Sunday Salon

Gold star TBR

Remember when you got awarded a gold star by the teacher when you’d achieved something special? You’d run home to boast about this with the hope of another reward (chocolates and sweets being the favourite of course) for being such a star pupil?

Though I can still run (sadly my skipping skills are depleted to zero), I no longer feel the need to rush to my mother for a pat on the head. But the hope that someone will recognise – and acknowledge – an achievement never goes away does it? We all love to be appreciated and praised.

So I am awarding myself a star for effort for my progress in bringing some degree of control to my pile of 160+ unread books. Not quite gold star standard but maybe I merit a silver.

At the start of the year I joined the Triple Dog Dare where the plan was to read only books from the TBR for the first three months of 2016. It was a kick up the rear end and it worked so well I’ve continued with the habit long after the dare came to an end. So as a result, of the 25 books I’ve read so far this year , 18 have come from my TBR. The rest were all books I had agreed to review. It hasn’t been particularly hard to read what I already have – I’m not exactly short of choices so whatever my mood there’s always something suitable.  It’s meant I’ve tackled a few of the Booker winner titles that I’ve been putting off for some time like Rites of Passage by William Golding and Anita Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

Now before you begin awarding me a halo I should confess that the overall size of the TBR hasn’t been reduced. It’s gone up in fact because I adopted the principle that even while I am working my way through the TBR backlog, I can still buy any number of new books.  I just shouldn’t read them in preference to the ones I already have. And of course I have been buying.  I started 2016 with 166 ‘real’ books and a stack of e-books. I’m now at 169 books and thats without a few that I’ve just been ordering. If only i could a) stop buying books b)stop requesting them from Net Galley and c) stop ordering them from the library then I’d be in really good shape and would definitely deserve the gold start. But that would be terribly dull…..

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What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

18 thoughts on “Gold star TBR

  • I am deeply impressed by your progress! And some weighty reads in your TBR Triumphs. I think you should host your own TBR 2017 Dare next January.

    • I’ve toyed with the idea of hosting a challenge but haven’t come up with an original idea yet. when there are so many well run challenges out there its pointless for me to cover well trodden ground

  • Well done on your progress! Review copies are in a kind of grey area – it’s not like you’ve bought them, so in the context of TBR it’s not so bad. Perhaps the ‘read x number, buy x number’ idea would work? Either way though, buying more books or not,you’re still getting to your own books 🙂

    • i tried that approach a few years ago. i called it ‘the diet’ – the theory being that if i ‘lost’ some of the weight of all the unread books, I could indulge in a treat. then the treats got more and more frequent

  • Well, color me impressed. Anyway, for many of us the point of the TBR list is that future tense, you know, meaning there should always be something to look forward to on your TBR list in the future… so yes, actually making use of the list and reading that stuff is important, but so is keeping it a “living” list that gives you something to perpetually work on, right?

    • absolutely Louise. I consider my TBR my private library or book shop

  • Glares and tuts, then goes off to contemplate my own tbr pile (total unknown in any format). I know I have been in a similar challenge in that I’m trying to clear off older paper and e-books, and am making some effort on this – both books have been hanging around for several years now. Shame I’m just not clearing through them at a rate noticeable by anyone!

  • You’re summed up my own strategy in your last paragraph and I’m glad to report it works for me. I hope it will for you. I know myself too well to impose a book buying ban!

  • Very impressive, Karen. I have a TBR tag on my blog but I don’t think I’ve used it at all this year! Technically the book has to have been on my TBR for 12 months to be a TBR. Perhaps I should change that to 6 months. Have we discussed this before? How do you define a TBR? It can’t be something you’ve just bought to read obviously (though logically it could be!) but how long does it have to hang around to qualify as having hung around?

    • Good question. For the Triple Dare the book had to have been acquired before 2016. I only count something as being in my TBR if its been there longer than a year. Most of the ones I’ve been reading however date well before that. The English Patient for example is something I bought well before 2000 but I don’t know when exactly because I didnt keep a list then.

  • Send a silver star my way as well 😉 I started the year with 425 books (hard copies and e-books) and I’m down to 402. I’ve read 26 from my TBR stack but the numbers don’t reflect the handful I’ve received from NetGalley… either way, I’m making progress. At the end of last year I decided to do a year of no-book-buying (and to limit borrowing and ARCs) but still, it will take me years to get through my TBR stack! I’m reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have just finished the chapter on books. I’m not going to apply everything the author suggests (some of it is blasphemy regarding books!) but I am going to cull the TBR stack – I’m sure there are books in there that I bought years ago that I no longer want to read.

    • A year without buying anything new would be too tough for me to contemplate. I know I would fail there. Well done though for showing more reserve than I could. I did a bit of a cull last year too.

  • Ah, yes, “if only.” I have the same problem, as no matter how many books I whittle off the stacks, I add more, and fairly regularly. I am trying to request only review books that I would have bought anyway…and somehow give myself a pat on the back for those actions…lol.

    But progress is our goal, right? Not perfection.

    Enjoy…and take that gold star. Enjoy!

    • You always seem to be acquiring new ones. But then you do read quickly

  • Oh, no, Karen, if you were being THAT good, I doubt I would allowed to associate with you! 🙂 Even just online! Although I made a pledge to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, I have failed miserably. However, I have begun seriously using the library and purchasing way way fewer books since the start of January 2016, so that helps…right?!? 🙂 It doesn’t mean I have actually attained my goal, but it does mean I am not adding to the piles of books as fast. So there is progress, and that is what I choose to concentrate on…progress in a positive direction toward a goal is good. Period.

    • Isn’t it odd how we berate ourselves when we don’t achieve a goal even when its a self imposed one. We forget what we HAVE done and instead focus only on what we HAVE NOT. If you read even just a handful of your own books that counts as progress in my book


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