Tackling My Book Backlog

My Fall classes are winding down, and I feel I have a firm grasp on my grades; I’m confident I’m going to end this semester doing well. Because I’m doing so well, I don’t feel like I have to devote all of my time to studying anymore. Knowing me, I’ll still devote a large chunk of time to studying, but I want to encourage myself to relax and do things away from school that I enjoy. Things like playing video games and reading novels. I used to read all the time. I haven’t read (for fun) since school started in August.

My problem is deciding what to read. I have a Kindle, and I have an Amazon wishlist with books that look interesting to me. When they drop in price, I usually snag them up whether I have time to read them then or not. I never buy a book at full price, so I’ve gotten some great deals, but what’s happened is I have ended up with a huge backlog of books sitting unopened on my device. What’s worrisome is I probably have over a hundred dollars worth of books just sitting there. I decided to make a list of them to motivate myself to bust through some of these. Lists always help me.

  • Arenson, Daniel: Earth Alone
  • Blatty, William Peter: The Exorcist
  • Bloch, Robert: Psycho
  • Bray, Michael: Feed
  • Brown, Dan: Angels & Demons
  • Clegg, Douglas: The Children’s Hour
  • Clegg, Douglas: You Come When I Call You
  • Crichton, Michael: Jurassic Park
  • Cross, Amy: The Curse of Wetherly House
  • Crouch, Blake: Abandon
  • Crouch, Blake: Pines (29%)
  • Crouch, Blake: Run
  • Dashner, James: The Maze Runner
  • Del Toro, Guillermo: The Strain
  • Everson, John: Covenant (63%)
  • Everson, John: The Pumpkin Man
  • Everson, John: Sacrifice
  • Gaiman, Neil: Neverwhere
  • Grisham, John: A Time to Kill
  • Grisham, John: The Firm
  • Grisham, John: The Pelican Brief (44%)
  • Harris, Thomas: Black Sunday
  • Harris, Thomas: Hannibal
  • Herbert, James: Fluke
  • Herbert, James: The Fog
  • Herbert, James: Haunted
  • Hill, Joe: Heart-Shaped Box (71%)
  • Hill, Joe: Horns
  • Hynd, Noel: Ghosts
  • Keene, Brian: Complex
  • Ketchum, Jack: Joyride
  • Ketchum, Jack: Offspring
  • King, Stephen: The Shining
  • Lindsay, Jeff: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
  • Little, Bentley: The Mailman
  • Martin, George R. R.: A Game of Thrones
  • Menapace, Jeff: Bad Games
  • Moore, James A. and Jeff Strand: The Haunted Forest Tour
  • Novik, Naomi: Uprooted
  • Palahniuk, Chuck: Lullaby (14%)
  • Patterson, James: Along Came a Spider
  • Pyle, Daniel: Dismember
  • Razevich, Alexis: Khe
  • Rice, Anne: Interview With the Vampire
  • Robinson, Jeremy: Kronos
  • Roux, Madeleine: Asylum
  • Rollo, Gord: Jigsaw Man
  • Rollo, Gord: The Translators
  • Rollo, Gord: Valley of the Scarecrow (75%)
  • Shusterman, Neil: Unwind
  • Sigler, Scott: Infected
  • Skipp, John and Cody Goodfellow: Jake’s Wake
  • Smith, Bryan: Kayla and the Devil
  • Strand, Jeff: Wolf Hunt
  • Tardif, Cheryl Kaye: Children of the Fog
  • Torbert, R. J.: The Face of Fear


I have 56 unread books. I guess I should explain.

If I read a book and enjoy it, I will look for other books by that author. That’s why I have so many books by Jeff Strand, John Grisham, Gord Rollo, James Herbert, etc.

I’ve began several books that I haven’t finished. The titles above that have percentages in parenthesis beside them were started but weren’t finished for whatever reason. I either got busy with something like work or school, or I got bored with the book and attempted to push my way through it.

It bothers me when I don’t finish a book. I know that I’m reading for fun, and when it becomes not fun anymore, I should move on, but it’s so hard for me. The books with percentages beside them above will eventually be finished. My problem is when I get to a point in a book where I have to force myself to read it, I stop reading altogether, and won’t read anything else because I feel guilty for not finishing that book. It’s silly and awful, I know. I’ve decided to compromise with myself by laying out some rules:

If I find myself having to force myself through a book before the 40% mark, I plan to drop it completely. I have very little free time, and I don’t want to spend that time forcing myself through 60%+ of a book that I’m not enjoying.

If I make it past 40% of the book, I clearly enjoyed something about it and the book has a big chance to redeem itself. I won’t give up on these books and will give them a Girl Scout’s Try (read: the books will eventually be finished).

I will not hold myself to reading just that book, though. That was my whole problem before. If I was reading one book, I wouldn’t allow myself to read other books until I finished it. I’m going to try to read more than one book at a time going forward. As long as I’m making progress on the book I’m not enjoying as much, why shouldn’t I read other books I do enjoy?

I’m going to try not to purchase new books until I until I drop below 40 on my unread list, so my initial goal in clearing my book backlog is to read 16 books. I think 16 books is a reasonable goal. I should honestly try not to buy more books until I have 20 or fewer unread books in my backlog, but I don’t want to deprive myself forever. Buying books when they are on sale like I’ve been doing is economical, and I’m sure I’m going to come across books I really want to read.

To start tackling this goal, I am going to pick up the book I started and dropped that I’ve made the most progress through and work down for Book 1 (since I’m reading two books at a time). Hopefully, I remember its characters and what’s going on, and am not lost. If I am lost, I will consider restarting it. I honestly don’t remember why I dropped half of these. When I finish it, I’ll replace it with another book I have started and haven’t finished. My second book, Book 2, will be a new book I haven’t started yet. I’m thinking and hoping that I’ll be able to read it faster than Book 1 because it will be fresh, and because I hopefully won’t be forcing myself through it like I probably will be with Book 1.

If a new book I read past 40% becomes tiresome and I find myself having to force myself to read, I will continue making progress through Book 1 and Book 2, and when Book 1 is finished, Book 2 will replace it as the book I’m forcing myself through, and I’ll select a new book for Book 2.

This all makes sense in my head.

I know it’s complicated, and you guys are thinking, geez, Todd, why are you planning this out so much? But that’s just part of who I am, I think. I identified a problem (I wasn’t finishing books because I felt “stuck” on books I had to force myself through), and my natural inclination is to devise a plan to combat it.

We’ll see how this works out!

The books I’ve selected to begin are The Valley of the Scarecrow (I’m currently 75% through) by Gord Rollo for Book 1, and Jake’s Wake by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow for Book 2.

Let the fun begin!

2 Responses to Tackling My Book Backlog

  • Wow, you do have a lot of unread books. However, the fact you were able to get them at reduced prices is excellent. 😀 I hope you are able to get through many of them. I always feel like I have to finish a book if I start it. The problem is, if I get stuck on a book, I tend not to read and watch Netflix instead (oops). I am trying to convince myself it’s okay not to finish a book because maybe I just don’t like it. 😛

    • Yeeeeahhhh, it’s gotten a little out of control, lol. Bargain hunting is good! I just need to cut back until I can finish some of these.

      I feel the same way as you do! That’s why I’m adopting a philosophy of allowing myself to read more than one book at a time. If I get stuck in a book, I’ll just read something else until I have patience/time to work on getting through that book. Sometimes I feel like treading through it, but most of the time I don’t. Focusing on just one book when this happens prevents me from reading for fun, because like you, I find other things to do for entertainment.

      I think after a while of treading through a book, if you just are not enjoying it, you should just drop it. I struggle with this as well, though, so I understand. I might make a folder on my Kindle of unfinished books for books I just can’t bring myself to finish because they’re so bad or whatever.

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