The Endless TBR Pile

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, admitting that I’m a book junkie. I have hundreds of keeper novels on my shelves. I have even more titles on my iPad, some in the Kindle and Nook apps and others as iBooks. A whole heck of a lot of those are unread, especially the free ebooks I’ve picked up in Kindle format when offers came to my attention. Does that stop me from buying more books? Of course not.

renting-silenceNew books are released every Tuesday. Some non-New York presses, like Severn House and Poisoned Pen Press, release new titles on other days of the week. A quick check of my expenses for this year suggests that I download at least eight books a month. They aren’t all new ones. When I discover a new-to-me author I really like I am likely to go in and download his or her backlist titles. I also tend, since I can read more easily on my iPad (where I can enlarge the font), to download books I want to reread even if I already own them in paperback (with teeny-tiny print).

In short, I have more books than I have time to read. As one of my favorite sweatshirt slogans puts it:  So Many Books/So Little Time.

200px-definitely_deadThis month, after finishing the new Janet Evanovich, Turbo Twenty-Three, and seeking something entertaining and totally removed from the real world, I decided to raid my keeper shelves and reread Charlaine Harris’s first Sookie Stackhouse paranormal mystery, Dead Until Dark. This may have been a mistake. I’d forgotten how much I like these characters. There are thirteen novels in all. As I write this, I’m up to number seven.

You’d think, since my reading is set for the next little while, that I’d stop acquiring more books. Nope. It doesn’t work that way. What if I decided I needed a change of pace? What if nothing on the shelves or on the iPad suited my mood of the moment? Nothing to read? Horrors! I might have to . . . well, I don’t know what I’d do. I ALWAYS have to have a book (or two or three) in progress.

plaid-and-plagiarismSo what, you ask, is on top (as in most recently acquired) of my to-be-read pile? From the romantic suspense genre, there’s Jayne Ann Krentz’s When All The Girls Have Gone. In cozy mystery, it’s the first in a new series from Molly MacRae, Plaid and Plagiarism. Then there’s the historical mystery Renting Silence by Mary Miley, set in the Roaring Twenties. I loved the earlier entries in this series, especially The Impersonator. Also in the historical vein, Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and the Reek of Red Herrings came out yesterday

full-fathom-fiveThat should have been plenty to tide me over until next batch of new releases but here’s the other thing that keeps my TBR pile from shrinking: I have too darned many friends who write really good books. There are newish titles out from several fellow Maine Crime Writers (most of which I have, in fact, already read) and just as I was about to start work on this blog, along came a newsletter from James L. Nelson, expert on pirates, seafaring, Vikings, and other interesting historical stuff, announcing he has a new novel, this one quite a departure for him—a contemporary thriller—so of course I had to download a copy of Full Fathom Five.

Just for the record, I’ve already read over 225 novels in 2016. I read fast. I read in any spare moment. And I’ll still never catch up on all the books I want to read.



Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Kilt at the Highland Games) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse ~ UK in December 2016; US in April 2017) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are and


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9 Responses to The Endless TBR Pile

  1. Gram says:

    Change a few of those books and I could have written this article. I always have more than one book open, sometimes 4-5 of them most in different categories. I am happy to know that I am not alone in my – others say weird – reading and book gathering habits.

  2. It’s a wonderful habit! When I was young I read as many books a week as the bookmobile driver would let me carry home. Curled up with a book on the corner of the couch I tuned out voices (like my Mom saying “please set the table, honey”) until she was shaking my shoulder and saying it in a stern tone. I still read a lot, though my pace has slowed a bit, what with the interferences of adult life.

    I’m impressed by your 225 books in 2016!

  3. Barb Ross says:

    I’ve always been a one-book-at-a-time reader, and a slow reader. It never affected me in school or at work, until I became a published author. Now I have books to blurb (I always read them) and books for panels I’m moderating. Non-fiction books for research, and on and on. And it’s worse now that I read most things on my iPad where so many distractions are just a click away.

    I’m so impressed with your total and can’t nearly match it.

  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    I always have something in my satchel to read when I leave the house. If by accident I don’t, then before anything else I’ll pick something up. I have tons of slips of paper with authors, titles, and series suggestions in the outside pocket. Sometimes I find I have more than one copy of favorites, because I forget that I already have one. These I share with others.

    I love reading your blogs because you give me more suggestions. I can never die. There are too many books left…big smile!

  5. Beth Clark says:

    I don’t have the same need to have books immediately available, but I have an unmanageable list of “books to be read.” Our Victorian home with its lovely bay windows does not leave much wall space for large book shelves. I make sure I have enough book readily available so that I will never be without a book I enjoy. I gravitate to different book genres at different times and am always ready to set one aside for a later date. Invariably I will go back and finish that book. Sometimes I think it is a blessing that I will never be able to read all the books I want. It is a symbol of our good fortune to have access to so many excellent writers and books.

  6. dragons3 says:

    Oh how I can relate to this! I always have to have a book available. I panic if I think there’s nothing to read (not a full-blown panic attack, but definitely some anxiety). I’ve been known to pick up a book and read a few sentences at a red light — much to the dismay of the person behind me. Happy 2017 books!

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