Every reader has that one book, the one that’s been on their TBR forever. How did it get there? Why is it still there? Why is it not being read this very second? This week, we take a look at those TBR lifers, the ones that make it through the purges, the unhauls, the donations and moves, and yet, never quite get to the top of the heap. What’s with all that, hm?
Straightaway, I can tell you mine. Sweet Savage Love, by Rosemary Rogers. Arguably the second modern historical romance ever published, one could argue that it’s technically been on my list since its publication in 1974, but I was also eight years old in 1974, so, while I knew it existed, and it very likely passed through the hands of my Aunt Lucy, my mother’s sister, on its way to my mother -Aunt Lucy and her grocery bags of historical romance became a Thing of my childhood, though, back then, I only looked at the covers. Let’s bump that date up a decade, to when I was eighteen, legally grown, and capable of buying my own books with my own money from my own job.
It’s been a while, and, while I am loosely culturally literate about Steve and Ginny (see, I know their names!) about the book that kicked off the Morgan-Challenger saga, that it’s Western historical romance, crosses the border at some point into Mexico (and back again?) and that Steve and Ginny do a lot of breaking up and making up (love me some of that) and that I think things shift to their kids at some point? Maybe? – that’s about it.
I have written about not having read this book before, and I am not going to look up those references, because it is too hot to cry. It’s July in New York. I cannot knowingly add any more humidity to the air. Hey, maybe that’s another reason not to read this one, right now. It’s got a reputation to be super steamy, right? Steam is humid, therefore, I can shift it into the slots for fall or winter reading, when I will appreciate the extra heat.
Oh no, wait, that’s when I’ll want all the spooky books for Halloween, the cozy family stuff for Thanksgiving, and then everything stops for the deluge of Christmas romance, especially if it’s set in one of my favorite eras: Tudor, say, or medieval. Maybe Colonial, but probably the southern colonies, because the north wasn’t into that kind of thing so much, and hey, that reminds me, I do have the rights back to my first colonial novel, one of my very own, and I could probably rework it to get a Christmas something in there, right? Really not the time to be starting in on a new to me series with all that history of its own, both as a story and as a story that helped to shape the genre, and —
Anna. You. Typing this blog post.
Who are you?
Also you. Don’t ask questions. Look, it’s late, it’s hot, there’s a cool bath and a stack of library books -which I have noted does not contain Sweet Savage Love, but that’s not the point here.
Umm, isn’t it, kind of?
No. Look. It’s perfectly fine not to read a book. Any book. Even the oldest book in your TBR pile. You don’t need a reason. This is pleasure reading, got that? If you want to study a book for its literary merit in the genre, that’s cool, and super interesting, and you should grab a pen and paper and some highlighters and get right to that…whenever you want to. Even if that’s never.
Sure. Sometimes, we pick out a book that we think we’re going to want to read, and then something we learn later on makes us change our opinion. Shift in personal tastes is good, finding out about an element that could be a dealbreaker—
Wait. Does something bad happen to somebody furry? Because I am o-u-t if it does.
I don’t know. I haven’t read it. I’m you, remember.
Oh. Right. I do remember that one book, a long time ago, that I super wanted to read, but a bad thing happened to a furry in the first chapter, and I noped on out of there and never looked back.
Yeah, like that. You can do that any time you want, for any reason you want. Or you can investigate, find a different angle than you had thought of originally, and read for a different purpose. Read with a friend or a group or make up a drinking game, or, I don’t know, use the darned thing as a coaster for whatever you’re drinking while you’re reading something else. In short, it’s cool to keep those TBR lifers around, until you’re ready for them, and it’s also cool, sometimes, to give them a pardon and go your separate ways. I can’t tell you which to do in this case, but follow your heart.
You do realize we’ll be going over this all over again when I do get to the next lifer in my TBR, don’t you?
I’m counting on it. How about you?
So, dear readers, we…er, I turn it now over to you. What book has been on your TBR the longest? Why is it still there? Have you ever let a TBR lifer go? How do you feel about that? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.