Reading from the TBR Pile: the Alphabet Edition

Every year I make a new vow to read more books from the TBR pile. Every year the pile grows instead of declines. I have a feeling it will never end. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing, per se, but I’d like to make an effort to read more of the books I once bought thinking I would love them – there must have been a reason for that, right?

And so, knowing full well that it will probably result in failure, I have made another resolution for 2013. This one is aimed at reducing the pile by reading from across the books I own. Somehow, there are always sections of my shelves that are ignored. I do not have a list of the books I own longest, since I deleted all stats from my LibraryThing last year when I tried to re-catalogue my books (which I, of course, did not complete before turning my shelves upside-down again). So instead of focusing on number of years owned, I will focus on author names. In 2013, I will try to read a book for each letter of the alphabet, based on author names. If I happen not to own a book by an author starting with, say, X, I am allowed to leave it out. Oh, and this goes for books owned before 2013 started.

26 books to strike off from the TBR pile this year, surely this should not be too difficult? (Except that, where I used to read 100 books a year, I’m not sure if I’ll make it to half that number this year). What makes it easier: I am not going to go on any book-buying ban, because experience has taught me that won’t last. Nor will I stop visiting the library. This is simply an attempt to give myself some incentive to browse my own shelves, instead of only those in shops and libraries.

I have made a dedicated page and everything. I want to say that if I end up reading the full alphabet, I could just start over again. Overly ambitious? I think so. But I enjoy making plans. Plus, this alphabet thing is giving me enough room to haphazardly browse the shelves and pick up books on a whim, while it might also teach me to look beyond letters A-C which are stacked at the easiest height for browsing.

48 responses to “Reading from the TBR Pile: the Alphabet Edition

  1. Good luck Iris! Seems like a lot of people are planning to read from their TBR this year including myself, although I’m not as organised!

    • I think my attempt at organisation might be a tactic to divert attention away from the fact that I’m actually not pledging to not buy any more books, or stick to only TBR pile books. I think things like the TBR dare are actually a much bigger commitment. I just don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet.

  2. I realised last year that I was ‘cherrypicking’ – going for authors I knew I liked so that, like you some never got read. My solution was to be ruthles with myself and select every sixth book regardles of content etc. I t worked well until I got a lot of new books in and my will power faded. So this year I’m trying again but starting from the back of the alphabet…….

    • Starting from the back of the alphabet is a smart move! I don’t think I’d be able to go in an exact sequence though.. Although by and by my choices will have to be limited to letters of the alphabet that I haven’t read yet.

  3. When I first started blogging my TBR pile had 3 books and I was amazed that other bloggers had more than 10 books on theirs. Shame one me now, for mine is even larger. It used to make me happy, but now I’m feeling the responsability to read them: there was a reason why I bought them and longed to read them, but that reason seems now forgotten. And I refuse to do so. If I liked a book so much as to buy it, it deserves to be read and all that comes from readings.

    Good luck with your project and don’t worry, as you can see, it happens to all of us!

    • I don’t think I ever had a small TBR pile. Well, yes, before I moved out of my parents’ house a few years ago. I think book sales are simply too tempting for me. The real solution would be to go on a book buying ban for a year. But I’ve learnt from previous times that I only end up “relapsing” and buying a lot of books in one go after a month or two. I’m jealous of those who have small TBR piles, really.

      Thank you for your kind words. I know the TBR pile seems to be a blogging-wide problem. At least we can support each other ;)

  4. That sounds like a nice, fresh way of approaching the TBR stacks! I hope it gives you the latitude you need while still spurring you toward your goal.

    Also: Your TBR is organized by author? Wow.

    • No, unfortunately, my TBR pile is not organised by author. I used to have my TBR books separate from my already read books, but I couldn’t keep the shelves organised because every time I read a book it had to change places, and every time I got a new book I’d have to reorganise as well. So now my books are mostly organised by theme and then by author (meaning that general fiction is a large shelf organised by author, which makes it easier to navigate for this challenge).

      • Ah, I see! Yeah, I have a separate book case for TBR (and one for the books I’ve already read and am keeping), but I have exactly that problem of always needing to reorganize.

  5. That’s a great idea, Iris, and I hope you have fun browing your own library. It’s amaing what gems can be found there :) The books I plan on reading this month all come from my own shelves, perhaps I should add a tag when I review them, so I can feel proud (or not) at the end of the year.

    • Oooh, a tag is a wonderful idea! That way you’d have an instant list of everything you read from your own pile this year! So smart :)

      And yes, most of my reads for this month are from my own pile as well. All of them so far, actually, I think?

  6. That’s a great approach to tackling the TBR. I had plenty of unread books and I just bought myself another huge stack, so my plan, at least until my birthday in July, is to hold off buying anything and read what I have. I am even seriously considering canceling my library card for the first half of the year so I am not even tempted to add things to my hold list.

    • Ooh, a book buying ban! Those scare me. I’ve tried to do them before, but in the end I seem to fail miserably and just end up buying one gigantic stack of books after a few months. I do hope you fare better than I do!

      Cancelling my library card might be a smart move. But then, I became a library member to try and reduce my books bought in the hope that I would find books I’d like to read on a whim at the library (it has helped a little bit this past year).

  7. therelentlessreader

    Great idea Iris :) Good luck!!

  8. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    This is such a fun idea, Iris! Good luck, I hope you discover that you do indeed love these books!

    • Heh, I hope so too. There are bound to be some disappointing ones in between there, but this way I’d at least know and can get rid of them maybe? And thank you!

  9. Good luck I ve been working my tbr books in recently one between every new read all the best stu

  10. I think this is quite a brilliant idea! If I didn’t already make about a hundred other unattainable-for-me plans for my reading this year, I might have just copied you. :)

  11. You’re inspiring me to try too! Wht a great idea, I look forward to seeing your progress.

  12. This is a great self directed challenge, and I am so glad that you are doing this. I think I am going to have to join you on this. I especially love that you can start anywhere in the alphabet! Very cool!

    • Yay! It would be lovely if you joined! Yes, I don’t think I could start with A and move on to B, etc. I don’t want to make it too difficult for myself ;)

  13. I like the idea, loose enough to give you some freedom but structured enough to actually get the books read. :)

  14. Interesting idea, Iris, to read from the TBR pile through the alphabet. I’m not sure I could be that organized. i have several piles of books to be read in the front of my books on the shelves. Those I reorganize once in a while, as I go through them (especially for Carl’s challenges). I’m curious how you find doing this challenge this way. Good luck, and I hope you have lots of happy reading ahead of you :-)

    • I’m curious whether it will work for me as well. The thing is, I think I’m being very lenient. By the end of the year, I hope to have read one book from each alphabet letter, which means that I have >10 books to choose from for each letter (generally speaking, as I’m not sure I own any books written by an author with a surname starting with X). It also means I have many opportunities to rearrenge my immediate TBR pile, according to challenges etc. Can’t wait for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge (or has that started yet? I hope not!), for example.

  15. Just a suggestion, Iris, your books on GoodReads show the day you entered them. So if you want to keep track of what you’ve had the longest, you can see it in date order in My Books.

    • I know, Lisa, but thank you for the tip! Generally though, I use GR only for books I’m currentyly reading. I have my library logged (or some of it) on LibraryThing, which also displays the date on which you entered the book. But since I deleted all my books last year to start anew and make sure I had everything logged (which I failed at), I lost all that info. :/ But I’ll have a list for 2012 books, once the time comes to focus on those :)

  16. What a great idea! Good luck!

  17. I like this approach! It sounds like a fun way to tackle a looming TBR pile. Maybe I’ll do something similar. Happy New Year, Iris!

  18. What a wonderful idea. Something to focus on but enough flexibility for you not to feel too constricted. I’ve been thinking along similar lines but I coming from another angel, restricting my library holds. Good luck!

  19. Good luck! I see that lots of us are planning to cut down on taking new proofs this year and focusing on our TBR piles. Mine is huge, especially if I include all of the old books that I’ve had for ages and not read yet. It’s taking over my flat!

    • It’s not so much about the rpoofs for me, as I don’t really receive all that many (once a month, if lucky), but I definitely need to read more of the books I already own, instead of binging on shiny new books in shops & online :)

      Don’t worry, you’re not alone with a huge TBR pile. Mine is too :) At least we can all commiserate.

  20. I should also read more books from my own shelves, but I don’t dare to make any plans! :) Good luck with the alphabet adition!

  21. That’s a fun way of dealing with some of your TBR pile. Love it. Good luck.

  22. Ooh you are well organised. I usually make some sort of list and then keep getting distracted!

  23. I’m attempting to read down my TBR list a bit this year too. It’s hard though, because I’m a librarian so I have to pay attention to books all the time. It would be very convenient for me if all authors would just stop writing for a few years so I could catch up!

  24. Good luck! Reading from my TBR pile is really the only reading goal I have so far this year :)

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