Sunday Salon: Tackling the TBR

The Sunday Salon

I would like to cut down my TBR without it feeling like a chore. I currently have 133 books that I have bought and not yet read, which is massive. And I know I’m never going to get it down to 20 or 30 books, neither do I want to, but under 100 would feel more manageable, maybe even under 80.

Then again, that would mean almost a year of reading without buying new books. It seems unlikely. And new books always seem more exciting than ones that have been sitting around for a while. (See, for instance, the fact that I started reading my new copy of Anna Karenina as soon as we got back from holiday. Not that I regret finally embarking on this classic, but 822 pages of one book means not tackling four normal-sized books.)

anna karenina

Basically, I need to make reading my TBR fun. I could assign a number to every title and use a random-number generator or write all the titles on pieces of paper that I put in a jar and pick them out one by one.

But the idea I really like is to create mini reading lists. I could treat reading like planning a film night: pick a few on a theme to read back-to-back. (Does everyone do that or is it a me-and-Tim thing?)

For instance, on the theme of journalism, I could read Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn, Never Done: a History of Women’s Work in Media Production by Erin Hill, Decline of the English Murder by George Orwell and Hotel Florida by Amanda Vaill.

On the theme of refugees and migration, I have The Gurugu Pledge by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby, The Passport by Herta Müller and The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla.

I’ve even amassed a handful of YA books: The Last Family in England by Matt Haig, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie and The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

And I have a dozen books set during different wars. But those are fairly wide, vague themes. I’m pretty sure I could come up with some much more specific, particular themes within 133 books. (And if I include all Tim’s books that I haven’t already read, it gets even easier, though it helps less with my TBR!) But I don’t want to ruin the books ahead of time by reading all their plots on Wikipedia, so I need some help here from people who have read the books before me. Can you spot links between books on my TBR that would make for interesting back-to-back reading? Let me know!