It’s time I came clean about the state of my library of unread books (otherwise known as the TBR).
I warn you that this could get ugly.
What’s a TBR?
If you follow any blogs about books and reading you’ll already be familiar with this term.
But for the benefit of any newbies, TBR stands for To Be Read.
It generally means all the books lying around in your home that are unread. Some people chose to include all the books they want to read, but haven’t yet got around to acquiring.
I stick to the “owned by unread” definition for my TBR. I record all of these titles on a spreadsheet which lists when they were bought/acquired, the author’s country of origin and a category (classic, translated, crime etc). At one time my TBR included books I wanted to read but the list quickly became huge and I panicked so I now just put those into a Goodreads wishlist.
Seriously you have how many unread books!!!
I have in the region of 314 unread books at home.
It’s not an exact figure because I keep finding books in unexpected places around the house.
This is higher than the figure at the end of 2018 (for the record I got to Dec 31 with 302 books).
I was doing well until May, resisting buying too many new titles but then it all went haywire. A combination of a buying splurge, a birthday and some advance copies passed on by other bloggers – yes they are to blame! ).
What would be an ideal number?
I don’t have a target for the number of unread books I think it would be acceptable to have in my library.
I’d like to think I could make significant progress and get it down to around 270 by end of 2019 but I doubt that’s going to happen. I’m trying to exercise some restraint (you might not believe it but it’s true) by avoiding NetGalley – I know if I look I will end up clicking. That way madness lies.
I hadn’t realised I have so many non factual books on my shelves. They’re a mix of history (I have a few by Mary Beard), health related and memoirs. A lot of the books in translation are ones I acquired when I started my quest of reading more broadly around the world. I’m slowly making my way through them.
Booker Prize related 6 (two winners, 1 shortlisted and 3 longlisted)
Children’s fiction 2
Crime/thriller . 19
Non fiction . 27
Short story collections . 6
Fiction in translation . 40
Welsh authors 13
Paper dominates in my house. Though I found an electronic reader a saviour when I was travelling a lot for work, now I’m retired I don’t have to worry about lugging heavy books around with me. There are 40 books on my e reader. They’re a mixture of classics from Gutenburg , Net Galley editions and some bargains I bought from that big company named after a river.
The oldest book in my collection is …
According to my spreadsheet the book I’ve had the longest is To the Lighthouse. But that’s misleading because I bought it in 1975 and have read it twice. I think I kept it on the list because I meant to read it again at some point. It shouldn’t really be there.
Next in line is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (a Booker prize shortlisted title).
My record says I acquired it in 2010. I say “I” but actually it was a book I bought for my husband. He didn’t care for it but I rescued it from the ‘donate to charity shop’ pile. Now I’m thinking: do I still want to read this? It’s dystopian fiction which I haven’t read much of in the past but maybe this could be the book that helps get me more interested in that genre.
After that comes James Kelman’s How Late it Was, How Late (what an apt title for book that’s been waiting eight years for me to get around to reading). It’s on the list because it’s part of my Booker Prize project. I did actually begin reading it and then put aside. I WILL read it this year……
The newest book (s) in my collection are…
Today’s purchases were:
West by Carys Davies: a novella about early pioneers in America. I bought it for two reasons. Reason One, I loved her earlier work The Redemption of Galen Pike. Reason Two, she hails from Wales though sadly has moved home to Scotland.
Normal People by Sally Rooney. The accolades keep pouring in for this second novel by the Irish author. I’m curious whether it lives up to all those awards for which it’s been nominated.
Any review copies in that pile?
Currently I have nine review copies still to be read.
Sounds impressive doesn’t it?
Unfortunately most of these are about three years old. They were the result of getting over excited on Net Galley and not paying enough attention to the book description before putting in my request. Lesson learned. Now I only request review copies or accept them if I am very certain I’ll be able to read them in a reasonable time frame.
Book number 200 on the list is
The 200th book is in fact one of those old Net Galley review copies. A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee is the first in his series set in 1919 British ruled Calcutta featuring a former Scotland Yard detective. I learned today he’ll be doing an author event in a local bookshop this September so I should really try to read this before that date.
The books I most want to read
I’ve put 15 titles from my TBR onto the list for 20BooksofSummer so that’s going to be my focus for the next few months. I’d also like to get to these three books soonish.
Now you’ve been introduced to the darkest secrets of my TBR, how about pulling back the curtains on your stash of unread books?