Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday Reading - The Terror of the TBR Pile

Kate Walker talks about what she's reading - sort of. OK, she's talking about what she would be reading if only she could decide . . . .

What am I reading? Well, now that’s a difficult question.

If I’d been writing this blog last week, then the answer would have been . .. ‘I can’t tell you.’ You see, last week I was still working my way through the bundle of books I was sent to judge for the RWA’s RITA contest. That’s always interesting – 8 book randomly selected for me by someone at RWA headquarters and sent my way to be read and rated by March 9th. Sadly, this time I didn’t discover a new-to-me must-read author. But the reading’s done, and the judging and now my next book is my own choice.

And that’s where the panic sets in. Have you seen my TBR pile? No – don’t look – it’s totally out of control – it’s a TBR mountain. And it’s getting bigger every day. And the trouble is that when I look at it I get TBR paralysis. I mean – what do I want to read!

It’s not that I don’t have anything to read. Obviously, from what I’ve just said, I have plenty – too much to read. And that’s just it. There’s too much choice. In the film Amadeus, there is a moment that I’ve always loved where the character Emperor Joseph II explains why he doesn’t like a piece of music. Unable to come up with a real reason why, he simply declares ‘Too many notes!’ And that’s how I feel right now. Too many books!

It was actually a relief when I had to read the RITA books because then I just didn’t have any choice. It was these books – nothing else. They were the ones I had to read. Now I can choose again and I’m faced with . . . .well, too many books.

I have a selection of the most recent M&B Modern/ Harlequin Presents titles to read. But right now I’m fighting to finish my own latest story so I don’t want to influence myself – or, let’s be honest, read books that have been complete, accepted and bought when I’m still wrestling this darn Sicilian to a finish. There’s a wonderful selection of books that I was given for Christmas – yes – honest – Christmas. Life has been so hectic since then that I haven’t had a chance to open them and settle down with one. There’s a Diane Chamberlain in that pile – The Bay At Midnight – that is just calling to me but I know that if I open it, I’ll be lost – and the Sicilian won’t get his Happy Ever After.

Ditto with Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan. That combines two of my great interests – historical fiction and the Bronte sisters. It’s a fictional retelling of their life. And that one has been on the pile even longer than the Chamberlain. Jude signed it for me when we were in Haworth together, on a panel discussing romantic fiction . . .back in June last year!

Then there are the books that my friends and fellow writers send me, their own recent titles – Liz Fielding, Donna Alward, Kate Hardy, Julie Cohen - you know I mean you! And before I know it Michelle Reid and Anne McAllister will have new titles out too. I always ask, but no one ever sends along a vouched for the time it takes to read their books along with the lovely tempting brand new volumes in the parcel. More contributions for the TBR mountain . . . more choices for what to read next, more decisions I just can’t make!

Sarah Walters, Robert Goddard, Jodi Picoult . . . a biography of Billy Joel . . .Oh – help! - no – two biographies of Billy Joel. One I bought myself and one someone gave my – you guessed – for Christmas.
And, double help! – there’s even a couple of Stephen Wades in there. And you all, know who SW is don’t you? No? Well perhaps not because most of you know him as the Babe Magnet, aka my DH. He’s almost as bad as Scary Kate Hardy for producing books at an incredible pace. And I just can’t keep up.

And I know it’s just going to get worse. It’s the UK Mothers’ Day soon and The Offspring is bound to have found something great that he just knows I’d love to read – if I had time. Ditto with a birthday looming in May. And when I’ve dealt with the Sicilian (at last!) and packed him off to my oh so patient editor than I have one particular book that I have to reread as research for the next ‘special project’ series that I’ve been asked to write a novel for. And I can’t even tell you about that until I’ve written it.

Reread – REread! How can I reread something when I don’t even have time to READ what’s already on the pile on my bookshelves. (OK – I admit it – the pile(S) on my shelves . . . the shelves full on my shelves . . .) But at least I haven’t added anything to them lately. Not like the Babe Magnet who went with me to Wales when I was teaching at Fishguard last week and came back with 12 - twelve, count them – books to add to his collection. I haven’t bought anything new recently and . . Oh dear, of course, the New M&B Modern titles are out this week and there’s .. .

No! It has to stop! I ‘m not going to add anything to this pile until I’ve taken at least 3 books off it and read them. But which ones? I want to read them all – obviously – or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. . .

I know – if you remember, I have a system for picking the winners from my contests. I write all the names of the entrants on pieces of paper, spread them out on the floor, put a cat treat on top of each one – and let my cat Sid loose on the treats. The ones he eats first are the winners. I could do that with the books … Sid would love to help me choose. It would mean there would be an awful lot of treats!

And while he’s at it, he can help me pick a winner too. I’ll offer a copy of a signed book from my backlist to someone who comments on this post – tell me about your TBR pile. How big is it? What’s it got on it? How do you decide what to read next? And if Sid picks your name then I’ll send you your choice of title from my backlist. And you can add it to your TBR pile. It won’t lessen my TBR mountain but at least it will be one less book in my house!
Kate Walker's latest Presents release is The Konstantos Marriage Demand which was published in Mills & Boon Modern in January. It will be out on Presents EXTRA on March 16th. Romantic Times called this a ‘ terrifically well-paced and fiery romance’ with a ‘very rewarding conclusion,’ and chose it as one of their series romance Top Picks for March.
One of Kate’s earlier books, The Twelve Month Mistress is also featured in a brand- new ebook 'Bundle' - one of the Blogger Bundles now available on This is a special selection of favourite Presents authors chosen by We Write Romance.You can find out more about Kate and her books by visiting her web site or get the really up to date news on her blog.


  1. Lee Hyatt and I used to have a joke about the boxes of books we had under our beds, shelves anywhere we could find a place to store them. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many I have, entire series, single titles dating back to 2002, etc. I won't part with them, some day when I retire, I'll read them all.

    Like you I'm having a problem of getting through the pile. However, at the moment I'm reading Kate Hardy's Good Girl or Gold Digger and enjoying the chemistry between Daisy and Felix. Just finished Abby's and Sarah's recent releases, very intense and wonderful if that helps.

  2. MY TBR pile is mountainous. Is that even a word. I can't not buy books. They are everywhere. In magazine racks on shelves, in boxes. I generally just grab a book when I'm ready to read. Sometimes the pile goes down a bit other times it grows.

    Sometimes its pretty hard to tell whats in the pile, but its really a bit of everything from my regular romances to best sellers to a few of those Doctor Who books that I love so much. Yup I am a bit of a sci fi geek too. Go figure.

  3. Phew you are a busy bee Kate. Good luck with picking something to read! Caroline x

  4. There is the mountain of TBR books and then there is the entire mountain RANGE of them. I have the later. They are Himalayan in scope and I despair of ever getting them all read. Could you perhaps lend me Sid to make choices? And yes, the RITA books were a relief because I had to read them. Sadly, they are now read and tucked away.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. You and Lee sound like kindred spirits Marilyn - with me as well! But then I'd expect that! Oh dear - you're giving me even more recommendations and I don't need that! Though I have read Sarah's book and Abby's new one is part of the TBR mountain

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. 'Mistress' - i know what you mean. I can't not buy books. Even today, after I'd posted this blog, I went and ordered a couple of books that I'd seen recommended. . . there's no hope for me

  9. Hi Caroline! I'm looking forward to the time when I've finished this book and then I have that trip to Scotland - maybe I'll get some reading done on the way

    Are you ready for the Big Day on the 16th?

  10. Hi Anne - I'm very definitely with you on the Himalayan range of TBR mountains. And as I just said, even then I have bought a couple more today. Sid would come and help you pick if you offered greenies I'm sure. yes, what a relief the RITA judging was - someone else had done the selection! The trouble is I just kept thinking opf the books I'd *bought* to read and was neglecting for the RITAs!

  11. I'm reading your Konstantos right now, Kate - part of my reward for making deadline last Friday.

    I keep a list of my books and check them off when they're read and reviewed for the eharl challenge. Instead of carrying over from last year, I just kept the list going. I think my tbr currently sits at like...70. Or more. Sigh!

    I have gone on a book buying moratorium for the most part, only buying the pink heart picks selections, but I'm not sure how long that willpower will hold out - there are a few craft books in my wish list....

  12. Donna - hope you like TKMD. I'm hoping to read your contributions to my mountain very soon! And I was on a book buying moratorium - until I read some really great reviews of the same book all over the place and the temptation was too much . . .

  13. And the winner that Sid has picked is . . .

    Mistress of the Dark

    Please email me
    kate AT

    And I'll tell you what books you can choose from