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Conquering The To Be Read Collective

A photo of the books discussed in this post

When we moved we packed up my books (unfortunately by format and size rather than by subject or alphabetically – you all understand my upset here, right?), leaving out only three or four to add to my canvas bag. The moving equivalent of carry-on luggage. These books were the two I was currently reading and the next print ARC I had to read. (My Kobo was of course put in the canvas bag, too.)

Once at the new place, we unpacked, and whilst it was again by format and size as we’ve no bookcases, I was happy enough. My books were in piles and there was space enough in the room to walk amongst them and dissemble if a particular book was required.

Then we had an issue with the living area and my books were moved into a smaller room where the piles were and still are crammed against each other. In order to combat the issue of not being able to get to the books I wanted, I picked out those I most wanted to read at that time and set them in their own pile. I forgot to add ARCs – this explains the lack of the phrase ‘I received this book for review’ on the blog so far this year – but other than that it’s a good pile.

This is where I get down to business, so to speak. Although I have inevitably lamented the fact that my decision on what I want to read soon has since changed, that I wish I’d included, for example, The Cuckoo’s Calling in my pile instead of placing it wherever it may be amongst the inaccessible, I have made wonderful progress through my immediate to-be-read (if I do say so myself).

My pile consisted of the following books:

Alison Weir’s The Lady In The Tower
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas
Elizabeth Chadwick’s A Place Beyond Courage
Emma Henderson’s Grace Williams Says It Loud
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl
Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française
Laini Taylor’s Daughter Of Smoke And Bone
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Lindy Woodhead’s Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge
Lyn Andrews’s The Queen’s Promise
N K Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Nancy Bilyeau’s The Crown
Vanora Bennett’s The People’s Queen
Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth, Pouring Rain

Out of these 14 I have so far finished 4 and am currently reading two others.

I haven’t deviated from this pile except on the odd occasion – mostly for ebooks I had already started. I’m enjoying reading my own books immensely and there is a lot to be said for reading books you’re really excited about one after the other, even if you find you don’t like them. I don’t feel I’m missing out by sticking to older books (even if I do have to get back to the ARCs as soon as I can) and it’s resulted in an enriching year so far. Making a TBR pile to your liking, your complete liking, gets you reading. It’s a TBR that works.

The moral of the story: if you want to find extreme success with your collection of unread books, move to a needy residence. The longer the repair work takes the better your reading may be.

Do you have a particular method for conquering your TBR?


Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

March 10, 2014, 1:58 am

I was the opposite when I moved — I had all my books pretty much from the start, but the house needed so much work (that we were doing ourselves) that reading kept getting pushed aside :( I’m glad it’s worked out for you though! I love your idea of make a “shortlist” TBR pile from all your unread books — I think I might need to try that! I’m thinking about taking a big step back from new ARCs so this would fit right in :)

Margaret @ BooksPlease

March 10, 2014, 7:06 am

This year what has helped me read my own unread books is that I took up the Triple Dog Dare not to read anything but TBRs until April run by another blogger. You can make exceptions – books for book groups, ARCs or whatever you decide and so far I have stuck to it. It has been a struggle as I’ve downloaded quite a lot of books on Kindle and have carried on borrowing library books (it’s good to support the library service) and have dipped into most of these books. It seems odd that I should need an outside prod to get me to stick to my own unread books when I was so keen to read them when I bought them! Some have been excellent, although there are some I wonder why I got them in the first place – they could be the ones I bought in the Buy 3 for the price of 2 offers, not always a bargain after all.


March 10, 2014, 9:03 am

Nice post, Charlie. I loved your advice – “if you want to find extreme success with your collection of unread books, move to a needy residence. The longer the repair work takes the better your reading may be” :) Love the books in your ‘TBR’ list. Hope you enjoy reading them, especially ‘Anna Karenina’. I keep making ‘TBR’ lists and changing them. One day I love chunksters, another day I love slim books and so this list keeps changing. I used to keep five books on my ‘TBR’ and finish reading them and then include five new ones and continue this process. I used to work for me. Now, I just keep making lists :) Currently I am reading poetry and have a poetry ‘TBR’. I don’t know how long this plan will last, but I am loving it.


March 10, 2014, 11:32 am

Good work powering through your TBR!

I’ve had to ban myself from online book buying, so I’ve finally begun to tackle mine. This month I’ve read two on my shelf and am in the middle of the third.

Tracy Terry

March 10, 2014, 3:58 pm

Oh dear, this is all horribly familiar. Having had a new heating system installed some 15 months ago I’m still finding boxes of books tucked away that I had forgotten about.

As for conquering that TBR mountain. If only I could tame it let alone anything else.


March 11, 2014, 5:40 am

Originally my books were mostly going to be in storage, but once we were settled we found that we had more room for bookcases than I originally thought. So, I slowly brought them over and organized them. Originally I had a similar method as you and just brought a select favourite group. So, I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing for my TBR that I didn’t need to do that in the end?


March 11, 2014, 9:56 am

Well done Charlie…I have not been doing very well with getting down my TBR pile recently.

Rebecca @ Love at First Book

March 11, 2014, 2:17 pm

Good job! I am on a “say no to requests” and a self-imposed library ban so that I will have time to tackle more of my own books on my TBR list!

Jenny @ Reading the End

March 13, 2014, 1:48 am

One method I’ve used in the past, to great success, is to put all the TBR books in a pile in a really inconvenient location. Then you will be greatly motivated to read them so that you can put them somewhere reasonable instead of just in a pile in the middle of the floor. :p

(Also, not buying books that often. I do amazing at this and only go nuts buying books about once a year. In late March. At this one book sale. It is coming up.)


March 15, 2014, 2:27 pm

Christine: It’d definitely work with a stepping back from ARCs – less pressure all round. I remember your move, and I’m glad things are improving, it wasn’t good!

Margaret: I love the idea of those TBR challenges (I just wouldn’t be good at them myself I think). That’s a good point about library usage. Where it’s a completely different kettle of fish to ARCs and your own TBR I suppose it could fit in to either way of reading, solely TBR or other. I think it’s that knowledge that others are doing the same that helps – the outside prod you speak of – it does help to know you’re not the only one skipping ARCs and reading your own, often older, books. I think 3 for 2 offers often make you more lax about reading summaries and checking reviews – it’s often a quick purchase so unless you picked a book you want just as much as the original two there’s a lot more chance of it being average for you.

Vishy: Yes, I can say that jokingly now, at least! I am enjoying Anna Karenina, but there is so much agriculture and it doesn’t seem to have a baring on the plot. A list of five sounds a good idea, I can imagine that working pretty well, a bit like the ‘read two then you can buy one’ idea I see around, though surely your five is more effective. A poetry TBR sounds interesting – do you read the whole book or is it a list of single poems you’ve wanted to read?

Alice: Thanks :) That’s good going and I think you’ll find you’ll get through quite an amount of them. Waterstones et al aren’t cheap!

Tracy Terry: Oh wow, that must be quite a nice surprise (at least from a reader point-of-view, maybe not so nice in the unpacking way). You want a book buying ban or similar ;)

Kailana: That’s a nice discovery, definitely better that way that finding you’ve less space than thought. It depends on your willpower, if you can keep to a pile of books whilst having access to all of them!

Jessica: I think it’s the kind of thing where unless you have to make a pile you have to just say ‘that’s it!’ and do it. Use the upcoming readthon?

Rebecca: I’ve managed a say no to most requests but haven’t managed to be as strict as you. I imagine your reading is a lot better for it!

Jenny: Haha, I love that! In front of wherever you store chociolate… Once a year’s pretty awesome, even if you bought lots. Hope you find some good reads!

Melinda @ The Book Musings

March 20, 2014, 10:16 am

I hope you enjoy Gone Girl. That Tolstoy book is on my list. I really hope I can get to read it this year still!



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