Posted by: Trisha Leigh | March 9, 2011

True Tales of Book Obsession

My TBR (to-be-read) pile is enormous. Gigantic. Ginormous. MONSTEROUS. I am, in fact, afraid it’s planning to actually form itself into a book monster, bulge out the windows and doors of my house like Alice in the white rabbit’s cottage, pick me up by the seat of my pants, and eat me.

Not that I’m given to drama.

I have twenty-eight unread books on my shelves, and I’ve been reading an average of one a week since the beginning of the year. I thought it would be interesting to look at how I came to purchase these books on my shelves, as well as the new ones that will arrive from B&N this week.

The books in my TBR pile break down like this:

Previously read the author and/or random selection: (6) Jane Austen Ruined My Life (Beth Pattillo), The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown), Mystic River (Dennis Lehane), Mansfield Park (Jane Austen), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley).

Recommended by real life friends and/or family: (2) The Help (Kathryn Stockett), The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O’Farrell).

Recommended by online friends: (7) Graceling (Kristen Cashore), The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly), Watership Down (Richard Adams), The Guards and Once Were Cops (Ken Bruen), Shadows of Bronze, Venusian Copper, and The Silver Pigs (Lindsey Davis), The Rare Coin Score and The Jugger (Richard Stark), Torment (Lauren Kate).

“Know” the author online (Twitter): (8) Across the Universe (Beth Revis), Like Mandarin (Kirsten Hubbard), The Clearing (Anne Riley), Sweethearts (Sara Zarr), Demonglass (Rachel Hawkins), Aftertime (Sophie Littlefield), Fall For Anything (Courtney Summers), County Line (Bill Cameron).

It’s interesting that 15 of the 28 books in my TBR pile have been recommended to me online (usually through Twitter) or through interaction with the author him(her)self. It’s more than half, and if you take out the classics I’m still wanting to read (some for research), it’s and even higher percentage.

Books I’ve read in 2010: Banished (Sophie Littlefield), Divergent (Veronica Roth), Day One (Bill Cameron), The Pericles Commission (Gary Corby), The Dead Tossed Waves (Carrie Ryan), Angelfire (Courtney Allison Moulton), Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins), Moonlight Mile (Dennis Lehane), and Fallen (Lauren Kate).

All 9 of those novels were recommended by an online friend or author I interact with on Twitter.

I don’t know if everyone’s lists are so heavily weighted toward recommendation or author interaction, but mine certainly is. Perhaps more of you wander aimlessly around bookstores, waiting for a pretty cover or intriguing jacket copy to strike your fancy. I’ve done that, and I’ve found some fantastic reads that way. It’s just not very practical.

If you’re a reader, who better to take book recommendations from than the people who write books? In our hearts, the reason we write is because we love reading – most authors are rabid readers.

Some aren’t. But that’s a topic for another blog.

If you’re an author/agent/editor, do you agree interacting on social media works to generate both sales and word of mouth? How do you choose what books to buy?

What I’m watching right this second: Beauty and the Beast. I am wearing out my new DVD copy.

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Responses

  1. I use recommendations almost exclusively to determine what books I read these days. Years ago, I’d browse the book store shelf but it was risky business. Now I talk to friends, check reviews on Goodreads or see what my friends on Twitter are excited about.

    The only exception to this rule is I have a couple of favorite authors that I read when their books come out– Sarah Addison Allen, Shannon K. Butcher to name a few.

    • Lots of those rec’s came from you and I couldn’t decide whether to call you an online friend or real life friend. I went with online to prove a point 🙂

  2. oh how i relate… i have so many books-to-be-read that i had to buy an 8 ft. bookcase + i started a library at my church to unload some of my books that i STILL haven’t read. i got a “nook color” for Christmas which has been a wonderful way to read but…. those books on my shelves are still calling to me.
    i found it interesting to read how you catagorized your selections. that would be an interesting thing for me to do too. usually i purchase after reading reviews, through friend recommendations, and by favorite authors. i don’t just grab up a book because it looks interesting anymore. gotta know that someone’s recommended it.
    i love reading your blogs, trisha. keep them coming!!! i can’t wait to read your first published book…. signed of course! 🙂

    • Thank you, Diane. I’m full of recommendations over here too, not that you’ll have time to read now that the new baby is here!! Do you like your Nook Color? I have a regular Nook and it’s great for vacations and working out.

  3. I love Twitter as a source of book recommendations! And, yes, I do listen to what other writers suggest, because I figure they have good taste. 😉

    Re TBR piles: Ugh. Mine is about to topple over. (Well, virtually, since a lot of the books are on my Kindle. But still.) I just wish I could stop time (remember that Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith? like that) and just read, read, read. Alas, the clocks won’t cooperate.

    • Yes. At least three hours a day should be designated “reading time” and stand completely still. There’s a Seinfeld where Jerry says, “It’s like that Twilight Zone where the guy wakes up and he’s the same, but everybody else is different.”
      George: “Which one?”
      Jerry: “They were all like that.”

      Makes me giggle. Best of luck with your pile, my good woman.

  4. as a writer (not technically author yet) I agree that interacting helps generate books sales. I’m sorry to say that I did not even hear of suzanne collins before your thoughts on Mockingjay a few months back. I would not have heard of you, nor would I have any interest in buying your book, if I had not first gotten hooked to whichever of your blogs first motivated me to subscribe.
    That being said, I think there is much underutilized potential for online literary circles, designed to spread hype through “word of mouth,” though the phrase doesn’t translate well in reference to the internet. The closest thing we have to this is the “Other customers also bought…” section of Amazon.
    I feel for your “to be read” pile, though. Most of mine are book store impulse buys, and though I’m willing to read anything, I usually rotate through about 6 authors (Cormac Mccarthy, Roberto Bolano, Dave Eggars, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, and my childhood favorite Michael Crichton). I have 22 books in my to be read pile, which is a shame because I buy on average 3 books a week. It’s quite the addiction.
    And please blog about the authors that don’t read. I find that if I’m reading a lot, I am writing little, but it I am writing a lot, I am reading little, and this doesn’t necessarily have to do with free time, as much as dedicated creativity streaming (I can’t download while uploading [can I get any nerdier?]).

    • Thanks for your thoughts, and I’m glad to bring as many people as possible to Suzanne Collins and her books. (My rec for this summer is DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. It releases the first of May and is WONDERFUL).

      I have trouble reading while I’m writing a first draft – I find that I have trouble establishing my character’s voice and pacing if I’m reading other people’s characters at the same time. I read quite a bit while editing, and when I’m between projects. There’s a blog going up tomorrow about why it’s important to read!

  5. I have also read a lot of books in the past couple years recommended or written by writing friends. In addition, I have self-education and classic booklists I’m working through. I keep my TBR pile on goodreads, that way I don’t “lose” a book I’ve checked out from the library and don’t have time to read. Also, if I love a book or love the author already (or know them) I’ll go ahead and buy it.

    Oh how I love books.

    • Books are my obsession, like shoes for some women. (I also have a skirt obsession, but that’s a story for another day). I love Goodreads for keeping track of books I want to read. It’s so convenient to just click them into my to-read list. Blog more, lady. I miss your thoughts.


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