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.