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27th September
written by Steph
I have spoken before about the rather perilous state of my TBR collection at home. Some of you might think that I am prone to exaggeration or hyperbole, but I assure you, when I say my TBR stack was teetering skyward, I was speaking the truth. In fact, last week, due to what I can only assume was the slightest of breezes the three towers of books we had stacked along the wall in our living room toppled over. I remarked that if either of the dogs had been drinking or eating at that moment, either of them could have been seriously hurt (but especially Rory, our corgi!), since the books would have fallen right on top of them. That was all the motivation we needed to finally go out and get another much needed bookshelf. Behold our success!

Most of the books pictured are unread...

The shelf on the right is the bookshelf we have always had, and most of those books, I am happy to report, have actually been read. The new bookshelf—which we bought for the express purpose of housing our UNREAD books that were simply scattered about the apartment in random, precarious piles—is the hulking one on the left. I think that at most, five of the books contained therein have been read.

N.B. We have two other bookshelves + two nightstands that are filled to the gills, predominantly with unread books... So when I say I have a TBR book/book buying problem, I mean it!

But at least it's a pretty-looking problem to have, and one that will no longer threaten the safety of our loved ones! So let's call it an upside.


  1. 09/28/2011

    You have been reading some interesting books while I’ve been away from the blogging – some great reviews there. A TBR pile like that would be rather worrying I would think! Not least because of its precarious nature. Hope you make some progress with them all before too long

  2. 09/28/2011

    I’ll tell you the truth: Reading books from my shelves became a bit of an obsession with me about a year ago. I didn’t read them all, but I took to pulling 30 or 40 off at a time to read 20 pages from and deciding to keep or donate. Sometime this past May, I got down to where there were only 10 or so unread books on my shelves, and at that point, I was so ready to be done with the project that I grabbed all of them, indiscriminately, and took them to Half Price Books. Since then, I’ve had absolutely no unread books on my shelves (until recently when I acquired one book from PBS that I have yet to read). Seriously. Not a single unread book. And now that I finished that, I’m not worried about it anymore. It’s another one of those freedoms I procured for myself. I emptied my physical and virtual TBR, and now I can read whatever the heck I want. 😀

  3. 09/28/2011

    PS – I’m glad your dogs weren’t hurt!

  4. 09/28/2011

    So neat! I feel relieved that you have other bookshelves dotted around your flat though!

  5. 09/28/2011

    I love that “From Hell” is on the top. It’s kind of like a title: The TBR Pile from Hell! LOL

  6. 09/28/2011

    I love the new shelves, and can relate to having the same problems with the abundance of TBR books around the house. We are in the midst of investigating new storage systems and devices, because frankly, there is no more room for bookcases in the house! For now, we have been stacking them two deep on the shelves, and have many piles all over the place as well. Looks like you are having much more success with keeping things organized than I am!

  7. 09/30/2011

    @ Tom: Yes, I finally feel like I am getting out of my blogging rut and regaining my love of reading. It feels so good!
    @ Amanda: I know I have enough books here to last me for at least two years, but I am ok with that. I try to read from my own shelves as much as I can, but as far as I’m concerned a book that’s good in 2011 will still be good in 2013. Plus, when I put the books on this shelf, I made sure that I was only keeping books that I still wanted to read (and I really only got rid of a few). While some might find a looming TBR shelf overwhelming, I like knowing I have so many books at my disposal!
    @ sakura: Oh yes, we probably have at least 200 other books around the apartment, so this is by no means our entire library.
    @ Jill: Ha ha! Yes, I also noted that Freedom is up there too… so maybe if I work my way up there and finally reach the top I’ll have emerged From Hell and achieved TBR Freedom! 😉
    @ zibilee: Well, as you can see we had to go with a nonconventional stacking method to get all our books on our shelves, and one of our smaller shelves (not pictured) is two-deep. It’s not pretty, but it’s the only reasonable system for us!

  8. 09/28/2011

    We know for sure you were serious about that toppling over TBR now! Glad you got a new set of shelves to house all of our book goodness! I live in earthquake country out here in California so my book shelves have to be bolted to the wall or they will come tumbling down for sure!

  9. 09/29/2011

    Such pretty colorful stacks…loved your blog too! I am adding to my blog roll 🙂

    Best wishes!

  10. 09/29/2011

    This is one of my favourite posts, Steph 🙂 I love the fact that your unread ‘TBR’ shelf is bigger than your read-books-shelf. That is many more weeks of happy reading 🙂 Those green volumes on the right shelf looks quite interesting! Are they part of a classics collection?

  11. 09/29/2011

    Heheh. I love your tag! It’s one I could honestly adopt without hesitation. But I won’t. Still, if it’s any consolation, it could be worse!

  12. 09/30/2011

    @ Kathleen: Oh goodness! I can’t even imagine the disaster zone our home would be if we had to contend with earthquakes as well! 😉
    @ Nivedita: Thanks for stopping by and saying hi!
    @ Vishy: The green volumes are all part of the Harvard Classics series, which Tony inherited from one of his grandparents! I love books that have so much history!
    @ Buried in Print: Oh seriously, I think that tag is one of my most popular! I sure need to trot it out quite a lot! 😉
    @ Nadia: No one should feel bad about their TBR pile after seeing mine! And thank goodness no pups were hurt in the process of acquiring all these books! 😉

  13. 09/30/2011

    Steph, glad your dogs weren’t hurt 😉 And love the new shelf. I’m like you, I keep getting new books and just piling them up and wind up with more TBR books than ones I’ve actually read. Its pretty bad, but I can’t help it. So, I loved this post, because makes me feel happy that I’m not the only one with a massive TBR pile 🙂

  14. 09/30/2011

    Ha! I think I spotted your Harry Potters and … is that a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell on the bottom shelf? Great book!

  15. 09/30/2011

    That’s a lot of unread books! I refuse to line all my unreads up together. I don’t want to know how many, but I’m working on reading through them, a little at a time.

    What is the old-looking collection in the top right corner? Very curious. Looks like an antique Mark Twain set my mom has.

  16. lol @ no self control.

    I have to keep putting myself on book-buying bans, lest I end up with a shelf like yours. I have about 50 unread books about the moment, and I’m filled with guilt. When will I ever get it down to sub-ten?

  17. 10/02/2011

    Eep, I’m so glad there were no canine accidents! I’m like Rebecca: I refuse to have all my unread books in one place because I worry that the sight of them would make me feel pressured. But like you said, a good book now will still be good in a few year’s time. Also, I see a Calvin and Hobbes boxed set! I don’t own the complete edition but have probably read all the strips over the years. So much fun.

  18. 10/02/2011

    My TBR books are mixed in with my read books, organized loosely by genre. I think that’s my bookseller instincts kicking in; I don’t like the thought of having two fiction piles, two nonfiction piles, etc! Just yesterday I had to reshuffle my shelves to make everything fit, and there’s still about a half a shelf double-stacked, but other than that, it all fits. Until I go to my next used book sale…

    I’m glad you got everything organized! I love looking at full, orderly bookshelves. And I’m sure your dogs have some added peace of mind 🙂

  19. 10/05/2011

    @ Nicola: The left shelf (with the snitch clock on it, no less!) does indeed house my HP books! And you have great eyes, because that is JS&MN on the bottom shelf… I have not actually read it… but Tony has! 😀
    @ Rebecca: Well, sadly (?) these aren’t all of my unread books, and I already knew that I had TONS of unread books in the apartment, because I tend to get rid of most books after I finish them unless I loved them and/or know I will read them again. So the balance has always been towards having more unread books around, which is probably a good thing because otherwise we’d really have no room!
    @ anothercookiecrumbles: I don’t feel guilt about unread books! I feel worse thinking about books sitting in bookstores and going unsold, only to be remaindered and destroyed… As I said earlier, books don’t go bad, so even if it takes me five years to get to them, they’ll still be as good as they are today!
    @ Nymeth: I’m actually really enjoying having these books all on a shelf together because it makes it so much easier to see what I do have and pick a the right book I’m in the mood for… And if you’re worried about pressure, you’ll probably freak out knowing I have about the same amount of TBR books that are on smaller shelves around the apartment!
    Oh, and yes, that is a Calvin & Hobbes boxset! I bought it as a birthday present for myself a few years ago and I love it! I grew up reading the comic strips and had many of the individual anthologies, but it’s nice having them all in one spot!
    @ Erin: I’ve never organized my shelves in a conventional way. This isn’t how I would organize my books if I had the room to shelve them properly, but right now I just need them all to be on the shelf. My completely idiosyncratic shelving system (I tended to put books together by little subgenres such as dystopian fic, or “happy books”, etc.,) makes no sense to anyone but me… however, you can just ask Tony about my super awesome powers to quickly find anything that he’s looking for! I can normally find a book in under 2 -3 minutes, which is pretty impressive, given how many we’ve got!
    @ Rebecca H.: I am not sure why we waited so long to get a new bookcase because we obviously needed it badly! Our apartment isn’t huge so I guess we worried we wouldn’t have the space for another bookcase, but obviously we did!
    @ JoV: As I said, we probably have the same amount of books that are pictured on the right shelf scattered about the apartment on smaller shelves and nooks and crannies that are also unread.. At last count, my GoodReads account estimated I have about 350 unread books at home…
    @ kay: I agree that there is no shame in having plenty of unread books around. I mean, I don’t like going to people’s homes who have lots of books but they clearly never read anything, but that is obviously not the case here! Most of our books are unread simply because I don’t keep most books after I’ve finished them, but we read tons and are slowly moving through these shelves! These books will all be read and enjoyed (I hope!) in time!

  20. 10/02/2011

    Those books look wonderful! I’ve been acquiring new bookshelves to handle all the new books I’ve bought lately; I have about two full shelves right now. And I just bought three new books today — yay!!

  21. JoV

    My bookshelf is twice as yours and 90% of the books are unread. (about 200+ of them) I think I am in serious trouble!

  22. kay

    I’m so glad to hear your dogs weren’t hurt!
    I love to have this many unread books (I think I might have close to twice what you have there… but it’s hard to say since there are a lot piling on my desk!) I’ve been trying to read more than I buy recently but to be honest, I love having this many books. I’m almost always sure that whatever mood I’m in, there’ll be something to please me!

  23. 10/05/2011

    Is that a Cabbage Patch doll???

    I wish I had as much space for the option of such huge TBR shelves!

  24. 10/06/2011

    Phew! Glad to hear the dogs are OK 🙂

    I have the same problem as you, only I can’t actually find any more wall space to put a new bookcase. I am swamped!!!

  25. 10/09/2011

    At least your dogs can browse the shelves while they eat and drink 🙂

  26. 10/09/2011

    @ Kari: Yup, that is an ORIGINAL Cabbage Patch doll! Her name is Cabby, and I’ve had her for almost 28 years now! 😀
    @ Boof: Our new bookshelf took up the last spot in our apartment that had sufficient space for a shelf… So I’d better get to reading!
    @ Aarti: Ha ha! If you’d ever seen our little piggies eat, you’d know that they have no attention for anything but food when it’s dinner time!

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