The pile

The State of the Pile: October 2017 edition

So.  My books have returned home.  So has my sofa and the rest of my furniture so life is looking up.  However, unpacking meant that it was time to face up to things and take stock of the pile.  It’s been a while since we did a state of the Pile post – nearly year in fact, which is when I first started packing up things up for the initial bits of the house renovation work.  Some of it has been in those boxes ever since, while we saved the money to do the next bits, some of it (the stuff in the top box mostly) got read while we we saving and of course more was added to the pile too.  Most of the time I like to ignore the size of the pile and it being in mostly boxes in a corner for 8 months and then out of the house in storage for another two made that very easy.  But you can’t ignore something and pretend it isn’t a problem when you have to unpack it and fit it back into your house.

Plastic storage boxes full of books
Two boxes are the downstairs keeper shelf. Another two and a half are the backlog

We’ve done a bit of a reorganisation too, so that I’m no longer keeping my to-read pile in a little bookshelf by my side of the sofa with the overspill on an increasing number of piles hidden behind my sofa arm.  Instead, I’ve got the formerly-DVD bookcase for them.  And it’s pretty full…

A very full bookshelf
One very full bookshelf containing the pile

Yeah.  That’s an Ikea half-Billy  bookcase double-shelved with unread books. Well except for the top section, which s going to have some CDs in it when we unpack that box.  It’s a little scary how many unread books I’ve got, but I think it’s going to be helpful or them actually to be out in the open.  Why?  Well because I now have a finite amount of space for the unread stuff.  I’ve promised myself – and Him Indoors – that I won’t let the pile get so it won’t fit in this bookcase.  And being on shelves means that I can organise it and get at stuff more easily, which I’m hoping will help stop me from getting in one of my “I have nothing to read” moods and going out and buying more books because I’ve forgotten about some of the really good stuff that’s hidden at the bottom of the furthest pile behind the sofa arm.

So now the nonfiction books are together, the romance books are together, the crime books are together, the literary fiction is together.  Nothing is harder to get to than the back row of a shelf.  If I’ve got more than one book by an author waiting to be read, the first one in the series is on the front shelf so I read it first.

And in unpacking and sorting I’ve found some books that I’d forgotten I had (not a surpise) and realised that I have books waiting to be read that fit some of the #ReadHarder squares that I’m missing – which is *amazing* because we’re in October and I still have a fair few to go (see September Stats for current progress) and only two and a half months to finish it in!

So, now I’ve been reminded of all the good books that I’ve got waiting to be read, lets see if it helps restrain my book buying urge.  It’s going to have to for a few weeks at least – because there’s no space for anything else yet!

I want to hear from you if you’ve got any tips for managing a book backlog and for restraining your bookbuying urges as I’m fairly sure I haven’t seen the last of the restless feeling of not being able to settle down to a book and having nothing to read!

books, The pile

Book pile rationalisation

A Bank Holiday weekend bonus post for you – on my recent “rationalisation” of the to-be-read pile.  When I was little, when mum wanted us to have a tidy up and clear out of our rooms, she would call it a rationalisation.  I think this was mostly because Little Sister and I were extremely loath to throw anything away, so if we thought that we’d have to we’d kick up a stink.  But a rationalisation was different (or so my mum said) we were just looking to make sure we had what we needed – no duplication etc.  She’s cunning my mum.  Thus a clear out for me is always called a rationalisation.  It sounds less scary, less final – more productive.

So my to-read pile has got a little out of hand – even for me, so on a recent Saturday night, after I’d finished the book that I was reading I had a round of the 50 pages and out reading challenge to help get the to-read bookshelf down.  The challenge is fairly self-explanatory – you give a book 50 pages – and if you’re not hooked or don’t care by that point you can give it up and put it on the charity shop pile.  Some of the books didn’t need 50 pages.  This doesn’t mean that they’re bad books, it just means they’re not for me.  Often it means they come under the “Verity tries to kid herself that she’ll read literary fiction” banner.  Because we all know that if given a choice, I’ll go for romance, or crime, or historical fiction, or comic fiction over award winning books.  You’ve seen my Week in Books posts, you know the score.

A pile of books
Some of the 50-pages and out victims – nothing wrong with them, just not for me.

Then I took to the piles behind the sofa.  I did this while The Boy was at work, so he couldn’t see how bad it had got.  I have a magpie’s eye for books.  I’m always picking up more and I have various different sources for them – many are second hand, or review copies – so I often haven’t paid anywhere near jacket price for them.*  I yank them all out, inspect what’s there, hope there aren’t any duplicates in the pile (it has happened) and then have a weed.  What literary fiction have I picked up thinking “I’ll read that some day” and then ignored in favour of pretty much everything else?  Which books are in there by an author that I’ve got fed up of or have overdosed on?  Which ones would I take on holiday with me to read, and then end up ignoring them in favour of the Kindle all week?*** Which are later books in series that I could read if only I pulled my finger out and read the earlier ones?  Which have been sitting in that pile for ages, not getting moved onto the to-read bookshelf because there’s always something I fancy more?  Which, if I’m being really very honest with myself, am I never going to get around to?

I’m not good at this part.  But I don’t have time to give all of these 50 pages.  I keep make a new pile of candidates for the 50-pages and out challenge – the ones where there is a realistic chance that I’ll like them enough to keep reading –  and give that a prime spot near the front of the sofa arm..  But some, after careful consideration, I move straight to the charity shop bag.   Then I reform the piles – trying to move some of the older stuff to the top, to sort it into genres and sizes and hide it all behind the sofa again.

A bag of books in front of a bookshelf
One bag of books in front of the to read shelf after the sofa pile cull. The photos meant to be arty…

I hate admitting that I won’t read some of these books, that my eyes are too big for my stomach in book terms.  But having a rationalisation does usually put the brakes on my aquisitions a little bit because I feel so guilty about the big stack of stuff that’s still waiting to be read.  I could – in a very real sense – keep myself stocked up for books for months without having to buy any more, but we all know I don’t have that will power.  So I sort, I give the excess to one of a series of charity shops I like around town, and then I make an effort to try and read from the pile for a few weeks.  Or that’s the idea at any rate…


*Which is obviously a good thing or I’d be wasting money hand over fist,** which wouldn’t be good.

**I do sometimes wonder if the to-read pile would be any better if I did have to pay for all my books, and then I remember that when I moved to Essex I took 7 books with me, and when I moved back to Northamptonshire 3 years later I brought nearly 80 back with me – and that was after having held a cull before moving and having got rid of some as I went a long.  So having to pay full price doesn’t stop the book acquisition – even when (as I was at that point) I have a *very* tight budget.

*** It happens.  I take something literary fiction-y on holiday with me to force myself to read it, and then I end up ignoring it in favour of the kindle – reading backlog or buying more books in series – and then bring it home, unread, but well travelled.