Apparently, the Japanese language has a word for the TBR pile: Tsundoku—buying books and not reading them. I love the word, but what I don’t know is if “tsundoku” also implies the intent to read those books. After all, the idea of a to-be-read pile is that the books will be read at some point, so just having them sit there is not that useful. Besides, I don’t have enough space for a tsundoku.
I am always looking for new books, but the trick is to remember which books I wanted to read. Before I had children, I would spend hours just browsing the bookstore and return with a bag full of new treasures. I would write down the names of books I still wanted to read—a list that invariably would get lost somewhere in a pile of other lists. These days, if I have an afternoon to spare—but seriously, who am I kidding. I really do not have any afternoons to spare.
Fortunately, there’s technology. I find the Goodreads site is an excellent resource to keep track of which books I still want to read, and a great way to discover new books. Reviews are right there, which makes the choice a lot easier. With one click I can add those books to my TBR list: a most efficient way to never forget a good book (and it takes up a lot less physical space in my house). Compared to some other people on Goodreads my TBR pile is a light-weight. Right now I have about 130 books on there. I sometimes run across people who have over 30,000.
I have always wondered about TBR lists that big—I would never get through a list comprised of so many books. Even if I would read a book a day (which I don’t) it would be impossible. A list that huge would give me stress and reading is supposed to be fun. My TBR list is meant for books I actually intend to read (someday). I can see the appeal though; I suppose it’s like having a virtual, pre-selected bookstore at your fingertips and any book you’d choose would be one you’re interested in. I just don’t think it would work for me. But, even though I strive to cross off at least ten books a year from my TBR list, it’s growing faster than I chip away at it. Still, I try to keep it manageable.
The thing is, my choice of books is not solely based on my TBR list and plenty books I read never make it on there. Goodreads is a site where popular books will create a buzz and therefor become more even more popular. It also depends on how many contacts you have or how many people you follow, since this determines part of the exposure; you see which books they read and whether they liked it or not. If I would just stick to Goodreads to find new books, I think it would restrict my reading experience; I’d miss out on a lot of other good reads that way.
Sometimes I wander (it’s really not wandering, more like a quick stroll) through the library and will just randomly select a book, which can lead to an interesting evening—or not so much—but I like the potential of surprise it holds. There’s something sentimental about it—it’s how I picked books when I was a child. Our library was small, but for me the children’s section was a gift that kept on giving; it always promised something unexpected and exciting: an escape from dreary, rainy afternoons, new adventures in uncharted lands, and a vast supply of imaginary friends. Nowadays, I still dig through my son’s stack of library books for the occasional read, since I have never quite lost my inner middle grade reader. His books are less complicated, yet have plenty of excitement. What’s not to like?
Then there are books from other indie authors, which I’d never find on my own on Goodreads because they often don’t have that many reviews and don’t create the same amount of buzz—yet can be as enjoyable as the more conventional published novels. I always try to read a fair number of these every year.
Do you keep a tsundoku? How do you manage your TBR list? I’d love to hear other people’s experiences!