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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The TBR: The Piles

Some of my unread booksAh, the ever growing To Be Read list… the list that grows infinitely faster than I can read the books on it. It can be daunting and scary, but my TBR helps me stay organized, as well as reminding me of everything that I actually want to read.

This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring how I manage my TBR. Today I’m looking specifically at the piles of unread books that currently have overtaken my walk-in closet.

“Shelves in the closet… Happy thought indeed!”

The tenant who lived in our apartment before us put shelves EVERYWHERE, which gave us a lot of much-needed storage space. In fact, the amount of shelves in our closets would likely impress Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Burgh. They are in Every. Single Closet. Front hall? Check. Master bedroom walk-in? Check. Spare bedroom? Check. Storage closet? OMG ALL THE SHELVES.

When we moved in, I quickly commandeered one of the shelves in the master bedroom’s walk-in closet to house all of my unread books. (Who needs storage for clothes when they have too many books?) At times it seems like it’s overflowing and slightly chaotic – especially when you take into account that there are multiple stacks of books in there – but I’ve figured out a system that works perfectly.

I have piles of unread books

Seriously. But each pile is a completely different genre, so it helps me keep on top of what genres I have, what I need to read, etc. By taking a quick look at my piles of books, I know that I am absolutely not allowed to buy any more YA books until I have finished at least 1 more, simply because there isn’t any room on that pile for another book. It’s actually quite awesome at keeping me from buying too many books at once… I only say this because the last time there was room on these shelves, I went out and bought a bunch of books both at the indy bookstore and at the library sale. Whoops.

So how have I organized my books into piles? I have 5 piles, one for each of the following:

  • Graphic Novels/Comics – always my shortest pile, but only because I don’t allow myself to go to comic book stores very often.
  • Non-fiction – this is typically my tallest pile, because it takes me so long to get through non-fiction books.
  • Young Adult and Children’s – this pile can sometimes be the largest and sometimes is the smallest. I buy a lot of this, but it all depends on what I am reading a lot of at any given time. Currently, this is my tallest pile.
  • Speculative Fiction – scifi, steampunk, fantasy, dystopian… it’s all in this pile, as long as it isn’t YA, children’s or a graphic novel.
  • General Fiction – everything else goes in this pile. This is another one that fluctuates a lot between tallest and smallest.

Post-it Notes are a God Send!

Post-it notes are my best friend when it comes to keeping track of where, when and from who I got my books. I have books on that pile that I got 5-6 years ago (a crime, surely!), and without a post-it to tell me whether I bought the book or was given it, I wouldn’t know where half of my books came from.

For example, the post-it in Meggs’ History of Graphic Design tells me that I bought this book in 2012 when I was planning on working towards being an RGD (this book was required reading for the test).

Tracking the pile online

I used to use my LibraryThing TBR collection to track ALL of my unread books, but it soon got hard to keep track of, so now I only use it for the books that I actually own on my TBR list. This allows me to take a really quick look at what I actually have, and I find this especially useful for series, or books by the same author.

I also have all of these books on my TBR list, which I will go into more next week, as I continue exploring the organization of my TBR.

What about you?

So that’s how I take care of the books that I own that I haven’t read… how do you keep track of your unread books?

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:18 am March 21, 2014.
Category: Bookish Talk

  • Mona (Moxie-Dude)

    I’m glad I’m not the only bookworm with piles upon piles UPON PILES of gotta-get-to books. In fact, I’m no longer allowed in Chapters – according to my kids, reading and writing are the reason behind many a burnt dinners.

  • Anne A. Radcliffe

    What is this mythical unicorn you are calling “piles of unread books?”

  • Bibliomama

    Oh, I’m totally going to start doing the post-it thing. You’re more organized than I am. I have two piles on my bedside table (it grew to three for a bit, but this was totally unmanageable and started to make me feel stressed so I whittled it back down). I move books to this pile when they’re next-ish in the rotation. Then I have a pile on the ottoman for my reading chair, and a bunch of piles on a little IKEA wooden table by the closet. Then I have the ones scattered among the bookshelves, and sometimes I pick one on a whim and ram it into the rotation, but it always feels slightly wrong. I have a miles-long TBR list on Goodreads, but it’s only so I don’t forget anything that I want to read. Every now and then I hyperventilate thinking about the exponentially-growing number of books I haven’t read, and then I think, well that’s silly – if there was a finite number and they were going to run out in our lifetime, that would be way worse, right?

  • Kelly Rogers

    I am jealous of your shelves! One thing we sort of missed when we looked at this house originally is that there are only two closets… It’s very very not cool for me! There are boxes of books in one of them, though!