19 May 2010


My Stockpile
(For a meme hosted at Lost in Books)

This week's topic:
What's been on your TBR list the longest?

Let the guilt tripping begin!

There was a time I was opposed, on principle, to the idea of a "TBR" (To Be Read) pile of books. If you don't have the time to read something, I thought, then why would you buy it? And if you're busy reading something else, why would you worry about what to read next?

I also used to like having a lot of "down time" after reading a good book, when I don't have to think about anything other books. Well, I still like it; I just don't get to enjoy it that often. I have this week, with Maniac Magee, because it's the book I'm reading it with my brothers, who, being my students now too, need a lot of that "down time" between books. So we do their worksheets and bake "browndies" and make a crafty "chapter meter" to chart our progress on the next novel on their reading list . . . and I get to let the wonders of Jerry Spinelli's greatest novel swim around a little more in my mind.

But I see I just lost my train of thought . . . What I had meant to say was that I didn't use to have a "TBR" pile and couldn't understand why other readers did. Then I entered their world--a world of disposable income that isn't as high as one would like, which makes sales at bookstores a time to stock up--and I soon had a tidy pile (well, drawer) of my own. All of which explains my stockpile's existence, but not the fact that some books don't get read even when prices go back up and stop stockpiling . . . or the fact that I've been able to join three Shelf Share Thursday linkups. For that, each book has to be looked at individually . . .

3 Books
That Have Been Waiting Years for Me to Read Them

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

Unfortunately, my copy's cover doesn't look like that. If it did, I probably would have finished it the day I got it.

So do you know how long I've had it and not read it? I bought it right before my mother and I got our tickets to watch the movie 300. Which means I had it before I started teaching. Which means that I had it a lifetime ago and still haven't finished it.

Yet it's not as if I haven't tried. There were months when I'd put it off because it wasn't raining hard enough outside, and this book just seemed like the sort of thing one should read when it's raining . . . or snowing. (LOL! We never get any snow here, so imagine my using that as an excuse!)

One of the best reading experiences of my life involved Ursula LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea, my family's old yellow kitchen, and a raging storm--and I kind of wanted a little of the same for this MacDonald novel. I became interested in it after I read in The Green and Burning Tree by Eleanor Cameron (Notice the way one good book just leads to another!) that she had had what may be described as a mystical experience after reading it--the sense that she was made for more than just this world. Her own book is one of the best I've ever read on children's books, and I've had similar experiences from art and literature, so I know that I will read At the Back of the North Wind someday . . . yes, someday, when it's cold.

Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz

This was a Christmas present from several years ago, when I was still working as an ESL teacher in a language academy for Korean learners. That year, for the annual student-teacher Christmas party, the teachers had decided to get the Korean students involved the Filipino variation of the "Secret Santa" game.

Everyone willing to participate gets his name written down on a slip of paper, and then everyone draws a name out of the proverbial hat. A bulletin board in a common area is reserved for people's wish lists: the rules are that you may ask for anything, as long as its cost doesn't go over the agreed-upon amount, and that you have to give your Secret Santa several options. Then he can check the board at any time to see what to get you--and you can do some checking of your own to see what to get your . . . I'm not sure what the other half of this pairing is. Your Secret Elf?

Since I actually asked for this book, I'm really not sure why I've put off reading it for so long. Then again, as I recall the reason I asked for it in the first place . . . I put it on my "Secret Santa" wish list because I thought it was a book worth reading but knew that I probably wouldn't buy it for myself in the next ten years. Oh. =P

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.D. Wodehouse

This is one book I don't really feel guilty about, because I didn't buy it! (Phew!) A friend lent me her copy, which I've now had almost as long as I've had At the Back of the North Wind, and refuses to take it back until I've read it. But I won't read it because it's in the very middle of the Wooster-Jeeves series and I don't like reading series out of order--especially series I haven't started yet!

My friend knew that, I think. It's just that I never take her book recommendations (which is fair enough, because she never takes mine), and she must have been thinking, "If I can get Enbrethiliel to read only one Wodehouse novel in her entire life, then it's going to be my favourite!"

Silly thing! Didn't she know that if she had just lent me the first book in the series, I would have gone through all her books like I once went through my mother's Nancy Drew collection . . . and her friend's Sweet Valley High collection? I've read the first three books in the Baby-Sitters Club series and am having the worst time trying to find the fourth one so that I can keep going: that is what reading a series in order does to me.

But I won't tell her . . . if only because I've noticed that Wodehouse's books never go on sale and I really can't afford--money-wise--to carry a torch for two series these days.

Image Sources: a) At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, b) Homesick by Jean Fritz, c) Right Ho, Jeeves by P.D. Wodehouse


Sullivan McPig said...

At the moment there's just one book that's been lying around for ages: 'Book of Moons' by Rosemary Edghill. I ordered it years ago thinking it was part of a trilogy by Edghill that I was reading at that time, only to find out on getting the book, that it was the second book in a different series by the same author. I haven't read it sofar just because of that fact: second book! I will try it one day though, as Edghill is a very talented author.

Enbrethiliel said...


At least you have only one book that has had to wait for such a long time! You also have a pretty decent excuse. =)

Fun and Fearless said...

Secret Elf? (Looking at the mirror) Ok. ^_^

I've also got three. Jane Eyre, Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya and The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho. I think you know why I can't continue reading the first one. The Spanish sentences in Anaya's book kept me from flipping another page. And I find the last one a bit boring. Well, I didn't buy any of them. ^_^

Enbrethiliel said...


They were all presents, then?

Rebecca :) said...

Nice list. I had not heard of any of them before now, so it was very educational, too! lol I think TBR piles grow more out of control as time goes on. You start off with a manageable library and then without your awareness, you can't fit all your books on this large bookshelf you have. And you think, when did this happen?

Fun and Fearless said...

@ E: One of them is. A friend traded Anaya for one of my books. He doesn't seem to have any plans of returning my book so it's now mine. ^_^ Maybe I'll read it again and hopefully finish it. Besides, I lost a book because of that trade.

Michael said...

I don't even want to talk about my TBR list. No. Not going there. Don't want to think about it. No way. Not even. Please. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Enbrethiliel said...


Rebecca: Oh, dear! I hope this doesn't swell your "TBR" pile any further! ;)

Michael: Okay. I won't even ask, then! =)

celi.a said...

I've always meant to read George McDonald, but never did...

Nice list! And good luck reading these titles (eventually)!

ninjapeps said...

Terry Pratchett's The Dark Side of the Sun but I've only had it for about a year. gonna finish the Discworld books before I start reading it. only have four more to finish unless I find the last four I've been looking for.

Enbrethiliel said...


Celia: Thanks! =)

I have read some MacDonald, namely The Princess and the Goblin, and it was really easy to get into. I'm not sure why At the Back of the North Wind has proven so difficult.

Peppy: I admire the systematic way you go about your reading! There is no way that your "TBR" pile rivals mine. =P

lilly said...

Ha! I know exactly what you mean about reading a series from the very beginning. I am OC about it and refuse to even touch a book if it's in the middle of the series and I know about it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Hi, Lilly! Thanks for dropping by. =)

Well, I have made exceptions for books that come in the middle of a series before, and I probably will again. I'm promising myself, for instance, that as soon as I read Books #4 and #5 in the Baby-Sitters Club series, I'll be happy to read the rest out of order. So only some books are totally non-negotiable for me, and I think my friend is hoping that I'll crack when it comes to hers!

ninjapeps said...

as soon as I'm done with Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Warhammer 40K, my TBR list will be done. that's about a dozen books. I'll need to hunt for new reading material soon.

Enbrethiliel said...


Nice! =) Do you have some idea of what you're going to read next?

Avid Reader said...

I have a hard time with series too. I have to start at the beginning and read all of them in order. I hate reading one and not having the next one at hand. Wodehouse is fantastic if you ever get to him.

Enbrethiliel said...


Hi, Avid Reader! =) Thanks for stopping by. If I ever figure out which Wodehouse to read first, Jeeves and Wooster just may be my new Father Brown and Flambeaux! =D

(That makes no sense, does it? =P)

ninjapeps said...

curious about Artemis Fowl but I want to read the books in order. there are some Stephen King books I want to read, too, but never got around to buying. may go after the rest of the Warhammer 40K books written by Dan Abnett if the ones I already have prove to be as good as the stuff he's written for Marvel.

Enbrethiliel said...


I can lend you the first Artemis Fowl, unless you'd rather buy the book yourself. =)

I'm planning to read Christine and Cujo this October. Which Stephen King books are you most interested in?

Kinsey said...

Okay. Wodehouse is my homeboy and I will not let him be neglected. The first one I read was "Right Ho, Jeeves", and I have NO clue if that was the first in the series. I'm like you in that way, I always read in order, but with Jeeves and Wooster it doesn't really matter. Wooster gives you all the facts at the beginning of each of his books, so it shouldn't really ruin the series to start in the middle(ish).
Haha, like Fr. Brown and Flambeau, only not. ;)

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, if you say so . . . ;-)

I've actually read the first few pages of this and laughed out loud at several points. So I know it's a great read. I guess another reason I've been putting it off is that I want to save it--like a squirrel with a gold acorn or something.

But yes, I'm going to run out of excuses soon, so I'd better get cracking! =)

Thanks for your comment!