Friday, August 16, 2019

Keep or Go? Why Deleting Books from My To-Be-Read List Is No Simple Task

Mainly because I feel that my TBR stacks are totally out of control, I've been in a list-making mood all week long. I can honestly say that my stacks are more organized now than ever before, and that they feel more under control - but they are just as long as ever, so I'm not sure that I've really accomplished much of anything.

But then I noticed a meme over on The Writerly Reader book blog that will almost painlessly push me to shorten the stacks by eliminating a few of those books that don't have a chance of ever getting read in this lifetime. It's pretty simple, really. Just go to my "Want to Read" label at GoodReads, identify the five or ten books that have been on that list the longest, and make a simple "Keep" or "Go" decision about each of them. Then, immediately delete all the ones marked "Go," (assuming, of course, there will actually be some so designated). 

So here goes:


On the list since March 20, 2012,

Well, it's David McCullough, a writer whose work I admire, and it's John Adams a president I find truly fascinating since watching the HBO series on him years ago.  This is not a good start.  Keep



Also on the list since March 20, 2012. I must have been feeling particularly ambitious that day. I'm not as familiar with Walter Isaacson's writing as I am McCulloughs, but my knowledge of Einstein's life is embarrassingly limited. Oh, well...at least I remember now that the book is on my list.  Keep


Also on the list since March 20, 2012. Three biographies added on the same day. What in the world was I thinking? I still find Lincoln fascinating and admirable, but I've read nearly a dozen Lincoln bios over the years, and I think I can make it through without reading this one. We have a winner.
Go


Added this one to the list on March 29, 2012. It is a collection stories, essays, humor pieces, lists, and the like that are sure to appeal to the book-lover, but honestly, I've read so many similar books in the last few years that this one doesn't particularly appeal to me anymore, so it has to Go.



On the list since March 30, 2012. I'm a fan of Ann Patchett's novels, so I can't explain why this one is still on the TBR. Obviously, I forgot all about it or Bel Canto would have been read a long time ago, so this TBR review is serving two very different purposes: moving some books to the top of the list and tossing others completely off the same list.  Keep


For some reason, GoodReads has this one out of chronological order. It was added to the list on March 22, 2012. It is a Joyce Carol Oates novel (this is the French cover) using Marilyn Monroe as a central character. Because of a personal encounter with JCO's temper I had a couple of years ago, I won't be reading her again. This is an easy one: GO.


Added to the list on March 30, 2012. I was probably initially attracted to this one by its title alone. But it is a translation of a really interesting German novel that is part murder mystery and part coming-of-age novel. I'm still curious about this one.

Keep



On the list since April 6, 2012, this one is a combination of two of my favorite things to read about: baseball and time travel. That's not a combination you run across very often. I even have an ARC of this 2007 novel somewhere around the house, so why haven't I yet read it? I wish I knew.
Keep


Added this one on tax day, April 15, 2012. I was lucky enough to visit Shakespeare & Co. in Paris twice, and I'm sure that's why I put this Canadian's insider's account of what it was like to work and live in this amazing bookstore in its prime on the list. I'm starting to like how this little project is getting me to move some of these to the top of the list.  Keep


Placed this one on the list on April 17, 2012. I remember thinking that I owed it to myself - and the authors I had the nerve to be reviewing - to read this one in order to write the best reviews I could write. It was hard to find in 2012, but I just noticed that it's available as a Kindle book for five bucks (another good side effect of this exercise).  Keep

So there you have it. I was hoping for an elimination-rate of at least fifty percent, but I'm honestly kind of surprised that I hit even thirty percent. That gets my GoodReads TBR down from 124 books to 121, but the best part is that I've rediscovered some good ones that I had forgotten all about.

10 comments:

  1. :) I liked Bel Canto and The Reader. Haven't read any of the others, but enjoyed your reasoning.

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    1. Thanks for the positive words on Bel Canto and The Reader. Those are right at the top of my list now on GoodReads. Now I need to combine the two lists and start doing some serious work on reading the books on them.

      I did order that book on how to do book reviews last night and started reading from it. It's only 196 pages long, so I'll be dipping in and out of it until it's done. I've done over 1500 book reviews now, and they've really evolved over time, but it will be interesting to see what I still don't know about the process.

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  2. Oh goodness, I seriously need to do this too. I have about 950 books listed as 'want to read' on Goodreads, some I own, some not. It's ridiculous, I'm sure I could reduce it by half quite easily so why am I not doing it?

    I actually own A Passion for Books, have done since 2014. I started it too but for some reason the essays mostly did not grab me so I put it to one side. For books about books my favourites are the two by Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing and Jacob's Room is Full of Books. Read both of them 2 or 3 times and never get tired of them.

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    1. LOL, Cath. Now you've gone and added two new books to my TBR list. That will get me back up to 123 as soon as I add them to the list on GoodReads.

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  3. I need to do this to my Goodreads Want to Read list (which, sadly, is twice as long as yours). I doubt I could cut it in half, but I'm sure there are several books on it I could delete! :)

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    1. I'm hoping that every book I cut off the list for the right reasons gets me closer to reading the ones that I really want to read and will enjoy the most. It's worth the effort.

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  4. I occasionally cull my physical book collection, but I haven't ever culled the actual TBR list- which is just titles on paper I hope to find or read someday. Sometimes I make myself knock more books off the list or shelf by picking up a bunch I'm feeling iffy about, and tossing them out quick if they're not to my taste.

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  5. Kind of like pulling a loose tooth when you were a kid, Jeane. Sometimes it's best not to think too long about it; just do it.

    Even a virtual list like on GoodReads can grow to a point where I find myself being distracted by what's at the top of the list and not looking any further down the list for months at a time. I'm hoping this will help me get to those books I'm still anxious to read on this review of what I've listed. I've got so many audiobooks, ebooks, tree-books, etc., spread in different places that I start to get overwhelmed sometimes and wondering what I'm overlooking.

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  6. The John Adams book is one of the very best I've read! I don't think you will regret keeping it! When I read it, I jotted down that he was now a new hero of mine. McCullough is always, always excellent.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement on that one, Nan. I think Adams is one of the most underrated of our presidents and I find him fascinating in a lot of ways. Following Washington as he did, he was doomed to suffer in comparison, and he deserves better.

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