The TBR Book Tag

All year I’ve been struggling with a personal goal to get my TBR below 100 books. I haven’t gotten there and I now know it’s not going to happen with less than two months to go. But I still want to work on having a more manageable TBR and when I saw this post over at Cleopatra Loves Books I thought putting my own cards on the table might help with this ongoing goal. Perhaps this time next year I’ll be telling a story of minimalism success.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I use a database called Collectorz. Hate the spelling, love the software. I have it on my computer and there’s an iOS app for my phone and a website for…well…whenever I don’t have my computer or my phone. As soon as I order or buy a book I add it to my database and then keep track of things like reading date as well as a swag of other data. The books I count for my TBR are the ones that I own but haven’t read. I don’t count books I’ve ordered but haven’t received yet or books on my wishlist.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Print books win by a country mile. Back in 2011 I wrote about my plan to go all digital within 5 years. I was on a minimalism kick and had other reasons. But that plan was a failure. Not only because I bought something other than the device from the store named after a river though that didn’t help (books were never that cheap, nor that readily available and Adobe’s eReader management software offered the worst user experience of any software I have ever used in any context). But also, I don’t really like reading eBooks much. These days I use my iPad to do it when necessary but it’s not often. This year for example I have only read 11 eBooks (and 43 physical books and 27 audio books)

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Whim. I don’t accept very many books from publishers or authors for review these days (that turned out to be way too much pressure) so can generally read what I want when I want. I have a couple of reading challenges that come into play and the vagaries of the library hold system (which sometimes delivers a dozen books at once and then goes for weeks offering nada) factor in but this is my leisure hobby so I like it being my choice.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

I was given a copy of Jared Diamond’s GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL for my birthday almost a decade ago (in 3 weeks it will be a full decade). That was right around the time I almost stopped reading non-fiction all together. I used to read heaps of it, now…not so much and I can’t really explain it. I still have some vague notion that I will read this. Maybe a 10th anniversary celebration?

As far as fiction goes I’ve got 4 books by Australian crime writers that I’ve had since 2008. It’s ridiculous that I haven’t read any of these yet. I have read later books by all the authors. But still. In a recent purge I got rid of quite a few other books I’d acquired around the same time on the grounds that I wasn’t ever going to read them. But I’m still hoping to get through my Aussie crime writing back catalogue.

A book you recently added to your TBR?

crimesofthefatherkeneallyTom Keneally’s CRIMES OF THE FATHER is my most recent addition to the TBR. It was only published last Monday. Funnily enough given the title it’s not crime fiction (although it does explore horrendous criminal activity) but when one of my favourite authors tackles the subject of the Catholic Church I feel compelled to read.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I really, truly don’t buy books based on their covers. If they sat on my shelves long enough Sulari Gentill’s books would qualify because I love their covers but I read ’em as soon as they arrive.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

I have had a purge this year of the books I could admit that I will never read so there’s really nothing else that I don’t plan on reading. Though I will admit there are a handful that remain using the “there might be a zombie apocalypse one day and I might survive but be locked here in the house for a long time and grateful for the distraction“. These might have to go in the next purge.

And I’ll probably have to decide soon about GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

As I accept so few review books I don’t have any unpublished books on the TBR at the moment.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

thegoodpeoplekenthannah29009_fThere’s really not anything I can see that would fall into this category. I don’t tend to read a lot of mainstream popular books and those that I do read are easily available from the library (which are not counted on my TBR). I suspect if I leave it for too long Hannah Kent’s recently published THE GOOD PEOPLE might be in this category soon as her first book, BURIAL RIGHTS, was much talked about for the longest time. This one was only published in September though.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

therulesofbackyardcricket29023_fJock Serong’s THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET has been much recommended. You guys even voted for it to be my recommendation for my face-to-face book club so at least it won’t be on my TBR much longer.


A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Surely this is a trick question. I want to read them all. Promise. I guess it’s Denise Mina’s RESOLUTION which is the third book of her trilogy featuring a feisty Scottish social worker. For a while I saved it because I knew it would be my last meeting with a favourite character but now it’s just ridiculous I haven’t gotten to it.

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

I don’t do the Goodreads thing but my database tells me I have 130 unread books as of today. On the one hand I should be happy about this because at the end of October last year I had 201 unread books! Still at my current reading rate this is more than a year’s worth of reading and it is highly unlikely I’m going to acquire no new books in the next 12 months so this number won’t be going down as quickly as it ought to. But progress is progress.

The breakdown is

  • Physical books – 88
  • eBooks – 32
  • Audio Books – 10

Other numbers of curiosity

  • Number by Australian authors – 36
  • Number by female authors – 65
  • Number classed as crime fiction – 120 (hashtag obvious fact)
  • Number on the TBR 5 years or more – 37
  • Number bought new – 80

Wanna play along with this meme? Or tell me how many unread books you have? Or give me your favourite justification for owning more unread books than 1 human being can read in a year? Or a lifetime?




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21 Responses to The TBR Book Tag

  1. Thanks for the shout out – Part of my problem is the fear that one day I’ll be left with nothing good to read – fortunately I only hoard books 😊 Love your answers and at least your TBR is moving in the right direction 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Books are my only hoarded item too – and yes it’s basically fear that I’ll somehow have nothing to read one day. Even though I have a book store and a library within walking distance of my front door, not to mention the internet. But there is huge comfort in having a plentiful supply.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    I have hundreds of unread books. Some I have had for 30 years. I give hundreds of books away every year but also buy that many. And then i end up reading library books because there is a due date attached. I should vow not to read library books anymore no matter how tempting. I am such a fickle reader I never know what I will end up reading. I just started and put down five books in the last day. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting you say you’re a fickle reader Patti, I wonder if it comes from having so much choice..I feel like I have become more so in recent years and that coincides with the period during which I have developed a TBR at all. A decade or so ago it just wasn’t possible for me…books have always been really expensive here and there was no Amazon or Book Depository willing to fly books in at cheap American prices. The libraries were all isolated, not hooked up in a giant system like they are now so that you can request a book from anywhere in the state – I used to live in a place where I read all the crime fiction books in their collection. And they would buy maybe 3 or 4 new ones a year. So I read whatever I could get my hands on that was even vaguely to my taste. Now I have more disposable income, the library system is amazing and if I’m really desperate for a particular title I can order an eBook from somewhere where books are less expensive. I find it much easier to start and stop a book now.


  3. Margot Kinberg says:

    I want to read The Rules of Backyard Cricket, too, Bernadette. I hope you’ll let us know what you and your book club thought of it. And I’ve a few books, too, that I’m saving for that zombie apocalypse. You never do know, after all, right? I agree with you, too, about covers. I’m often drawn to them, but almost never buy a book because of its cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have about 30 books on the tbr (which is pretty constant – rarely goes above 40 or below 15), but I have zero books unread with me right now (I usually always have 3-5 within arms distance) which is why I’m heading to the local bookshop in five mins to pick up an order. Otherwise I’ll be bouncing off the walls by this evening!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bernadette, I’d love to know which four Australian crime books are on your TBR pile.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tracybham says:

    I just commented in detail at Col’s site on my numbers and how I will never read all my books. I also use Collectorz. I have used it so long that it is hard to say how long I have had some of my books (unread). I love the application.

    I am guessing I have over 1000 books unread, based on what I have counted on some of my shelves, and just estimating the remaining shelves and the boxes in the garage. My husband and I together have 500 on the Kindle, but those are a lower priority to me.

    Why do I have so many books? I enjoy finding them online, I like book covers, I get enticed by the subject or the author. I buy older books (1930’s – 1990’s) more than I buy current books. I have definitely cut down buying online or in book shops since my husband and I lost our jobs in 2009 at the same time (we have good jobs now but it was a wake up call at our age). But I haven’t given up buying a ton of books at extremely cheap prices at the annual book sale and I won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read about your annual book sale adventures Tracy and am glad I have no such temptations near me as I can see how easy it would be to participate and increase my problem. Second hand books in general are not all that readily available here – we just don’t have the population to support that kind of industry (there aren’t that many people buying new books then passing them on for a start) and on balance I think that’s probably a good thing for me 🙂

      I don’t think owning a lot of books is in itself a problem but since having to clean out my parents’ house when they both became incapacitated a few years back I am very conscious of trying not to leave such a “project” for someone (I don’t have any kids). I was really angry at them for a good long while for not realising what they were doing and leaving me with such a huge job (I know they didn’t expect to get sick in the ways they did but they were in their mid/late 80’s and still acquiring stuff like they had decades ahead of them) – there were hundreds of books that I know my mother – the reader – had never even opened the covers of. I’ve gotten a bit less angry now that some time has passed but still it factors in to my thinking.


      • tracybham says:

        I have worried about leaving a lot of things for my husband and son to get rid of but I finally decided books did not fit in that category. They can easily pass on my books to the book sale, other charities, libraries, etc. As my husband and I get even older that will be more of a concern. The things I worry about are other objects I have gathered over the years that they would have to go through. Papers, hobbies, collections not related to books… Those I need to work on now. Which is why I continue to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo although I have to approach it differently. The weird thing is we have a very very small space for three people and I still have managed to gather way too much stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. icewineanne says:

    I’m in a similar situation, way too many books – 3000+ – and still taking books out the library! Just shoot me!!! Need to burn my library card ……
    I end up reading the books from the library first because of the due date & because i put a hold on them after reading a terrific review from a blogger 🙄 Not that bloggers are to blame LOL
    Seriously, i need help……so adicted to great stories.
    Many thanks for the database recommendation. Will begin using it so that i can organize what i own. And thanks for all the motivating reviews! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry if I have contributed to your ‘problem’ via my recommendations…but it seems we’re all in the same boat regarding collecting too many books. And there are many worse things we could be addicted to 🙂


  9. kathy d. says:

    And I thought I was bad. I’m in the minor leagues with only about 40 unread books piled up, maybe 45. I don’t have a lot of room in an apartment, just books stacked on my dining room table. I have been trying not to buy books, and being patient with the library system — except for books written by authors I want to support. I could spend a fortune at Book Depository every month, but I try to stop that.
    I read a lot of psychological suspense or domestic noir in the summer when I didn’t want to think, just read, but then I got into dvds of global mysteries.
    I also read the New York Times every day and some media websites, so that takes time from reading fiction. And there’s the aggravating election news day in and day out on TV. Why I watch this is beyond my comprehension.It’ll be over soon — but not really I have a feeling.
    On the other hand, my TBR lists are humongous. I just keep adding titles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your number certainly does sound very modest Kathy (especially now that I know of someone who has around 4500 unread books – eh gads). Not having much room is a good way to keep the number manageable.

      I think watching the election news is like being drawn in by a road accident or something Kathy – we know we should look away but we’re unable – even from all the way over the other side of the world it is compelling viewing (and your politics does affect most of the rest of the world in one way or another). I fear you’re right that it won’t be over tomorrow either way. Sigh.


  10. realthog says:

    Congrats on having such a small TBR list!

    Not only because I bought something other than the device from the store named after a river though that didn’t help

    After consultation with a local librarian, we avoided the device you mention and instead got a Samsung Galaxy, on which we read using Aldiko (a free app). I eventually put the, er, River app on the machine as well, just for the occasional River Freebie, but I prefer using Aldiko, even though it has fewer bells and whistles.

    The advantage of the Galaxy at the time was screen-size — far better for reading PDFs and typescripts. I don’t know if this advantage still exists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the iPad for similar reasons I think – I have about 5 reading apps on it including the River one and I use them all on occasion, even my library allows us to borrow eBooks. I like the screen size but not the screen type – would prefer the e-ink style screen that reads less like a computer screen and more like paper – less like being at work. I used a Sony eReader for a while but it was not well supported (few books available) and offered an awful user experience. For the most part I will stick to paper for the foreseeable future.


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