Does size matter? – The TBR Pile

By April 3, 2015 Reading Habits

You lot never fail to surprise me. Today I posted my teeny bookcase, it holds my TBR pile and as such it varies. Sometimes there are books stacked on the top, sometimes two shelves are empty, but there’s always something in there. I have several hundred other books in my head that I hope to read at some stage and haven’t yet got around to buying.

Anyway, a couple of commenters mentioned that my TBR ‘isn’t very big’. I’m not complaining about the comments, but it did get me thinking. Does the size of your TBR pile indication the kind of reader you are? Can someone be judged on the size of their TBR pile? Are the books you haven’t read an indication of your dedication to bibliomania?

TBR1About 5 years ago my TBR actual pile topped 100, then I had a bit of a lean time and read my way through them all as I couldn’t afford to buy books to slot in in between. At one stage my to be read pile was down to a single book, and I’d like to thank the library for being my saviour as it was getting to be a bit of a crisis!

Now I have my to be read pile and I buy a couple of books a week, either to read or to add to the pile. I’m not reading any more or less than I was when my TBR pile was one or when it was one hundred, yet the pile seems to matter.

Does size matter? Does the size of my pile reflect my stamina in the sack or the tub? (I said that in Carrie’s Bradshaw’s voice)

Leave your vote


  • Connie Keane says:

    It’s not the quantity of books in your TBR pile that matters–it’s the quality that hat matters.

  • Cindy says:

    I have 2 TBR piles. One is the real TBR and the other is the DWTINITTBRP (desperate when there is nothing in the TBR pile.

  • Maggie Prow says:

    I think the physical amount of books on the tbr pile/shelf is quite irrelevant as all good bibliophiles know that a real tbr list is an infinate and ever changing thing.

  • Pat Schager says:

    I have book shelves in my bedroom with about 400 books about 1/3 of which I have read. These are the “keepers”. The ones I will read over and over. Then in the living room, I started with 1 or 2 in a pile by the door. When that wouldn’t do, I put the 12-15 books in a tote bag. When THAT was full, I brought in a box for the overflow. I now have 2 boxes plus the tote bag by the door AND 6 books right by my chair next to my Nook. I WILL get to them the titles change but the TBR file persists.

  • Eline Fransen says:

    It was my first thought also, on the other hand the fact that you have an bookcase specially selected for your to read list says something also. As it is in my case just an pile next to my bed that also functions as bedside-table if necessary. And for some reason there seem just so little physical books on it, that other bibliophiles are surprised how you manage. Other than giving the local library fee a real value for money.

    But not being able to buy books surprise me, as in the Netherlands most library’s have once a year or so a sale of old library books. And there is the real value for members of the library can get those old and mostly a little damaged books for like a 1 euro a piece. And there are some good books hidden in it also like the farseer trilogy, Tad Williams, Agatha Christy to name just a few of my own findings.

  • Denise A. says:

    My TBR pile has several stages. … there is the shelf of physical books waiting, the books on my tablet and then the list of books I want to read but have not yet found in either the library, bookstore or app store. Everyone has a different way of finding and storing what we want to read…

  • Pat Rooney says:

    My actual TBR list is resting around a constant five. I find if I have too many new things on deck, I get tortured about which to start next. That being said I have about three thousand books in many book cases around our house the majority have been read by one or All of my family. In our house someone is always reading something! So all in all I figure it like this: it’s not the size of your pile, but the motion of your imagination! 😉 read on!

  • Ian Carmichael says:

    My TBR pile is, more or less, my library.

  • Amy says:

    My TBR is mostly virtual (goodreads) as my nightstand is reserved for the 2-3 books I’m currently reading. In the past, my list typically stayed around 25-30 books and that was manageable. This year my list has grown to almost 100 and it’s a little stressful. How will I get to all those wonderful books?

  • John simpson says:

    My TBR pile stands at 2215, I cannot resist going into antiquarian and secondhand book shops or into the charity shops. I do buy new books and always have two books on the go, one of which is my bedtime read. I love books in series and currently have books in 229 series, I also collect books on the game of Cricket and these are not included in the above total.

  • Julie Mercer says:

    My TBR pile has degrees of needing to be read. The actual pile is probably in the 90s at the moment and growing. I add to it all the time as I’m an avid charity shop browser. I have a pile next to me with tbr books that I am I tending to read within the next few weeks, shelves with future prospects and then stacks with rainy days and if there are any unforseen circumstances where I could possibly run out of books. I’m sorted for the foreseeable future, I think, but you never know! Lol!

  • Mel says:

    I have had times, especially as a child, when there were no books in my to be read pile because we couldn’t afford many and the only reason the same hasn’t happened as an adult is because amazon has tons of free books…currently there are nearly 500 books in my to be read pile. So no the size of the pile isn’t what is important. I read around about the same number of books every year.

  • Marcia says:

    A TBR pile in my opinion does not necessarily take up space in my home although I have plenty as I just feel better with books around. The TBR pile fills a bookstore or library as the next book I feel so inclined to read is not necessarily in that pile at home… 🙂

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