6 Ways To Use Your TBR Stack (When Reading It Down Is Not An Option)

Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. Her days are books, books, books; she knows how lucky that makes her.  Twitter: @mschingler

The most persistent conundrum in an avid reader’s life: great books don’t stop coming out just because you get busy. Free time may diminish, but the list of titles that you crave to the core will only grow exponentially in response. They’re basically gremlins, these books, and they’re always, always getting doused in the waters of…well…your busyness?

Sick in bed tonight, and just drowning in deadlines, I turned to fluff my pillow, and my eyes lit upon my own stack. God, it seems higher tonight than it did this morning. That can’t be, I think, but there it is, looming, taunting me, destroying my chances of any easy, Nyquil-induced sleep. I could weep (on the inside, okay?). But instead, I thought: what if there’s something that I might do to address these piles of books in the meantime, while they’re still waiting to be read?

Here are a few brilliant suggestions for making peace with books yet read, wrestled from my orange-juicy depths:

1. TBR is your friend. Knit it a hat. Give it a name–a pert and respectable one, like Phineas or Clementine. Tell it it is looking lovely today. Weep.

2. TBR is full of fun. Play bookish Jenga. Take two of your tallest stacks; divide them in half. Shuffle these disparate bits together until you have a neat, squat stack. Search for the title that you’ve most been looking forward to. Pull it out. Let the rest topple. Weep.

3. TBR wants to be helpful. Divide a TBR stack into four equalish smaller stacks. Space them appropriately. Place a piece of glass or a flat board on top. Rest your cup of soup or hot toddy on this very chic makeshift table. Weep.

4. TBR makes you seem cool. Pull a few of the most heavily endorsed and/or suave sleeper titles from your stack. Take them to a well lit place and arrange them snazzily. Take photos. Replace your social media profile pictures with those bookish ones, so that people know how sophisticated you are. Neglect to mention that they’re as yet unread. Weep.

5. TBR is all about functionality. A tall enough TBR stack definitely can double as a hat rack. If you happen to wear hats. If you don’t wear–or even own–any hats: just weep.

6. TBR can make it better. Accept that your TBR stack will not dissipate overnight, despite your best readerly intentions. Don’t approach it as a monolithic problem–that’s your problem, you doofus, you always take things too seriously. Remember that it’s made up of elements, all of which, at some point, appealed to you on their own individual merit.

You’re just lying around sick. Pull a title out. Use this time wisely.

The rest will wait.