Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Can't Read 'Em All

I can't read 'em all.
I can't read'em all.
Books may be wonderful, but the chances are small
I can read each one from stacks so high,
But I did try.
I did try.
I did try.
(with apologies to Sammy Cahn)

I have been reading. A banquet featuring the releases of the most recent Super Tuesday has left me pleasantly full, sighing with satisfaction, but eyeing the books remaining on the table and wondering if I can at least sample a few more before moving on to other, high priority activities.

I bought twelve April 27 releases and received one free in exchange for a review. Nine of the thirteen are still unread, joining the couple of dozen still unread from January through March. And that’s just the 2010 publications. I’m not even going to count those still on the TBR shelves from previous years or those by authors I was late discovering who have backlists I felt compelled to explore.

Common sense tells me it’s time to do some culling and gather books to send to friends or give to my local library. I read fast. If I didn’t, I’d never have finished three books yesterday. But even so, I’ll never have time to finish all those grouped as TBRs. The problem with culling is that it forces me to make choices. Which books do I give way? How do I know that I’m not giving away a book that might be a best-of-the-year read for me? After all, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, my #1 book of 2009, was not written by one of my autobuy authors, and I didn't read it immediately after its release. Just think what I would have missed had I given it away before I read it. Then there’s the opposite question: how do I know I’m not keeping a book that will end up as a DNF? Can you tell I hate making these decisions?

I considered using a date as the cut-off point—just deciding that all the books published before January 2009 must go. But that would include some backlist titles I’ve gone to some trouble to acquire. I’m not about to discard those. Someone online suggested assigning each book a priority number and keeping only the top 50 or top 100 or . . . I tried this once, but it didn’t work well for me. I read bits to help me make wise choices, and at the end of four hours, I had added two books to the discard box and put fifty-eight back on TBR shelves.

I haven’t always had this problem. BI (Before the Internet), I had a modest TBR stack at the beginning of the month, usually 6-12 books. I read them all, shelved the keepers, and bagged the rest to go to my local UBS or the Friends of the Library. If I gave out of something to read before my monthly bookstore run, I reread keepers or checked out books from the library. AI (After the Internet), I start the year with nearly 200 must-read titles on my book calendar, and throughout the year, I add books that are recommended by friends, buzzed about on boards and blogs, or persuasively presented in a newsletter. I also have wonderfully generous friends who send me books, and I sometimes win books or receive them to review. Some are not on my original list. Now I’m adding books to the TBR shelves each week rather than once a month. I do read a lot. In the first three months of 2010, I read 91 books, but I had at least that many still on my TBR shelves before I added this week’s books to the collection. I should discard some, but I’m still pondering which ones.

I can’t read ‘em all.
Oh, I can’t read them all.
The ones who have tried have found
Their whole lives held in thrall.

Some will say I’ll never do it, nope!
But, I can hope,
I can hope,
I can hope.

Do you have a TBR collection? How do you keep it under control? Do you have any advice for me?

My favorite of the April 27 releases was Mistress by Mistake by my friend Maggie Robinson. It’s an unforgettable, sizzling hot story featuring Charlie and Bay, an H/H pairing that I hated to leave when I turned the last page. Fortunately, Maggie is returning to Courtesan’s Court and Jane Street for two more books. Maybe we'll catch a glimpse of her first pair of lovers again. If not, this is one book that went straight to a keeper shelf, no chance I'll be giving it away. I know I'll be rereading it. However, I will add to the TBR stack of one randomly selected poster this week by sending you a copy of Mistress by Mistake for your own keeper shelf.


MsHellion said...

That's right, blame your innocent internet friends why you're a bookaholic.

I solve this problem by being incredibly broke and having to mostly borrow books from the library.

I am also a purist (I've been told) and my tolerance for historicals has waned considerably. I don't keep nearly as much as I used to. I also don't read as much as I used to. (I mean, I'm always, ALWAYS reading, but I reread a lot...or I stick with authors I really like.)

However, an exception will definitely have to be made for Maggie. Gladly so.

Sasha said...

I never give books away, because I don't know when a scene will pop into my head and I have to re-read *now*, even books I disliked. So, my TBR is currently 700+ books which would take me 3 years to finish if I didn't buy/get any books to add to it... yeah, right. ;) But I'd love to read the Robinson book and I do make inroads into my TBR pile occasionally.

Rachel Jameson said...

I'd love to win this! Was actually at borders w/ a friend today looking for this and they didnt have it!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Janga, and for spreading them around! I'm so glad you like MBM---it really was a joy to write after doing some heavy stuff before it. I think it's the book where I really found my voice (I won't tell you how many it took, LOL).

mariska said...

I DO have TBR collection, in E-books more than 30 new books, and some real books, i mean around 50 plus books :)

what i've been trying to do, is if i can't connect to the characters and story of one book, i will keep the book , and continue to another book.
that's why i have around 5 or 6 books that i had tried and tried to finish them but still can't till now.

Anyway, i love to read Maggie's book ! i've been following her around to get my chance to win it :D

uniquas at ymail dot com

Janga said...

Hellion, I'll have to send you some of my discards when I get around to culling the keeper shelves. There are so many great historicals out there. I'm sure we can find some ever a purist would love. :)

Janga said...

Sasha, it comforts me to know there are readers with TBR stacks larger than mine. lol

As for keepers, I really want a Kindle. I'm hoping it will save enough shelf space that I won't be forced to discard too many of my keepers. I'm a great rereader too. Rereading is often my cure for a reading slump.

Janga said...

Rachel, Mistress by Mistake is a trade paperback. Sometimes these books are shelved seperately from mass market paperbacks. I hope you win a copy or find one soon. This is definitely a book you don't want to miss.

Janga said...

Maggie, MBM deserves every accolade it receives. It is the best kind of romance.

Of course, I am also eager to read Tempting Eden by your other writing self, Margaret Rowe. I've wanted an HEA for those characters since I read the first snippets of their story.

Janga said...

Mariska, thanks for dropping by. I've seen you on some of the other blogs I frequent. Good luck on winning Maggie's book!

Jane said...

No need to enter me, I already have this book and it's an awesome read. I have a little tbr pile and I'm always jealous of people who have 50 books in their tbr pile.

Barbara E. said...

Well, the way I keep my TBR collection under control is to buy more book shelves, LOL. I can't help it, I keep adding to the pile, and bring them home faster than I can read them. But I read as much as I can and someday I'll read them all. The only time I cull books is when I decide that I've lost interest in that particular book or genre and then I can weed out a few without worrying about what I might miss.

J.K. Coi said...

My TBR pile always has about 10-15 books on it, and I guess it stays that way because I refuse to buy another book until I finish at least one on my pile--It means that sometimes I don't ge to pick up some of the new releases until...well, until they're not new releases anymore, but I'm okay with that :)

And congratulations to Maggie! This is one FAB!! book everyone!

quantum said...

I have said it before and no doubt will say it again.

Janga, you make a great case for e-books.

I store my books on a PC and external hard drive. No kindle for me .... its rubbish!

Even when forced to buy hard copy, I normally scan into the computer and then read in my favorite format.

When I forget a title or author I use a powerful search engine to find it in seconds and I organize my books into logical tree structures.

I even have a folder containing the worst books that I have ever read. I open it occasionally to boost my moral when I am writing a story and not getting on very well.

When buying books which are not available as e-books (Most New York times best sellers unfortunately ... for Europeans that is!) I give them to Oxfam after scanning.

Its an ill wind!

PJ said...

This is a question you definitely don't want to be asking me! LOL! My tbr has gone from a mountain to a mountain range. It's seriously out of control. If I ever decide to open a used book store, I won't have to buy a single book. They're all in my spare bedroom.

No need to enter me in the contest, Janga. I already have Maggie's book!

irisheyes said...

My TBR pile is waaaay out of control. Not only that but I find myself putting books on hold at the library in vast quantities. I really have to stop doing that. I don't know how many books I've picked up, put on my nightstand, renewed once or twice and returned without reading!

I'm finding my moods play a huge part in what I feel like reading and what needs to just wait. I just get into moods to read certain types of books - contemps, historicals, sweet, angsty, funny, etc. and so I disregard others patiently waiting for my attention.

I felt this need the other day to re-visit Rachel Gibson's Simply Irresistible and realized I didn't own it! I skimmed most of the book on the Look Inside feature on Amazon. LOL How pathetic is that. Doing this after I picked up 4 books from the library and bought a few new releases last Tuesday!

I tell ya, the older I get the more undisciplined I've become in all aspects of my life. Twenty years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of stockpiling or leaving anything undone/unread. It's out of control now. LOL

(Janga, don't include me in the MBM giveaway. I did buy Maggie's book and am halfway through it. I'm really enjoying it!)

Gannon Carr said...

Janga, my TBR collection is dangerously out of control and only getting worse!

I'm with PJ; I could definitely open a used book store without having to purchase anything. LOL

Janga said...

Jane, how do you keep your TBR stack under control? I've added to mince since I wote the blog. I took some books back to the public library and found a srack of old categories on the For Sale table. I bought four of them. I'll get around to reading them maybe in 2013. :)

Janga said...

Barbara, I'd buy more shelves too, but I'd have to add a room to my house first. I don't have an inch of available bookshelf space left. Have you aeen pictures of Christina Dodd's study? That's the kind of room I need.

Janga said...

J.K., aren't we all having fun cheering for Maggie?

I envy your discipline. We instituted a rule once that for every book brought into the house, one had to leave. But in a house of readers, the rule went unbroken for a very short time. Sigh!

Janga said...

Q, you make a good case for ebooks on your computer, but I like curling up to read on the porch or in the garden, in my favorite chair, or in bed. I can't do that with a computer. I think I could with a Kindle.

Janga said...

PJ, I can imagine with all the review books added to your own that your TBR books must make my collection look small. Have you given any thought to what you'll do if you ever move to a smaller place? I had to make some tough choices about keepers with my move two years ago.

Janga said...

Irish, I do the same thing with library books, and then I feel guilty about renewals because I imagine other readers waiting impatiently for the books. I try really hard with the newer books to read them within the first two-week period. I use the library for most of the hardbacks I read.

And I don't think I've ever given away a keeper that I haven't wanted to reread within weeks of removing it from my bookshelves. lol

Janga said...

Gannon, you and PJ could have a Carolina chain of UBSs. :) If you ever open that chain, be sure to let me know, and I'll drive up to visit. I <3 used bookstores. They yield such treasures.

TerriOsburn said...

I have 2 1/2 TBR bookshelves. It's not pretty. *sigh*

I've slowed down my reading with trying to write more. And I can't wait to dive into my copy of MBM, only Amazon didn't see fit to mail my pre-ordered book until the end of last week. What was the point of pre-ordering?!

Damn you, Amazon!

PJ said...

Have you given any thought to what you'll do if you ever move to a smaller place?

I think about it all the time! No answers yet, though.