Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week, we're going to discuss our out-of-control TBR piles, or more accurately, why we can't stop adding books to our shelves when we already have too many to read.

So, this is going to be less of a discussion and more of me, um, whining.  And some will say, "Oh, stop least you aren't wanting for anything to read."  Which is true.  But I have an entirely different problem.  It's become quite the conundrum, lately, trying to decide what to read next and whether or not I can sneak a "just for me" book into the schedule.

Yes, a reading schedule!  I literally have to schedule my reading time.  I know I'm not the only one.  I know several bloggers who keep spreadsheets similar to mine, detailing upcoming releases, what's been read, what needs reviewed, and what's up next.  But when is enough enough???  Here's a look at my current review TBR...this doesn't include the books I've bought but haven't gotten to yet:

These are my expected reads for February thru July.  *flails*

Sometimes, I supplement my reading pile with audio, just to catch up on new releases that I didn't read prior to release.  I enjoy audiobooks.  I really, really do.  But I miss actually reading some of my favorite books and series.  But the only way I can make time for some of my "just for me" reads is to get them on audio.  Even though I already own some in hardcover.  I must have those lovelies for my shelf, you see, especially if I'd previously started the series in hardcover.  *sigh*  I really do have a problem.

But I keep doing this to myself.  All these great new books appear on Edelweiss and Netgalley and in ARC form, and I can't say no.  I. Just. Can't.  It's an addiction.  I gave up drinking for the month of January, just to see if I could.  But there is no way in hell I'd ever voluntarily give up reading.  NEVER.  And then my husband says things like, "Sure, you're not spending as much on books as you used to, but you're spending more time away from us than ever before, and we're paying the price."  OUCH.

I resolved to spend less time blogging this year and more time with my family.  Because blogging/reviewing has taken a serious toll on my free time.  And as much as I love it, I'm tired of getting grief from my family.  I did incorporate my daughter into the blogging experience, thanks to Sara at Forever 17 Books, and that's been a lot of fun each week.  But it's not enough.  And yet, the books keep piling up.

So, for discussion purposes, I have a few questions, and I'm hoping your answers will help my situation, and vice versa:
  1. Do you read every single book you request for review, whether via ARC, Netgalley or Edelweiss?  Um, I try to.  But it's hard not to fall behind.  And once you do, there seems to be no catching up.
  2. Do you attempt to read every review book by the release date?  Sure.  Well, until I start seeing a ton of negative reviews for a book; then I decide it's not worth my time.
  3. Do you post your reviews for requested review books prior to release date?  As long as I've read it, I usually review it at least by the day OF release.  (I am getting way better at this.  No more waiting weeks and weeks to write a review.  Go me!)
  4. How do you slip in those books that you had hoped to get for review but didn't and had to wait until release date to receive your own copy?  Like I said, audiobooks.  Or, very carefully, so as not to fall behind schedule.  It may take me a lot longer to read a "for pleasure" book than a review book.
  5. Do you strictly adhere to your reading schedule, or is it more of a guideline and you read what you feel like reading as the mood hits?  I was adhering to the schedule, for the most part, but that's becoming harder and harder to do.  I've become quite the mood reader these days.
These are my bookshelves in their latest incarnation, and I'll be honest, only like 60% of the books on them have already been read:

In case you were wondering, they're alphabetized by author, by series.  Also, the wine is special The Princess Bride bottling (As You Wish White and Inconceivable Cab) c/o The Alamo Draft House in Austin, TX.  Also also, these shelves look much less dusty in this pic than they do in real life.  =)

So, yeah, I have quite a bit of catching up to do on my own, and yet, the itch to check Edelweiss and Netgalley nearly daily is impossible to ignore.  How do you manage?  My goal is to one day have a study/office that IS a library in itself, but not one full of books I've never read.

Please, I'm begging you...someone help me!  A TBR Intervention is in order here, I think.  Or, are we all of similar minds and cannot help ourselves?  Either way, I think we might need help.  At least a support group, if nothing else.  And a pact.  Like, for every review book we read, we should also enjoy a strictly for fun read. Maybe a book that we don't even necessarily have to review.  Whadya say?  Any takers?  :P

Any and all commentary, chastising, and public flogging is welcome...


  1. Holy Edelweiss and Netgalley TBR! lol My hubby makes some comments about my reading and time on computer too. :/ It can be hard to balance. And sometimes you have pressure to finish a book or post by a certain time, and that doesn't help the situation.

    I have recently started using a reading schedule. I somehow got swamped in Dec/Jan/Feb and had to keep track. I kinda hate it. Because sometimes I'll read something and suddenly be in the mood for a specific genre, but don't have time to squeeze it in. BOO!

    I do read every request BUT I don't get much. That makes it a little easier. I tend to have luck winning (wish it would roll over to the lottery or something-lol) and I usually treat those like requests and try to read and review by release, but sometimes they have to take a back seat, temporarily.

    I am in love with your shelves! So much room and so pretty! I have a back log of books and ARCs sitting on a shelf that I feel horrible about. And I keep buying more. Why do I do that? No clue. Because I want them? I want the choice? But at the same time, the reading schedule isn't really giving me that choice. :( I'm hoping once I get past February, things will calm down and I can once again start reading some older books. Jan/Feb were just too crazy with releases.

    I wish you lots of luck with your TBR! Something tells me you'll be able to get through a lot of it!

    1. My problem is that I request a ton, not expecting to get many of them, and then I'm approved for more than I expected. It also doesn't help when you find out you have auto-approve status with some publishers because then you want ALL THE BOOKS. Even if you know you'll never be able to read them all, at least not if you want to read some of your own books.

      Thanks...I'm finally happy with my shelves. We've moved several times over the last five years, and my shelves had taken a beating, not to mention that I was seriously running out of room, so my husband let me go wild at IKEA. I got a matching desk and work table for the office, too. Sometimes, just looking over at the shelves gives me this eerie sense of calm. Is that a bookish people kind of thing or just a me thing? :P

      Thanks for your input. I hope you're right! :D

  2. Oh wow o.O I thought my TBR was bad! But I agree, it's very hard to resist buying or requesting books. My 'luck', depending on how you look at it, is that at this point I don't get any physical ARCs. Maybe not ever, because I'm a European blogger. And on NetGalley and Edelweiss, I still get the cold shoulder for quite a few of the books I really want (Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, *sigh*).

    The closest I've come to a review/reading schedule is finally taking a piece of scrap paper and writing down the release dates of my NetGalley stuff that hasn't been released yet (there are a few 'read now' titles and some I requested several weeks after release. Those don't get priority) in the order in which they come out. So I can keep track. I do read them before release date... but I still have a review to write for Tuesday and I don't know if I'll have time. I try not to request more than 4 books for the same month because I want to read what I feel like reading at a particular moment.

    My TBR downfall are ebooks. I have so, so many because they were cheap or free, and when I let myself scroll through my kindle app, I see so many I want to read NOW but I can't because I'm reading the NetGalley books instead. I feel like I'll never catch up. I also have about 20 print books I bought but haven't read yet, but I know that's nothing compared to other bloggers. It still makes me sad. I will NEVER have time to read every book I'm curious about, and when I see the amount of titles on my goodreads TBR I simply despair.

    I don't have the family-time problem because I live alone, but I can imagine that it's hard to juggle that on top of things! At least my jobs and studying don't demand loving-attention... just time.

    The only advice I can think of is to still try to restrain yourself a bit when you're requesting? Just think about the pile of doom until you're all stressed and don't want the book anymore ^^'' Think about the other, non-review books you could read! Or don't go on NetGalley. Don't torture yourself looking. Look at all the pretties on your wonderful shelves instead! (I need a new one, by the way. My books are all over the place now, but there's no point in getting one now because I want to have moved house by early April).
    I admire your shelf organization! I put same-series-books and most of the time same-author-books together, but I don't alphabetize. I take the height of the spine into account when I group them, and I put those together that I think would get along with each other if they were people ^^' I'm crazy. And spamming your comments...

    Good luck with everything, and thanks for the glimpse into your shelves and review schedule :)

    1. I love your rambles, ARE NOT spamming my comments. Lol.

      I don't get all that many physical ARCs either. Which is probably a good thing for my bookshelf. Besides, I like pretty finished copies. :P

      So, your advice is to have more restraint? Hmm...if only. Did I mention I've tried putting myself on a book ban numerous times, to no avail. I just have no willpower. I see a pretty book, I want a pretty book, and I make that pretty book mine. Lol. But I'll try it your way. :P

      I would love to put books together that I think would be friends IRL, but I'm too would never work. As it is, I've already reorganized these shelves several times. I used to have the whole top row as favorites, but then my favorites started overflowing to the next row. :P

      Thanks for your help!

  3. I think most of us seem to have the same problem. It's so exciting being able to request books prior to their release date. And then we're approved! Only to download the release and become distracted by the shiny book on out shelf.

    At this point in time, my blog is only small, so I'm not getting approved for too many review copies. But I still take my chances on netgalley and request titles. As a result I have books I got approved of when I first got netgalley that I still haven't read. Probably because if it came to ebook Vs Physical book, I'd almost always choose the physical.

    My TBR shelf for the books I own is also ridiculously long. 50 or so now I think. And I tend to ignore my review copies and pick up these instead(most if which are sequels I was anticipating). To help control it I'm going to start alternating. I read one from my TBR shelf, then one from my netgalley collection. Rinse and Repeat. Withhout going to the TBR shelf when the book on the kindle gets boring... Also by trying to avoid netgalley. Which I have been successul at. Until I saw that some Australian publishers were offering books I really want and had to try my luck.

    So yeah. There's my thoughts. I wish you luck with your monster schedule!

    Bec @ Ransom Reads

    1. I like the idea of alternating: one review book for every personal read. And avoiding Netgalley. But it's soooo hard! :P

      Thanks for the warm wishes! I hope you get approved for those Australian published titles! :D

  4. Of course I have this problem. I am not even going to say how many books I have that I have yet to find the time to read, because it's completely embarrassing and terrible. But I'll answer your questions:

    1. Do you read every single book you request for review, whether via ARC, Netgalley or Edelweiss?
    - Absolutely not. I'd LIKE to get to them all, but I think that's a given.

    2. Do you attempt to read every review book by the release date?
    - Absolutely not. If I speak directly with a publisher/publicist/author and make a commitment, I keep it and make those books a priority. But for NetGalley requests, I just kinda do the best I can and try not to feel guilty about the ones I push aside or can't get to.

    3. Do you post your reviews for requested review books prior to release date?
    - Assuming I get to a book in time, I post my review anywhere within two weeks of the release date (before or after).

    4. How do you slip in those books that you had hoped to get for review but didn't and had to wait until release date to receive your own copy?
    - Honestly I often can't, which is the main cause of my problem. But if it's something I really, REALLY want or a sequel I've been waiting on then I fit it in the second I am caught up on reading any books that I've promised to review (as in for a tour or accepted a pitch and agreed to review within a specific time frame) that month.

    5. Do you strictly adhere to your reading schedule, or is it more of a guideline and you read what you feel like reading as the mood hits?
    - Each month, I make a list of books that I've committed myself to reviewing in that month or in the first few days of the following month. (I try to keep these promises to 5 or less per month.) Then I make a list of other books that I'd like to read that month (either NG requests, or new releases, or stuff I've been dying to get to). Once I finish my list of promises for that month, I read from the other list based on want (or sometimes obligation).

    I have just recently started doing it this way, and it's been really helpful I think. At least, it FEELS like I'm starting to slowly gain control over this monstrous TBR pile that is so overwhelming to me. It has helped me to create a healthier balance between review books and my own books. I find that breaking things up into monthly chunks has kept me ahead of schedule as far as reading goes, and allows me to prioritize a few per month and then mix it up the rest of the month with review books and purchased books. I use Google Calendar (because I also use this as my blog post schedule) and the little task list to fill in any reviews that I verbally committed to and their due dates, and I post my monthly to-read lists in one of my Goodreads groups.

    My post is getting REALLY long, so I'm gonna stop. But feel free to email or message me on Goodreads if you want to talk about it more and whatnot, help each other out, create a support group, whatever. lol

    1. Jenny! You're already making me feel better. Because I'm kind of thinking along the same lines. I requested it, but that doesn't mean I'm going to review it unless I agreed to do so for a tour or promotional event, right? I'm going to stop beating myself up about this. I am not Super Reader Girl. Hell, I'm not even a speed-reader. I prefer to immerse myself in a story, not read it quickly to move on to the next one.

      I am seriously down for the support group, though. Something to keep me honest. For every review book I read, I get to read a book I got just for me. I don't know why I didn't consider that before. Reading is supposed to be something I do for fun. And I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it. I've become such a mood reader, probably because of the duds I've forced myself to finish for review purposes or tours or what have you.

      I'll definitely be in touch. :D

  5. OMG! LOL Your bookshelves are awesome! I am the MOODIEST reader on planet earth so I have absolutely no reading schedule. Making a spread sheet would be a big waste of my time. I just pick up whatever I'm feeling next. I try to keep in mind all ARCs and read them before the release but if I try to force myself to read anything I'm not in the mood for it will just end up being a DNF. Because of this I don't request many ARCs unless I know I really want them but even then as soon as I get them I don't want to read them at that moment. So weird I know. I'm telling you moody! So anyway I just go with the flow and do my best to finish. I don't even worry about it anymore really. I see all these google calandar spread sheet people and I feel a little guilty and then I say naw I have more fun my way. hehe

    1. I aspire to be more like you, Jennifer! I wish I could be so free-spirited with my I used to be before I started reviewing and blogging. I'm seriously such a mood reader these days, and having a reading schedule kinda sucks when I'm not in the mood to read anything up next on my schedule. :( Don't feel guilty...I think you've got the right idea! :)

  6. I feel the same way. I give up on trying to get caught up on ARCs but I do have a schedule too and its hard when you see a book you really want to read. Love your bookshelves.

    1. Thanks! I kind of figured I'd find a lot of others with the same problem, but it's nice to hear I'm not the only one. :)

  7. NetGalley is a wonderful yet addicting place! I have a hard time trying to finish and review before the archive date because some books get lowered on my list of what I want to read. I've definitely become more of a mood reader lately too. While I don't have a husband or kids to worry about, I do have my family and I worry about how much time I'm spending away from them with blog-ish or bookish things. Ooh, I love your spreadsheet though! I'm not that popular ;) so I don't have to go that far, but I should be more organized with other blog related things.

    Hey, if you ever need to empty your load and magnificent bookshelf, you know where to find me ;D

    LOVE this post!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

    1. Haha...I'll remember that, Sunny! I don't get all that many physical review copies, but I'll definitely keep you in mind! :D

  8. I am still trying to catch up from last year but this year I have a calendar and I am staying organized. I won't go so far to spread sheet out everything. I am learning.

    1. I'd die without my spreadsheet...or, more accurately, workbook. I love to be organized. I'm a bit of a control freak, which I guess is why this is all a little intimidating. :(

  9. Do you read every single book you request for review, whether via ARC, Netgalley or Edelweiss? Yes but only because I have maybe requested like 5 books. I have 3 to review and two of those don't release until June.
    Do you attempt to read every review book by the release date? Only if I have requested from the publisher. For example if I win an ARC I don't feel the pressure to review it by release date
    Do you post your reviews for requested review books prior to release date? I try to post them the month of
    How do you slip in those books that you had hoped to get for review but didn't and had to wait until release date to receive your own copy? Sometimes. If I find the book on audio I will get it and review it that way.
    Do you strictly adhere to your reading schedule, or is it more of a guideline and you read what you feel like reading as the mood hits? I plan out what I'm reading that month and mostly stick to it. I look at my bookshelves and say ok this is coming out next month and these are the audio books I have and try to balance. Every now and then I'll add an audio book or switch something

    End of the day family comes first. Take time out to spend with your family and if you don't get any reading done that day at least you know that you spent it with your loved ones. Remember that blogging is for fun so try not to stress. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Cari. I keep trying to remind myself of that. Blogging is fun. Blogging is fun. It is NOT a second job. :) Also, stop requesting so many damn books. There. I feel a little better already. :D

  10. Dang, girl! I'll give you my answers to your questions and then get to the misc. stuff, okay?

    Do you read every single book you request for review, whether via ARC, Netgalley or Edelweiss?
    - Yeah, I do my best. Actually, I avoid Edelweiss because Netgalley keeps me pretty busy, and I make sure to only request books that I'm DYING to read.

    Do you attempt to read every review book by the release date?
    - No. I try to read every review book NEAR the release date. I figure I have a month's cushion on either side to post a review, so that's what I give myself to read as well.

    Do you post your reviews for requested review books prior to release date?
    - Again, no. I only post reviews once or twice a week, so I try to get the reviews as close to the release date as possible, but I can't bend time.

    How do you slip in those books that you had hoped to get for review but didn't and had to wait until release date to receive your own copy?
    - As long as I already have a review planned for that week, I'll let myself read whatever I want. However, I have a readathon planned for May that's 100% devoted to rereads. (You can check it out on my blog.)

    Do you strictly adhere to your reading schedule, or is it more of a guideline and you read what you feel like reading as the mood hits?
    - Guideline. Review books definitely get first priority by date, but I allow myself some wiggle room.

    You know what you gotta do, chica. Restrain yourself. Request fewer books. Put less pressure on yourself. Love your kids and your husband.

    1. Yeah, I know. And I appreciate the reminder. Sometimes, you just need to hear it you know...and not the griping from family, but the voice of reason from friends who know what you're going through. But that whole "put less pressure on yourself" thing? Never gonna happen. I've always been this way. I pushed myself through school and I push myself at work. I strive for perfection, no matter how unattainable. Can't help it. But I'll keep trying. And I'll restrain myself. Or at least try to. :)

  11. WE CAN'T HELP OURSELVES. That's all there is to it, hah.

    I'm with you on #1 and #2. I'm a mood reader, though, so I have to have some flexibility within a certain month, but like you, I've started becoming better about scheduling out in advance for new releases. I love your spreadsheet, btw--I totally enlarged it to see if it looked like mine, hee hee.

    I think we all struggle with balancing our personal lives with blogging. For me, I've tried to limit myself a little more a to when I blog and how; I also request fewer titles (ugh, "fewer" is relative, though--there are SO many books that sound appealing). And when the books come, I am doing a lot better about putting them aside and moving on if I'm just not feeling it. Ongoing struggle, though.

    Loved this post. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. 2 things:
    1. How are your shelves so empty? Mine are bursting at the seams
    2. I envy your shelf space. I wish a had walls that long to put some awesome shelves. I have a book shelf stuffed everywhere I can in my house and it's still not enough.


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