The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TBR Piles: Taking the Fun Out of Reading Romance

I still have academic stress dreams even though I finished up graduate school fifteen years ago. You know, those dreams where you're sitting in a final exam room for French, except you never actually took French and can't figure out why you have to pass this test in order to graduate. These dreams pretty much wreck the whole next day since I find it hard to shake that "Oops, I forgot to take French" feeling that lingers all day long. 

Romance novels, for me, are all about fun. No pressure. No tests. No comparative literature examinations. If something strikes my fancy, I read it. If someone recommends a good book, I check it out. But I have noticed something that makes me break out in a cold sweat like those nightmares. A very common theme on the romance boards. There are a heck of a lot of readers who have turned reading romance into an obligatory, pressure-filled experience culminating in the ever-dreaded...TBR Pile. (Took me a while to figure out this meant To Be Read.) They're seriously stressed that they haven't finished all of the Julie Garwood historicals. Or worried that a new paranormal author has started a series, and they have not read it yet. They have spread-sheets with all of their books organized into lists. Folks get high-fives for TBR Piles nearing zero, and others lament their piles are inching upward. They are filled with anxiety about reading romance novels!!!! Christ on a crutch, batman! 

Uh, I hesitate to say this (not really) but something tells me these folks are missing the big picture. Romance novels are not supposed to promote anxiety, they're supposed to make us happy. Ergo, the HEA (Happily Ever After), the sizzling sex, the snappy banter, etc. etc. (Hey Kate, did you notice I got "Christ on a crutch" and "ergo" in this post?--a few of my favorite expressions!) Anyway, I really want to shake these people and remind them of one simple fact...."Romance novels! These are romance novels, people! Sheesh!" There is no way I am turning one of my most favorite, relaxing, fun-filled, mindless, wonderful, endorphin-producing hobbies into an academic-like endeavor. I'm thinking of having a Just Say No To TBR Piles! bumper sticker made for my car. 

Honestly, there are a few vague thoughts floating around in the back of my head concerning books I'd like to read, like "One of these days I'm going to check out a Nalini Singh book," but there's no sense of urgency, no anxiety. I figure I still have a few decades left to devour all the great books I want to, and I refuse to make it a sweat-inducing source of stress. Not sure why certain readers want to elevate reading romance to an academic endeavor, but I'm staying out of it. Next week on vacation, I'm looking forward to a cold, frosty beer, a hammock and a pile of unplanned, unknown romance novels that I'll probably pick up in the Narragansett grocery store. Perfect!
Penny Watson


Victoria Morgan said...

Oh, my God, I laughed hysterically reading this. This is so me!!! Okay, maybe not the hyper anxiety associated with it, but I definitely have the list thing going, and I get a little perturbed that J.D. Robb can whip her Eve Dallas books out faster than I can read them.... However, this is a good point that we should relax and look forward to having all these wonderful reads ahead of us, instead of stressing out to catch up with a series. So what if I'm only on book ten in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and she's on book 15? It's still better than waiting for that next book in the series to come out. Now that's frustrating.

Michelle said...

I hadn't thought of it this way, but you are completely right. Lots of folks worry about the towering nature of their TBR piles. I promise to work on my personal anxiety about my Empire State Building high pile. When I get almost a dozen books in the mail all at the same time, the ones I've been dying to read and just had to order, I sometimes worry that I'll lose some of these babies in my pile and forget I own them. And man, that would be a tragedy. The other day my DH confused my TBR book bin with my completed book bins and tried to consolidate some of my books, transferring some of my yet to be reads into the other containers. When I went to pick my next book, my bin was missing,and had been brought down to the storage area. I had a minor fit and panic attack. I suppose this is a sign that my priorities are out of whack. Oh well, I was able to recover the situation and when I told my husband his immediate response was, "Oh, you must have been pretty upset. I'm sorry I didn't realize they were the new ones." He knows me very well.

Penny Watson said...

A-ha! Vicki and Michelle are suffering from TBR-induced stress. There's only remedy for this affliction. Drink 2 appletinis and repeat this mantra..."Romance novels are fun...romance novels are fun..." Repeat this each evening until symptoms disappear. Good luck!

Dalton Diaz said...

I do stress about it, but for a valid reason. It's gotten to the point where i have no freakin' idea what's even in my piles (and yes, that's with an 's'. It's actually frustrating to suck up so much space with doubles, sometimes triples of the same book. The problem is that I only dip into those piles every once in awhile because, um, I keep getting more. And more. And more. Finding somewhere to stash them all ended up not being a good thing because the old adage, "out of sight, out of mind" applies. I read the newer stuff first.
Please keep in mind that the TBR piles (how many s's can I add here?) do not include my keeper shelves (equal in s's.)
So yes, every now and then I do stress, but I make no apologies. There are way worse habits to have, and a helluva lot more expensive ones, too.
My husband agrees. He just smiles and buys more shelves. Not that he gets to use them.

Penny Watson said...

I have baskets. I have stacks. I have piles. I have cardboard boxes. I have shelves. But it's all good. No stress. Just lots of great books to choose from when I'm in the mood!