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An Ode to Our TBR Piles

Ahh, the TBR pile. That beautiful stack of books that proves both my unending optimism that I will find five years straight to read and my lack of impulse control while in the presence of beautifully covered books.

TBR Pile

My lack of willpower is not entirely to blame. Bookstores are dangerous places, after all―shelves upon shelves of books whispering for you to trade a few dollars for the privilege of bringing them home where they can join the rest of your unread collection.

But the beauty of a shelf of books with pristine spines is far from the only advantage to having a hoard of books.

There is a certain sensibility to having extra books on hand at all times. A bad day may spark the need for a fantasy adventure. Or, I may be too tired for fantasy and need a sweet little romance to fill my evening. It is my duty as book lover to be prepared for whatever reading mood may strike.

It’s an important part of the readers’ code of conduct. Such things must not be ignored.

Besides, I need a shelf of unread fantasy books. It’s a simple practicality.

Just like my shelf of dystopian books and my shelf of random reads.

A healthy supply of books is a basic necessity.

But what about the long haulers? The books on the TBR pile that have been there for so long they’ve been passed over for reading dozens of times. Or worse, the book all your friends think you’ll love and have thoughtfully gifted you over the years, leaving you multiple copies of the same book on your TBR pile. Copies you have to hide when company comes over so no one will ever know you own four copies of The Night Circus and have never actually managed to read the book.

Have we deprived other readers of joy by hoarding unread books for years?

Do these long-neglected books deserve our apologies?

Or have we given those books a place of ultimate honor in the TBR stack?

They are the anchor books. The greeters of all new arrivals to the shelf.

Welcome. You may be here for years. She often forgets to dust. Be careful! The black cat has been known to viciously bite book spines.

Anchor books never abandon their post, neither to be read nor sent to the great little free library in the sky.

Anchor books are proof that hope never fades.

One day, I will read The Night Circus.

Anchor books are proof that love outweighs practicality.

This book needs a good home. I will love it and place it among my hoard of treasures, even if that means buying a sixth bookcase I have no room for.

Anchor books make cross country moves with us. They survive the dreaded rearranging of the bookshelves when we decide everything must be organized by color―no, size―no…author name.

Though they may forever remain unread, their place in the TBR pile is not unimportant. These long haulers are to be treasured as the elders of the TBR.

So next time you visit your shelf to choose your new read, take a moment to appreciate the permanent residents of your TBR stack. Thank them for the comforting stability of their presence, give them a nice pat on the spine, and don’t forget to offer them a wistful look as you choose a different book to begin.


This article was written by Megan O'Russell.

Megan O'Russell writes YA fantasy and dystopian novels that invite readers to escape into adventure. Whether you're looking to discover fantastic worlds with unlikely heroes or simply yearn for a humorous jaunt through a magical Manhattan, you'll find it all in Megan's twenty-nine novels spanning eight series. Click the covers below to learn more.

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