What’s on My TBR? To Be Read, to Be Reread, & Comfort Books

It’s not pretty…

I moved a bookcase into my bedroom.  It is the only way to cope with the TBR.

“Yup, that’s the TBR shelf,” I told my bookish friend, Suzy, a teacher who stopped by briefly in the middle of a literary road trip.   She has visited the American Writers Museum in Chicago, taken the Betsy-Tacy tour in Mankato, Minnesota, is on her way to Willa Cather’s childhood home in Red Cloud, Nebraska, and, against her better judgment, may swing by Mark Twain’s hometown, Hannibal, Missouri (a commercial nightmare), on the way home.

After a trip to Half Price Books, Suzy happily examined my shelves, but is not entirely sympathetic to the TBR concept. She thinks it’s internet-ish. “So what’s Aeschylus doing on the nightstand?  Where’s his shelf?”

“That’s a chest of drawers.  Aeschylus is bedtime reading.”

“Cozy, kind of like Stephen King.”

“Maybe less horrifying, like domestic noir.”

I explained I dropped Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil in the laundry basket so I’d remember to put it in the giveaway box in the laundry room.  It is his worst book.  The characters are like the Snopes.  Inger killed her baby who had a harelip.  And she just got out of prison.

“May I have it?”

Over ice cream with raspberries, we discussed the pros and cons of a TBR shelf.

I rarely read anything on my TBR, alas. Will I get back to Dostoevsky?  Not unless I acquire some name-brand antidepressants. (Impossible.)  I often dip into D. H. Lawrence’s short stories, but prefer his novels. I recommend Gissing’s The Odd Women, but should some  of Gissing’s other books before I return to my favorite.  Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, a series of fictional conversations about the virtues and conduct of the ideal courtier,  is a comfort read for the middle of the night.

So it’s really a comfort read shelf?

Suzy is reading Willa Cather’s  Collected Short Stories, because the autobiographical story “Old Mrs. Harris” is essential reading for the tour.

So what’s on your TBR?  And do you actually read it?

12 thoughts on “What’s on My TBR? To Be Read, to Be Reread, & Comfort Books

  1. Rarely, would have to be the answer to the ‘do you read it’ question. I think the problem is that I tend to buy too many books at the same time so that when I bring them home I start on one and put the rest on the shelf (shelves!). By the time I’ve finished that book another pile has ‘mysteriously’ appeared, all but one of which then finds their way onto the shelf as well. And on it goes. And that’s before we broach the question of the library books that have to be read before their return by date. The answer, I suppose, would be to buy only one book at a time. But where is the pleasure in that?

    As an side: I hadn’t thought about the Castiglione as night-time reading but it’s adorned good idea.

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    • I do understand exactly what you mean: I don’t read from the TBR shelf/list all the time, beause I bring home more books! In fact I wonder if the TBR shelf is an internet idea I’ve tried to apply to life.
      Yes, Castiglione is charming, and you don’t have to read it all at once so It’s perfect bedtime reading.

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  2. I’ve challenged myself to read more books on my TBR shelf this year – the goal was 60. I was doing well for the first few months but then slacked off as too many other enticing things came my way. However, I will probably get through about 45 books and I’m happy with that; I also need to take a hard look at the shelf and get rid of some books I’m never going to read.

    I”m still acquiring books and thus adding at least as many as I eliminate, but maybe I can keep in a state of equilibrium.

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  3. I have a TBR bookcase. Unfortunately, by a process of natural selection, many of the books there are also-rans. Books I should read but have put aside in favor of more enticing ones. Each time I hit a book sale I bring home a bag of books, several of which must be read immediately. The rest become TBR.

    For comfort reads, give me the Victorian classics: Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot.

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    • I know what you mean about also-rans! I love the idea of the TBR, probably from the internet, but the “new” (usually used) books I bring home are always so exciting, at least for a few weeks. I do love to reread, and when I looked at my photo of the TBR, was surprised that some would re rereads, because I hadn’t planned that.

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  4. What a reassuring TBR – makes me feel quite happy about my mountains of books. The thing is, I’m not always sure any more which books on the shelves are TBR and which ones I have *actually* read in the past. I have a recently acquired pile (well, piles actually). One day I may read them all if I live long enough. As for comfort – whatever takes your fancy I say. Often Golden Age crime for me – nothing like a nicely solved murder for putting the world to rights!

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    • Sometimes with mysteries I have no idea whether I’ve read them already until I get halfway through. This is especially true of Ngaio Marsh, who wrote so much. All the shelves are basically TBR, so my organization hasn’t helped as much as I thought.

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  5. My tbr is half a large bookcase. I almost only read from it, but I buy so many books it never really decreases in size. Every now and again. I enjoy reading old favourites, classics like Jane Eyre or old Agatha Christie’s I have read before and have forgotten. Other favourites I would read in times of needing comfort are things like Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, and some of my favourite Persephone books.

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    • That’s a very well-organized way to read! And I completely agree with your comfort reads. Nothing like Pym, and though it’s odd to say of well-written Persephones, most of them are cozy. (And yet so different, so it’s strange I feel this way.)

      On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 1:46 PM, mirabile dictu wrote:

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