Musing Mondays: TBR anxiety


How many books (roughly) are in your tbr pile? Is this in increasing number or does it stay stable? Do you ever experience tbr anxiety in the face of this pile?


Sadly, my TBR pile has grown to the point it is now a now a three-shelf bookcase next to my side of the bed. (My wife has one next to her side of the bed, too.) Currently, between my book case, which is about two-thirds full, and the small bookshelf built into the headboard of the bed, there are 56 books.

I may need to start weeding it down some because the number has grown in the last month. There has been an increase in review books but I do at least get those read. The bigger issue is that I can’t seem to stay out of bookstores and libraries. Actually, that isn’t the problem. It’s that once I’m in them, it’s like putting a kilo of meth near an addict. It takes very strong will or extensive guilt about the number of unread books on the TBR shelves to walk out without a fix — or two or three or four. For example, in April alone, I know I bought at least a dozen books, probably 80 percent of which were used books (as if that makes a difference) and received probably at least as many review copies (although unsolicited review copies may not make it to the TBR shelves.) Add in the fact I checked out four or five books from the library and it’s no wonder the TBR book case is filling up.

I don’t feel anxiety about the number, though. As indicated, it is closer to guilt or even disappointment. For one, I wonder where I’m ever going to find the time to read the TBR books. At my average reading pace, that is more than six months of reading even if nothing else shows up. But I also feel like I’m depriving the books of their reason for existence. A book sits unread on my shelf when it could be bringing pleasure to me or anyone else who picked it up. Of course, maybe I’m just channeling some remnant of the recovering Catholic in me — or the inspiration for the title of Corey’s blog.

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story

Ursula K. Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World

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