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?