Reading Refresh: starting over with the TBR pile (sort of….)

It’s no secret that I love reading. I also love to read and chat with others about reading.  So it comes to pass on occasion that my enthusiasm and passion for reading (coupled with all the great recommendations from all the lovely book bloggers I follow) outstrips the rate at which I can actually finish a book. The frequency with which books get added to the To be Read pile gets faster and faster.  Library deadlines approach with seemingly ever quicker velocity.  It’s all a bit like a bookish version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I get in my own way and end up reading nothing because it all seems too much.

That is when I know I need to take a breath, step back, and start again. After all, the brilliant thing about library books (or one of many brilliant things) is that they can be re-ordered at some point.

Nevertheless, it always feels like a tiny form of defeat to return an un-read library book. Sure, if it is a book I have tried to read and just not got on with, that’s fine.  I probably bring home more of these books than ones I actually finish.  No, it’s those volumes where I run out of time which tug at the heart-strings.  I know in my bones that they need to go back so that someone else who does have time can enjoy them.  More importantly, much as I may wish to read them, while they remain unread on my shelf, they act as ballast upon my bookish wellbeing, somehow exerting vicarious pressure: ‘if you can’t read me, I’m not going to let you feel able to read anything else…..’.  It’s very strange and not a little annoying.

Anyway, there’s an easy fix, even if I have to build myself up to it.  The ‘sticking plaster’ approach eventually becomes necessary, where I take back in one sweep all the library books I have outstanding and am unlikely to have time for.  Initially painful, this is ultimately a welcome source of relief and liberation!

I recently found myself in the position of needing to rip off that plaster. This was my looming library pile – all books which I seriously want to read at some point. But it was all too clear that this was not going to happen just now.

Step one: identify priorities.  I love the idea of participating virtually in Ann’s Reading Summer School, so the Brodrick and the Airth were definite keepers.  And I had already started The Narrow Lane, so wanted to keep that one too.

Back to the library went all the others – for now.    Aaaannnddd relax. Phew.

But lest any of you bibliophiles be feeling slightly queasy at the thought of such a small To Be Read pile, here’s a shot of at least one of my owned book towers…


….here’s a screenshot of my current e-library loans….

…and I note from my Amazon account that I have 690 books on my Kindle if things get really desperate.

And that doesn’t even take into account any book festival book-buying I might, ahem, have already done, and may well do more of….


It’s wonderful to feel a sense of tranquillity and wellbeing settling back over my reading world. I’m happily working my way through the first Father Anselm novel, The Sixth Lamentation to lead in to the official summer school reading list. I have also nearly finished The Narrow Lane (which is excellent, by the way – I’ll write more about this in a future post).  So on with the reading! And may it be a long time before the next book-plaster needs to be ripped. 😀📚


*Featured image ©Disney Corporation

29 thoughts on “Reading Refresh: starting over with the TBR pile (sort of….)

  1. So many of your posts really strike a chord, and here is another. May I add another reading pile dilemma – being part way through a large paperback, volume one of a series that I received as a gift, and thoroughly enjoying it but probably not managing to finish it before we go on a cycling holiday. Under these circumstances, do I buy it again for Kindle…?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oooh that is truly a dilemma, Eleanor – I feel your pain! Does your library provide e-books as an option? Or could you take the paperback with you and leave it somewhere for someone else to pick up as an onward gift when you have finished it? Alternatively, if the kindle version is not too pricey, why not go for it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just read about someone, in a similar position, who solved the problem by ripping out the pages as they read. While I winced at the idea of ripping a book, it solved the problem of the weight!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good heavens–I would feel SO overwhelmed by all those piles! I think you did the right thing, returning one pile to the library. I try to focus on what I’m reading and just a book or two (or three) ahead. I think I’d be paralyzed by too many options otherwise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Reading paralysis is a thing! I’m usually ok with a few different books on the go, but sometimes it just gets too much. A nice problem to have, I guess! 😫😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done on returning those books, Liz, and I’m glad it has helped. I’m planning to get to grips with the many books in various places all clamouring to be read. I need to read the ones I own and cull the ridiculously long list of those I want to read. But I still keep adding more so I doubt it will help. Maybe the answer is to just read faster! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My TBR regularly gets out of control too! I love though that I live across the street from the library so I put the recommended book into GoodReads and then don’t get it until I’ve finished the current one. I so wish I could read more than one book at a time!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have always wondered how you were able to read so many books! Right now, I have 20 books on the go, in ebook, audio, paperback and library download. I am the sorcerers apprentice. There are people who hide chocolate in their cupboards and drawers, – I hide books. One day, I was found out when my husband opened my closet door and they all tumbled out from my “secret” hiding place. My dad loved books – I grew up with books under beds, with stacks in every room. There is a marvelous feeling of being a book hoarder – until, well you know how it is. You can’t get through the door and the refrigerator has become a bookshelf. Seriously, I love reading, but I have become more discriminate in my reading because there is simply not enough time to really enjoy and integrate the knowledge that comes from reading. If we want to understand a writer, we much honour their work by savouring their words and narrative. What I truly appreciate is that we can share our book adventures. In so doing, we are able to augment our reading via the lens of another person, which adds a layer of complexity and interest. We see a book differently and the impact of the book on the reader. Thank you for this wonderful post – you words resonated. Hugs – looking forward to many more conversations about books and the rabbit holes that they create.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s something so wonderful about having books around, even if they are not being read. The important thing, of course, is to maintain an element of balance so that they do not end up owning us instead!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One reason I rarely visit the library (which I so loved growing up) is because I am so unlikely to read the books before they have to go back,well that and the fact I have so many of my own books. My tbr threatens to overwhelm me daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well done, Liz for starting over and managing your TBR pile! The books can always be borrowed again when you have the time to read them. ❤
    I eventually had to stop borrowing books from the library as I was finding I couldn't find the time to finish any of them. Also – I was spending ages in the library trying to find something I wanted to read and failing. I wanted inspiration and there was none. I have the most enormous heap of books at home waiting to be read and so I am concentrating on these – mainly gifts and second-hand bookshop finds. I store them in a couple of places so that guilt doesn't assail me too much!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So many books, its both wonderful and stressful to be in the position of having so many books. I love that we have so much access these days and can stockpile al the books we want. Long may your hoarding (and the sharing of) continue!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If there is such a thing, Liz, I think you are a biblio-holic! But that’s not a bad thing. It is rather wonderful how much you must have learned and experienced through all that reading. And you are managing any excesses (taking that pile back to the library for example)! That speed reading course you took all those years ago has certainly paid dividends. X

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I do hope the Brodrick and the Airth live up to your faith in them, Liz. I’ve just put up some first thoughts about the way in which the three books relate to each other. If you have any thoughts you would like me to feed into the discussions then do let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann! I’ve already started the Brodrick and it looks v promising! I fully trust your judgment on book picks, so am confident the Airth will be great too. 🙂


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