Monday, September 17, 2012

The TBR Pile: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

This was supposed to be a review. It was scheduled a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd be able to read (and finish) the book in time. But various obligations--mostly other reviews--have kept me from finishing the book, and it would be very bad form for me to review a book that I haven't finished.

But even though I haven't finished the review (or the book), I'm responsible for today's content, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about piles and piles of books. Namely, the "to be read" pile (or TBR pile, if you like acronyms).

In addition to Historical Tapestry, I review for a couple of other publications, which means I end up with a lot of stuff to review. And since I work in a public library, I find new things to read every day. My department is responsible for ordering and receiving all of the new materials, so if it's being added to the library's collection, it makes its way through my work area at some point or another. This adds to my pile of things I want to read.

I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 books per year, and between books checked out from the library, books for review, and books that I've bought (in paper or in electronic format), my TBR pile has something like 125 books in it. So I have over a years' worth of books that I want to read at some point or another!

I've come to terms with the fact that there are just too many good books out there to read in a lifetime. Every time we get a large shipment of books into the library, I see five or ten more books I want to read, so I put them on hold. Out of every group of books I pick up, I usually read one or two...if I'm lucky. I've found that if I don't read library books right away, I don't come back to them, because something newer or shinier or more exciting comes along. The same thing happens with books that I buy. I've tried to cut back on purchases because of this--I have books on my shelves that I "had to have" ten years ago, and I still haven't read them. 

I try to prioritize my review books, but sometimes even that stack gets out of hand. One of my recent assignments for another publication was to read and review Ken Follett's new book, The Winter of the World. It was great, but it was 1000 (or so) pages, so it took a while to read. This, of course, ate into my time for reading other things, which led to the downward spiral that lead to this review not being posted as intended! So I apologize for my unexciting filler content and my lack of review, and I'll return to frantically tackling the TBR pile.

Do you have a TBR pile? What's in it, and how huge is it? Do you have a plan for tackling it? If you're able to manage your TBR pile, do you have advice for me?



  1. This is a great topic for a post.

    I, too, have a very large tbr pile (in fact, I don't call mine a pile, I call it a mountain). I read about 85 books a year, but have several years worth of books to read sitting on my shelves. To tackle it I joined a TBR reading challenge this year, vowing to read 50 books from pre-2012 TBR pile. I'm not going to achieve it - mainly because I keep reading the new stuff I've bought in the mean time, or am focused on a book I received for review.

    While I sometimes look at my shelves and get a bit overwhelmed by all the books I have yet to read, I must admit my home library really does bring so much comfort and happiness that I really am okay with it. I'll get to all those unread books some day :-)

  2. I have a TBR mountain too but my intent when I started gathering massive amounts of books was to have a room in my house to be my own little library. I think I've achieved that goal as there are now over 1,000 books in there waiting to be read. A lot of times I wander in there and think "I should really read that author or that time period sounds good to me right about now" but then like all bloggers I keep checking out library books and accepting review books and it seems I'll never get them all read. I think next year I'm going to limit myself to 2 review books a month and read the rest from my collection :)

  3. Ah yes, this all sounds so very familiar.

    I love my library and can't resist requesting books from there, but then between the review books and the books I buy, I have enough to keep me busy for a good couple of years!

    1. I forgot to mention that I have a spreadsheet where I put in due dates, whether it be agreed review dates or library due dates to try and help me meet targets. Some times it works better than others, but it is at least something.

  4. I have perhaps 50 TBR books. I keep adding to the pile. I've gotten a lot less merciful with books that are okay but don't pull me in, because I know there is something waiting that will. Because of crammed bookshelves and limited space, I have to keep giving books away. I keep special favorites, books I'll reread, and books I'm likely to loan to others.

  5. My TBR pile is all three of those things as well...more ugly than anything. :)

    I have so many books to review for publishers and authors that I am into 2013 with the review requests. I have stopped accepting books for a while. I want to read something that I want to read of my own, but I do enjoy reading and reviewing the books I do or I wouldn't have agreed to them. TEE HEE.

    I make an Excel File and put the books by months and cross them off when I am done, but that probably isn't anything too innovative!!

    Hope you get your TBR stack where you want it to be.

    I love stopping by to look around your blog.

    Silver's Reviews

  6. My TBR is relatively crazy. My review pile has gotten a little out of control - not as bad as some of those I hear about, but way more than I can really handle at one time. Plus there are so many books I'm dying to read of my own. I too keep an excel sheet to keep track of all my review copies and due dates etc.

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