Double Booking Through Thursday: The TBR

A double dose of BTT this week. I was in Massachusetts last week so didn’t have at hand the info to respond to that BTT, listed first. And since today’s is a follow-up, I’m posting both today.


Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, “No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!”


Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?

This is belated because it is actually from last Thursday. As I was in Massachusetts, I couldn’t look at or take a picture of the “to be read” bookcase next to the bed. I almost wish I’d taken a picture and put it here, though, as it took a while to prepare this. There’s so many books (51), that I’ve broken the list into genre/subject areas — and I’m not including the two books I bought last week that I haven’t read since they weren’t on the shelves when this BTT was posted.

So, here goes with the books listed within category by the order in which they are on the shelves:


Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
The Dream Life of Sukhanov, Olga Grushin
Innocent, Ian McEwan
Black Sheep, Ian McEwan
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
The Human Stain, Philip Roth
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
Voices from the Street, Philip K. Dick
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

Translated Works

Windows on the World, Frederic Beigbeder (French)
Soldiers of Salamis, Javier Cercas (Spanish)
Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
The Conqueror, Jan Kjærstad (Norwegian)
White Guard, Mikhail Bulgakov (Russian)
Landscape in Concrete, Jakov Lind (German)
The Mighty Angel, Jerzy Pilch (Polish)
Death in Spring, Mercè Rodoreda (Spanish)
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
Other Colors: Essays and a Story, Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)
The Stones Cry Out, Hikaru Okuizumi (Japanese)

Science Fiction

Counting Heads, David Marusek
Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon’s Firefly Universe, Jane Espenson (ed.)
The Stochastic Man, Robert Silverberg
Blameless in Abaddon, James Morrow
Learning the World, Ken MacLeod
The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross
Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America, Brian Francis Slattery
The Eternal Footman, James Morrow
Thirteen, Robert K. Morgan
Matter, Iain Banks


Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter, Michelle Mercer
A Dreamer of Pictures: Neil Young, The Man and His Music, David Downing
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X
The Measure of a Man, Sidney Poitier
Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, Karen Armstrong
Echoes of November: The Life and Times of Senator R.F. Pettigrew of South Dakota, Wayne Fanebust


Manhunt: The Twelve-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, James L. Swanson
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Simon Sebag Montefiore
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, Michael Dobbs
Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II, Matthew Parker
A Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945, Vasily Grossman


The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, Daniel J. Levitin
The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan, Nigel Williamson
Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Guterman


Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, Francine Prose
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines, Thomas C. Foster
Ten Zen Seconds, Eric Maisel
An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan, Jason Elliot
The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort, Charles Fort
Secret and Suppressed II: Banned Ideas and Hidden History into the 21st Century, Adam Parfrey (ed.)
Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia, Gore Vidal

As the answer indicates, I have a bookcase next to my side of the bed that contains the designated TBR shelves. At the same time, I’ll admit that a few books have migrated from there to the regular bookcases without having been read. Still, I never, ever say, “Don’t give me another book to read!”

Reading has always been life unwrapped to me, a way of understanding the world and understanding myself through both the unknown and the everyday.

Anna Quindlen, NYT, Aug, 7, 1991

1 comment to Double Booking Through Thursday: The TBR

  • Boy does this one resonate. The stack of shame:


    “St. Urbain’s Horseman” by Mordecai Richler
    “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
    “The Garden of Eden” by Ernest Hemingway
    “Darkmans” by Nicola Barker
    “The Human Factor” by Graham Greene
    “Joe Hill” by Wallace Stegner
    “Pfitz” by Andrew Crumey
    “The Ghost Writer” by Philip Roth

    Translated Fiction:

    “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andric
    “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick” by Peter Handke
    “Terrestrial Intelligence” anthology


    “The Fifties” by David Halberstam
    “A History of Celibacy” by Elizabeth Abbott
    “Citizens” by Simon Schama


    “After Yugoslavia” by Zoe Bram

    These books are more or less stacked up by my bed, but in general, unread books are all over the house, mingling freely with those already read.