There is no shortage of unread books in my house. I buy more books than I will probably ever read. Most of my to-be-read (TBR) books lean precariously on the nightstand next to my bed and sometimes fall on me in the middle of the night.

books nightstand sleepAt one point it towered so high, I had to make a rule: no new books on the nightstand until I’ve finished the ones that are there. When I made this self-imposed rule, I had many books to choose from. Since then, I’ve winnowed the stack down to about five books. Five books I can’t seem to bring myself to read.

Instead, I break my rule and search the house for a hidden TBR pile I may have forgotten. Discovering a stack of unread books nestled in a dusty corner is like finding money in an old coat pocket.

What is it about these books? I’ve opened each one, read at least the first few pages, and ENJOYED it. Yet some other new, shiny object book tugged at my reader brain and shove these five back to the bottom of the stack.

Now there is no more “bottom of the stack.” It’s just these five. I need to read them or decide to tuck them into the bookshelf of never read books. (Oh, that sounds like a super sad place in a really depressing book! Like the land of misfit toys with no joy at all!)

So, what are these books and what is my problem? They all have fantastic reviews and ratings on Goodreads…Let’s take a look.

Books on my Nightstand I Keep Skipping

nine tenThe book: Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

What it’s about (according to Amazon):  Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day — until a plane struck the World Trade Center. But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Nadira has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Amy is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business. These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. 

Why I want to want to read it: My daughter loved this book (and she has excellent taste) and I really enjoy reading good middle grade fiction.

My issue: The image of the twin towers burning that morning in 2001 while I rubbed my sleepy eyes awake in my apartment on the Upper West Side hasn’t left me. Even though I don’t live there anymore, NYC will always be my other home and no matter how many years pass, it feels like yesterday. Nauseous still creeps up my throat when I remember looking out from my friend’s apartment near the former twin towers and staring into a gaping black hole dotted on the edges with construction vehicles. I can’t even watch movies about 9-11. Apparently, I can’t read children’s books about it either!


The book: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

thirteenth tale.jpgWhat it’s about (according to Amazon): Enigmatic writer Vida Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

Why I want to want to read it: It’s billed as “a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children.” That sounds awesome.

My issue: Every time I start reading it my eye slips away to another book on my nightstand. I feel like I just need to stick with this book a little longer.


The book: In The Country by Mia Alavar

in the country mia alavarWhat it’s about (according to Amazon): These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories about exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again.

Why I want to want to read it: I love short stories and enjoy globetrotting to other places in literature. It sounds like something I should really like.

My issue: I don’t know. I’ve started this book three times now. The first story is interesting and well written. But I some other book keeps catching my eye.


The book: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

the girl from everywhere.jpgWhat it’s about (according to Amazon): Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence. For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

Why I want to want to read it: The premise intrigues me and it seems like a fun adventure/fantasy read.

My issue: I was excited about this book from the moment I plucked it off the shelves.  Yet I keep putting off reading it, or rather I sort of save it later, the way I do with a shirt I really like. I want to save it for a special occasion. But then I never wear it! (or, in this case, read it.)


The Book: Emily Dickinson Selected Poems

emily dickinson poems bookWhat it’s about: Well, it’s Dickinson so nature and death. 🙂

Why I want to want to read it: I really enjoy Dickinson’s work. Plus, I found this adorable book in a used bookstore and it had an inscription on it from the person who originally purchased it.

My issue: I’m not sure. Can I chalk it up to just not being in a Dickinson kind of mood? I think I’ll keep it close a little longer before putting it in the sad bookshelf of unread books

Let’s chat: Anyone else have this issue of books that languish in your TBR forever? 

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