Let’s Talk with James M Jackson

To Be Read Stacks
By James M Jackson

I confess to having multiple piles of to-be-read (TBR) books. It does not make sense to cart my physical TBR stacks back and forth between my two homes, so whichever place the book was acquired is where it resides.

In Michigan, I have developed two storage areas for TBR books: I keep TBR fiction in a drum side-table in our living room area. We maintain our Michigan nonfiction library on shelving my son and I built in the basement. Nonfiction TBR books are sorted in with books I have read based on topic.

In Georgia, I am not so organized. I can find recently acquired TBR fiction on two shelves in the credenza in my office. Most of the TBR nonfiction is in stacks on the bookcases in the office. The rest are stored in second-floor bookcases. But, it’s more complicated than that because Jan keeps her books upstairs, and many of those books I haven’t read—some are not my cuppa, but many of them I look forward to reading, and they are mixed in her alphabetical-by-author storage system.

Then there are the electronic books. After a few years of acquisitions, I realized I needed a system for those and developed folders: TBR-Jim-purchased, TBR-Jan-purchased, and TBR-free.

You might wonder how I decide which book to read next. I sometimes wonder the same thing. I’ll often read a fiction and nonfiction book at the same time. Rarely do I start a new novel until I have finished the one I am reading. I prefer reading physical books over electronic, so unless I can’t wait on something electronic or I’m traveling, I’ll go for physical.

I usually open the door to the stash and see what calls to me. Sometimes it just feels right to read an author whose work I know. Other times I’m up for exploration, and I admit to judging the book by its cover—the front cover; I ignore the other-author blurbs and the back-cover teaser. I don’t want any spoilers.

When I am choosing an electronic book, I always gravitate first to those we paid money for. If nothing strikes my fancy, I dip my toes into the “free” pile and hope to find a winner.

How about you? Where do you keep your TBR pile(s), and how do you choose what to read next?

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Comments

  1. Allyson A. says:

    One is not a true book lover, if they don’t have a TBR pile! I confess, I have books throughout my home. A bookshelf in my bedroom, which contains paperbacks. A bookshelf in the basement, which contains hardbacks. Also, downstairs is a closet stocked with crates of books. Next to my recliner in the living room, where I do most of my reading, is a basket, that holds the books of my favorite authors.

    I, also, have a kindle and the kindle app on my iPad. I like your idea of having folders for the eBooks. My eBooks, aren’t arranged in any particular order. I usually just scroll through the titles.

    I, prefer, a physical book over an eBook. The only reason, that I have a kindle is because it belonged to my youngest. He is very technical, and loves new gadgets. He wanted a kindle, so he could read the required books for school. Upon his graduation, I inherited it.

    I keep a notebook listing the physical books, where I jot down all the titles and author’s name. As I finish one, I will cross off the title, then I go down the list looking for my new read. Most the time, I have a book with me and at the dentist office, I’m always asked about what book I’m reading. It also helps to carry a book along, for when my husband makes a surprise stop at the hardware store. The hardware store for me, is like the bookstore to him! I happily remain in the car to read, while he can take as long as he likes going through the aisles, lol.

    • Allyson–I may steal your line about the hardware store for your husband is like a bookstore for you!

      I, too, prefer print. I do use my Kindle when I am traveling and when I am doing beta reads for other offers; that way I don’t have to be at my computer.

      I have an Excel file listing my personal library books and it has an indication of whether I have read the book, but I never go to it to find my next read. I might want to do that sometime and see what I’ve forgotten!

  2. My husband was so kind as to organize a “Writer’s Studio” in our home. He calls it my “She Shed” and it’s where I do my writing, market my one published book, “Tough Luck Lane” and, when it all gets too crazy, read. My TBR rests on a window ledge along with my To-Do works-in-progress. Sometimes I’ll take a TBR with me to bed. I have TBR books on my phone for quickie reads while I’m waiting in line, say, or holding on the phone. Finally, I have a TBR folder in my Kindle. I’m kinda sorta organized but since reading is a pleasure and not a “Gotta Do” like work emails, I’m okay with stuff hither and yon as long as it’s all accessible and varied.

  3. Oh, and book club reads also hop to the head of the line — again based on the deadline.

  4. tinawhittle says:

    I have so many TBR stacks, I’ve lost count — everywhere there is a reading spot, there is a stack of books of the yours/mine/ours/whose? variety. Willy nilly. The only organized stacks are my research books and other non-fiction. But fiction is a free-for-all at Whittle Central.

  5. If I don’t read a book as soon as I purchase it, it gets swallowed in the stacks at home. I’ve cut way back on FREE books as I am usually disappointed. I am very loyal to authors whose works I love and through Amazon or their newsletters I can keep up with their new releases.

    • I don’t do free anymore unless I already personally know the author or like their work — too much wasted effort finding the good ones (with apologies to those who give books away)

  6. I usually have 3 books going at once. Library books get some priority because they have a due date. But what I read next tends to be based on my mood at the time.

  7. I have an odd sense of order. When I buy a book, I organize them by the date purchased and try to read the “first-in, first-out.” With that being said, sometimes there’s one I’m eager to get to, so I jump it to the head of the line.

    • Wow, Karla. Do you ever cross over to the dark sided and switch from FIFO to LIFO — or is it necessary to get some kind of cosmic permission before doing that?

      What acquisition date are you up to? I think had I followed that, I’d still be in 2014 — maybe 2015?

  8. I need to better organize my Kindle acquisitions. I have them in folders now based on genre and one that is labeled “Read” as in, I finished those books. But I don’t distinguish between paid and free. It may already be too late to figure this out for earlier books on my virtual bookshelves. At home, my print books are in different rooms again separated by genre. What do I choose to read? Whatever calls to me next. Often I have two or three books going at the same time.

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