The Project TBR Update

Over a month ago now, I set off on what I called Project TBR – a concerted effort to work my way through my TBR pile while also avoiding adding to it. This is my long overdue status update.

Let me begin by saying I am maintaining the course so far, but it’s tougher than I anticipated. Since the start of the experiment, I have finished five books, had one DNF (just wasn’t the right time to read the book), and currently have three books in progress. That seemed like a lot to me when I saw that stat, until I looked back over the last year on Goodreads and saw that my monthly average is five books.

Here are my observations so far.

The Hard Parts

  • Finding my next read. I thought this would be a lot easier since I working from an established TBR pile. Not even close. When I started, I knew that there are times when nothing in my library hits the right spot and that I would need to refer to the public library to fill that gap. What I didn’t anticipate was that just two months in and I’ve done that three times already.
  • I miss getting books in the mail, and that’s the stupidest part. Day to day, I prefer digital books (my choice of reader? now that’s the source of an entirely different, longer debate). I like being able to pick up my phone and continue a book while Dad Taxi waits on a kid somewhere. I do dishes every night, and I am not the, ah, most careful dish washer. In other words, when I finish dishes, it looks like someone might have thrown water balloons at me. Whatever, it’s how I work and the dishes get done, but more importantly, afterwards I can’t hold paper books without fear of ruining them. There are so many reasons to like and enjoy digital books. AND YET…and yet the sheer joy of getting the mail and finding that a book has arrived is obscenely wonderful. I do read paper books as well, mind, but (complicated answer here).

The Good Parts

  • It’s not all gloomy angst. My original intention was to finally get to books I’ve been meaning to get to, and I am. I finally pushed my way into the Sword of Shannara trilogy. It was tough going at first, and then the hard part was behind me and it was a joy.
  • My TBR pile is finally getting smaller for the first time in years. That feels rather nice.
  • No books being delivered means there’s money staying in my pocket, at least for now. 😉

So where to now?

For now, I’m going to continue. My reads for October are practically mapped out, and that just leaves November to fill in until I reach that midpoint in my original post. After that? I may re-evaluate again.The unfortunate side effect of an experiment like this is that it transforms reading from that pleasurable thing I do to escape, randomly flipping around as my attention drifts, into a chore. There is little room for discovery or exploration because I am by definition limited to what is already on hand.

When I posted about my intentions, Jamie Rubin countered good naturedly with his antilibrary post. Now a month and a half into it, I wonder if Jamie (and Umberto Eco) weren’t right in the first place.

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