feeling that way.) It can definitely be overwhelming!

  16. Your husband is so sweet, and what he said is true! I definitely share some of these. Reviews! I have to churn them out between Saturday and Sunday, now that I get home so late during the week. It’s sort of exhausting writing five in a row, but gotta get it done. I want to read all the books too, and it saddens me when I have to choose which books will be left behind. I am reading more non-review books. I made that a priority, and I am really happy about it.

  17. Oh, yes, I totally relate. Especially to running out of room on your shelves and never being able to read all the books you own. I’ve put myself on an arc requesting ban on Netgalley. However, they keep inviting me to read books, and it’s just so hard to say no! 😉 I’ve spent most of February reading off my backlist and rereading a favorite series, and it’s been nice to enjoy reading again. I guess it’s all about finding that happy medium, right? Great post!

  18. I suppose this has more to do with having a book blog and being committed to reviewing, right? I’ve seen this burnout in lots of book bloggers over the years. The pressure to read and review becomes so great that they usually quit. This is why I made a strict policy of not taking for-review books. I only read and review the books I’m interested in. People ask me to read and review all the time and I decline. If it’s taking over your world, consider taking a few months off of accepting new books. <3 And yes, let go of some of this so you can write. That's the most important thing!

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: The Suck of Creative Burnout
  19. Yes, I can relate. I always remind myself that book blogging and reading is for fun, it shouldn’t feel like work or give me anxiety. I had a book blog in the early 2000’s for several years. At that time I was blogging while I was away on vacation if I forgot to schedule posts ahead of time because I had so many blog tour commitments. I ended up deleting the entire blog due to the pressure. Then I started over from scratch in 2015 and I’m good now at knowing when to step away from it and not get overwhelmed with it. And I don’t over commit anymore. It’s okay to say “no thank you” to review and book tour requests.

    And you should totally follow your dream of writing, just write for yourself and the rest will fall into place. 🙂

  20. <3 I can definitely relate to quite a few of these!! I stress over my review schedule as well. I've found that I really need to be more selective with the books I choose to accept for honest review exchanges. The same goes for my book club! While I love that my group has me reading outside of my comfort zone, I was pushing through books that I wasn't loving, so now I'm more selective about which meet-ups I attend.

  21. AH THIS. This is such a relatable post I love it so much. I wish I could stop being anxious about these kind of things, because reading and bookish things are supposed to be fun, hell that’s why I started this whole book blogging adventure, as well! But it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of incredible books out there we want to read and don’t have time for haha. You’re definitely not alone in this! <3
    And I love what your husband said about your writing. Don't give up <3

  22. These things have caused me so much stress in the past! The fact that I won’t be able to read every book that sounds amazing or that I’m behind on reviews eventually consumed so much of my energy that I came up with some ways to minimize how much it was affecting me.

    I keep my Goodreads TBR super low, with a max of 50 books on there at a time, so that it’s always a manageable level. I can read 50 books in a lifetime. There are other books I want to read of course, but not including them on my Goodreads TBR keeps me from dwelling on the fact that I could come up with an endless list of books I want to read if I actually took the time.

    And with reviews, I had to stop requesting/accepting ARCs until I got my old review books to a more manageable level. I kept myself off NetGalley for months as part of the process. And this year I want to read as many backlist review copies as I can, so that they stop stressing me out for not having read them. My plan is to read as many as I can, and get rid of the ones that I just need to admit I won’t be ever read.

    I think for me having a plan is always the most important thing to help with any aspect of my anxiety. I may not accomplish the goals I set out, or follow my plans exactly, but just knowing that I’m working towards a goal is very important to me.

    As for being a published author, I still remember how excited I was for you when I saw you got an agent. It makes me sad to hear that the imposter syndrome has set in, but I’m rooting for you! I believe that I’ll see your book in a book store someday soon, and I hope you get good news about your publishing journey soon! ?

    Malka @ Paper Procrastinators recently posted: 3 Reasons Why You Should Read Only Mostly Devastated
  23. It’s like you are in my head! I told my husband just last week that if I die this year that he needs to know how upset I will be that I didn’t read all the books. I barely even get the book club books read every month, then there is a pile, literally like 30+ books every month, that’s pubs send hoping I will read and order for the store. It’s major anxiety. I am grateful that our Not So YA Book Club has agreed to add some backlist books so that I might get to them. Like you, I have a few series that I have committed to without actually finishing (Red Rising and Throne of Glass to name a few). Whew! Glad I am not alone!

    Karen Blue recently posted: Third Space?
  24. Actually I feel anxiety about finishing series too. I’m not sure why I hate finishing but I do. It could be disappointment. Or that third books tend to be double the size and not well edited. It could be I have an irrational fear of finishing things. ??‍♀️

  25. You definitely are sharing some relatable issues here! If nobody ever wrote another book, I STILL wouldn’t be able to get through all the books I want to read. And since I actually want people (like you!) to write more books, I know I will just feel further and further behind the longer I live.

    I am glad for my own sanity that I never got involved in reading and reviewing ARCs. I know for many bloggers, it’s a core part of your blog though, and it must take such discipline and focus to stay on top of it.

    LOVE what your husband said about your writing.

    • You probably did yourself (and your sanity) a favor by not accepting ARCs. I really do like getting a sneak peak at some of the new books that are coming out, but I have to make sure I limit it so I don’t get overwhelmed (which can sometimes be easier said than done).

  26. My husband is all about clearing house all the time — he has zero problems getting rid of EVERYTHING. He could be a monk. He teases me about throwing out all my books (that I haven’t read) and it sends me into a panic attack.

    I don’t even keep books I’ve read. I give them away to friends, family, on my blog, etc.

  27. Did… Did you just describe me? I always feel like this. I want to read all the books I am interested in across genres and across published dates and I just CAN’T and it hurts that I can’t. I have a huge list tbr and it comforts me to write them all down… but it is sad that I only have so much reading capacity. I have only one shelf which is actually a literal joke at this point, seeing as I own over 500 books. So. There are piles all over my room and it might just hurt me one day too 😛 I also really really want to see my own book on a shelf one day.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: Shifting Sands [Book Review]
  28. Lily

    I worry about all the books I want to read and having no room on my shelves. That okay. I just push it aside and read one book at a time.

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