The TBR shelf

At the end of 2013, I reorganized my books, shelved all the books I owned but hadn’t read yet together, and declared that I would read them all in 2014.

This plan failed.

In terms of quantity, it wasn’t an ambitious goal. (I ended up reading 147 books last year, and that’s if you count conservatively.) However, as noted previously, I’m much better at reading books with due dates (either from the library or borrowed from friends) than books without them.

Of the 26 books on that top To-Be-Read (TBR) shelf (pictured here), I actually read only three: Life After Life, The Welsh Girl, and Above All Things. Incidentally, they were really good and I’m definitely glad I got around to them. I tried reading White Tiger, both in print and as an audiobook, and decided not to finish it; I also set aside Archetype partway through. There were eight others I decided I wasn’t ever going to read, and I got rid of them.

I still intend to read (or start reading and definitively give up on) twelve of my 2013 TBR books:

Birds of Paradise

Equal of the Sun

Wild Girls (this is my book club pick for January, so I know I’ll read it)

Good Harbor

The Waterproof Bible

American Ghost

Kitchen Confidential


The Te of Piglet

The Gospel According to Jesus (my dad sent me this, and I don’t read enough of the books he sends)

Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler

My Heart is an Idiot

From the lower shelf in the photo, I still intend to read God’s Hotel (sent to me by my oldest friend – oldest in terms of time we’ve known each other, not in terms of her calendar age) and Far From the Tree.

I have decided that A Passion for Books is more of a reference book than a cover-to-cover book, therefore I feel no guilt about keeping it, even though I don’t necessarily plan to read it this year.

Over the course of 2014, even as I got rid of some books I finally accepted I wasn’t going to read (or if I did, I’d get them from the library), I added more books to the shelf. So in addition to the titles mentioned above, I plan to read the following:


Nora Webster

The Starboard Sea

City of Women

We Are Called to Rise

The History of Us

Between Shades of Gray

So that’s 21 altogether, which – if I were to read nothing else but these until I had finished them all – should take about three months (Far From the Tree is 976 pages). Make that 22, because I set Our Band Could Be Your Life aside after the third chapter last January and have been meaning to finish it ever since. That’s a year now, if anyone’s counting.

The 2014 TBR shelf, featuring many titles from the 2013 TBR shelf.
The 2014 TBR shelf, featuring many titles from the 2013 TBR shelf.

This is doable. Possibly I can sneak a few more of these in as book group choices, but either way, I’ll either read them or get rid of them “this morning. By noon. By noon or one. By 1:37 exactly!”

Gold star and a Mark Knopfler soundtrack to you if you recognized the Empire Records quote there. But seriously, I’m planning to read these by the end of June. Or by 12/31/15 exactly. Wish me luck, and let me know if I should bump any of them to the top of the list, or off of it.


5 thoughts on “The TBR shelf

  1. gold star for me then!
    sounds like a good idea to shelve books in that fashion. i can’t tell you to bump any of those books but will be glad to get recommendations when you’ve read them.

  2. You already know how I feel about Far From the Tree! Oddly enough, the only other titles on that 2014 shelf that I remember reading are also nonfiction: Kitchen Confidential and Quiet. All three are good…

    Earlier today, I read your Robbins blog post about the January 12 book chat. Please let me know how that goes!

  3. I am late to this discussion, but I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic Far From the Tree is. It does not feel like 976 pages, it really doesn’t. (Actually, I think that’s because it isn’t. Without notes, it’s more like 740. Easy peasy!) Also, you can just read a chapter every month because they each stand alone, so you don’t need to read it all at once.

    Between Shades of Gray is also really good and a quick read.

    • Linda, I think I will take that chapter-a-month approach; I’ve already read the intro and the first two chapters. I’m already doing better on my TBR books this year, just from the blog post and the challenge – I’ve read Invisibility and Wild Girls already, and I’m halfway through The Art of Fielding and The Te of Piglet. Raise high the roof beam!

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