Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Salon: TBR Room Winter Cleaning

One can find the best hidden treasures when going through one's TBR collection. Awakened much too early Saturday morning, I decided to get a jump start on the day's project. About twice a year, I try and go through my unread book collection, mostly to reorganize and add in the new additions that have yet to be filed away, but also to see if perhaps there are any books that no longer interest me. The best time for me to do this, I have found, is when I am in a decluttering mood and not prone to want to hold onto things I really should let go.

Forty-seven books were left stacked against the hallway wall when I was done. Forty-seven unread books that are going to new homes, unread by me. That is maybe 3.8% of the unread books I own. Forty-seven is the most I have said goodbye to at once, and so it feels like quite an accomplishment.

The biggest downside to going through all of my unread books is that it renews my interest in reading them and makes me want to drop everything and read them right this very minute, which of course would be impossible. I finally got around to pulling out all my challenge books for the year and putting them in a separate stack. I also did that with a few of the books that cried out, "Must read me now!" From TBR room to immediate TBR stack, so to speak. The stack being a box and two bags.

While straightening up the TBR room a little after getting all the books back in place, I discovered a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card tucked away in a bag. I must have forgotten all about it.

This morning after a trip to the grocery store, I realized I had five minutes to kill before the fast food restaurant I wanted to grab a bite to eat at switched from breakfast to lunch. I happened to have a copy of Clea Simon's The Feline Mystique with me, and passed the time reading the preface and part of the first chapter. According to the author's definition of a dog person versus a cat person, it appears I may have been wrong in thinking of myself as a dog person all these years. I am more likely a cat person who also loves dogs. Who would have thought? I was raised with dogs all my life, mostly because my father was never too keen on cats (to put it mildly), and never really had much of an opportunity to experience life with cats, other than when visiting my grandparents (I loved their cats, especially Boots who had such a sweet temperament).

My animals were very helpful yesterday, by the way. My dog followed me from room to room as I collected the books, spread them out and put them in their proper order as my cat supervised from various points in the TBR room, sometimes perched on the books themselves. We make a very good team.

I am still working my way through David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero. I am finding it very slow going. It is not for lack of interest, but the writing style takes some getting used to. The author uses repetition quite a bit. The phrase gari-gari has been stuck in my head after reading it so frequently in the novel. Thank goodness I am not actually scratching as well (gari-gari means the sound of scratching). For a while there the author inserted the phrase after just about every sentence. David Peace certainly has the idea of setting the mood down pat. The story itself seems to be creeping along at a snail's pace, although that could be because I have not been reading as faithfully as I should be.

I have been feeling like a failure as a reader lately. I am hardly reading much at all. Then again, a coworker mentioned last week that she only read one book last year. It made the six books I read in January seem like a lot. I feel better now.

I forgot to mention my new acquisitions last Sunday, and so here is a combined list of books acquired in one way or another over the last two weeks.

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon edited by P.N. Elrod - I actually haven't read the prequel yet, but some of my favorite authors have short stories in the anthology, and so I could not resist.
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani - I was on my way out of the bookstore one day the week before last and just happened to see a copy on the remainder table, discounted to $4. How could I resist? The paperback version would cost more than that . . .
Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - I finally caved and ordered this one after reading so many great blog reviews about it.
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black - recommended by Danielle from a A Work in Progress.
The Collaborator of Bethelehem by Matt Beynon Rees - I discovered this mystery by seeing mention of the second book in the series and my interest was immediately piqued. My eye seems to be straying these days to mysteries set in other countries, and this fits in with that perfectly.
The Feline Mystique by Clea Simon - I enjoy the author's cat mysteries and was curious about some of her nonfiction work.

Well, I guess that about sums up my Sunday. I have not spent much of it reading like I planned, but there's still tonight. Happy reading!


  1. Wendy, I'm so envious of your TBR room! If only I have a room delicates to my books only, hehe. I did my shelf cleaning a few months back...and have moved all my read books or books that doesn't interest me to our store room. I felt so much better afterwards! Just when we thought our study room will be cleared of the book piles after the cleaning, my husband is dismayed to find the place is taken up again with my recent purchases, LOL!

    I want to read My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon and Boy in the Striped Pajamas as so many readers have raved about them. I wanted to read The Blood of Flowers but just didn't pick it up...thus I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. :)

  2. Melody - I can just imagine your husband's jaw dropping to the floor in dismay! Haha

    One bad thing about rearranging my books is that the full shelves draw my husband's attention as he discovers book I have that he hadn't noticed before. Suddenly, he realizes just how many TBR books I have. LOL

  3. I can't begin to organize my books - either the ones I've read and will keep, the ones I've read and will pass on, or the ones I've yet to read until I haul several boxes of books down from my third floor storage area. And that's not going to happen until it warms up a tad. So, I'll settle for reading about how some people are actually a bit organized about their obsessions.

    Oh! I almost forgot - what is the definition of a dog vs a cat person? I'm curious. I believe I am unabashedly a dog person, just in case you didn't realize that...


  4. Well done weeding out 47 books from your TBR stacks. I have a hard time letting go of books I haven't read yet, especially if I've paid for them, even if they don't really appeal to me any more. Must work on that.
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas almost made it into my basket this time but ended up getting left behind. Maybe next time.

  5. I have to organize my books as I am moving house in three months.

    I have already given up around 500 books. Not easy. But I have get rid of at least 1000 more. I mostly donate my books o old age homes or orphanages.

    Sometimes, to poor students too.

    BTW, you come and pick your award from my poetry blog. Just click n my name here to reach there.

  6. I hadn't heard of the Peace book until this week when my friend asked me to seek it out for's funny, once you're aware of a book, it starts popping up everywhere.

    I imagined myself at your house, looking at those books to be given away!

  7. Wow I am envious of all your unread books! It is hard to let go and I am proud of you for cutting them loose.
    I try to keep things organized in my little library but it can really get messy if it is not maintained regularly. It is almost as if the books walk to different shelves during the night!
    I think six books in one month is pretty fantastic especially the way work and being sick has kept you down a bit. I hope you have a great week!

  8. Hi Wendy, I've enjoyed the "Boy in Striped Pajamas" and I hope you will too. Happy reading!

    I have a little something for you on my bloggie... :)

  9. I've just come back from a f2f group discussion of 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' and we had an excellent discussion and were all glad we'd read it. I'll blog about it tomorrow.

  10. When I did my book-cataloging project during the holidays, the actual amount of TBRs I had was a bit of a disturbing revelation. I ended up giving away several dozen of them myself, and also considered it "decluttering." I do wish they had their own room, though. :-)

    I know that "failure as a reader" feeling lately myself, and I'm working on trying to get back in the groove. I'll have book reviews posted for three Thursdays in a row as of this week, so I guess that's progress.

    I'm enjoying your Sunday Salon discussions!

  11. I need to go through and do some serious weeding of my TBR. I've been listing all my "get rid ofs" on Bookmooch, but I have so many accumulated points I think I'm just going to put my rejects on the English Department's "free stuff" cart and let others enjoy the finds.

  12. A woman after my own heart; trying, but failing seriously weed her TBR.

    I live alone, but my family is constantly nagging me to get rid of books. I have ignored them for quite a while, but I started to lose track of books - so I have to do some organizing. (By the way, I only started losing track of things after my nieces came to declutter my house. They didn't make me throw away books, but they moved my piles around.)

    I have decided to move all read books to the library and all unread books to the bedroom. Then I can organize the TBR books by subject and by how soon I want to read them. A co-worker told me when her tbe pile got depressingly large, she stored books for later so that she didn't have to look at them. That made her feel much better. I can box up the books that I will read later, but I don't know what to do with the boxes - basement is too damp, attic too inconvenient. So they may end up stacked in one corner of the bedroom. I'll have to organize read books the same way - very favorite books on shelves, the overflow in boxes.

    Doing this organizing makes me feel better, but it is a very slow process. I have to revisit each book to determine its fate and I am discovering much in the tbr pile which I had totally forgotten about.

    Your post really made me feel better about my book collection. At least I am not the only one with a collection of books that will probably take more than a lifetime to read.

  13. You're reminding me of my final reading stage, before becoming too ill to hold a book. I used to love walking into the library with no preconceived ideas about what I'd read - just roam the stacks until I randomly came across something that interested me. I wound up reading things I never would have planned, like the autobiography of Anwar Sadat and a series (I kind of got into it after the first one...) about the American frontier, I've forgotten the author's name.

  14. CJ - Where you store your books and the weather could definitely hamper any organizing. I did lug all the books into the living room so that I could spread out, which was a chore in and of itself, but I didn't have to risk stairs, only maneuver around furniture and my dog who insisted on following me around--or getting in front of me.

    I haven't moved much beyond where I was in the book (because I'm determined to finish Tokyo Year Zero), but from what I gather in the little I read (and this is the simplified version), cat people tend to be more introverted while dog people have more extroverted leanings. Cat people prefer more quiet hobbies, while dog people tend to be more active. I imagine there are exceptions. There always are. The author points that out too. How accurate are such labels? I don't know. It seems to be a common belief out there though, and so I imagine some research has been done on the subject. Take it as you will, right? ;-)

    Tanabata - Exactly! I think that's why my husband had a harder time with my weeding out books, because he knew we'd bought most of them. Many came from lots I'd bought on E-Bay, so we didn't pay a whole lot for them, but still. Whereas for me it's more personal. I hate to part with a book that I MIGHT want to read one day even if I have no interest in it right now. This weekend I was more of the mind that I have so many unread books already, enough to last me for a couple of decades at least, so go ahead and let them go. If I do change my mind in 10 years, I'll track the books down then. On a more practical side, weeding out books also helps with the storage issue. :-)

    Gautami - Moving certainly makes you realize just how much you do have, books included. Good luck with the move!

    I think if I had that many books to give away, I'd donate them too. At least you know they are going to places that need them. I couldn't bare the thought of just tossing unwanted books in the trash.

    Thank you so much for the award!

    Bybee - When I first requested Peace's book through Library Thing's Early Review Program, and found out I would be receiving a copy, I started seeing the book everywhere I went, so I know exactly what you mean!

    If we all lived closer together, I might let you all have first pick of them! Haha

    Jaimie - Thank you. It is hard for me to let go, and I do feel proud that I finally was able to do this. At least to a small degree.

    I think my books move around too. They have ample opportunity because they are in a room with the door closed most of the time.

    Alice - I'm looking forward to reading the book very much. And thank you for the award! You are so sweet!

    Table Talk - I will stop by your blog and check out your post about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Thanks for letting me know!

  15. Florinda - It definitely feels like decluttering considering the amount of space all those books take, doesn't it?

    I'm looking forward to reading your reviews!

    Andi - That sounds like a good idea. I think hubby is hoping we can make a little money off of my discarded books, and so we'll be trying E-Bay first. Otherwise, I'd just fill bags and boxes for one of the local used bookstores and get credit that way. Failing either, I'll just give them away.

    Elizabeth - Haha Yes, that is an apt description.

    Isn't that always the way? You know where everything is, even if it looks a little disorganized, and then when someone comes in and tries to fix it for you or arrange everything more neatly, you can't find a thing you want. That's happened to me too.

    My TBR books are kept in a spare bedroom and we usually keep the door closed. It does make those overwhelming moments easier, I have to say. It's harder when you don't have the space to do something like that though.

    Paul - You let the book choose you in a way. :-)

  16. Hi Wendy!
    I need to do this so bad! Go through my TBR that is... judging by the number of comments on this one, I would say I am not alone.. I got a kick out of the title "The Feline Mystique" obviously a play on The Feminine Mystique.. Which I have in my TBR.. personally right now the Feline Mystique sounds more interesting..
    If I had a whole room I think I might be more apt to go through the TBR, as it is, I would have mess up the guest room emptying out the closet and the under the bed boxes.. and I just got it cleaned up in there.. Maybe we will get snowed in sometimes before Spring arrives and I will have nothing to do but go through the TBR.. That sounds nice actually.. having nothing to do.. that is..
    Happy Reading..

  17. I think even my Bookmooch needs to be revampped. I've had stuff on there so long maybe I should just give up and give it away, like Andi said.

    I hope you get through your books and find good homes for them.

  18. I have My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon but still haven't had a chance to start it yet.

  19. Wow, I'm amazed! I don't think I've ever taken a book off my TBR pile/list until I at least picked it up and started reading it. What amazing will power!

  20. Lisa - No, we are definitely not alone! LOL The author of Feline Mystique likes to play on titles and many of her books follow a similar theme.

    My TBR room is actually supposed to be the guestroom, but I have too many books to hide them in the closet and under the bed. I had to give up hiding them and let them take over the room. The room is still usable as a guest room just in case. :-) It's just full of books and my husband's comic book and graphic novel collections.

    Nikki - Thanks, Nikki! I'm hopeful that they'll all get good homes. I can always loan them to people who I know won't give them back. Haha

    Jen - It should be a fun book to read. I hope to read the wedding one soon. We'll see though.

    Alisia - Thank you--and a definite positive spin to it. :-) I wish I had willpower to say no when I was buying the books. Haha

  21. Wendy, it sounds like you had a really productive day! And how lucky to find a Barnes & Noble gift card!! It's so funny at my birthdays and Christmas I drop these huge hints that all I want are B&N gift cards and I've yet to get a single one. Maybe one day. I enjoyed your Sunday Salon.:)

    Susan L.

  22. After reading that, my TBR pile seems eminently manageable! It's the ones I have read I need to think about reducing, but while there's shelf space left, there's room for procrastination.

  23. Susan - I had my doubts in the middle of the project (couldn't I be doing something more worthwhile?), but in the end it was worth it.

    Other than my husband, my family never really thinks to give me bookstore gift cards. They probably think I have too many books already. :-)

    Coversgirl - Mine really is out of control. I am glad yours seems more manageable after hearing about my TBR collection. :-)

  24. 47 books is amazing. I have a number of books that I know I will probably never read (my read/unread ration is about 50/50 right now, with my unread list growing every month). I wish I could just part with those I won't ever read, but I'm not there yet. I can't do it. I'm such a pack rat. :) Congrats on such a productive day!

  25. Trish - It looked like a lot at first, but then once I started sorting all the remaining books, the 47 homeless books sitting against the wall didn't look like such a threat anymore. Haha

    I'm not sure when I went over the edge. Hubby and I have quite a few books that we've read--like you, I'm a bit of a pack rat, but I think my TBR books now out number the read books.


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