Tuesday, January 13, 2015

State of the TBR

One of my goals for the year is to reduce my TBR (to be read) pile from two and a half shelves down to one. This bookcase is now supposed to house all of the dissertation books that don't live in my office, and space is already getting cramped - and I'm only one month into the project!

Here's the pile, in all its glory. Plus the spot where my Kindle, my Gameboy Color, and my computer game live (not that the games have gotten much use lately). The shelf labels are rather out-of-date: originally the TBR was just the top shelf; when I expanded onto the second, I labeled it "TBR overflow"; and with the advent of the third shelf I didn't even bother.

The top shelf has nonfiction on the left (which I may move to my other nonfiction shelf for days when I read something non-dissertation-related). The top shelf also has my classics by male authors, including a few by Trollope and Flaubert, and my Russian novels, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and Crime and Punishment. Also interesting are Jostein Gaarder's The Solitaire Mystery (a Portuguese friend's favorite novel) and a lovely hardbound copy of A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (the only book I own that comes in a box!).

The middle shelf is the heart of my collection: Viragos (both green and black) and other literary fiction by women authors. Many of these came from the twice-annual public library book sale, but I've acquired others from secondhand bookshops from all across the country (and even England). The Oxford/Penguin pile is mostly my set of Gaskells and Eliots - at this point I own just about their entire output and ought to start seriously reading them and not just collecting.

The third and last shelf isn't full, and I hope to read enough TBR books in the near future to soon eliminate this shelf space altogether. However, it was just increased in size thanks to the recent arrival of the three Holtby novels! The Garth Nix series came courtesy of the free table at the divinity school - considering my enthusiasm for fantasy, it's hard to believe that I've never read them before. And finally, my Moomin books, which I'll definitely read this year per another one of my 2015 reading goals.

Do you keep your TBR organized, and if so, how? Do you separate male and female authors as I've largely done? Do you sort by genres? Do you alphabetize anything?

And as I try to tackle my own TBR, do you have any recommendations? For example, I've only read George Eliot's Silas Marner; which of her other novels should I do next? If you have several Viragos by the same author, do you prefer to read them together or space them out? Are the Russian novels as intimidating as I've been led to think?

Best of luck to anyone else also trying to reduce the number of books waiting patiently to be read!

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