Growing My TBR Tower

Preview in new tab

2 books x 3 inches x 1,020 pages. B x In. x Pp, are those the standard dimensions for a TBR tower? Mine is so much more than a pile. After discussing my break-up books in yesterday’s post, I took a day trip to a fantastic little books store. My budget didn’t allow for more, but I wound up with two more books to add to my TBR (to be read) tower.

I wasn’t planning it this way, the magic of the universe, (God?) pieces things together in more perfect ways than I can ever imagine. I purchased two “Catholic” books. Fitting during Lent. Rather than lamenting over authors I’ve never read and shaming myself for it, I admit I never read anything by Flannery O’Connor.

The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor

I heard she was an incredible writer. Oddly (perfectly) enough, a few years ago during Lent, I watched a video series by Bishop Robert Barron called The Pivotal Players-Fulton J. Sheen & Flannery O’Connor. Fascinated with her life and writing process, I was introduced to A Good Man is Hard to Find, along with an analysis of that work. I put her books in my Amazon cart. It must have been 2020 because I couldn’t get to the library or Half Price Books to poke around the shelves to look through her books. They stayed deep in my virtual cart because I wanted to take a peek first. Are her books those I want to own? Will we break up? Will I read and return them, dust myself off, and move on with my life?

Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael P. Foley

Another find practically leaped off the shelf and straight into my arms. I carried that book around the bookstore like it was a textbook; it weighs about as much. I heard about this one from a guy named Matt Fradd on Instagram, and have listened to some of his Pints with Aquinas podcast episodes. That led me to another Instagram account, drinkingsaints, and here we are.

I like that I can pop in as often as I can with these books. Short stories. Saint stories. Plus mixology recipes. I’ll sip (and read) to that!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Breaking Up with Books

Abandonment sounds so final. If it isn’t a good fit, there’s no point to continue reading. However, I’m the type who wants to hang on until the end, gives me more to talk about if I don’t like it. I use the term “breaking up with a book” to explain to students to move on and find something else if they aren’t connecting with their selections. It’ll still be there if you want to go back to it later, I tell them.

Why don’t I take my own advice? Why would you want to read a book you aren’t enjoying? I do it to myself. I’m loyal. Even with books. Usually.

I’m on a re-reading streak of some favorites. Deenie by Judy Blume. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on audio (so good!). The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I need to stop here because I’m already overloading my list. This in addition my regular TBR tower, which groans under the heft of a new book I can’t resist when I’m shopping. I buy the ones that have library waitlists longer than several months.

I’m a slow reader, so if a book sounds like a great read, I usually buy it so I can spend all the time I need with it. Unfortunately, it takes me a while to get to them.

Beyond the queue, I’m considering adding break-up books. For different reasons, I couldn’t handle them at the time I picked them up. Dare I go back?

I broke up with A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, as a teacher, and as a parent. I checked this book out every year in middle school. I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. I tried reading it to my fourth graders one year. They weren’t crazy about it, we reassessed, and chose something else.

When the 2018 movie was released, the one with Oprah, my nine year old requested the book. We got a copy after having watched the movie, which is the opposite of our books-to-movie household rule. I started reading it aloud to her and she intercepted the book after the first few chapters. Book dumped. Similar to being Netflix dumped, but with a book. She finished it without me. It wasn’t a favorite, but she enjoyed it while it lasted. I seem to stop every time after, who is it–Mrs. Whatsit?– shows up.

The Hobbit. Fourth time’s a charm? I also broke up with this one as a kid, as a teacher, and as a parent. I have it on Audible. It’s next in line after I finish HP2, which is due tomorrow. I watched the movie with my oldest and enjoyed it. This one might work.

I once read or heard somewhere that people need to listen to great stories. Was it Neil Gaiman?

Those great classics? They’re meant to be read aloud. They sound different when you hear them. I enjoyed Harry Potter, but listening takes it to a whole other level. If it’s a great listen, I can always go to the book to annotate, highlight favorite passages, and maybe add it to my TBRA pile, to be read again, in print.

I’m sure there are more, but here are other book relationships that didn’t work out, each for different reasons. I may rekindle these by listening instead. (Except for Verity, I flat out didn’t like that one.)

Neil Gaiman on reading aloud and audiobooks linked here.

Sunday, March 12, 2023