On the shelf you sit in peace,
You were 6 months ago’s must read.
I promise I’ll pick you up some day,
Though when that is I cannot say.
There’s 3 more books due to arrive,
And they’ll be placed right by your side,
Into one of these I’ll dive,
The next already eyed.
For the apocalypse at least I’m set,
In such a case I shouldn’t fret.
There’ll be no reason for me to fear,
Half the shelf would take a year.
So no new books for me to buy,
The constant search causes me such sorrow.
My list ‘to read’ and costs sky high,
Still off to the bookshop tomorrow.
The phenomenon of the TBR
It’s a situation most reading enthusiasts have found themselves in; in fact most are in a permanent state of TBR-itis. Like a kid in a sweet shop who can’t decide which sweets to get, so they all go into the bag to decide later.
But why do people hoard books like this? People don’t tend to buy a few video games, DVDs or CDs and stick them straight into a cupboard, leaving them for months before they are finally touched again. If they want a certain album or movie they get it. But I don’t feel like many people build up an unused catalogue quite on the scale of the book collection?
Here are my thoughts on the contributing factors to this widespread affliction:
- Books look good and feel good. In your hands, on the shelf. Even if you haven’t read a book it usually looks attractive sat there on the shelf, sort of like having a wine collection with bottles you don’t intend to drink right away.
- Human nature – humans in general are quite ungrateful creatures, always wanting what we can’t have – and then when we get it, we’re not happy until we’ve got the next thing.
- Again, similar to above, a fear of missing out. If everyone is talking about a new book, we want to join the bandwagon and give our thoughts on it and experience this story that everyone is talking about while it’s still fresh. Other books then get pushed to the wayside to make time for this new book.
- The thrill of the purchase – there’s something exciting about a new book being delivered in the post, or going to a bookstore and browsing all the crisp, clean new books, shiny covers, and taking one home with you. Will you start reading it when you get home? Maybe in a few months.
- Availability of hardbacks/hardcovers. If you prefer your books in this format you risk missing out unless you order when it’s newly published, before the printing goes to paperback.
- Ebook format and pricing. This is quite a big one. You have the simplicity of downloading a book and having it instantly in your collection, but the main factor here is the pricing. Ebooks are usually cheaper than print copies and every so often will be part of a sale, sometimes costing less than a cup of coffee. You’ve heard this book spoken about, the premise is interesting, you were probably going to get it one day anyway… So you buy it. It’s consigned to your TBR indefinitely. This is the bulk of my TBR due to being unable to resist picking up a book I’ve been looking at for a great price and having it to read on the go or whenever I want. It’s also useful even if you prefer print copies (don’t most people?) for if you’re unsure about a book/series. Buy the ebook cheaply; if you enjoy it then you can buy the physical copy for your collection and the subsequent novels in the series.
- General pricing. Books aren’t massively expensive usually, especially as mentioned above on ebook format. It doesn’t seem like such a risk buying a book because it’s not going to bankrupt you. It’s easier to see a purchase as quite cheap until you add the purchases up and realise you’ve spent a small fortune buying books that weren’t going anywhere and you could have bought them at a later date. Still, most of us still do it.
- The constant publication of new books. Intriguing new books are being released at a faster rate than we can read – there’s always going to be some we can’t read in time, unless it means moving the existing books to, you guessed it, further down the TBR list!
I’d love to hear back from you either on Twitter or in response to the blog, how your TBR compares if you’re honest. Don’t feel you have to read through it all but it might interest you to get an insight into somebody else’s TBR and why some of the titles have been put off for others! My TBR consists of:
20+ physical books (of which 14 are SFF)
So I tend to prefer physical books to ebooks. I realised I have quite an unread collection already. This includes:
- Parasites, a review copy I was kindly sent, which unlike the others on this list does have a start date of this weekend!
- Elantris and the first 3 Mistborn books for when I start the Cosmere…
- Lovely looking hardcover of His Dark Materials with all 3 books included
- A Memory Called Empire – highly recommended this year
- Prince of Thorns which is a trilogy I need to start!
- The remaining 2 books in the First Law trilogy
- Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse
- The Fate of the Fallen, technically not owned yet, but won in a giveaway – this will be going right up the TBR to read shortly after arrival!
Yeah it sounds a lot (or maybe it doesn’t sound a lot at all to some) but I’ve built up this collection being unable to refuse a deal and some of them a little on a whim. Fortunately I now own at least the first book in most series that I want to read so it’s (hopefully) not like this list is going to be expanding forever; I aim to cut it by at least half in 2020. This includes:
- Legacy of Ash – Had to pick it up in the Christmas Sale after deliberating whether to buy the hard copy (I’m not a fan of long ebooks, prefer physical tomes!) But anyway, I’ve got it now, and I aim to read this one at some point over the year
- Powder Mage Trilogy – One of the main series I want to start and highly recommended by so many
- The Waking Fire – this one’s always intrigued me. If I enjoy it I’ll definitely buy the physical copy as the cover is gorgeous!
- Gridlinked – need to start reading a bit more Sci Fi and Neal Asher’s books are a great start in my book
- The Fifth Season – told I have to read this
- The Rage of Dragons – As above
- The Grey Bastards – This appealed to me when I first started reading fantasy but just haven’t gotten around to it
- Magician – a classic I want to start but am a bit wary as there are loads of books in the series and am putting it off
- Tales of Kingshold and Ioth, City of Lights – Sequels to one of my favourite books of the year, Kingshold. Want to read both of these while the first book is still fresh!
- Other mentions – The Winter Road, Old Man’s War, Age of Assassins, Cold Iron, City of Brass, We Are The Dead, Blood of Heirs
I’ve got a free trial of Kindle Unlimited until February. This has messed up all of my TBR plans because I feel like I want to make the most of it while I’ve got the trial. This means reading mostly Self Published over the next couple of months and putting the others mentioned above in a queue. I won’t read them all but some of the books I’ve noted to read on Kindle Unlimited are:
- The Poppy War
- Balam, Spring
- Fortune’s Fool
- Embers of War
- Beggar’s Rebellion
- First Encounter
‘The Back Shelf’
So this is a combination of physical and ebooks I own that I am not in any particular rush to start, in comparison to the others I have. Some of these are ebooks I thought were great value and rushed to buy at 99p when I first got my kindle, later realising that there are a lot better books available cheaply. Some of the books on this list though do look good, they’re just not a huge priority. The books below are he best of the bunch if you’ve read any and love them, perhaps it could tempt me to move them onto the main shelf:
- The Crimson Queen
- Keeper Chronicles
- The Written
- Dangerous to Know
- Among Wolves
- Early Risers
- Dragon Blood collection
Later in the series books
Finally, we have around 10 books that I’ve bought I can’t start due to them being later books in a series. I’ve got half the Malazan books when I’ve seen them for 99p, A Time of Dread and Prince of Fools. Perhaps I’ll even get round to one of these this year!
So there we have it. My TBR. Now that I’ve written it out I feel a little intimidated! I’ve also got a handful of requests that I’ll definitely be reading in Quarter 1. Despite the daunting task, there’s some amazing looking books on that list and I can’t wait to get stuck in. A big year and I’m going to aim for 50 books!
Thanks for reading and please share your experience and thoughts, I’d love to hear them!