The Physical TBR Pile

Tonight I gathered up my unread books in a pile on my bed.  It was smaller than I thought – 30 books.  You see, despite my passion for reading, up until fairly recently I didn’t buy books very often.  I pretty much only bought things I’d already read and adored, in case I wanted to re-read it.  They were almost always used copies.  I acquired all the rest of my reading material through the public library where I work.  I was there almost every day, surrounded by almost any kind of book (in the system) that struck my fancy.  So I told myself that buying books was unnecessary and frivolous.  I know, it sounds a little weird to me as I type it.  But I was okay with this system for a long time.

Sometime after the birth of my son, almost five years ago, I started buying books.  I viewed it as a way to treat myself.  I realized that in the grand scheme of things, buying books was a relatively cheap splurge.  I also told myself that by buying books, I was supporting a vital industry that needed all the help it could get.  As my son has grown, and become a reader himself, he and I regularly go to Barnes and Noble on weekend nights while my husband works (he’s a bar manager.)  Unsurprisingly,we both almost always come away from B&N with books!

IMG_296130 unread books in a book blogger’s house is definitely on the small side. Nevertheless, I am really excited to dive in as part of the TBR Triple Dog Dare Challenge hosted by James.  I’m reading two of my 30 books right now (Housebound by Elizabeth Gentry and The Progress of Love by Alice Munro.)  One thing that strikes me about my TBR pile is the overwhelming amount of fiction.  Only two of the titles are nonfiction:  Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s by Dave Marsh and My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead.  I do tend to read about 65% fiction to 35% nonfiction, but apparently I still get my nonfiction from the library.  I wonder if I’ll have to read one or two of my husband’s nonfiction titles during the Challenge just to keep from getting burned out on fiction.  Is that allowed?  (Note: I’m the boss.  I’m allowing it.)

I have done some book purges over the years, and gotten rid of things that I decided I wouldn’t ever read.  I am positive that if I didn’t work in a library, I would have many, many more unread books lying around.  My virtual TBR (on Goodreads) is over 500 titles.  Out of curiosity, how many unread books are sitting on your shelves?




6 thoughts on “The Physical TBR Pile

  1. Heh, you make the rules! 🙂 I get not buying that many books, especially if you have such access to a great library! I only have an extremely underfunded library here and a small grad student budget, so I don’t buy many books. but I’ve started sorting my books last year, because I finally want to ‘build’ my library with books I enjoy, that represent my taste etc and not just books that were very popular at one point but I don’t actually want in my library. If that makes sense. So I have maybe 5 unread books in my home.
    Good luck with the tbr challenge! I think 30 is a good number, doable and you still have variety! I see Black Water Rising on your tbr! I fell hard for her The Cutting Season last year, so I really want to read Locke’s other books this year.

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  2. Doesn’t sound weird! That’s my attitude to buying books as well. I use the library for anything that I’m trying out, and only acquire books that I feel sure I’ll love and want to reread. It’s the same policy I use for all acquisitions — if I’m not going to use it, I shouldn’t buy it. So I probably have more than 30 unread TBR books in my apartment, because there’s this annual book sale where the books are only a dollar or two, you know? And that messes up the system. I’d guess between 30 and 100 and that is NOT BAD.

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  3. Working in a library makes getting books so easy doesn’t it? Before I started working in a library and when my husband was actually a manager at B&N the number of books that came into the house was astonishing. I have far more than 30 unread books at this point! But now husband no longer works at B&N and I work in a library, I borrow most of the books I want to read. I should really read from my shelves more often but there are so many new and shiny books to try!


  4. It pains me to say this but…out for 3,600 books…I’ve only read about 250. I get rid of books I won’t reread and I buy more than I can read (an after effect of not growing up with a local library). I covet books. I’ve been purging like mad since the beginning of the year and only keeping books I would love and not just enjoy.

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    1. How wonderful to have such a library of your own! You know, Evie, of all the material things in the world that people buy and keep, we readers should feel the least guilty about books. They’re relatively cheap, they aren’t terribly environmentally damaging (with well-managed forests,) and they make us more compassionate and smarter. 🙂 That’s my two cents, anyway! I want to buy more books than I do, and if our house was bigger I would definitely own more!

      Liked by 1 person

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