Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The TBR Pile, It Is A Monster

I expect nobody’s TBR pile is actually shrinking. (Anybody?) But mine may implode under its own mass, like a black hole of verbiage.

I’m exaggerating. I’m sure lots of people have larger TBR piles than me, though if you throw in my Amazon wishlist, which is kinda a subsidiary TBR pile and kinda an auxiliary memory, well, it does get up there. Let’s see . . . about 150 books on the wishlist, about 125 on my Kindle, about 100 on the actual physical shelves. Is that out of all reason for a TBR pile? How do yours compare?

Anyway, LOOK AT THE AVALANCHE OF NEW BOOKS COMING. This fall looks like it’s bringing a veritable deluge of titles.

Some of these I cannot live without even if I don’t have time to read them (Group A).

Some have activated my guilt circuits because I am so far behind with starting the series these new volumes are continuing (Group B).

And some are on my radar because I know I like the author, or because of intriguing reviews by bloggers I follow, or both (Group C).

All are liable to add to the weight (real or virtual) of my TBR pile.

Sorting them out by category (with no particular order within categories):

Group A) Books I must have and cannot live without.

1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, due out Oct 6. Although I really want to read this, it may be a while, because I definitely want to re-read this series from the top before I read Ancillary Mercy itself.

2. Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn, due out Nov 3. I will probably read this right away (for reasonable values of “right away”) because I don’t feel any need to re-read the first two books. Mostly because I have already read them a couple times each.

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4. Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, due out October 13. I am dying to know how they work out the rest of this story. I have Such! Predictions! So I really want to know how close I’ve come to what they wind up doing. That is besides the normal pleasure or reading a highly anticipated story.

5. An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff, due out Oct 6. Though presented as the first book of a new series, the important feature is that it really continues the Valor series, which is possibly my favorite military SF series ever.

Group B: Books that I feel terribly guilty about because I am behind with starting the series:

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6. Dragon Coast by Greg van Eekhout, due out tomorrow. Wait, I mean due out today — how time flies! The first book in this series, California Bones, was, if I remember, possibly the first book I purchased during this calendar year. And have I read it yet? No. Hence the guilt. Incidentally, here’s Liz Bourke’s review of Dragon Coast. I haven’t read it, except to note that she says they are, “really entertaining and dramatic fantasy heist novels.” I can’t read reviews of Dragon Coast because I am still trying to avoid spoilers for California Bones.

I am not super super super keen on buying a whole trilogy before I have read even the first book. Yet I would like to support Greg, whom I have met (we share an agent). Thus I am really, really likely to read California Bones soon. As in, this year. I hope.

Group C: Books that just caught my eye

7. Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas, due out today. This is a Cinderella retelling, which I expect to like a LOT better than Cinder because so far I have enjoyed all of Sarah’s books — full disclosure: we also share an agent, and she gave me extremely useful feedback on Black Dog and Pure Magic — but I am excited about Ash and Bramble partly because this is Sarah’s first YA rather than MG title.

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Moving on, moving on . . . let’s see . . . right:

8. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, due out Sept 22. The description as such doesn’t make me sit up, particularly, but this review by Brandy at Random Musings caught my eye this morning. Such an evocative, wonderful title. Also, what a beautiful cover:

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9. Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman, out October 6. I’m not actually sure whose review caught my eye, but I know this one has been on my radar for a couple of months.

And, look, I managed a top ten list purely by chance!

10. Darkness On His Bones by Barbara Hambly, coming out Oct 1. A new Ysidro book! I only just found out about it, very timely, since here it comes any day now. After the ending of the last one . . . um, Kindred of Darkness, that was it . . . I could not quite see how Hambly would write another one, since James Asher has pretty much sworn to kill Ysidro next time he gets a chance, out of principle. Remember, this is a world where the vampires really have to kill lots of people, so you see the moral dilemma. Well, here’s how Hambly set this next book up:

When James Asher is found unconscious in the cemetery of the Church of St. Clare Pieds-Nus with multiple puncture-wounds in his throat and arms, his wife, Lydia, knows of only one person to call: the vampire Don Simon Ysidro. Old friend and old adversary, he is the only one who can help Lydia protect her unconscious, fevered husband from the vampires of Paris.

Yep, that’d do it. Lydia certainly did not make any such private vow. This book must be heavy on Lydia and Simon Ysidro. Good. I’ve always particularly loved Lydia.

Okay! What did I miss that you are particularly anticipating? And is 350 books (or at least 250) insanely too many for a TBR pile? Because, honestly, what can I do? All these people will keep writing books . . .

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11 Comments The TBR Pile, It Is A Monster

  1. Maureen E

    You’ve seen my TBR spreadsheet, right?

    Also, I hate to add to the problem, but RJ Anderson’s POCKET FULL OF MURDER and Zen Cho’s SORCERER TO THE CROWN are both ending up on my favorite books of the year list.

  2. David H.

    My book spreadsheet has two aspects to it… “tsundoku” and “to read.”

    Tsundoku is apparently a Japanese word (also a pun of some sort) that essentially means a pile of books. My tsundoku list is the list of books I own that I haven’t read yet. It’s about 500 for me.

    My “to read” list is my “want to read” list of books I don’t own (my spreadsheet will list which library I can get it from in my area, if any). This is about 2200+ right now. This list used to be in the 4000s but I purged it last year.

    It’s really freaking hard to avoid adding to this list! I’m semi-trying a moratorium on buying/getting more books but it’s not very successful, as I’m trying to keep up with series which I’m current in.

    For example, I really really really want to read that Zen Cho novel, but it’s the first in a new series, right? I still have so much to read…

  3. Mary Anne

    I have a problem and you are not helping my problem! After reading this post I added two more books to my problem, as a matter of fact. Since the Kindle came along, my problem is no longer so evident to the rest of the world, but I have two collections in my Kindle (Should be Good and Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time) that are all books TBR. It’s a bad sign when you have to categorize your TBRs – glad I’m not alone in that aspect of my problem, though I never considered my Amazon wishlist as a TBR list – that just makes things so much worse! I am in no other way a hoarder…well maybe music. OK, definitely music. Good thing I can hide that electronically too. Do you think they’ll ever do a reality show about digital hoarders? It is such a pleasure to know I have so many books in such easy (virtual) reach.

  4. Kim Aippersbach

    A new Valor novel? Woot! I’ve been anxiously awaiting Jeweled Fire and Ancillary Mercy. Yes that Rae Carson one does look lovely . . .

    “Should be Good and Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time” — ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That so describes my Kindle!

    2200, huh? That’s *ahem* a teensy bit excessive, don’t you think? ;)

    It’s actually a bit of a relief to me when I find a TBR book at my library, read a few pages, and decide it’s not for me. Strike it off the list!

  5. Rachel

    Maureen, I’ve been hearing that Sorcerer to the Crown is really good — I guess I will add it to my top ten list, especially as I see I misnumbered books in the post and only really had nine titles listed. So Sorcerer can be the tenth. I hadn’t heard of Pocket Full of Murder, but if you really loved it, I’ll have to give it a try, too. Eventually.

    David, wow, really? Well, I guess I won’t have to worry about overdoing it till my TBR pile(s) tip over the 1K mark. Your “to read” seems pretty much equivalent to my wishlist. I only have very small local libraries in reach, plus I am super-likely to re-read books if I like them, so I almost never get a book from the library. I used to buy more used books; now I generally pick up the Kindle version if there is one. And the TBR pile marches on…

    Charlotte, I honestly think you’ll probably really love this particular series of Shinn’s. They were instant comfort reads for me.

    Mary Anne, I LOVE your Kindle categories! All my categories are for stuff I’ve already read, so they just serve the same purpose as sections in a bookstore — fantasy over here, SF here, mysteries here, etc. All my unread titles are just loose in a big amorphous mass outside the categories. But I think it’s really entertaining to have a “Seemed Like a Good Idea” folder. I could also do a What Was I Thinking folder, except I hope of course that there wouldn’t be many titles in that one.

    I agree that it really helps hide the hording tendency to have half your TBR pile in electron form. Or more than half.

    Kim, I KNOW, right? I am SO pleased Huff picked the Valor series back up.

    For me, quite a few of the paper books on my actual TBR shelves came from library sales or whatever, so it’s not all that unusual to pick one up, read a few pages or a few chapters, and put it on the giveaway pile. As you say, it’s always kind of a relief. But if shelves develop gaps, I’m likely to pick up a couple of the books on my wishlist to plug the holes …

  6. David H.

    Yeah, I’m in the DC metro area, so I get access not only to the DC library, but 5 of the surrounding counties in VA and MD, as well as online Overdrive (ebook) access to my sister’s libraries in NYC and my parents’ in TX. I couldn’t afford all I want to read without the library! I also find myself not re-reading too often in the last several years (when you have over a thousand on your list, I rarely reread unless it’s a comfort or a “special” reread-in-preparation-for-new-book-in-series).

    It’s always interesting to see how people organizing their reading (if they do). My wife has no “list” whatsoever, it boggles my mind sometimes!

  7. Macsbrains

    I totally agree with all those above, especially Mary Ann’s ‘problem’.

    My TBR mountain range can be seen from space. It is a geographic feature containing a biblio-volcano which I built my home around. Also, it might be sentient.

    I sometimes avoid buying books that I really want until I am ready to read them just that second because otherwise they’ll be lost within my cosmic biblio-volcano where it could be months or years before I read them. (It is mathematically impossible for me to read all the books, but shh! I don’t know this! Don’t ruin my dreams!)

    Some good books simply have to be sacrificed to the shelves to placate the hungry biblio-volcano god until it seems fit to erupt and release them later. It demands tribute and must be appeased.

    (Also, to go with tsundoku, another useful Japanese book word is tachiyomi, which is standing in the bookstore reading things you probably ought to be paying for… [lit. standing reading])

  8. Rachel

    >My TBR mountain range can be seen from space. It is a geographic feature containing a biblio-volcano which I built my home around. Also, it might be sentient.

    I laughed! Okay, between you and David, I’ve been persuaded that <1000 books on your TBR pile means you are definitely not over the top.

    'Tachiyomi' was a word that would have been really useful for me when I was a kid and couldn't afford to buy many books. Also, at the time, we had a bookstore in walking distance . . . I don't *think* I ever read an *entire* book in a bookstore, but I might have come close a time or two.

  9. mona

    Yay more books to add to my wishlist! I’m looking forward to Rae Carson’s new book; I enjoyed her previous series. These all look so delectable. I can’t imagine having even 200 books on my TBR list. I might start pulling my hair out from indecision and lack of time. I think I’ve about 30-50 at the moment, and that’s mostly due to your recommendations, Rachel.

    Thanks for sharing ‘tsundoku’, David. Interesting etymology- I love tracing words. And lol, tachiyomi! Definitely guilty…

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