I would like to tackle the subject of the dreaded Too Be Read (TBR) pile. Mine is a problem. Not a Twelve Step kind of problem, I hasten to add, because that would mean doing something about it. No, this is a happy to have but annoying nonetheless kind of problem. The sort you complain about, lose very little sleep over, and never expect to solve. It is also the sort that drives your partner mad.
Earlier this year Andrew and I bought new bedroom furniture. After twenty plus years of marriage we thought it was time. We actually went out looking for a set of drawers for Priya and decided, on the spur of the moment, to give her our old chest of drawers (clever huh!) and to buy a whole new suite for ourselves. Perfect, except we would now have to tidy the bedroom thoroughly.
Andrew thought this was wonderful because he is a neat freak. I walked round the house like a dog with its tail between its legs. I had a lot of clutter to be re-housed. Fortunately I had recently inherited a spare bedroom and set it up as an office. But I still had a basket full of books sitting beside the bed. In the new regime these books were given a drawer. Not a big drawer, by the way: a sort of overgrown-match-box type of arrangement that could not possibly hold my TBR pile.
Over the months, I have tried manfully to stick to the limits of my drawer but … I work in a library. It is akin to an alcoholic working in a bottle shop. The problem is essentially mathematics: I bring home more than I take back. But I would also like to suggest that they do not make bedside drawers big enough. I am looking for a drawer that can never be full, like the bag with which Pwyll tricked Gwawl ap Clud.
Andrew is away this week and the drawer has come into its own. It does not quite close anymore. It is spilling out all over the floor. Its contents have marched out, two by two, and ranged themself along his side of the bed. It is a sort when-the-lights-go-out-in-the-library experience as I snuggle up between Joseph Campbell’s, Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Lola Workman’s, Wheat-Free World. At last count there were thirteen books, three magazines, some chapters from my friend Leisl’s unpublished manuscript, a notebook and Bible and a number of overwhelmed book marks decamped about the room. Fortunately, Andrew is coming home next week, or I may find myself buried in a paperback tomb.
I noticed today that I have seven (said in hushed whispery tones) overdues on my library card. I have spent the evening bustling about trying to find them (yes, sometimes TBRs escape). I found Eclipse in Priya’s room and Atonement in Phoebe’s room (you can always blame the kids). I have weeded Aristotle’s, Poetics, and, Story Structure Architect, from my own pile. Make no mistake. This is serious. I feel purged. There are books lined up like naughty children by the back door. If I’m awake when I leave the house in the morning, and that will depend on whether I wake up in time to make make coffee, I may even remember to take them with me.
You may think it looks like smooth sailing from here (sorry about the cliche I am all smilied out). That I now have my reading habits on a leash.
Dont’ be deceived!
There is a hidden TBR pile. It is like the church seen and unseen, awaiting its day of triumph.
A reservation list is so much more accommodating than a drawer. It is not made of wood for a start. It grows … and it grows, like the Five Fat Peas, but it does not pop! I can’t tell you how many books I have on reservation at the library. It is a privacy issue for a start. But do know it was double figures last time I had the courage to count.