01 March 2011


Bookcase and Blog "Filler"

This Week's Topic:
Books I Just Had to Buy
But That are Still Sitting on My Shelf

I'm doing this meme today for the symmetry. Or the parallels. Whichever.

Memes have been taking some flack in certain circles of the book blogosphere, where they are perceived as "filler" and not real "content." While I see where the detractors are coming from (after all, every stereotype has a basis in truth), I know I've always tried to make my own submissions to link ups as meaningful and meaty as possible. This post shall be no exception.

The idea of "filler"--stuff for the sake of stuff--is echoed by the concept of the "TBR" pile or shelf: one's collection of books that are still To Be Read. What does it say about book bloggers that the books we have not yet read--whether we've bought them or are still coveting them--make up a substantial segment of what we post about? Are such posts also just filler? Even if they are, can we write them in such a way that they are not?

Let me know in the combox if you think this post counts as "real" content--or conversely, if you think it doesn't.

A Tenner:
Bargain Books That were in Such Great Condition
That I Bought Them without Knowing When I'd Read Them

Amandine by Adele Griffin
Because her novel The Other Shepards is still one of the best YA novels I've read in my entire life and I was determined to snap up her other books as I found them.

The Bar Code Rebellion by Suzanne Weyn
Because I like Dystopian Fiction and didn't know until after I bought this that it is the sequel, not the (still currently overpriced) first novel.

Dragon: Hound of Honour by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton
Because I was in the middle of a personal reading project that involved reading my way through the Middle Ages and I still had good reason to believe that I'd soon bust out of the twelfth century and get to read this book set two hundred years later.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Because I wanted an excuse to start the Little House series at last . . . not that I have.

Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques
Because I wanted an excuse to continue the Redwall series, and this was the book right after the actual book I'd have to buy next . . . which I still haven't bought. =P

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen
Because it's another first book in a series I felt (and still feel) I should have started reading many years ago.

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
Because it's one of the stories that inspired what was then my favourite novel in the world, The Man Who was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.

Tracker by Gary Paulsen
Because long before I learned how vehemently anti-gun he is, I had big plans to do a Paulsen read-a-thon.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Because I was planning to write about it for another meme on owned but unread books--which makes this chance to write about it at last kind of funny.

Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? by Jerry Spinelli
Because I had just finished reading Maniac Magee and Crash (both also by Spinelli) to my brothers and had naively hoped they would want to read this one together as well.

To this list, I could add: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Jane Gray (another one for that Medieval Historicals reading project), Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (another excuse to continue a great series), Sons of Liberty by Adele Griffin (another Griffin novel I was lucky to find), and four Baby-sitters Club books (another bunch that are just waiting for me to find the books which precede them in the order they should be read).

Filler, filler everywhere . . .

Image Sources: a) Amandine by Adele Griffin, b) Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen


Red said...

I think memes can be filler if they don't lead to a discussion. I like the idea of the top ten lists if you add some information beyond just a straight list of book titles (or whatever that week's topic calls for).

Maniac McGee was one of my favorite books when I was little :)

lisa :) said...

I think memes are what each blogger makes of them. Many blogs do seem to use them as filler (meme after meme after meme) but there are also plenty that use them to engage in discussion or share something interesting about reading habits or bookish tastes.

Birdie said...

Redwall series and Little House are on my reading list, but I haven't purchased them.

Good luck whittling down your list!

Enbrethiliel said...


Red -- I agree that meme submissions are best when they require some level of thoughtfulness from the blogger and from his commenters.

Yay for Maniac Magee! =D

Lisa -- It's also true that memes are what you make them. I'm surprised to see that when it comes to "Top Ten Tuesdays", my own submissions make me think of slam book entries. That is, they are rather personal. This week's topic, in particular, has resulted in some very individual lists that are difficult to leave meaningful comments under. I think that's why most people leaving me comments here are reacting to my general statements at the beginning rather than to my list! ;-)

Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion. =) I appreciate it!

Birdie -- I was just thinking that even before I had the purchasing power to amass a "TBR" shelf, I already had a long list of books I promised myself I'd get to someday. The physical fact of the books I do own is my way of holding the promise over my own head. =P

Lesa said...

Yes, I saw those discussions over at bookblogs. I'm shaking my head at myself because I always groan and skip over all the filler memes and now I'm going to try to start one!! Hope the meme fairy doesn't send bad mojo my way!!

Imo, this as well as the past memes you've joined count as content-- I don't skip yours because you add pizazz to your posts. And you don't join them everyweek, that makes a difference.

The first Little House book is Little House in the Big Woods if you can find it. I'll be interested to see what you think-- I've noticed that some adults see the books as more horrifying than charming.

Enbrethiliel said...


LOL! I'm sure you'll find a nice balance. =)

Now I'm slapping myself on the forehead because Little House in the Big Woods is the book I have. I typed Little House on the Prairie totally by mistake. I'm hoping I can read it aloud to Angel Delight during the last few tutorial sessions we have together. It might prove too challenging, though, as she has never tried a Historical and I'll have to divide the long-ish chapters so that we can read the book in five- to ten-minute installments.

Enbrethiliel said...


Okay. Post fixed.

The Little House books are in the correct order again! ;-)

Amy Wood said...

I'm new to memes so I can't really say whether they are filler. I would consider yours to be real. I enjoyed reading your list. And I think they are a fun way to meet people and share. I haven't read any of the books on your list. But love to see what different books people are reading. It gives me new ideas on what to read in the future.

ham1299 said...

Oh, yes, I have bought books that were such great bargains I felt I couldn't pass them up - despite knowing I wouldn't get to it in the near (or even foreseeable) future!

As for memes, they can be fun, and that's why I do them. Especially with book blogging. The teaser ones are great, because they pique my interest in books I wouldn't have otherwise considered. Ones like this are fun to discuss - how many book lovers don't overbuy books? ;-)

ham1299 said...

And now to comment on your list. (I didn't because it didn't load the first time I looked at the page.)

I haven't read any of the Little House books.

I, too, am stuck in the middle of Redwall. I can't remember which one I'm stuck on, but I know I got through Mariel.

Trumpet of the Swan is a great one. Loved it when I was a kid. I recently bought it, planning to read it again and hoping my kids will like it eventually!

Holly said...

I am a sporadic meme-er. I think it depends on the meme. Those that just share what you've accumulated are probably closer to the filler category than a top ten tues like meme but I think even the filler ones are helpful. It helps me gauge the reading taste of that particular blog which helps me determine whether I have enough in common with the to follow it.

I haven't thought about who put that hair in my toothbrush for a long time! This is the book my school librarian told me I couldn't read when I was in 3rd grade because the content was "too old" for me. I told her "but I read at over a 5th grade level!" She laughed at me :)

Mark in Spokane said...

Well, I have to confess that I've bought books before simply because they were discounted. That's part of the problem with liking books so much -- sometimes I get caught up in just having books, rather than only having books that I really intend to read. Lately, I've been trying to live more simply, buying less. I've been going to the library more, which is a good thing, I think.

couchpotatocritic said...

Memes can be either awesome or a waste of digital real estate, depending on how they're executed, and whether or not they spark inspiration or discussion. I also think memes are fun because I get to see what other participants are doing, and that's always cool.

You should definitely read Little House in the Big Woods. I read Little House on the Prairie first, and will always enjoy it more — but the entire series is great. It's literature that's perfect for any age, and is best read aloud.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Enbrethiliel said...


Amy -- I think the sharing aspect is what most dedicated meme-ists (Yeah, I just made that word up) like about this blog activity. Not being one who likes to share in real life (LOL!), that advantage doesn't always appeal to me. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment! =)

Ham1299 -- I'm starting to wonder if there is some correlation between getting books at marked down prices and then waiting forever to read them. We get really excited about these bargains when we're at the store . . . but then we seem to mark them down in another way after we get them home. Another thing to ponder aye? ;-)

You're right that that the discussions that can result from memes and blog hops are pretty great; but since most participants are making a one-time visit just to be polite, a host really sustain the conversation, can he?

(Perhaps the great thing about being stuck in the middle of the Redwall series is knowing that there are still many great books ahead of you! . . . And who can go wrong with E.B. White? I hope you and your kids have fun discovering or rediscovering The Trumpet of the Swan!)

Mark -- You remind me that the major periods in my life when I didn't have a "TBR" pile to speak of were those in which I had access to decent libraries. Of course, I'd sometimes borrow books that I'd never read, but at least I knew they'd be of use to someone else after I returned them. There's something of the Parable of the Talents in this! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I appreciate it. =)

Couchpotatocritic -- Memes are most fun for me when I'm already familiar with the other participants--and that's not always the case. I'm not good at being the stranger at a big party where everyone is expected to mingle, which is kind of what this is, aye?

It's great to hear that the Little House books are good for reading aloud, as that is how I hope to start them. =)

mrsdarwin said...

I was going to be all shocked that you'd never read the Little House books, but now I think about it, they are rather a piece of Americana -- not that they wouldn't translate well to other cultures, but that they're so embedded in American culture that I forget that wouldn't have the same automatic classic status in other parts of the Anglosphere. They are ideal for reading aloud -- I've read five of them to my daughters.

I have so many books I've bought on spec because they looked like good books. My shelves are groaning. Really, it's an investment for my children, right?

BOOKed_up said...

Hey JMJ, thanks for stopping by my blog! Honestly I don't pay attention to when they were published and I definetly can't remember when I have purchased my books.

I honestly sit on my little chair in front of my bookcase and stare at my books until one just reaches out to me more than the rest =]

Enbrethiliel said...


Mrs. Darwin -- No automatic classic status here, I'm afraid. But people who remember the 70s still know Melissa Gilbert as Laura. We got the TV series, at least. =P

And yes, a house full of books is a good investment. My family had a whole bunch of those reference books that you buy in sets and then use to make your shelves look distinguished even if you never read them. All of them had a couple of volumes dedicated to literature; those were my favourite. I also went through most of the Reader's Digest editions of the classics: two in one, the kind you had to flip so that each one could have a front cover. (We sold nearly the entire set in a yard sale when we were moving out of our big haunted home, but I kept my Little Women/Little Men!) And then there were a whole bunch of Time-Life science books that I honestly wish we still had. They put the Internet to shame.

BOOKed_up -- We do almost the same thing when it comes to deciding what to read next! (LOL!)

mrsdarwin said...

Whoa. How can you tease me with a phrase like "big haunted home" and not elaborate? You need to write about this, stat. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, I didn't mean to leave anyone hanging! I recently shared some of the story in my Open Letter to Jennifer Allison.

Alice said...

Haha, I think the Little House series is the only young adult/children's series I never read. Just no interest in people named Mary and Pa having a discussion about corn.

Enbrethiliel said...



I see what you mean. =P But I think it's the rusticity of it all which draws most readers to the series, including this big city girl.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Alice! =)