IMG_0093There was an article on the radio this morning about procrastination.  I’m afraid I was in the middle of getting breakfast and so didn’t hear what had brought this topic to the fore but I did hear someone talking about putting together to-do lists and allowing things that they really didn’t want to tackle to slip down to the bottom of an ever growing catalogue of tasks that they were not getting round to dealing with.

I am actually pretty good at addressing things that need doing around the house as soon as they arise.  I suspect that this has something to do with my Aspergers.  I am only really comfortable when I know that everything is in its place and functioning properly.   Nothing annoys me more than to be thwarted in my attempts to ensure that this is the case than incompetent companies who promise one thing and then do either something entirely different or, more often, nothing at all. And yes, my current electricity suppliers I am looking straight at you. However, adding yet another book to my ‘to be read as soon as I can get a copy’ list this morning, I realised that I am not so well disciplined when it comes to reading.

I have kept lists like this for as long as I can remember. Every now and then they become so long and so unruly that I simply abandon them and start again from scratch.  The current one, I note, dates back to the spring of 2014.  Because nearly all my books these days come from the library, there are two main reasons why individual titles slide further and further down the list.  The first was epitomised this morning.  I read a review of a debut crime novel that seemed exactly my type of read. However, when I interrogated the catalogues of both local library authorities neither of them had ordered a copy.  This is perfectly understandable given that this is a new author and that the book isn’t actually published until the beginning of September.  Of course they are going to wait and see how it is received before splashing out their limited resources.  When I was in their position I would have done the same. But, how long will I go on remembering to check and see if they have bought a copy?  You used to be able to ask for books that you wanted to see on their shelves to be acquired, but as money has become ever tighter, this is a service that is no longer available.  As we get further and further away from the date of publication and more and more novels take my eye, this book will sink ever deeper into the lists and I will probably never get round to reading it.

The second reason that books tend to disappear into the depths of the tbr list is almost the opposite of the first.  These are books that are not only bought by the library but are ordered weeks, sometimes months in advance of publication because they are by established and popular writers.  As soon as they appear on the catalogue I put in my reservation just so that I won’t find myself at position 40 something in the waiting list for the one or two copies they have been able to afford.  What inevitably then happens is that just like the buses on certain well known routes, half a dozen of them turn up at the same time and are then vying for my attention along with all the other material I am reading for book groups and courses.  Automatically I cherry pick the ones that I am most desperate to read and at least two or three will have to be returned to the library unread.  Not only is this frustrating for me but it means I have books on my shelves that other readers could be enjoying.  This is not an example of what is commonly known as ‘best practice’.  Some of these I will reserve again, but others slip through the net and down to the bottom of that notorious tbr list.  When I look back to 2014 I see that there is a Julian Barnes, a John Le Carré, a Sue Gee, an Andrew Taylor, just to name a few, languishing at the very bottom of what is a disgracefully long catalogue of titles.

There is no practical answer to this, I know.  I can never hope to read all the books I want to and these titles haven’t really sunk to the bottom of the list because I have been putting them off, although I suspect they are the ones that I was least anxious to read.  I notice there is no Peter Robinson, no Kate Atkinson, no Elizabeth Strout on the list.  There will always be some books that I will, abandoning all others, read as soon as they come through the door.  However, while there may be no practical, or even impractical answer to the problem, perhaps you have found a better way of dealing with your back catalogue of must reads.  If so, I would be really pleased to hear about it.

23 thoughts on “Procrastination

  1. John Looker August 26, 2018 / 4:39 pm

    I think the answer is probably to live forever. That’s not to say that one will read everything – just that it takes the pressure off and procrastination no longer feels a Bad Thing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings August 26, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    I have no useful advice to offer because unless I get that immortality I will never even get through the books in the house let alone any more that come later….


    • Café Society August 26, 2018 / 6:51 pm

      My doctoral supervisor once said that the day he came to terms with his mortality was the day he realised he already owned more books than he had time left to read and he’d just ordered another half dozen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. joulesbarham August 26, 2018 / 7:01 pm

    I have a terrible admission… I have no library books out at the moment. I moved house with two collections of books, and have been acquiring more at a terrific rate since! Added to that, Derby libraries are variously closing/ relocating/ going over to voluntary workers that I have given up to be honest. I have been deeply attached to libraries for as long as I can remember, so it is more than sad. I do lend out my books, barter them and suchlike, and I suppose I have control over what is in the house, so it does mean that I am not subject to waiting for books to become available. I do admit to having large numbers of unread books though!


    • Café Society August 26, 2018 / 7:15 pm

      So far I have been lucky in respect of library closures, although the authority in which I used to live went through a period when they made no new acquisitions. Quite what I will do if that was ever to change I don’t know, although it would mean that I would never have a backlog of unread books because I would only ever be able to afford one at a time.


  4. Jeanne August 27, 2018 / 1:57 pm

    Hmm. I like to age my book lists the same way I age my “snail” mail. If you let it sit around for six months to a year, the stuff that’s still important is easy to sort out. Same with book lists. If I can’t remember why I wanted to read it, maybe it’s not worth my time. I may miss a few gems that way, but I miss a lot of mediocre new fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society August 27, 2018 / 3:25 pm

      I’m not certain my gas company would agree with your way of dealing with snail mail Jeanne, but I can definitely see the advantage where book lists are concerned. Some of the titles that date back to 2014 now mean nothing to me, whereas others I am still determined to read.


      • smithereens August 30, 2018 / 7:30 am

        I am convinced that services suppliers like electricity, internet, etc. actually use Jeanne’s method, that’s why I need to call them every 2 days to finally get the services they’re expected to deliver in the first place. Regarding procrastination in general I have decided that I may be very efficient in my professional and family life, but I have made peace with being un-organized (not dis-organized) in my reading life.


      • Café Society August 30, 2018 / 7:41 am

        Oh I totally agree with you about the way that services deal with the public, I was referring to the way they expected me to deal with them! I have been in my new flat for over three months now and I am still trying to sort out what is happening with my electricity suppliers. We will be in touch within seven days, they promised on August 1st. Today is the 30th. Have I heard from them? Of course I haven’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. BookerTalk August 27, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    I plead guilty on this front. I have a ‘wishlist’ on Goodreads that I don’t think I’ve even looked at all year. I also have a spreadsheet where I kept a note of all the books I heard about via other bloggers. However when it comes to acquiring a new book whether purchasing or via the library I don’t refer to either of them so really there’s no point in having such a list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society August 27, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      A friend of mine carries a small note book with her in which she jots down recommended titles and then she really does take it with her and consult it in bookshops and libraries. Such discipline!


      • BookerTalk August 27, 2018 / 4:20 pm

        Now that is one smart lady. Often its the simple things that work best; I know I often complicate quite simple tasks.


    • Liz September 3, 2018 / 5:05 am

      I have a similar spreadsheet – the books other bloggers are reading always sound so interesting – a testament to the quality of their reviews. My sheet tells me that I have added 211 books so far this year. Like you though I rarely go back to it when thinking about my next read. Sometimes I think just adding a book is sufficient enjoyment – you don’t actually need to read it lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      • BookerTalk September 4, 2018 / 4:48 pm

        Now I feel a whole lot better – I think I’ve added only about 30 so far!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Laila@BigReadingLife August 28, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    As far as the library holds all coming in at one time, I wonder if your library system has a method by which you can “suspend” your holds. At my system, you can check your place in the holds queue, and then if you see a bunch coming in before you’re ready, you can suspend the hold. It keeps your place in line, but the person below you will get a copy before you, until the date you’ve selected to “un-suspend” the hold. This is all online, by the way. I hope your library does have this capability.

    I have a blogger friend who has a system for the books she’s reading in a given month. It includes taking a look at her TBR list and selecting the oldest “shelved” book there on the list. That way she’s sure to read one book from the bottom of the list each month. I wonder if that idea appeals to you?


  7. Café Society August 30, 2018 / 5:01 pm

    Unfortunately our library authority doesn’t run a suspend system, which is a pity because it would be a very useful service. I might have a word with the librarian and see what she thinks of the idea.


  8. Jenny @ Reading the End August 31, 2018 / 1:21 am

    I like to schedule time periodically to page through my TBR spreadsheet and remove books that have been on there for too long or that I’m no longer excited about. It’s usually pretty easy! Even if I still SORT OF want to read the book in question, it’s possible for me to be realistic and say “yes I might be interested in this, but my reading tastes have shifted enough that I no longer feel urgent about it.” And then off the list it goes!

    I do sometimes feel guilty about doing this, but I tell myself that if the book was really a true love book for me, then fate will put it back in my path someday.


  9. Liz September 3, 2018 / 5:06 am

    A super post, generating brilliant and highly-relatable comments. I love being able to share TBR-angst with everyone else!!


    • Café Society September 4, 2018 / 5:00 pm

      It stops us feeling quite so bad about ourselves, doesn’t it, when we realise other readers are as bad at sticking to their plans as we are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz September 5, 2018 / 8:23 am

        Yes, absolutely! Solidarity in being rubbish – perfect!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s