Conquering that Huge TBR Pile. Will you still like that book?

Posted on January 11, 2017 «
Categories: 2016 Shelf Love, 2017 Discussion Challenge «
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The Longer It Sits, The Moldier It Gets


Three years ago the ladies over at and I launched the #ShelfLove Challenge. Over the last three years we have attempted to dedicate ourselves to reading the books we already own and in July 2016, I pulled this specific stack of books off my physical bookshelf and set of goal of clearing them off my shelf by December 31, 2016.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t read every book on this list. I rehomed a few of them. A few of them ended up being duds and were tossed into an abandoned pile. And a few of them were surprisingly enjoyable. As I started to write reviews, I started to think that perhaps the longer a book has been on my shelf the less likely I was to enjoy it. And then Shannon over at It Starts At Midnight mentioned the same thing in a post I inspired her to write so she, in turn, inspired me to write this post.

Are They Moldy Oldies?

  1. book review empire of darkness The Empire of Darkness (thumbs down), The War of the Crowns (abandoned) and The Flaming Sword (abandoned).
    • Length of Shelf Time: Unknown
    • I honestly do not know how long this series sat on my shelf. I know it took me quite some time to gather all three books as they are translated (poorly, I discovered) from French. Once I finished book 1 and started in on book 2 and discovered the poor translations and story continuity, I was incredibly sad. For years I have raved about Jacq’s Ancient Egyptian fiction and now I’m uncertain if I should keep recommending them.

  2. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb (thumbs down)
    • Length of Shelf Time: 4 to 5 years
    • I read Alice I Have Been in 2011 and I enjoyed it (3 stars on GoodReads). I found The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb on the clearance rack around the holiday season in 2011 or 2012. I do remember buying it with a gift card I got for Christmas. This book was HUGELY disappointing and dull. Truly a case of telling and not showing.

  3. book review Seabiscuit Seabiscuit: An American Legend (thumbs up)
    • Length of Shelf Time: Unknown
    • This was a gift from my husband that came prepackaged with the movie Seabiscuit. I’m always wary of book that have movie adaptations. Non-fiction books are normally not my gig. And while I love horses, horse books have generally been misses for me. So I was surprised when I ended up loving Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand puts the whole Seabiscuit phenomenon into historical perspective and shares, the sometimes gruesome details, of life as a jockey.

  4. The World Dessert Contest (thumbs down)
    • Length of Shelf Time: 4 years
    • This one looked so shiny and awesome when it was free on Kindle in 2012. The concept sounded amazing and honestly, if I had kids, it probably would be a good book. As an adult, I was distracted by the formatting errors and disappointed by the sales pitch of it being a multimedia book. The music embedded in the MOBI file didn’t work. The illustrations were well done though. The story reminded me of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

  5. book review steam on the horizon Steam on the Horizon (thumbs up)
    • Length of Shelf Time: 2 years
    • I purchased this one at ICON 39 in 2014. Once I finished reading it I silently berated myself for waiting so long to read it. It was a wonderfully written action adventure story featuring a guy that you could root for.

  6. Pen Pal (thumbs down)
    • Length of Shelf Time: Just over 1 year
    • Spent extra cash on this self-published young adult novel at a bookstore in Toronto in 2015. This was definitely not cash well spent and I’m kicking myself now. The bookseller said it was a good one. I found it confusing as I couldn’t figure out if it was YA fantasy or YA contemporary. I had too many lingering questions as I read that were not resolved by the end.

  7. book review no lovely end There Is No Lovely End (thumbs down)
    • Length of Shelf Time: 1 year
    • I was so happy when I was finished with this book. It was interesting, but overall, not something I enjoyed reading all that much because there were too many storylines and too many characters to bring together to resolve the multitude of personal and world conflicts.

  8. Reawakened (thumbs down)
    • Length of Shelf Time: Less than 1 year
    • More Egyptian fiction, but with a whiny special snowflake. More than half the book was the main female protagonist complaining about the horrible task of hanging out with THREE sexy resurrected Egyptian gods/princes and believing she wasn’t pretty enough (despite the open flirtations) or strong enough to do what they were asking her to do. *rolls eyes* Glad I won this instead of paying money for it.

  9. book review crescent spy The Crescent Spy (thumbs up)
    • Length of Shelf Time: Less than 1 year
    • The last GoodReads giveaway I actually won. (Yes, people you know do win them…occasionally.) While this was set in a time period I’m not overly fond of, the main character held a bit of an allure for me. Turns out that if Josephine were real, we would probably be best friends with our love for travel, adventure and reading.

  10. Frost (thumbs up)
    • Length of Shelf Time: less than a month
    • While there was nothing revolutionary about this new YA dystopian novel, I did enjoy it. The love that Frost had for her pet, Romes, her father and her family’s robot, Bunt, poured off the pages. A quick read; it is in the same vein as The Lunar Chronicles with a touch of Terminator perhaps. Although my brain has trouble processing one name, John Lord. Outlander fans will understand why.

So are they moldier?

It’s hard to determine, from this sampling, if the longer a book sits on my shelf the less likely I am to enjoy it. Maybe four or five years ago, I would not have cared or noticed that the donkey’s name changed from book one to book two in Jacq’s series. Back in the day, I was just excited to find a historical fiction novel that wasn’t a nickel nasty as I didn’t know how to classify Outlander. I just wanted to read another book like Outlander. And since the Jacq books are difficult to find, it is likely that I wouldn’t have attempted to read them back-to-back like I did this summer, and as a result, in the past, I wouldn’t have noticed the plot holes and name changes.

There is evidence that I prefer strong lead characters and well-defined action-filled plots (Steam on the Horizon). If it’s not an action-filled plot, the book better be full of emotion (Frost). As long as some of those elements are present within a story, regardless of the length of time on my shelf, I’m likely to enjoy the book. It’s probably one reason many people still enjoy the Classics. There are elements in some of those stories that readers connect and identify with. (Although it may be somewhat disturbing that I prefer Frankenstein and Dracula over Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre).

So what do you think…

discussion prompt image
Take a look at the last ten to fifteen books you read, how long where they on your shelf before you started reading them? Does the length of time they have been on your shelf mean you enjoyed them less or were there core elements in the story, that no matter the length of time, you were bound to enjoy the story?




20 responses to “Conquering that Huge TBR Pile. Will you still like that book?

  1. This is a great post, Terri. When I was putting together my COYER list – I felt the same way. All those books that I have no interest whatsoever in reading. Frost is on my list as well. I might tackle that one next on your recommendation.

  2. I have quite a few final books in trilogy series from my YA period, that I own but no longer care to read. What I should do honestly is donate them. Sometimes though I read a book that has been getting mold and then kick myself for waiting so long!

  3. I am trying really hard to read the books that have been sitting on my shelves for months (or years). It’s a problem that has reached epic proportions. I’d had Gold Fame Citrus on my shelf for over a year and finally read it last week; I really enjoyed it and am now annoyed at having left it so long! It’s made me much more motivated to pick up some other neglected (and hopefully not mouldy) books.

  4. I do read a lot of recent books I acquired and am usually most enthusiastic about that, so I usually just end up reading books I got within the last few months or maybe the last year or so. There are some books that have been on my shelf so long I lost all interest in. I also have a book where I got spoiled for and I haven’t had the urge to pick it up again. In most cases my taste has changed or I no longer can recall why I wanted to read that book in the first place or can remember that enthusiasm for that book. Then again I also have some books on my shelves that i am still excited about. I guess it does depend on the book.

    • In 2014, as a part of the challenge, I culled by physical TBR shelf. It felt good to admit that some of the books on my shelf were not appealing anymore. I took them to Half Price Books, got cash…and bought more books. *laughs* It’s a vicious circle!

  5. The fear of not enjoying books that have been sitting on the TBR is a real fear of mine. Mostly because I reckon my reading tastes has changes a lot since I first bought the books. Hopefully there are some hidden gems in there! You seemed to have found a few

  6. For me, I’ve found that if a book has been on the shelf for years, there is a higher chance that I’m no longer interested in that “type” of book. While that doesn’t necessarily hold true for SFF, it definitely does for non-fiction. One fiction example is anything by Anne Rice. While there will always be a place on my shelves and in my heart for Interview with the Vampire, I’m just not the same person I was when I was obsessed with getting a copy of all of her books. I bought Prince Lestat when it was published, but I still haven’t read it, and I’m concerned that by the time I do, I might not enjoy it.

    • I think that is what happened with my obsession with Christan Jacq. I liked one of his series and wanted to read them all, but I’ve grown as a reader and refined what I like when it comes to historical fiction. As a result, when I attempted to read another of his series years later I was able to see issues that may not have been apparent when I was newer to his work.

  7. I LOOOOVE that you did like, an actual “study” on this! Because I DO wonder how true it is- or if it is our minds convincing us that it is true, when in fact it isn’t. Do you think this is about the same as your overall book sampling? As in, do you have a similar number of thumbs up versus thumbs down overall? (We could get REALLY into this I suppose bwhah.) I think that if I actually READ the books, the outcome would be similar to my usual ratio. The problem is, I never have the urge to pick up the darn thing because there are newer, shinier books to pick up. Bummer about Reawakened though, I just bought that one from Book Outlet hahha. LOVE this post!

  8. This is a great little study! I think I’ll have to do this myself. Like Shannon, I suspect that the older books aren’t ACTUALLY moldier. In fact, I tend to put off reading books that I KNOW I’ll like for some reason … and then the desire to read them fades away. But I think if I actually read them, I’d still like them. I think. I’ll have to take a look at my stats and see. if I can make any sort of determination on that.

    • I have to thank Shannon for the inspiration, Nicole. If you do create your own discussion post, I hope you’ll give me a heads up. I would be interested to learn what other readers find out!

  9. Soo this is going to sound REALLY nerdy, but I kind of want to actually start tracking that now and see if there’s something to it. I’ll agree, you’re random sample here doesn’t have any definitive results but … what about ANOTHER random sample? (And, yeah, sorry, I’ve got a degree in stats; I tend to overuse it :P)

    Awesome post!

    • Oh, as much as I hate math, I definitely agree that the sample size needs to be larger! 🙂 Perhaps I’ll provide an update after the COYER challenge since the goal is to read old books on my eReader. I’m much better at reading my backlog of physical books because I can actually SEE them.

  10. Hmm, you’re making me consider this, Terri. I’d have to really take a hard look at books that have been on my shelves for quite awhile but I think I can say that in the YA category, I may be less likely to read the books still waiting to be read if only because my tastes have really changed since acquiring those books. It was fun to see what you ended up liking or not and how long they’d been shelved though. 🙂

    • I’m still contemplating how to go about doing this and get more data. It means a lot of tracking, right? It’s easy if you buy it on Amazon because if you look up the book it will tell you when you both the book down to the exact day. But physical books? Oh, boy! I did start writing the year on the top of the first page mainly because I started getting curious as to how long a book sits on my shelf. *laughs*