Have you ever been to a social gathering of sorts where a lot of your friends are? And things are really good except… there are some randos there who you don’t know, and they’re taking up all the seats and eating all the good hors d’oeuvres? And this event would be way better if it were just the people you actually care about?

This is the state of my favorites shelf. I was adding a book to it (Three Dark Crowns, for the curious among you) and I realized that it was kind of out of control. I even added an “elite favorites” shelf (which, yes, is The Hunger Games series and 3 other books, shhh) to combat the problem. There are 52 books on it, and 613 on my “read” shelf. That is close to ten percent. That seems excessive, and frankly, unreasonable. (Also, look at me being all math-y.)

I think I have calmed down a bit now. For example, this year I have added five books to my favorites. So, out of 120 books, that is 4%. That seems much more acceptable, right? I think so too. But in 2012? I read 72 books… and 13 of them appear on my favorites list, a whopping 18%. I don’t know about you, but 18% of the books I read are not favorites. Except that one time that they were?

Clearly, one of a few things is going on here:

  • My standards for adding books to my favorites shelf has gotten much higher.
  • Sequels got added not necessarily because they deserved to, but because I liked the series in general.
  • 2012 happened to be a really awesome year for me, one the likes of which I shall never encounter again.
  • I have become jaded and curmudgeonly in my old age and grumble when I have to shell out niceties.
  • Back in the day, I was much less critical of books, and if it made me kind of happy, it became a favorite.

Spoiler: It’s probably a combination of the first two and the last one. Out of the 52 books, more than half are from 2012/2013, even though those were the years I read the fewest books. Looking back, I barely even remember some of the books, which brings me to the question:

Do these books deserve to stay on the shelf?

Some do, obviously. Some I have even reread and decided that yes, they do deserve their spot most assuredly (Hunger Games, anyone?) And some I loved and remember super clearly with great fondness, so those aren’t a question. But what happens when you look back and think… did I really even like that book? The way I see it, there are three options:

  1. Leave it the hell alone. Who cares, really? Is it hurting anyone that a book whose main character I couldn’t name to quite literally save my life is sitting on my favorites shelf? Is it worth the hassle to decide if I really liked it enough for it to be there?
  2. Reread the books in question. Determine if they are still favorites. Well, this shit sounds time consuming, no? Look, I don’t even have time to reread books that I know are favorites, so am I really going to take precious reading time just to organize a shelf better? Not likely.
  3. Remove any books that I simply don’t have the warm fuzzies for. This is risky, because how do you know when to cut it off? What if I kinda have the warm fuzzies, but not favorite level? This requires decisions to be made, and no one likes those.

So, this is where you guys come in. We must chat! And while we chat, why not take a poll! 

Do you ever remove books from your favorites in some way?

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How many books do you have on your favorites shelf? Do you ever remove any that you simply aren’t in love with? Is this something that anyone else worries about, or just my crazy mind?

Posted September 28, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 66 Comments

66 responses to “Removing Favorites: Blasphemy or Necessity?

  1. Is your favorites shelf is out of control, mine is the equivalent Godzilla currently destroying a city lol. I just checked, and I’ve got 18% of my books on that shelf. But it’s not like I have a strict rule for what goes there? I think it’s kinda like, these are the books I feel deserve extra praise, even if I didn’t give them 5 stars. And the way I do it is, if it’s a series, either the whole series goes there, or none of the books go there. It’s like, either I’d recommend the series, or I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t recommend just Book 3, you know? Not that that’s my standard, there are books not on my Favorite shelf that I would still recommend, but that was the best way of explaining it that I could think of lol. And oftentimes I find series to be more than the sum of their parts, so there’s that too. I don’t necessarily love every book in the series, but I love them all together. So that might be why mine has so many books.

    But anyway, I recently removed some books because I *thought* the series would be a favorite when I started, then it went downhill a bit. Other than that, no, I haven’t removed any. I feel like, even if I don’t remember it much now, I loved it at the time when I read it, and I have no real reason to believe I’d love it less now if I read it now. So it earned its spot. But if I were to re-read it and dislike, that would be another story. So I say don’t worry about it? But it’s your GR, so if you’d feel better removing old ones, go for it!

    • BWHAHAH you made me laugh so hard! ? See, my PHYSICAL favorites shelf is exactly like yours- I put books there that just… made me happy basically. Even if they aren’t 5 stars, it’s kind of like “I’d totally recommend this!” or something. But my Goodreads shelf.. I don’t know what it has become anymore! And I have some that are just one or two books of a series, and the whole thing is a mess!

      The thing is, there are only probably one or two that I’d remove outright. ANd even then, I’d probably have my doubts hahha. So I think for now, I will leave it alone? Or you know, ponder it forever 😉

  2. I have 44 books on my favorites shelf, which is about 6 or 7% of the read ones I think. I definitely think removing favorites is okay. You grow as a reader, and what you may have loved one day, you don’t necessarily love the next. I have removed favorites from that shelf before because I felt like they no longer belonged…

    Great post!

    • Aw thanks! And that is really helpful, to know that you have done it- and lived to tell about it 😉 I think you are SO right, we do grow as readers, and I think I have just read better books since then, sadly (or happily, actually- just not for those few books ?)

  3. I don’t really have a favorites shelf (which is itself blasphemy?) because my Goodreads account is sadly neglected… but I’m commenting anyway. 🙂 I do sometimes go through and think why did I rate that one THAT high? So a similar thing i guess. Then I wonder should I change the rating? But I haven’t yet… even though are bugging me whenever I see them. lol

    To answer your question though- I think it’s okay to remove favorites. I mean, I think our tastes change over time, even within a few years, and what may have seemed like a favorite a couple years ago doesn’t have that cachet now, you know? Sometimes I know I get caught up in a book and I’m all on about it at the time, but a few months later I’m like why did I gush about THAT shit? So yeah… I say go with your gut lol! If I actually used Goodreads properly and had a faves shelf it would probably change occasionally… I think?

    • Bwhahha nah, neglecting Goodreads is much better for your sanity, since it seems like I lose my shit over it on the regular 😉 I do look back at books in general with the whole “What was I THINKING!?” but I can’t bring myself to change it like, 99% of the time. There are those rare cases where I am like “yeah no, that book SUCKED, what is wrong with me?” and I do change them, but they’re VERY rare. I may change a few. Or I may not. I really don’t know. I assume I will be looking at it one day and get all stabby and just delete a bunch, because that is usually how I operate ?

  4. sam

    My daughter and I had this discussion (about our favorites shelf) not that long ago. I reflected, and realized, that my more recent favorites are better written, but I did leave old faves alone for the most part. However, I did remove books in a series (unless it just blew me away). I have 91 favorites and 984 read, so I fall into that 10% mark with you. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I love all the books! If asked, I cannot select a favorite, but I like distinguishing the ones that stood out for me.

    • Aww that is awesome! I think that I will leave *MOST* alone- but there are a few that just get me every time so they might go- and I think they are series books for the most part too, that just simply don’t belong there but road in on the coattails of their more impressive friends 😉

  5. I’m totally onboard with removing books from favourites shelfs! The only thing I won’t do is change my review.? Like I see books i’ve given 5-stars to and been like “say wut now Cait” because I don’t even recall adoring them??? But I might lower the rating to a 4 (but usually no) but I won’t go changing the review unless I reread it. But changing things from shelves? I DO IT ALL THE TIME.? Also I’m old and jaded about my reading now. Last year I think I had 20 books on my “best of 2015” shelf (yes! I organise my best-of-year shelves hhaha.) But this year I have like…9 on there. ONLY 9!!! And it’s nearly the end of the year?!?? So clearly someone is getting grumpy in their old age (spoiler: it me).

    Anyway! I say do what you want. 😉 Favourite books are allowed to change over time! After all, we change, so our favourite books are definitely going to. *nods like a wise person even when I’m not*

    • BWHAHAH I LOVE this! I think you are right- I am not changing the review (technically I didn’t even review any of them anyway since this was pre-blogging hah) but favorites can be just me saying “this is my favorite now!” and them not making the cut! I like this way of thinking, I approve of your grumpitude. 😀

  6. Um I didn’t even have a favorites shelf until I just stopped right now and made one so I am not sure how accurate it is lol. I voted to leave them but maybe you can make and old favorites shelf. This way you know at one time they were your favorites but not now. I don’t know maybe that is all too complicated . Being a bookworm is hard stuff man. Great post!!!

  7. Yeah, I get what you’re saying though I have never removed any from my favorites list. I actually have a shelf for all my five star reads and another one for ultimate favorites (I guess that’s another word for elite). Not all of my five star reads belong on my ultimate favorites list. Ultimate favorite is a title I give very rarely, although Hunger Games is (and always will be) on mine. And now, I must rush to get Three Dark Crowns since it gets such high marks from you.

  8. I have multiple favorites shelves too! My best of the best are on my headboard, but mass market paperbacks just don’t look good there. And it is hard when I loved the first in the series, but not the sequels.

    I think you should reread your questionable favorites. You can have them face off! 52 enter, but only 20 will survive… lol

    • GAH the struggle is SO REAL when you put a first in series book on the favorites shelf and then you don’t know what to do with the rest. I hate breaking up a series, but if the other books suck, well, what am I to do!? ANd that is TOO funny! I wish I had time to do that, I think it would be SO fun to pit them against each other ?

  9. I filter out books I’ve added to my favorites shelf all the time. My reading taste is different from what it was a year ago.
    Now, I don’t have a physical shelf for these books because I don’t have the space in my apartment. I keep the unfinished books/series on the shelf above my desk, but other than that the books are all on one shelf. So it’s my favorites list on Goodreads that gets the over-haul from time to time.

    • That is such a great point! I DO have a physical shelf, but I am much more lenient with it- and I also have no problems moving it and rearranging it as space dictates (probably because I can blame it on the space hahah) but Goodreads… it seems harsh to let them go, even though they kind of need to go!

  10. Um, I don’t even have a favorites shelf. Maybe I should make one? Anyway, I think it’s totally possible to fall out of love with a book. I’ve been considering rereading some of my childhood favorites to see if I still like them as an adult. I bet a lot of them will no longer impress me because I’ve read A LOT of books and have more material to compare them against.

  11. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to make a ‘Favorites’ shelf on Goodreads. I also find it very hard to pick between all the books I’ve read and come up with a few ‘favorites’ because to me it feels like a mother having to choose which child is her favorite. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not possible. If I had to make a list I’d have to pick out the books I rated 5 stars, but then there’s the dilemma of that 4 starred book that has somehow become a favorite because of a small insignificant detail that none of the 5 starred books had. OK, my brain hurts now….

    • HAHAH I love that! It DOES feel like that sometimes! But I usually add them there right after I review them, which I think makes it easier in the moment, BUT also leads to more regret down the road 😉 Sorry I made your brain hurt, the struggle is real!

  12. About a year ago I started purging books (donated to old high school). I started to forget what books I had so I knew it was time. There was also plenty I would never read again so it made no sense whatsoever to hold onto them. I have a favorites shelf too! It has a couple series/authors I love the most. The shelves that follow are just in whatever order I felt like stacking. I have maybe 40-50 books (physical) these days. I try reallly hard to use the library these days.

    • YESSS I agree with you SO much- I have been doing that lately too, looking at my books and asking myself which ones I would ACTUALLY read again, and which I am definitely never going to. Or which ones I think I want my kids to read, even though there will be 298923 new books by the time they’re old enough 😉 That is awesome that you are able to keep the number of books so low! I have… an embarrassingly high number of books. Most are unread though- I think I only have about 100 or so that are read, so that isn’t… as bad? (I am afraid to count them hahha)

  13. I did some quick mathy things too. My favorites shelf has 62 books out of the 597 I’ve read – 10% basically! Hmm. I feel like it’s high but also I guess it makes sense?? It’s sad to think I’ve only added that many out of the million I’ve read haha.

    I used to always just put book 1 in a series on the favorite shelf to represent the whole series too!

  14. I actually don’t know the exact number on my favorites shelf at the moment, but yeah, if it got really crowded on there, I might decide to take some things off – but it would have to be books I couldn’t really remember well or just decided I didn’t like AS MUCH as some others. But again, favorites are subjective. I can have one favorite that falls under “pure fun” and another favorite that is “more serious.” It’s hard to make decisions, etc.

    • Yes, yes, I wouldn’t get rid of any ACTUAL favorites, but there are a couple on there that I legit have NO idea what the MC’s name is, what the PLOT was, etc. Those need to go! I am fine with pure fun- if it was fun enough to be a favorite, it stays 😀

  15. After reading this post, I went and looked at mine, and it took me some math struggles (hint: .03% and 3% are not the same thing), but I worked out that I only had 3% of my books marked as favorites. Then again, when I joined Goodreads YEARS before I started blogging, I went in and added a bunch of books I remembered from my past, and that was heavily skewered towards old favorites. So your post actually inspired me to go in and ADD more books to my favorites shelf. It’s up to about 6% of my total now. Which seems reasonable to me, as does 10%. But now my Favorites Shelf is a sort of teeter totter between my favorite books of the last 18 months and my childhood/teen favorites that stuck in my mind from years ago. I also have a shelf called “100 Books I Could Survive On,” (and THAT was a fun project to put together!) which is NOT quite the same as favorites. It has more nonfiction, classics, and even cookbooks and parenting books. I was truly thinking of if I were stuck for the rest of my life with only 100 books, what would I need, and what could I revisit repeatedly?

    • WHOA I am impressed that you were actually able to add to the shelf, that is awesome! I LOOOVE the “100 Books I Could Survive On”! That sounds SO FUN- do you change it if a new book comes along that you’d NEED to survive? I LOVE that idea! I think I should come up with some more creative ways to spin the favorites- that might make me feel less cluttered!

  16. I never made a favorites shelf on Goodreads. Partially because I know it would either be my three very very favorite books of all time or would just include way too many books. But I have a similar problem with my to-read shelf. I made one that’s basically “no, I really do want to read this” that I hoped would be smaller than my to-read list. :/

    • YES! Exactly! This is my problem- it started out as JUST The Hunger Games and now it is out of hand. Which is why the Elite Favorites shelf came into play, but now it’s stupidly small. So your decision is a VERY good one! I LOVE the idea of another TBR. I have one called “must read grabby hands” in hopes that I will pay more attention to it, too- but it ends up being mostly sequels! I need one that is in the middle!

  17. I always forget to add my favorite books to my shelf but I think after a while it’s okay to get rid of books that no longer sparkle to you. I went through my favorites list and got rid of a lot of them because sometimes a book seems good but when you think about it a few months later it’s not as good as you rembered. If that makes sense?

  18. So I’m kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum. I don’t have a favorites GR shelf but I have my 5 star shelf. And (as I’m sure we’ve discussed before) I am incredibly stingy with my 5 star ratings. A really good book that I truly enjoyed is usually a 4 star or maybe even 4.5 star read. To be a 5 star book for me… wow. It is one that I LOVED. One that became in instant all-time favorite. One that rocked my world, made me FEEL, and is truly unforgettable. And those are few and far between. Currently my GR 5 star shelf holds 34 books. Considering I joined GR in 2007… yeah, that should give you an idea. 🙂 I think long and hard before considering something truly a favorite – instead of just a book I really, really enjoyed – so I’ve never been in a position where I considered changing a 5 star or deciding it wasn’t a real favorite.

    But at the same time, I do think over time feelings can change for a book. The honeymoon period wears off, you maybe see it more clearly, realize you don’t love it quite so much… it happens. So I say go shake down that GR shelf!

    • Hahha see, my problem is, I am NOT stingy with 5 stars- but I AM stingy with favorites (or at least, I am now hahah). And WOW only 34 5 stars in almost a DECADE!? That is impressive! You definitely are picky, but I think that’s a good thing! And I do agree with you, the honeymoon period is a real thing! NOW, I wait a few weeks before I shelve books, but I guess I wasn’t always so discerning 😉 I think I just may take a hard look at those books, after all! Thanks! 😀

  19. I… don’t have a favourites shelf! 🙂 Not even on Goodreads, I only rate books there (and sort them by genre). I’ve bumped one book from 5 stars to 4 recently – it was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is my least favourite of the series. I re-read it and it just didn’t deserve 5 stars, even if the series means the world to me. So yeah, I’d definitely remove books from a favourites shelf if I had it, but I think I’d re-read them first, just to be sure. 🙂

  20. This post makes me happy I don’t have a favorites shelf as that really would stress me out. When do you add a book to that shelf and when do you remove it? I do have something similar with 5 star ratings, I am pretty picky with those, but it seems I have gotten even pickier and sometimes when I look back at those 5 stars I am like huh how did that book even got a 5 star, if I would re-read it now it probably wouldn’t. Or the book didn’t leave as big of an impressions as I thought it would back then or I forgot most of it by now. I usually just leave it be and see it as a rating that was true when i read the book and might not be anymore now. But with a favorite shelf that would feel different. I definitely understand why you struggle with this as I wouldn’t know what the best course of action is, although re-reading them all sounds like it would take too much time, so i probably would say leave it be or remove the books that don’t give you the warm fuzzies anymore.

    • Bwhahha glad I could help 😉 Seriously though, it is HARD. Like NOW, I am pickier- I wait a few weeks, I NEVER add books right after I finish them (because sometimes emotions get in the way hah) but I used to be really bad at this I guess! I might remove the couple that I KNOW don’t belong there and then just leave the rest…. for now 😀 Thanks!

  21. I think it’s totally fair to move books off favourite shelf. Somehow I’ve become very picky and I actually ended up having a “favourite favourite” and a “re-reader” shelf for those that I like to re-read but apparently still don’t love enough to be a super favourite? I don’t even know now, haha.
    Great discussion!

  22. Once books make my favourites shelf, they stay there but I now have an entire bookshelf of them lol. I mean lets just make the whole collection filled with favourites! It also occurred to me that the series on my favourite shelves are only going to get bigger, so then there’s that as well. Why can’t we have unlimited space for bookshelves?

  23. I don’t really remove any from my favorites shelf, but I do try to be picky about what I add. Also, I never add any sequels or the whole series. I always do just the first one and that usually means the whole series. Okay, not all the time though. 🙂 It is tough because my goodreads shelves get out of control, but I think for me it’s mostly my to read and wishlist shelves.

  24. I’ve actually never even thought of having too many favourites hahah. I only reexamine ratings if something comes up later. Like I read Me Before You and gave it 5 stars then after listening to the disability community I felt really conflicted and brought it down to 4. Then I read Cursed Child and initially gave it 4, then later rethought that and brought it down to 3. Otherwise I don’t ever look lol. I think the more you read the more picky you get. But I don’t see the harm in occasionally going through and making sure those are still your favourites. But personally I leave it alone

  25. Honestly, I forget that I even have a favorites shelf when I’m adding my review and can’t remember the last time I added a title. Did the math and my 11 favorites are .01% of my read books. Guess I need to update that shelf! But if it really bothers you then yes, go ahead and remove books that no longer give you the warm fuzzies.

    I think that the longer we read and review books, the pickier we get. I’ve noticed that I don’t give as many 5 star reviews as I used to and am more willing to DNF a book if it isn’t working for me. Guess we all get grumpier as we get older! ha!

    • I forget too, but I usually end up going back later- I think that it actually helps keep the number down that way, because I am not just randomly adding all the things haha. It’s so true, I definitely have gotten stingier as time goes on too 😉

  26. Well, this post just sent me on a five hour tangent … and then I wrote a post about it. Ha! I went and looked at my All-Tie Favorites, and found that, for the most part, they’re all books I still love. There were a couple that surprised me, but not much. I’m keeping mine, but I can definitely understand the urge to adjust the list—and I’m totally giving myself permission to do just that if I feel like it.

    • BWHAHA I love your post about this! It is so TRUE. I am glad that you still love all of yours! For the most part, I DO love them still, but there are a small number that.. yeah, barely remember them at all, good OR bad! I may adjust at some point (or not, let’s be real 😉 )

  27. Look. So. I’m really picky when it comes to favorites, and books just haven’t been up to par in 2016. Seriously. This has been a really poop year, which means that I haven’t really added ANY books to my absolute favorite shelves. Either that, or I forgot that I should add them on there. But anyways, I think for me there needs to be a WHY. WHY is this book important to me, or is my favorite. Did it affect me in a huge way? Or was it just like all the others? If there is a really good reason as to why a book should be on that shelf, then on it goes.

    Either that, or I just add all the books and not care about anything because WHO NEEDS TO PICK

    • I only added ONE to my elite favorites. Which is sad. But seriously, I don’t know what is happening this year. Like, last month, I didn’t read ANY 5 star books- not even a 4.5, I don’t think. It’s super sad. I think I add the books based solely on FEELS. If my emotions tell me to add it… I add. Otherwise, nope!

  28. I have no clue how many books I have on my favourites shelf simply because I don’t have one. I have a mental list of sorts of favourites. I have them in more prominent positions and that’s all really. Every so often I reshuffle my shelves and some books I may have fallen out of love with and will push them back on my shelves.

    I do find the books I am most likely to fall out of love with are series were the later books have disappointed me and affected my view of the earlier books. That upsets me, but it’s the way it goes. I think it’s okay to have gotten more critical with your favourites as you read more because you have more to compare against. I reckon your clear off any book which doesn’t leave you all warm and fuzzy just from looking at the cover. That’s how I do it anyway.

    • Oooh that is probably a good idea! I do that with my physical shelves, the whole rotating them out thing, but with Goodreads… I can’t seem to do it!

      And YES, I feel you on the series thing. I HATE when that happens, because I never really know WHAT to do in those cases (like Divergent, for example!) I love your idea- I think I am going to go take a look at the covers soon and do just that! Thanks!! 😀

  29. At the moment I have only 24 books on my favorite shelf. I haven’t removed any of them yet, but if for some reason I’d decide I no longer adore the book, I wouldn’t have any problem removing it.
    I have a rule that from my favorite series I’d choose only the best book in the series, and also some of my favorites are there for sentimental resons, and not because I think they are masterpieces.
    For example, Go Ask Alice is the book I reread so many times in my high school day I knew it’s quotes any time of the day. Do I think it’s the best book ever? Not really, but it is my favorite and I love it more then some that are better but if you ask me, Go Ask Alice has a personal impact on me and that makes it stand out from other books.

    • Oh I TOTALLY agree about the personal feelings thing. If a book just was something extra special for me, then I am fine with it being on the shelf, even if it had some problems. Sometimes I think it is hard to pick the best book from a series, which is probably why I have so many series books on there 😉 24 seems like a good number!

  30. I don’t have a favorite shelf on GoodReads (unless there is a shelf they create for you that I don’t know about). I’ve never thought to create one either.

  31. Sometimes I go back at books and change my rating, because afterwards I realize I simply did not love them THAT much. So yes, it also happens that I remove books from their favorite status to simply really good. I think it’s a natural process, because the more books you read, the more comparison you have ::)

  32. So I’m weird because I have two favorites shelf on Goodreads, and I have two shelves on my actual bookshelf that separates the good/the ones that I super really enjoyed/want to keep forever and the ones that were ULTIMATE favorites that I can’t live without/need all the editions of/will never let go. And then I have faves/the ones I loved versus those ALL-TIME faves that I flail over whenever I think of them. So like, I have this weird hierarchy of where books fall into. And usually I know in my head where books go, but sometimes I’m also like, but did I really love it that much???? DOES IT ACTUALLY DESERVE TOP SHELF STATUS???? I feel so ridiculous. Haha. But it works for me. And yeah, I have removed books after so long, ones that I either fell out of love with completely or I needed the shelf space for ones I loved more. I AM WEIRD. BUT I HAVE LIMITED SHELF SPACE.

    But there are just some books that I feel more for, you know? Like you and Hunger Games. Not many books can reach that level of love from you. Not many are on THAT level, right? I have those ones, as well. It is *most* that reached top shelf status, but not all of them.

    I probably shouldn’t care so much about this, or be so picky, especially in regards to 5 stars because man I do not hand those out very often. And I’ll even put 4.5 starred books on the “best of blank year” lists over 5 starred ones. I DON’T EVEN REALLY KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENS, TBH. But I like my system. And as I change and get older, my tastes will change, and my feelings will change as well. I think that’s realistic. But yeah, I don’t think it’s blasphemy to remove certain books. Sometimes you just fall out of love with them. 😉

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