When I was a kid, I didn’t have a TBR pile. I’m not very old, but back then there wasn’t anything close to the river of books I’m swimming in these days. We didn’t have the internet and when we did, it was painfully slow dial-up. We didn’t know about buying books online. I hardly ever saw the inside of an actual bookstore; full-price books were too expensive. I dreamed of the day I could walk into Barnes and Noble and buy whatever I wanted. If I did get a book, it usually came from KMart or, best of all, the school book order.
Most of the books I read from school age until middle school were from the book order. I can still remember the excitement of looking through this folded-over paper which contained the books I would be reading for the next couple of months. Even better was the day they arrived and a lovely stack of TBR books was mine. They never lasted long; I bombed through books as a kid and almost everything I owned was read over and over again, even if I didn’t like it very much.
My first forays into the world of adult books were romance novels, starting with Joining by Johanna Lindsey. This was about when Wal-Mart showed up in my town and they had these types of books for $3.50. This price was acceptable to my parents, and so I began to slowly amass a collection of romances. A TBR pile followed, but it was so tiny I kept it next to my pillow on my bed. I usually had about five books to choose from, and I was still rereading books from my younger days.
Then I hit high school and discovered fantasy novels. I’m not sure what else happened, but my TBR pile actually started to grow. Either my parents started buying me more books or I started asking for them for Christmas and birthdays to the exclusion of everything else. The TBR pile moved from on my bed to the floor next to it and I remember gleefully organizing the books in the order that I planned to read them. I distinctly remembering moving Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan to the top of the pile because I just couldn’t wait to continue his series. I stopped rereading books so much because I had more of them and I no longer needed to; they were also of the epic fantasy variety and rereading started taking a long time.
When I went to college, I took some of my TBR pile with me, along with old favorites. The pile slowly grew as I acquired books for various reasons. The biggest catalyst was discovering LibraryThing in late 2006, when I realized there were lots of people who loved books just as much as I did, and my awareness of books exploded. Then, in 2007, I started reviewing books here, and really got into it in 2008 when I graduated. We also discovered a used bookstore near my parents’ house where books cost a maximum of $2 and all the money goes to a hospital nearby. This bookstore is responsible for more than half of my present unread book pile of 440 books.
Now I have a shelf full of TBRs here, an immediate TBR pile, and a TBR mountain range left on the floor of my parents’ house. At this point I’m not sure I could ever go back to having a selection of 5 new books, although I would love to stop and reread some older books. I love having choices and knowing that quite a few of the books I want to read are already mine whenever I want to read them. There are always more books to be bought, though, and I’m not sure my TBR pile will ever shrink too far.
What’s the history of your TBR pile?