TBR Pile

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”  – Ernest Hemingway

My daughter likes to read. I mean, she REALLY likes to read. She gets it from her mother, and both sets of her grandparents. Me? I like to read; I just haven’t done as much of it in my lifetime as I should have. It’s a terrible thing I know, but it is the truth.

I grew up with two educators for parents, my father being a sports nut and my mother a gym teacher and yoga fanatic as well. I read lots of books growing up. There were some Choose Your Own Adventure, of course. I read every single one of the Gordon Korman books. I also read: A Boy at the Leafs Camp (mandated reading for any kid growing up playing hockey in Toronto); Vladislav Tretiak’s book Tretiak: The Legend; and Ken Dryden’s The Game. My favourites though were The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald.

In high school I focused on math and science, and if I’m being honest, reading all that mumbo jumbo turned me off reading in a big way. Plus, I was more interested in sports, girls, my friends, and general teenage shenanigans. Curling up with a good book wasn’t high enough on my list of priorities. That said, reading a bunch of books is unavoidable in high school. I did manage to avoid reading a lot of the usual books. Careful selection of English classes saw to that (my high school was quite large and we had ample choices of English classes).

So, my high school years weren’t filled with tons of reading for pleasure. If I did it was almost always a Stephen King book. Fast forward to university and it was all advanced calculus, computers, and applied physics. If you throw in a little bit of drinking and a fair amount of debauchery what you don’t get is too many novels piling up on the night stand.

Then I grew up, got married, bought a house, had kids, moved a few times, changed jobs a few times… and started writing. Over the last five years or so I’ve read more books than all my previous reading years combined. None of them will ever be “classics” but many were quite enjoyable to read and I’m a better writer for having read (most of) them.

I am a writer with another job that’s not writing and I also have a family and a social calendar. I will always be fighting the battle between writing, reading, and just sitting on my ass doing nothing. I yearn for a time when my entire existence isn’t one giant exercise in prioritization. In that vain, I’m left to wonder what’s the point of a TBR (To Be Read) pile? The damn thing never gets any smaller!

For every one I do read there’s ten more I want to read and ten more on top of those that I should read. I think the pile exists mainly because there’s comfort in its existence. It’s good to know that there will always be something there; always something to do; always an adventure waiting for me. All I have to do is open the cover and turn a page. Also, if there were no TBR piles then I would have less incentive to have my book sitting on top of one.


  1. Save the Cat
     – Blake Snyder (in progress)
  2. Signal to Noise
     – Gordon Bonnet
  3. The Key to Everything
     – Alex Kimmell
  4. Bigger Than Jesus
     – Robert Chazz Chute
  5. Savage Fire
     – Ben Langhinrichs
  6. Eleven
     – Carolyn Arnold
  7. Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird
     – Jesse James Freeman

~ Andrew

4 thoughts on “TBR Pile

  1. Sami-Jo Cairns

    I hear ya! Other than the Goosebumps novels I read when I was young and the Anne Rice novels I yonked from my mothers collection as a teen, I didn't get to read so much when I was younger as school keeps you busy with \”have to's\” instead of \”want to's\”. Boys and house parties were too much to give up so choices had to be made. As I got older the reading bug took hold and now my TBR pile is about 20 spines deeps and calling for me to crack every one. (Happens when you discover a great discount book store) You can never be a hoarder with a great collection of books, you just suddenly turn into your very own Librarian. I say collect them all and fill up your imagination with options.

  2. Tyler Tork

    This pile is an important safety buffer against the contingency of having nothing in the house to read. More than that, if I start something and find I hate it, I can quit and know there's something else in the wings. And if I see something I know I want to read eventually, I have a place to put it so I don't forget — I can go ahead and buy it now. It's just important to make it a queue, not a stack. And it gives it time to mellow.

  3. Andrew F. Butters

    Thanks for reading, Sami-Jo. I like the idea of filling my imagination with options. Options are good. I also hear what you're saying \”have to's\” vs. \”want to's\”. So hard to acknowledge the \”have to's\” when youth gets in the way 🙂

  4. Andrew F. Butters

    Thanks for stopping by, Tyler. I've only stopped reading a few books but you're right, it's good knowing that you can do that and have something at the ready. I love the idea of making it a queue rather than a pile. I'm hereinafter referring to it as the TBR Queue #TBRQ


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