The TBR Book Tag 2017

The truth, the whole truth…

I first did this tag back in 2015, and then last week Cleo reminded me of it when she brought her own one up-to-date. So I thought I’d do it again and see what, if anything has changed…

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I have the same spreadsheet as I had back then, but it’s got even more complicated now! As well as sections for the TBR, the GAN Quest, lists of reviews, outstanding review copies, books that aren’t yet published, 5-star authors, etc., etc., plus the all-important reading schedule for the next three months, I now have lists for my four challenges too: Reading the Russian Revolution; Murder, Mystery, Mayhem; the Classics Club; and Around the World in 80 Books. Oh, and then there’s a separate spreadsheet for audiobooks. Frankly it’s a full-time job keeping it all up-to-date – no wonder I need to eat so much chocolate!

You have to admire the colour-coding though, eh?

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

It’s still mostly e-book, though I’ve been enjoying getting back to paper books a bit more recently. I vastly prefer factual books in paper – it’s so much easier to flick back and forwards to notes, maps etc. But I’ve rediscovered my love of reading crime and fiction in paperback too. However, my Kindle Fire is still my most prized piece of technology, full of NetGalley stuff, Complete Works collections of zillions of classic authors, books bought at bargain prices on offers from Amazon, and audiobooks.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I have to try to juggle the review copies with my various challenges, so at the end of each month I spend a couple of hours planning three months ahead. I don’t stick rigidly to it if something comes along that I can’t resist but it does keep me vaguely on track. I still have the same problem of too many review copies though – some things never change!

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

The Observations by Jane Harris. I am deeply ashamed to say that I bought it on 20th June 2011, and yet somehow haven’t managed to fit it in during the last six years. I’d feel better about it if it was the only one from 2011, but sadly not. No Name by Wilkie Collins is lingering there too. In my defence, it only went on my actual list a couple of years ago when I trawled through all my Kindle books and found loads I had bought on 99p deals in my first flush of Kindle enthusiasm and never read…

The Blurb says: Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her past, Bessy Buckley takes a job working as a maid in a big country house. But when Arabella, her beautiful mistress, asks her to undertake a series of bizarre tasks, Bessy begins to realise that she hasn’t quite landed on her feet. In one of the most acclaimed debuts of recent years, Jane Harris has created a heroine who will make you laugh and cry as she narrates this unforgettable story about secrets and suspicions and the redemptive power of love and friendship.

A book you recently added to your TBR?

I’m super enthusiastic about my most recent addition – it will be one of the final books for my Russian Revolution thing, and I think it sounds great.

The Blurb says: In The Man Who Loved Dogs, Leonardo Padura brings a noir sensibility to one of the most fascinating and complex political narratives of the past hundred years: the assassination of Leon Trotsky by Ramón Mercader.

The story revolves around Iván Cárdenas Maturell, who in his youth was the great hope of modern Cuban literature—until he dared to write a story that was deemed counterrevolutionary. When we meet him years later in Havana, Iván is a loser: a humbled and defeated man with a quiet, unremarkable life who earns his modest living as a proofreader at a veterinary magazine. One afternoon, he meets a mysterious foreigner in the company of two Russian wolfhounds. This is “the man who loved dogs,” and as the pair grow closer, Iván begins to understand that his new friend is hiding a terrible secret.

Moving seamlessly between Iván’s life in Cuba, Ramón’s early years in Spain and France, and Trotsky’s long years of exile, The Man Who Loved Dogs is Padura’s most ambitious and brilliantly executed novel yet. This is a story about political ideals tested and characters broken, a multilayered epic that effortlessly weaves together three different plot threads— Trotsky in exile, Ramón in pursuit, Iván in frustrated stasis—to bring emotional truth to historical fact.

A novel whose reach is matched only by its astonishing successes on the page, The Man Who Loved Dogs lays bare the human cost of abstract ideals and the insidious, corrosive effects of life under a repressive political regime.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

Nope – I can only repeat my answer from 2015. I do like covers but am never influenced by them alone, good or bad, though if they’re especially good, they might at least tempt me to look at the blurb. I love the British Library Crime Classics covers though…

…and the Agatha Christie covers that Audible is currently using…

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

No… not really… well… I admit… some of those 99p bargains I mentioned above have lost a lot of their appeal over the years, but I periodically trawl through and delete any that I really don’t want to read, so theoretically at least I plan on reading everything on my current list…

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

I’ve been trying not to acquire so many advance copies so I don’t have many unpublished books on the TBR at the moment. But this is one I picked purely on the basis of the blurb and publisher – Canongate are one of the leaders in promoting quality Scottish fiction writers. I’m hoping it’ll be as good as it sounds…

The Blurb says: Shetland: a place of sheep and soil, of harsh weather, close ties and an age-old way of life. A place where David has lived all his life, like his father and grandfather before him, but where he abides only in the present moment. A place where Sandy, a newcomer but already a crofter, may have finally found a home. A place that Alice has fled to after the death of her husband.

But times do change – island inhabitants die, or move away, and David worries that no young families will take over the chain of stories and care that this valley has always needed, while others wonder if it was ever truly theirs to join. In the wind and sun and storms from the Atlantic, these islanders must decide: what is left of us when the day’s work is done, the children grown, and all our choices have been made?

The debut novel from one of Scotland’s most exciting new literary voices, The Valley at the Centre of the World is a story about community and isolation, about what is passed down, and what is lost between the cracks.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

So, so many now that I’ve joined the Classics Club! But the one that stands out most is Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith – EVERYBODY has read it! And I hereby swear on all I hold most dear…

… I too will have read it before spring is sprung!

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Hmm… probably the one that has been most often recommended to me over the years is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – I can’t understand why I’ve never read it. And I hereby swear on all I hold most dear…

… I will have read it before spring is sprung! (But I’m not specifying which spring…)

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

About 90% of them, which is a lot! But here are a few that I’m absolutely determined to read soon!

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

None! I don’t use it – I only list books I’ve read or am reading on Goodreads. However, here are the dreaded figures from the spreadsheet…

So… up by 62 since 2015! But considering I added zillions when I joined the Classics Club, and zillions more when I started the 100 Classic Crime novels challenge, I think that’s pretty good! It’s only 4 years worth, after all! In fact, I might have to think about topping it up soon…

* * * * * * *

Of course, I haven’t included the audiobooks…

* * * * * * *

Go on – I tag you! Reveal all…

54 thoughts on “The TBR Book Tag 2017

  1. Oh my word – that spreadsheet is the stuff of nightmares! Reading that alone must take up half a day. Perhaps you should write a review of the TBR list?! But in all seriousness, I admire the dedication of professionalism of your approach to book reviewing. My many hats are off to you, dear FF!


    • Hahahaha! I have occasionally encountered that drawback too! And it irks me totally when they upgrade Excel and suddenly a colour I use becomes non-standard – how dare they??? Don’t they know they’re ruining my life??? 😱🤣


  2. Haha! I knew Mr. Darcy would make an appearance, FictionFan! And I really like the way you have your TBR list set out – spreadsheets and everything! That’s more than I do, that’s for sure. By the way, I’m glad you do plan to read the Padura. He has a fascinating writing style, and I’ll be interested in knowing what you think of it.


    • Haha – I couldn’t do a tag without him in it – he’d go into a decline! My spreadsheet is pretty impressive, isn’t it? Sometimes I worry that it may be the sign of a misspent adulthood… 😉 The Padura sounds great – I became fascinated by Trotsky during all this Russia reading so it seems like a good way to round off the challenge. Glad it gets your endorsement! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know!!! No-one understands just what I go through for the sake of the blog… 😉

      It still appeals to me and I’m determined to read some of these books that have been hanging around for too long next year – if I can just resist all the review copies… *sighs*


  3. I think I am unruly, Fiction Fan. I don’t follow a method to control my TBR. It is just the list on Goodreads, and I follow my impulse to reach the next read. 🙂


    • Hahaha- I love the idea of being unruly – what fun!! I used to be an impulse reader too and part of me would love to get back to that, but I just can’t seem to resist the review copies and the challenges. And I do love my spreadsheet… 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! But oh, you must have a spreadsheet! I feel devastated for you now! The fun of moving things from place to place – the sheer joy of adding new books, and the even sheerer joy of taking them off again… 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so organised!! I don’t know how many TBRs I have because I often forget to add books to LibraryThing – which is where I record physical books – not e-books. I keep reading books I’ve had for a while only to find I haven’t listed them on LT.

    BTW you are not the only person who hasn’t read Strangers on a Train ‘cos I haven’t read it either – and I don’t have a copy! I’m looking forward to reading Sea of Poppies too. And some of my TBRs are much older than yours 🙂 – some are at least 11 years in waiting.

    I shall take a deep breath and do some updating and analysis – and maybe even write my own post.


    • Hahaha – it’s a veneer! I became addicted to spreadsheets when I discovered long, long ago that bosses always believed a good complicated one was a sign of efficiency… poor deluded fools! 😉 I’m not so bad with physical books because I don’t put them away on shelves till I read them (and sometimes not even then if I’ve run out of room and need to do a charity shop run!). But Kindle books get completely forgotten if I don’t keep a record.

      Well, I’m pleased to hear that because it sometimes seems everyone in the world has read it except me. But it is genuinely on my reading list for January, so hopefully it’ll happen! 11 years! That is impressive! I definitely think you need to do this tag – go on! I dare you! 😀


    • Ah, spreadsheets are never work! I can spend happy hours messing around with mine… just as I used to do at work, when my bosses thought I was actually, well, working… 😉


  5. A fabulous post not least because you have far more books on your TBR than I do!
    I read The Observations quite a few years back, we probably bought it around the same time.
    Thanks for linking to my post – here’s to loads more great books over the next year!


    • Ah, but that’s only because you haven’t read The Story of Crime in 100 Books yet! You wait! 😉

      I bought so many of these deals back then – I’ve gradually read (or deleted) most of them, but that one keeps slipping through the net. Next year for definite! Yes indeed – between us we could stock a library! 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your spreadsheet! I use a similar one but much simpler, namely; title, author, genre, start date, end date, and rating. I loved your answers to this tag, I did it a little while ago and I loved it. I totally agree, the Agatha Christie covers are gorgeous and I need them all!


    • Ah. mine started out simple too, but then it grew! Be careful – they have a mind of their own! 😉 Ooh, I shall pop over and take a look at your answers shortly – it’s a fun tag and reminds me to stop acquiring so many new books!! I love those Agatha Christie covers and even more I love Hugh Fraser’s narrations of the books! 😀


  7. Now *that’s* a spreadsheet!! Wow, most impressive, FF. My little ole handwritten list of title and author looks pretty shabby next to such a document. But confession-time: I, too haven’t read Strangers on a Train!!


    • Hahaha – it’s wonderful, isn’t it? You’d think with that to rely on I’d be able to keep on top of my reading… 😉 Oh, good – I’m not the only one then! My spreadsheet informs me I’ll be reading it in January though… 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As you know, my TBR is mostly my Goodreads to-read list (hovering around 390 now…) with about 30-odd physical books at my house I’ve not yet read. Which means our total numbers are about the same! The book on my list that’s been there the longest is Jane Austen’s Lady Susan/Sanditon/The Watsons. I’m GOING to read it before Spring, I swear on all I hold most dear (insert picture of chocolate!)

    Anyway, I enjoyed your TBR reckoning!


    • I used to include my wishlist but then lots of bloggers said they only included books they actually own so that’s what I now call my TBR – but really in my mind I still include all the ones I want to own too! Haha – I believe Lady Susan is languishing somewhere on my list too… yes, since June ’16, apparently. (To be clear, that’s 2016, not 1916… 🤣) I swear by all I hold dear (insert picture of Rafa) I’ll get to it soon………….ish!

      Go on, do the tag! I dare you! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post. I’m tempted to do this myself! I’m impressed by your spreadsheet; I’m not as organised as you and just use Goodreads. I can highly recommend both The Observations and No Name – and I also loved Sea of Poppies and Imperium. 🙂


    • Oh, yes, do it! I love hearing other people’s bookish confessions! Haha – my spreadsheet is a true work of art! Sadly, I could probably read two books a month more in the time it takes me to keep it up to date… 😉 Oh, that’s good to hear – I do think they all sound good and now that I’ve shamed myself they stand a much better chance of making it to the top of the heap… 😀


  10. I knew you would impress with your whizz-kid targets and spreadsheet and amazing figures. I live in denial, so I have started and abandoned spreadsheets (or not quite fully updated), notebooks (but several separate ones) and Goodreads and impulse picks from libraries or elsewhere… In short, my method is to never allow all of the sources to mingle in case they produce a unified offspring!


    • It’s true – my spreadsheet deserves to have a monument built in its honour! Hahaha – that was what I was like before I began blogging, but now I have to be organised or I’d never get the review copies done. Of course if I didn’t spend so long organising, I could probably read an extra couple of books a month! We’re all hopeless in our own unique ways… 😉


  11. ha! This made me laugh. You must be like me and getting very excited for Christmas to roll around, mainly because the chocolate selection is so varied!

    And I’m the same as you, a book’s cover never really convinces me to read it/not read it. I find that covers are so hit or miss anyway, and the author rarely has that much say over them, so why let it guide your decision to read the book? Life is short!


    • Ah, yes, it’s when the supermarket dedicates an entire shelf to chocolate gift boxes!! Heaven!

      Yes, I like a good unique cover design, but quite often when I finish the book I’m left wondering what exactly it had to do with the story. Still, they look nice when they’re lying in an untisy heap on a shelf…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have my TBR on a spreadsheet too though I don’t have separate tabs. I started mine when I found I was buying duplicates not realising I already had the book.. it’s very satisfying crossing books off the listeven though they don’t come off as fast as new ones get added.


    • Ha – I nearly did that the other night for a book I read before I started keeping records. When I went to Amazon to buy it, it said I’d bought it already back in 2007 – then I realised I did remember reading it after all! Oh well, one less to add to the TBR!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! So organized!

    Strangers on a Train is on my list too. The Talented Mr. Ripley was FANTASTIC so I went to my favorite used book shop for Strangers, but alas—I ended up with Highsmith’s Those Who Walk Away and The Two Faces of January instead when I couldn’t find it. I wonder if that means Strangers is too good too sell… which just makes me want to read it more!


    • Haha – well, it LOOKS organised, anyway! 😉

      I haven’t read any of her books, but I want to start with Strangers in a Train because I love the film so much. Haha – this is why I stay as far away from bookshops as I possibly can – not that it seems to be helping any… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I am so impressed. I feel like I should send you chocolate for sharing it with us.

    I thought The Observations sounded interesting but when I looked it up, I found that I had purchased it last month. I really should make a spreadsheet.


    • Haha – well, I’m happy with that idea! 😉

      Hahahaha – best comment! I’m frequently glad that Amazon remembers what books I’ve already bought – it’s better at it than I am… 😉


    • I didn’t used to have a TBR at all – I’d buy a few, read them, then buy a few more. Happy days! It’s this blogging nonsense that’s driven me to the edge of insanity (some people may say I’ve already crossed it… 😉 )


  15. I’ve got spreadsheet envy!
    99 on my TBR, not counting the piles of physical books all over the house waiting for their turn to be read. Maybe about 250, but I really don’t want to know exactly…


  16. Wow! Your spreadsheet is amazing, a work of art. I don’t know how you do it! It makes my TBR look very modest, I keep a notebook of what I have read, a notebook for notes, and a notebook for quotes, that’s the extent of my diligence. 😂 You are a truly dedicated reviewer.


    • Hahaha – it is, isn’t it? The odd thing is I’m still hopelessly disorganised – how can that be??? It’s one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe… 😉 I do have a notebook for notes too… if only I could remember to write in it before I forget the books completely…

      Liked by 1 person

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