Literate Housewife’s True Confessions

My name is Literate Housewife and I am a book addict.  My eyes are bigger than my reading capacity and I have difficulty with the word “No.”   I have more books in my house than I’ll probably ever read.  I feel as though I’m starting to reach critical mass here.  Three things specifically have got me thinking about this recently:

  1. Diana at The Raabe Review tagged me to discuss what is on my desk – I don’t really have a desk, but what I have that amounts to a desk would be very, very embarrassing to discuss.  Shame can be a good thing though.  It’s a powerful motivator to improve.
  2. The last daily topic for BBAW was to discuss what you liked about your blog and your goals for the upcoming year.  My knowledge of my TBR pile weighed heavily into that post.
  3. Swapna threw down the gauntlet at me, so to speak, with her Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge posted on Sunday.

I simply must do something about it.  So, in preparation for joining Swapna’s challenge and to fulfill Diana’s tag, I have done the following – taken pictures of my TBR pile broken down into three categories: Unsolicited, Requested, and Prize/Gift.  I was also going to do the same thing for purchased books, but there’s just way too many to even consider taking a picture.  Here are the pictures:

The Unsolicited Pile

These books have come to me over the past year or so.  Some of them I hope to read.  Others will end up being prizes at some point.


Here’s a closer look at each stack:

Unsolicited2 Unsolicited3 Unsolicited4 Unsolicited5

That’s 82 books – almost as much as I read in one year.

The Requested Pile

Thankfully there aren’t quite as many books in this pile, but Wow!  What was I thinking!


Here’s a closer look at each stack:

Requested2 Requested3 Requested4 Requested5

That’s 46 books – minus Isabel Allende’s memoir, Bright Shiny Morning (were in the unsolicited pile that I didn’t put back apparently), and White Tiger (I bought for myself).  That’s a half-year’s reading for me.

The Prize/Gift Pile

This is the smallest of the three, but oh, so, fun!


Here’s a closer look at these piles:

Prize-Gift2 Prize-Gift3

Only 16 books in this pile, but they are 16 books I’d so love to read right now.

That is 144 books folks.  If I don’t buy another book or pick up anything not contained within these pictures, it will take me a year and a half to read all of this.  I don’t see that happening.  So what am I going to do about it?

Last week, I went to lunch with Jaime from Confessions of a Bibliophile.  She’s the only book blogger I know who lives/works near me and spending my lunch break with her is quite a treat.  We don’t do it nearly enough, Jaime!  We discussed balancing our to review books and our own personal books and I like how she does it – she has her books in piles (hence my pictures).  She rotates through each pile in order.  I like that idea because she feels like she gets a variety that way.  Beginning in December, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Why December?  Well, I will be joining Swapna’s Clear Your Shelves Challenge which will include books in my R.I.P. Challenge.  I also have a theme picked out for November that will work well into Swapna’s challenge.  I’m also hoping to mine through my unsolicited books and decide once and for all what I want to giveaway and what I want to keep for my reading piles.

My eventual goal is to reach the magic 1 for 1 balance in my reading.  Maybe I won’t completely get there.  Maybe I will get to 2 review books for every 1 library/personal book and be happy.  I’ll just play that by ear.  In the meantime, these piles will give me something concrete to look at when I am considering whether to request a review book.

You now see my shame in almost it’s full glory.  If you saw my personal books you’d probably have me admitted to the local mental institution.  Do they let you read there all day?  Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing…  In any event, take pity on me and allow me to make the valiant attempt at chipping away at these piles over 2010.  I hope to give regular updates on my progress.

Do you have any true confessions of  the literary kind that you would care to share?

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  • At 2009.09.22 21:21, Melody said:

    I love looking at other bloggers’ TBR piles! 😀
    I just posted mine earlier; I didn’t take the whole lot of my piles but just a part of it.

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    • At 2009.09.22 21:25, softdrink said:

      I’ve cleared out my shelves and found duplicates. *sigh*

      Out of everything in those piles, I’m pushing for you to read The Heretic’s Daughter…I loved that book. A little slow at times, but so atmospheric.

      • At 2009.09.22 21:28, Just Mom said:

        That is a ton of books, Jennifer! I saw some titles I am interested in – the Robert Hicks and Pope Joan stood right out! I have Revolutionary Road waiting to read but right now I’m on The Brothers Boswell. I rec’d my dragon tattoo today – thanks!

        • At 2009.09.22 21:30, Amy @ My Friend Amy said:

          WOW!!!!! Good to know I’m not alone! 😉

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          • At 2009.09.22 21:48, Pam R. said:

            There are books I’d love to read in all of those piles! My own pile is slightly out of control but not quite as bad as those and since I don’t blog, I don’t have to write reviews! Wishing you luck and looking forward to the giveaways! 🙂

            • At 2009.09.22 21:49, Kirsten Cutler said:

              Put “The Devil’s Queen” at the top of your pile. I really enjoyed reading it.

              • At 2009.09.22 22:14, Kathy said:

                You are a brave woman! I get very few unsolicited books. I do love Jaime’s idea, though, and I’m jealous that you two get to go to lunch. Getting together with you two is so much fun!! Good luck with your project.

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                • At 2009.09.22 22:48, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                  By ‘unsolicited’ do you mean that they just show up, or that someone sought you out and offered them? Because if it is the former, WOW, girl, you’re loved and connected! On your unsolicited stack I noticed “City of Refuge” which I just finished today and HIGHLY recommend and “Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal” which is odd, but very good.

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                  • At 2009.09.22 22:48, Belle said:

                    I loved the peek at your tbr piles. I don’t think I’ll ever get mine down to that 1 for 1 balance. It doesn’t help that I simply can’t resist the library and the bargain books section in bookstores!

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                    • At 2009.09.22 22:55, kristin said:

                      Oh, no need for guilt. Enjoy the beauty of those books, even if they sit on a shelf! But…I will support you in your efforts, whether I agree or not!

                      • At 2009.09.22 23:11, Lisamm said:

                        Finally, someone in worse shape than me when it comes to their TBR piles!!

                        My piles are not quite as bad as yours but that’s only because I stopped accepting review books a couple months ago in an effort to catch up (fat chance!!) That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped buying books, however. What the heck is wrong with me??

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                        • At 2009.09.22 23:33, Ti said:

                          Wow!! What a pile! So many good titles. I joined the Clear of Your Shelves challenge too. I thought my piles were bad but they aren’t quite as tall as these.

                          • At 2009.09.23 00:30, Violet said:

                            Such beautiful Stacks Jennifer.

                            I can see The Heretic’s Daughter in your Unsolicited Pile, I’ve heard it’s a very good book.

                            Your Requested pile is awesome too. All the best with the challenge 🙂

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                            • At 2009.09.23 00:38, Carey said:

                              I think you are very brave to take a realistic look at the piles! And I am so glad to know I am not the only one! Every time I request a book these days, I think to myself…do I REALLY need to read that? I am working very hard to try to learn to say “NO,” too. It is just that the lure of a great book is sooooo tempting. I try to give them away but can’t quite manage to match the rate they come in. Ah well, there are worse addictions in life…

                              • At 2009.09.23 05:14, Meghan said:

                                I’m a book addict too. I don’t get nearly that many unsolicited review books, but I’m always surprised by how many I actually have. I stopped requesting totally (still accept offers though) and thought I was making progress, but my pile never seems to diminish. Good luck with yours! I see several of my own wishlist books on your piles – A Secret Alchemy, The Hour I First Believed, and the new John Irving book popped right out at me – but I’d recommend starting with The Lacemakers of Glenmara. Mostly because I just finished it and it was a short, easy, enjoyable read that might help you feel like you’re making progress!

                                • At 2009.09.23 06:27, Michelle said:

                                  I don’t know that I can take a picture of all my books in the various piles it would frighten. Particularly my books bought/TBR pile, LOL. I think we have that whole addiction thing in common it seems.

                                  Looks like you have created a formidable plan of attack to work on that issue. I too have been thinking a lot on how to balance what I’m reading and from what pile. I have a good deal to do in October (as it relates to tours and reviews) which I love but for November I think I’ll exercise more caution on evening things out 🙂

                                  • At 2009.09.23 07:12, Marg said:

                                    You are a much braver blogger than I, showing all those books TBR!

                                    • At 2009.09.23 07:30, Melanie said:

                                      I love piles of books. Something about them is comforting. I don’t think there is anything wrong with your piles.

                                      • At 2009.09.23 09:07, Amy Reads Good Books said:

                                        I agree with Melanie! There’s nothing worse than the “I have nothing to read” feeling. At least you won’t have that for the next year or so! 🙂

                                        • At 2009.09.23 09:14, Stephanie said:

                                          Wow Jennifer!! That is a LOT of books. It would take me about a year and a half to read them all too. I don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed. I have a ton of unread books, but 99.9% of them are books I bought over the years. I haven’t been blogging long enough to have acquired more than a few review copies.

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                                          • At 2009.09.23 09:15, Julie P. said:

                                            I can so relate! Although I’m not brave enough to photograph!

                                            • At 2009.09.23 10:42, Tracie Yule said:

                                              My confession: I don’t have a huge TBR pile. I have six books in it right now and they are mostly ARC’s.

                                              I won’t buy a book unless I’m ready to read it…now. If I see a book I’m interested in, I’ll keep a list and put it in my Goodreads profile. Why? Honestly, if I had a stack like that, I would cry and think that I would never get through it 🙂

                                              On the other hand, I keep a lot of books and my family room is full of my favorite reads. So, I think I’m the odd duck out on this TBR pile of book bloggers 🙂

                                              • At 2009.09.23 12:13, Alyce said:

                                                Thanks for opening this session of book addicts anonymous. My husband would be all for me attending regular meetings. 🙂

                                                I had a similar problem earlier this year and finally managed to pare down my stacks of books. Now my review copy stack stays at around fifteen books. I try to rotate between my review copies, library books and my own books, but what really happens is that I alternate between review copies and library books.

                                                I integrate my prize wins into my personal library of books and read them whenever the mood strikes me. The only problem with that is that I own about 300 books that I haven’t read yet (and somehow I can’t stop buying more).

                                                • At 2009.09.23 12:31, Kay said:

                                                  I have to admit, that I love looking at other people’s stacks of books! It’s just so pretty, you know? 😉

                                                  Like you, I have more books than I can read in a year! And like you, I know I won’t just stop buying. I have few books for reviews, so I try to balance those in between the books I bought. Right now I’m trying to read books that aren’t part of series, this way I don’t “have to” go out and buy the next one!

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                                                  • At 2009.09.23 13:04, Jennifer said:

                                                    It is so nice to know that I’m not alone – while having it confirmed that I need a lot of help. LOL!

                                                    To clarify, the Unsolicited pile are those books that just found their way into my mailbox. Of the requested pile, only 2 were books that I actively requested. The rest were the result of me saying “Yes!” to an email. LOL! Like I said, I have trouble with the word “No.”

                                                    I like seeing other people’s piles because I get so many ideas for other books to add to my own. LOL!

                                                    A Secret Alchemy, The Hour I First Believed, John Irving’s latest, City of Refuge, Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal and The Heretic’s Daughter are all books from my Unsolicited pile that I will be reading. Now when that will be…

                                                    Since we’re starting Bookaholics Anonymous, should we set up an Al-Anon group for our spouses, partners, and loved ones? LOL!

                                                    • At 2009.09.23 14:55, Amy said:

                                                      They are some big piles of books…lovely on the one hand…a little daunting and intimidating on the other! I don’t have piles like that as I only started book blogging in July. My husband thinks the pile I have is bad enough so I think I’ll make sure he doesn’t see yours!

                                                      I saw Wally Lamb’s new book in your unsolicited pile. He’s a very good writer and that sounds like a good book. (I haven’t read it yet so I can’t vouch for it 100%!)

                                                      Happy Reading!

                                                      • At 2009.09.23 17:06, Diana Raabe said:

                                                        Yes, you’re nuts! But aren’t we all when it comes to books?

                                                        There are many books I recognize in your stacks, but some I don’t. What’s the Irving, for instance? A new one? Or an older one I should know?

                                                        • At 2009.09.23 19:00, Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said:

                                                          Not that I need any more books either, but I spy some in your unsolicited pile that I would have love to have received!

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                                                            • At 2009.09.23 22:56, Katie said:

                                                              those are some great piles of books! I’m always interested to see other readers’ stacks of books. Happy reading 🙂

                                                              • At 2009.09.24 07:23, Veens said:

                                                                144!!!!!!!!!!! WOW! That’s something! And I like Jaime’s idea too 🙂
                                                                No worries@ my problem is different… i have around 50 books.. almost all of them bought by ME 😀 and I am still buying! I cannot stop it! 🙁 it is ridiculous. but i m sure u understand 🙂

                                                                And i found 1 book in your pile that i have 🙂 🙂
                                                                That is Along Came a Spider! 🙂 🙂

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                                                                • At 2009.09.24 09:14, Fyrefly said:

                                                                  I love looking at other people’s stacks of books! A few I spotted in your “unsolicited” pile – I loved A Secret Alchemy, and I think it’s right up your alley, as is The Heretic’s Daughter, which I didn’t LURVE but definitely enjoyed. Also, in your “requested” pile I spied some Barbara Kingsolver, who is one of my favorite authors, although The Bean Trees is not her best book.

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                                                                  • At 2009.09.25 13:41, lilly said:

                                                                    Aren’t all those piles of books oh so beautiful? I think they are, even if you’re not going to read all of them, they are still a sight to treasure 🙂
                                                                    I saw Annette Vallon in you ‘requested pile’ and I did read it this year and I really enjoyed it. It definitely made me want to read more about the French Revolution, as I didn’t know all that much about it.

                                                                    • At 2009.09.25 22:00, Kim said:

                                                                      Oh my Stars!!! It’s going to take a minute to wrap my head around this one. Looks like you’re drowning in a sea of books — but what a way to go!

                                                                      • At 2009.09.26 14:03, Jemima said:

                                                                        I have always fantasized about being put in prison and getting to read, read, read … I had not thought of a mental institution though. That sounds like another possibility.

                                                                        • At 2009.09.28 08:55, Farrah from The Book Faery Reviews said:

                                                                          I just recently had to go through my solicited/unsolicited review books and personal books (I have books in two rooms now!! If only I had a LIBRARY in my house dedicated to my precious books!) I’ve dedicated a shelf to review books which are currently in order of author last name BUT I’m now thinking I need to change it to order of received so I can read in order. But like you I was reading everything else BUT MY BOOKS. So I’ve now decided that I will alternate between a review book and my personal choice. So far so good in the last 2 weeks. FINALLY read a book from my personal list that I purchased back in May or June.

                                                                          • At 2009.09.28 11:52, Lisa said:

                                                                            This sounds like a great plan. I’m going to have to adopt it, although I’ll probably wait to start until the first of the year. Fortunately I don’t have nearly as many review books to work in but this would allow me to make sure I’m balancing both.

                                                                            • At 2009.09.28 16:13, b*babbler said:

                                                                              Wow! That truly is a sea of books – but look how very pretty they all look sitting there. It’s your very own art installation.

                                                                              This also demonstrates that perhaps I really should get on to spending more time on my book reviews. There’s definitely an incentive!

                                                                              • At 2009.09.29 09:51, Mike B. said:

                                                                                My god am I jealous!

                                                                                • At 2009.10.01 11:17, Jaime said:

                                                                                  Now I’m going to have to post my pile confessions! Maybe this weekend as I recover from my vacation and get back to blogging.

                                                                                  • At 2009.10.04 13:34, Jennygirl said:

                                                                                    Wow! I love looking at other people’s piles of lovely beautiful books. I stll break ot in sweat for you though. All those books just itching to be held…good luck and enjoy. You have some excellent titles in there.
                                                                                    Thanks for sharing.

                                                                                    • At 2009.10.06 09:33, diane said:

                                                                                      OMG…that is a whole lot of books. I’d be a bit confused as to where to start.

                                                                                      (Required, will not be published)

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