The To-Be-Read (TBR) “Pile”

Inspired by this post at The Happy Accident (link from the inimitable Camille at Book Moot), I gathered my to-be-read (TBR) books in one place.

TBR shelves

I organized them,* then borrowed the books from my husband G.Grod’s TBR shelf (yes, he has just one shelf) that I want to read too:

G and My shared TBR books

I counted: 151. Then I bought another graphic novel: 152. Then I remembered the Austen, Bronte, O’Brian and Shakespeare shelves downstairs: 183 (includes the 21 Aubrey/Maturin books), then I remembered the books I have on reserve at the library: 186.

I could read a book every other day and still not finish in a year. In reality, I read about 2 books a week; these alone would take me almost 2 years. Given future purchases/borrowings of graphic novels, new releases, and new recommendations, I estimate if I knuckle down, I could read what I have in three years.

Let’s say 3 years plus. Books, you are hereby on notice. I’m going to dust you off and read you by the end of 2012.

Hear that sound? It’s the books, laughing.

A few amusing books from the shelf:

A.S. Byatt’s Still Life, the sequel to Virgin in the Garden, which I read in 1997.

Iris Murdoch’s A Word Child, recommended to me by someone I no longer like.

Lonesome Dove, recommended to me by by JJ, a former co-worker and friend with whom I’ve fallen out of touch.

Ditto for Startide Rising and Zod Wallop, recommended to me by former co-worker CC whose cred is high with me because he recommended A Game of Thrones to me, and the Miles Vorkosigan novels, both of which I loved, albeit over a decade ago.

Children of God, the sequel to Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, which I’m afraid to read in case it’s as emotionally wrenching as its predecessor.

And the most embarrassing entry: Getting Things Done by David Allen. Bookmark is at page 10.

Getting Things Done, not getting read

And now I’ll get back to a recently purchased book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that I rationalized buying because it was for two book groups. Must stop buying books.

*in a manner that probably only makes sense to me (big books alpha by author, except Beowulf, which is by title, then mass market paperbacks (MMPB) alpha by author, and the rest of the big books by author, then graphic novels by size. The ones on top of the white bookcase are borrowed from G’s TBR shelf for illustrative purposes.

16 Responses to “The To-Be-Read (TBR) “Pile””

  1. Jodi Says:

    perhaps if you read GTD first, it would help accomplish the task of reading the others? Actually, I read it, back when I was working. It was very helpful to me at the time. I don’t think it would help you with your book pile, however.

  2. SFP Says:

    I will be very interested in your opinion of Children of God, once you get around to it. As much as I loved The Sparrow I hated the sequel.

    And I’m truly afraid to count all the tbrs in my house. I would imagine I have enough to last six or seven years if I stopped buying and bringing more home from the library.

  3. girldetective Says:

    Well, S, that makes me want to drop everything and read it. I just need to do it and get it over with. And what kind of attitude is that to have for a book. Gar.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Perhaps Getting Things Done could help me get OTHER things done to make more time for reading? But then I’d have to read a business-y self-help book instead of a good one. Which is why it’s sitting on the shelf.

  5. Steph Says:

    Amazing! I particularly enjoyed the “Getting Things Done” moment of daily schaedenfreude.

    I have no idea how many books are still TBR in our apartment. I would like to do what you have done and collect them all in one place, but alas, they are already stacked on the floor as is. I think if I actually got them all together, they could potentially organize a mutiny and overtake our 1BR apartment quite easily… According to GoodReads at least, I have about 179 books in my possession that I have yet to read (and this does not include the most recent 17 books I bought… so make that 196, I guess).

    So clearly, you are not alone.

  6. girldetective Says:

    I think I need to find some online way to keep track of my challenge to myself. Shelfari, Good Reads? I like to track books I’ve read on Visual Bookshelf at FB and Library Thing, and don’t want the crazy long list of TBRs to muck up the Have Read list.

  7. gretchen Says:

    At what point do you just say, “I haven’t read this, I’m running out of shelf space, goodbye, book!” I have a pile of TBRs that I’m increasingly unenthused about and am thinking of just getting rid of them, instead of letting them sit and gather dust.

  8. Amy Says:

    Ha. I’m halfway through Getting Things Done. It just seems like a lot of work. I’m on Good Reads, which I like. Don’t want to track my TBRs, though!

    Maybe you should start a TBR challenge.

  9. girldetective Says:

    Gretchen, I’m definitely a book weeder. We live close to several Half Price Books stores so it’s easy to sell what I don’t need. I worked there for a year and that was HORRIBLE for my book acquisitions. I swear I sold back about a third of what I bought from them. A lot of the books on the TBR shelves are classics–Dickens, and Faulkner. Others are ones I’m likely to like, such as Neal Stepehenson and David Foster Wallace, I just haven’t gotten to them. There’s no time expiration, as you can see, some have sat for over a decade, and been through I don’t know how many moves. And I’ve had some–like Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior–that would have been good then but weren’t once I got to it. And others, like Infinite Jest, that I read and wish I’d read years ago. I think my criteria is, loosely, do I have an active interest in this for some reason, and could I pick it up after the next book if I chose? Once a book slips into “should” mode, or its sense of topicality or urgency is gone, then that’s it.

  10. G. Grod Says:

    I’d like to point out that I have only one shelf, but those books are only about 1/3 of them. And the shelf does not include my ever expanding collection of editions of Hamlet. As for order, mine USED to be sorted in the order I intend to read them.

  11. Steph Says:

    I liked GoodReads because a) you can add as many books as you like FOR FREE; and b) it is naturally divided into shelves - so whenever you add a book to your library, you put it on the “read”, “to be read”, or the “currently reading” shelf. Of course you can create whichever other shelves you like, but those are the 3 defaults.

    I am also sufficiently nerdy that I like how you can update your reading progress, and there’s a little bar that fills up as you move through your book.

  12. Kerry Says:

    I only have 2-3 actual books hanging around in a TBR pile after moving 2,000 miles. What I do have is a 4 inch high pile of paper covered in TBR titles and authors and musical suggestions.

  13. girldetective Says:

    Wow. Only 2-3 books. I moved from Philly to MN in 1998, which was about 1300 miles, and there are (wait for it while I go count…) and I count five books still on the TBR shelves. I’ve either read or weeded the others I brought with me, but I know I got rid of a lot before I moved.

    I started keeping a spreadsheet with cds, dvds and books I’m interested in rather than jotting them down, but I’ve found it works best for music and movies, which I mostly get from the library. Books, which I want to browse for, I’d rather have a physical list of on hand. So I may be switching back to a little notebook, like the ones from Field Notes, for books.

  14. Nymeth Says:

    Sigh. This is why I too need to stop acquiring books. I say “acquiring” because even though I’m on a buying ban, copious amounts of books keep coming in via Bookmooch….

  15. girldetective Says:

    Nymeth, it’s it funny how we find ways around our rules, vows and bans, we keep acquiring books? I have cut down on book buying but never managed to stop, and had to make a library vow when I turned out to be reading more library books than shelf books. I made a foolish vow at one point to only buy a book if it was going to be the very next one I read. I failed that vow immediately.

  16. Greg Pincus Says:

    That’s impressive pile-age, I must say. Very neat, though. After I put up that post of piles, I got lots of emails and notes… and we basically all agreed we’ll just never get down to zero. And really, that’s okay. I think that’d defeat the fun!

    Thanks for sharing your pics!