On the Shelf: My TBR Pile

So, here’s the thing. I grew up a reader. Not just a reader—but the kind of kid who regularly got in trouble for, nagged at because I was instead of doing something else, or punished by taking away reading. (Not sure if all the clauses in that sentence make sense, but I’m trying to blog from my phone due to no WiFi at this campsite, so roll with me here…)

One of the things that has remained consistently true throughout my life is the size of my TBR pile—or “To Be Read” pile of books. This isn’t even the list of “want to read,” a list which, by now, is far too long to realistically finish in my lifetime, even if I suddenly became independently wealthy and moved to a remote Scottish castle where it would rain all day, and I would sit in the window seat and drink tea and nod at the children from time to time and take breaks by walking my hounds on the moors…

Oh. Sorry. Got a little carried away for just a moment.

Where was I? Yes. Talking about my TBR pile. There was actually a time in my life when I made it through my entire TBR pile. At the time it consisted of maybe thirty or forty books, all of which I read when I deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006. Then I came home and went straight to grad school, and the pile started growing once more. Never since then has my pile been less than around a hundred physical books. In fact, I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to my TBR pile, and that’s not counting the titles on my Kindle.

So, what’s on the shelf? The two tend to be split by genre. I tend to read fiction on my Kindle, particularly genre fiction. Most of the speculative fiction I pick up tends to be in digital form. I read so quickly that it becomes a matter of storage. With limited IRL bookshelf space (that I have to share with my spouse, sheesh), I am ruthless with which authors I purchase physically. Or their works. For example, I have every single Sandman Slim novel on Kindle, but I bought Kadrey’s The Grand Dark in hard copy. I tend to purchase paperbacks of nonfiction or literary fiction, as I read those a little more slowly, want to enjoy the tactile sense of turning pages, or in the case of nonfiction, can concentrate better with a paper copy.

For example, on my Kindle, I have a bunch of speculative fiction from small presses that I picked up for a couple bucks each and will probably read in the next couple of weeks. I also have some horror novels that I picked up in a Latinx horror author story bundle a while ago. Been reading those one or two at a time and really enjoying them.

Over on the physical TBR shelf (currently packed in boxes awaiting us moving into the new house), I’ve got a bunch of nonfiction on game theory, literary history, history history, biography, philosophy, and literary fiction.

Here in the camper, I’ve read all the paperback fiction I brought with, and now I’ve got a stack of craft and business books. Plus my Kindle. I’m trying to make myself read the craft and business books before I head over to the fun Kindle fiction, and it’s mostly a good idea because the more I read, the more ideas I get and the better grasp I get on the profession I’ve chosen. It also makes me more cognizant of the fact I need to wrap this up and get back to writing.

But hey—distract me—what’s on your TBR pile?

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