Friday, October 23, 2015

An Ode to the TBR

By Renee Asher Pickup

Ah, the TBR pile.

The digital age hasn't made it easier to get through that long list of "To Be Read" but it's made it a hell of a lot easier to grow it. My relationship with the TBR is a mix of excitement and horror - every time I open a new book I think of all the others left behind, waiting, collecting dust.

Here are some of the books that have been on my TBR list for too long.

It's been over ten years since I worked at Borders book store in Columbia, Maryland, which is where I first encountered STIFF, shelving books. I'd worked in the schoolhouse where the USMC and Army trained service members to retrieve casualties and done a few morgue visits, and an interest in death, dying, and bodies remained. Mary Roach has gone on to pen several other books I really want to read, and haven't actually gotten around to. 

As soon as I added the photo for this book I felt like I had to duck - the readers of Do Some Damage are very likely throwing rotten vegetables at me for skipping this one. If not, wait for this - I've never read ANY Ellroy (if I'm not here next week it's because I've been asked politely to leave). I don't know how something like this happens. I know I should read Ellroy. I actually really want to read Ellroy. My growing interest in true crime says - for chrissakes, woman, read Black Dahlia! Yet, here it sits in the TBR, under a book I borrowed so I really, really need to read it before I get to anything else.

I look at this book every day. It is on a shelf in the living room and I can't walk into that room without looking at this book and yet... Ed Brubaker doing a mix of crime noir and Lovecraftian horror, somehow isn't the first thing on the TBR. I went back and read Deadpool vs. The Marvel Universe but didn't read Fatale. This blog entry is starting to make me feel bad about my life choices.

In addition to never reading Ellroy, I also never watched Justified. Not on purpose, really, I just didn't. I'm a big Elmore Leonard fan, though, and according to Goodreads I'm "currently reading" Pronto. Except, I'm not. A few years ago I downloaded the Raylan novels to see what the fuss was about, and apparently had really high hopes for tearing through them without delay. I also seriously intended to watch Justified. The intricacies of Raylan Givens remain unknown to me.

I've been a huge Stephen King fan since I was ten years old, sneaking books off the shelf. I have a huge collection of first editions, promotional items, and other random book-nerd junk I'm really proud of. Somewhere along the way though, King stopped being an author I bought and read overnight and became an author with a spot saved on the TBR. 11/22/63 was the first King novel to go TBR, and each subsequent release has followed. It's like I don't even know who I am anymore.

This is just a small selection from my ever-growing TBR. If I were to combine the actual pile with the digital list, and look at it long enough - I'm sure the length of the resulting list would make me feel my mortality in a very real way. The "To-Be-Read" is like a pile of hopes for the future and failures yet-acknowledged. 

What's been in your TBR for too long?


Dana King said...

I keep a TBR list on the computer so the unread books don't pile up too badly. Then the books on the physical/Kindle "pile" reached 20, I swore to buy o more until these were read. Now it's up to 30.


Renee Asher Pickup said...

Haha, Dana, I relate. I keep making promises to myself about what I will do about this list. Then I'm tying my shoe at a friend's house and spot a book on the shelf - "Oooo... can I borrow that?"

Jay Stringer said...

I was planning to hammer through my TBR pile after Bouchercon.

Trouble is....Bouchercon has DOUBLED the fucking thing.

I'm with you on FATALE. I keep swearing I'll get to it.

Naomi Johnson said...

I had to comment before I even finished your post. I'm right with you on Ellroy and 'Black Dahlia,' except that this year I *determined* to read it. Well, now folks really can throw rotten tomatoes because I couldn't get through it. I found the prose so affected that I became as irritated as Mark Twain (and I) did upon reading Jane Austen's books. Let my (minority) opinion be your excuse for putting the Ellroy off yet again (and again).

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