Books, Reading

The Stack

I’ll bet you have one. The size haunts you, and you yet you can’t resist growing it. At times, you may look at it with a logical eye and know you’ll never reach the bottom. You know what I’m talking about. I didn’t need to add a visual aid this time, right?

For those of you who’ve gone digital, you have an extension to that stack, hidden away, where you don’t have to think how high it would stand if it wasn’t virtual. You’ll never reach the bottom of that one either—even if you live to be 109—because it grows monthly. Weekly. Daily?

Yeah, we’re talking books. So many books and so little time. I’ve had a very small book buying budget for over a year, so my literal stack has remained static except for three books I won in giveaways. Then again, my to-be-read stack was already three feet high.

And on my Kindle? Classics and freebies galore. That doesn’t count the list I’ve been making of digital books to download from my local library system. Add to that my regular library book list. If you consider how slowly I’ve added to my total books read in the last four years, and you’ll have an idea how far my TBR stack towers above reasonable.

My lists are flexible. Some books have been on those lists for two years. They’re good books. I really want to read them someday, but bright and shiny new books lead me astray. I never force myself to read a book I’m not connecting with, but when I feel the disconnect is not the book’s fault, I shuffle that book lower in the stack. On another day it might be just the book I’m looking for.

How do you manage your TBR stack? Are you disciplined, setting a size limit, staying loyal to the order you added the books and reading the next one in the stack no matter what? Or do you add unlimited books, willy nilly, and choose which to read according to your mood? And do you feel guilty when you realize a book has been waiting its turn for ages?

22 thoughts on “The Stack”

  1. I pick up books in Put n Takes, buy them, or others give them to me just sure I will love them. They are by my bed, on the end tables, under the car seats and on shelves in several rooms. What I actually read is dictated by how I feel or some information I need. I have an Ebook too, but having the “bodies” laying around is more my style. Every few years I go on a clearing out binge and haul them, mostly unread, to a donation center. There are plenty more where those came from!


    1. It took me a while to figure out “Put n Takes”, Mary Jean. That’s a book exchange?

      I just realized that three of the books in one of my stacks are on loan from a friend. I guess I’d better moved those to the top. Ebooks are easy to forget about, so I need to see the “bodies” to remind me. 🙂


  2. I honestly don’t have a stack. Correction, I don’t have a stack of fiction books that is (my non-fiction stack is large and ever growing because I just can’t devote myself to non-fic.)
    Normally, I only have the one book I’m reading, with one or two nearby for when I’m done (’cause I can’t ever be without somethint to read), and often I don’t know what comes next until I go peruse.


    1. Well, Jennifer, I guess that eliminates the guilt for leaving a book too long in the stack. 🙂 But don’t you ever hear about books you’d like to read, though not right away? Do you believe that if you’re meant to read them, they’ll come to mind again when it’s their time?


      1. no, I think it’s more that I just read them quite soon after I find out about them. I’m a quick reader, about 2 books a week, sometimes longer for larger volumes or something I’ll want to savour, but I tend to just grab and read. Once in a while I’ll have 2 or 3 waiting to be read, but I usually get to them quite quickly. Not sure what that says about me …maybe I don’t explore enough…


  3. Because the books I have not read have to be kept separate from the books I have read (in my built-in bookshelves), my to-be-read books used to sit in stacks on the floor underneath a table, spawning other little stacks. When there was no room there and the dust was growing its own stacks (about five years ago), I bought a very cool vertical bookshelf, dusted, and weeded, and only kept the number of books that would fit on that separate bookshelf–so many books I had lost interest in : ( Now I’m overflowing again. My main problem is keeping a book so long that I can’t remember why I bought it in the first place. So now I’m trying to note in the front “recommended by so-and-so.” And I read purely according to mood. Some books have been in this stack since 1999. I wish I could read all of them today!


    1. What a good idea to put a note with the book saying why you’re adding it to your stack, Cynthia. I have a couple now that I can’t remember why I added, and a couple more that I’ve lost interest in. It would be nice to be able to speedread, yet get all the meaning and nuance, wouldn’t it? 🙂


  4. That’s quite a problem in my family. Not only do I have an ample stack (okay, okay, more like a mountain) of books, so does my mother, and worse …my father! And my younger siblings aren’t too far behind. I’ve found the best way to deal with my stack in recent days is to NOT buy any more books. As painful as that is. 😦 But now that I’ve taught myself how to walk into a bookstore and walk back out emptyhanded, I have more motivation to actually read the books I have. Ah, no more Book Hoarder’s guilt. What a great post, this really made my day. 🙂


    1. Thank you, Kim-Lee. Lately, I’ve haven’t had any money to buy books, so that helps. 😕 But I do have a Kindle, and so many books are offered for free every day that I do have to show some restraint in downloading. Don’t you wish we could have a separate compartment in our brains to read while the rest of our brain is engaged in all the other things we need to do?


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