Tackling My TBR (To Be Read)
Having a mile-long TBR (to be read) book list is a relatively low-ranking problem. Thinking about all the books waiting for me to read makes me giddy, and occasionally guilty. Since I won't stop buying books, my libraries nearly always pull through for me, and I have wonderful friends who gift me books like everyday is Jolabokaflod, I have to get creative about choosing what to read next.And by creative, I mean the method of selection changes by the moment.
This is the slowest reading period for me and most often when I fall into a reader's slump. My TBR is usually ignored in favor of all the project planning I do for work, around the home, and my own business. What I tend to read are recently released nonfiction science writing and reporting books. It's not intentional, but it is a pattern I've noticed over the years. There's something about diving deep into science while exploring the natural world.
I've had a great run of books already this summer, and that's usually how my reading starts to pick up. My projects are clearly defined and gardening is well under way by this point in the year. And then it happens, a stunning cover and an irresistible tagline snatch me up without warning. The repressive heat (don't laugh, we get hot in the PNW now!) makes it so much easier to get lost in a book.
This is when I really dive into my TBR. By October I've amassed a hefty stack of books and suddenly there is all this beautiful, comforting weather to get lost in along with the remarkable stories I've been dying to read. I also get to bust out the crochet and roasting pans which means I have plenty of waiting periods to fill with reading. My audiobooks experience a bit of an uptick thanks to the handicrafts.
Hot chocolate? Peppermint mocha? Hot toddy? So many delicious hot drinks to choose from and as many TBR books. It's a wonder I manage picking anything. What I tend to gravitate towards, however, are the sci-fi and fantasy books. At heart, I'm a futurist and I love exploring the ideas and speculative cultures and politics of the future. That's been my go-to for years now so whatever falls within those two categories is what I'm digging out to read first. Also, the holidays are when I start to accumulate next year's TBR so I try to clear out as much as possible. Try. I usually fail.
State of Mind
My TBR is not simply an entertainment free-for-all bent on escapism. A fair amount is dedicated to learning and growing which means reading difficult topics. Some are difficult because they're heady while others are going to cause a heavy emotional reaction. I can't simply pick up a book about child abuse or the awful things women of WWII had to endure/do to survive. Maybe it makes me the maudlin type, but I really need to be in a good place before I decide to read the darker works.
I'm all for lighthearted and humorous stories but when it comes to books, I'm surprisingly fickle about those things. I definitely need to be in the mood. I don't have many books on my TBR that fit into this category. The closest would be a sweet romance, a la Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner, and even then, I enjoy them most in audiobook format while I'm doing something else such as cleaning or crafting.
An unfair categorization but this is where a lot of textbook and nonfiction ends up. Nonfiction informational books today are much better about making the process of reading and retaining content easier to consume. Even so, if I'm in a particular rough patch at work or too many things going on, I know it's pointless to attempt anything that requires close attention. Or, if I do have to reread lines over and over again because the book wasn't well written but the information is still important, I know I won't have the patience to get what I'm looking for out of it.
The other consideration is what I'm currently working on with my writing. For the most part, I'm not worried about adopting someone else's style or tone, I've got my own that suits me quite well. However, I do find inspiration in work that is completely opposite of what I'm working on, and it's a great reason for me to rummage through the TBR to find an element I feel is missing from my project. When I'm writing a sci-fi piece, I grab a literary novel. If I'm on a dystopian short, I'll look for historical fiction. Nothing's set in my selections just so long as it's different from what I'm writing.I could go on about all the crazy ways I've attempted to whittle down my TBR, but these are what I use the most.So how about you? How do you approach your TBR? Leave a comment with your preferred method. I'd love to hear it!