One Of These Things First

It’s spring break…or at least it still is in some places. When I was a kid, spring break meant more time to play with my friends, and just as importantly more time to read. So in that spirit, let’s talk reading. (Quick note…be sure to check at the bottom for a message about my March sweepstakes.)

My current reading status?

Just finished: DUMA KEY by Stephen King (loved it!)

Reading: FLESHMARKET ALLEY by Ian Rankin (great so far)

Up next:

LISEY’S STORY – Stephen King
GOOD LIAR – Laura Caldwell
AT THE CITY’S EDGE – Marcus Sakey
OUT – Natsuo Kirino
….you get the picture

How did my to be read pile get so big? I mean I must have over sixty books in the case next to my bed, or piled in front of it, waiting for me to pick up and read! It’s crazy.

Part of the problem is that I don’t have as much time to read as I used to. Being on deadline, and that little thing called a day job, kind of sucks all the spare time out of me. I do try to sneak in a few pages now and then. And there are actually times I can even devote an hour or two every couple of weeks. But I used to read at least a book a week. Now I’m lucky to get one done in a month – six weeks is more my norm.

There’s another problem, too. While I do have all these great books waiting for me, new books are coming out all the time. So I’m constantly buying new books and adding them to the stack. And I should note, I can’t remember the last time I left a bookstore having bought just one book.

In a way, having so many unread books waiting is a good thing. There’s always something I’ll want to read when I’m ready for the next one. But how do I choose it? It’s a mood thing, I think. When I finish a book and am ready to start a new one, I’ll search through all those waiting for attention knowing that one will jump out at me. There are books I’ve ignored for months or maybe even a year that will suddenly be exactly the one I need to read right now.

And yet the pile persists. I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to knock it down to size, maybe blitz through a couple dozen books when I’m between writing my own. But there is a part of me who knows that stack will always be there. Perhaps not occupied by the current group of novels, but a new crop that will take their place and probably even grow.

I know we all have TBR piles. So today, for fun, tell me what you’ve most recently finished, what you’re reading now, and what you think is up next (or you can do a list of potentials like I did.)


Interested in winning an advanced copy of my next novel THE DECEIVED? Well, if it’s still Thursday March 27th, and it’s before 6 p.m. Pacific Time, you have a still have a chance! Details HERE.

If it’s past the deadline, don’t worry. They’ll be another chance to win in April.

22 thoughts on “One Of These Things First

  1. Norm

    Hi I have the same problem I just cannot control my book buying. It has reached almost the state of an addiction surely there must be a Book Buyers Anonymous.

    Just finished: Some Bitter Taste – Magdalen Nabb, very disappointing.

    Reading: Three to Kill- Jean-Patrick Manchette just started it but very good so far.

    Next up: Death in Breslau by Marek Krajewski

    then? The Girl of His Dreams – Donna Leonor The Skull Mantra-Eliot Pattisonor What the Dead Know-Laura Lippmanor To Each His Own-Leonardo Sciasciaor The Hollow Man-John Dickson Carror Down River- John Hartor The Hidden Assasins-Robert Wilsonor…………

  2. billie

    Just finished: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love.

    Now reading: Sara Gran’s Dope.

    Up next: not sure – I do the same thing as you, cull the reading pile to find that one that leaps out.

    Unlike you, Brett, I never want the reading pile to get low. If it does, I immediately go out and replenish it. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I have a big pile of books hand-picked by me that I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy. It’s like a hunky savings account. 🙂

  3. J.D. Rhoades

    I feel your pain, Brett. And for many of the same reasons, plus the weekly newspaper column. Oh, and recently you can add the NCAA basketball tournament into the mix.

    What I just finished: BLUE HEAVEN by CJ Box, which I highly recommended. It’s one of those cases where I really like a writer’s series work, then he does a standalone that just totally blows me away. Before that: Our JT’s ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, which also blew me away. The serial killer/profiler subgenre’s tough to make fresh, but damned if our girl didn’t pull it off. I am in awe.

    Reading now: I’m re-reading Larry Niven’s RINGWORLD. it’s totally absurd, but I feel slightly guilty for reading something I’d already read when I have so much unread sitting around. But the recent death of Arthur C. Clarke and the resulting thoughts about his work had me jonesing for some of that good old-time senseawunda type SF, and the Niven was the first thing I picked up. It’s just as great as I remembered, a work of incredible imagination combined with a wicked wit (how can you not love the Puppeteers, an alien race so cowardly that their leader is called the Hindmost?)

    Next up: decisions, decisions. What I’ve got lying around is: AT THE CITY’S EDGE, Marcus Sakey; FIELD OF FIRE, James O.Born; MAKING MONEY, Terry Pratchett; QUEENPIN, Megan Abbott; THE TERROR, Dan Simmons; DEAD SOULS, Ian Rankin.

    But I’ve also got a MS I’d promised to review for blurb purposes, and oh, look! The first pile of books for the Edgar YA judging just came in.

    Sigh. Better brew up another pot of coffee.

  4. Patti Abbott

    Just read Christine Falls-good novel, mediocre crime novel. Too many huhs.Reading Burnt Orange Heresy (Willeford). Wow, he really research art movements mid-century for this one.TBR-The Yiddish Policeman (Chabon), Lush Life (Ford), Money Shot (Faust), and roughly 50 more.

  5. Wilfred Bereswill

    I used to have time to read when I only had a day job. Now that I’m writing, AND I’ve picked up international responsibilities on my day job (It’s 8 AM Somewhere). I feel so sorry for myself.

    I’m with you Brett, a book every 4 – 6 weeks.

    Currently I’m reading In For The Kill – John Lutz. I’ve been moving Kite Runner down in my stack for about a year and a half.

  6. Stacey Cochran

    I’m moderating a Crime Fiction panel discussion this Saturday in Raleigh at Quail Ridge Books with Jeffery Deaver, John Hart, and Margaret Maron… so I’ve been reading all of their books the past few weeks.

    Got a call from a publicist at Harper-Collins last Friday, asking if I might be interested in interviewing Bart Ehrman. So got his book “God’s Problem” in the mail yesterday and started reading it last night.

  7. Doug Riddle

    I’m at work so I can’t actually see the pile on the nightstand, but I was wondering if anyone else also has the same secondary problem I have….the library?

    Not only am I buying books that are stacking up and waiting to be read, but I usually have a half dozen out from the library at the same time.

    Right now I have the Thorn books by James Hall that I am trying to read in order, while also reading Wambaugh’s Hollywood Station which I bought.

    Oh the horror….does it ever end….lets hope not.

  8. Naomi

    Just read–Judith Freeman’s THE LONG EMBRACE: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved

    (Read before that–Debra Ginsberg’s BLIND SUBMISSION. Highly recommended for those who’d like a breezy and hilarious reading about the fictional goings-on in a California literary agency. Perfect for writers!)

    Next: some books for an award competition, then I hope to finish Dennis Lehane’s GONE BABY GONE. After that, Joyce Carol Oates’ THE TATTOOED GIRL.

  9. Brett Battles

    Nice to see I’m in great company! Keep ’em coming, this is fun.

    (And JD…I LOVED Ringworld. I even read a couple of the sequels though none are quite as good as the original. Clarke’s death also got me thinking a lot about SF. Like you I grew up reading him…and Asimov and Heinlein…and, well, Niven, too!)

  10. Mark Terry

    I’m reading three books simultaneously (not a good idea). The primary one is “Black WIdow” by Randy Wayne White (excellent).

    “A Thousand Bones” by PJ Parrish (also excellent, but I’m only reading about 2 pages a day)

    “House of Rain” by Craig Childs. It’s nonfiction, about the Anasazi, and it’s great and fascinating, but very dense and long and after about 180 pages I put it aside to nibble my way through the rest of it.

    Next up: “Compulsion” by Jonathan Kellerman.

    “The Crystal Skull” by Manda Scott. I got it in the mail yesterday from the publisher and it’s promisingly lurid.

    And then I got this ARC in the mail from some publicist or publisher. It’s some book by some guy named Battles called “The Deceived.” I think I’ll have to review it on my blog after I read it.

  11. JT Ellison

    Awww, Dusty, thanks. You made my morning.

    I’m like Norm, I suffer from an absolute lack of impulse control when it comes to buying and borrowing books. Why, I had a box from B&N arrive yesterday, so let’s see what the takings were:

    Lauren Willig – The Deception of the Emerald Ring & The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (if you like historical spy novels, these are a blast, and very sexy)

    Alex Berenson – The Ghost War (The Faithful Spy is up first)

    Noah Charney – The Art Thief

    Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

    That’s the box. I’ve got two library books that need attention –

    Arthur Phillips – AngelicaLaurie R. King – A Grave Talent

    I’m finishing a phenomenal book for endorsement, then I’m hitting Wendy Merrill’s Falling Into Manholes

    Then there’s the research books… and the three bookcases of unread titles. I’m a bit behind after the Edgars last year.

    Sigh. Must go write instead of reading…

  12. Louise Ure

    I spent two years on awards panels (one for ITW and one for MWA) so it’s grand to be able to read what I want for a change, instead of what I have to.

    Then: Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON. Great characters, great action, and San Francisco setting, to boot!

    Now: Henning Mankell’s THE MAN WHO SMILED. Maybe his purpose was to show us how stultifyingly boring police investigations are in Sweden but …

    Next: Laura Lippman’s WHAT THE DEAD KNOW. (Can you tell how far behind I am on my reading?)

  13. gregory huffstutter

    On the top of my TBR pile:

    “The Rabbit Factory” (in progress) — Marshall Karp.

    “All The Pretty Girls” — JT Ellison

    “Madgalen Martyrs” — Ken Bruen

    Unfortunately, with a full-time office job, squeezing in time for WIP, writing bi-weekly column, and chasing around rambunctious toddler, the only time I get for quiet free reading usually involves a ‘porcelain throne.’

    So would that be a dubious honor to tell a published author I really enjoyed their novel between flushes?

  14. Becky LeJeune

    I too am a book junkie with an absolutely ridiculous TBR pile (it’s actually overflowing bookcases and I blame it on my lack of self control and years with a bookseller discount!). So far this week, I’ve read:

    Infected by Scott SiglerThe Death Dealer by Heather GrahamBound by Sally GunningRogue by Rachel Vincentand a collection coming from Dorchester next week

    Just started Empress by Karen Miller

    Once I finish that one I am hoping to finally get to Mo Hayder’s Ritual and Joanne Harris’s The Girl With No Shadow (aka Lollipop Shoes and the sequel to Chocolat)

    Also TBR ASAP (for review)Forgery of Venus by Michael GruberCodex 632 by Jose Rodrigues dos Santos

  15. JDRhoades

    Doug: I know what you mean about the library playing merry hell with your TBR pile. In my case, it happens when my wife brings home something I can’t resist (like the new CJ Box)and I grab it after her, which means I have to race to finish by the due date. Then I take it back or take it to renew, and… hey, look! This looks really cool!

    It also led to great grinding of teeth during the run up to Christmas, when I kept bringing home stuff from the library that Lynn had already bought me.

  16. Karen Olson

    Just finished Laura Lippman’s ANOTHER THING TO FALL. Before that, Alafair Burke’s DEAD CONNECTION.

    Reading now: Gregg Olsen’s A COLD DARK PLACE

    Up next: Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON

  17. Doug Riddle

    The library can be tough. I walked out of there last week with the rest of the Thorn books and book about a Right Handed Devil or something.

  18. Fran

    Just finished Michael Gruber’s THE FORGERY OF VENUS which just proves how much I don’t know about art history, but man he can write!

    Am currently reading Kate Mosse’s SEPULCHRE which I’m loving.

    Then. Well. I need to read Elizabeth George’s CARELESS IN RED so I can talk about it, but I’ve got Kelli Stanley’s NOX DORMIENDA, and then there’s the new Keri Arthur urban fantasy that I can’t wait to read, and then we just got a signing with Stella Rimington so I must read AT RISK. . .

    Have I mentioned I love my job?

  19. Mike MacLean

    I just finished Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I read it for work, not pleasure. Only masochists read Ethan Frome for pleasure. I had almost recovered after reading it in college; now I’ve reopened the old wound.

    Right now I’m reading and enjoying the hell out of Saturday’s Child by Ray Banks. I’m so bogged down with deadlines its taking me a while – sorry Ray.

    Up Next…

    The Criminal graphic novel Lawless by Ed Brubaker and Sean PhillipsOrShella by Andrew Vachss – one of my favorites that I’ve been itching to read againOrMoney Shot by Christa FaustOrRequiem for an Assassin by Barry EislerOrNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

  20. Allison Brennan

    I used to read at least 3 books a week. Then I started writing. I’m lucky to read 1 a month (for pleasure–not including ARCs for possible quotes, books for contests, etc.)

    I just got in Gregg Olsen’s A COLD DARK PLACE, but my mom took it. I have STRANGERS IN DEATH, the newest JD Robb, but I have to finish CREATION IN DEATH first (I had to put it down to work on revisions, wahahaha.) I have Lutz IN FOR THE KILL and Cory McFadden’s THE SHADOW MAN, which I think is his debut. And DUMA KEY, which I preordered ages ago and planned to read as soon as it came in but now, two months later . . .

    The thing is, I buy more books than I can read. I WANT to read them, but I don’t seem to have any time. Which is very sad.

  21. Doug Riddle

    Question….How many of us find we are reading more then one book at a time? And is this something you have always done?

    For me it is something fairly recent. I started doing it a couple years ago. I don’t know if I actually read more books this way, as opposed to just reading them one at a time, but it feels like I am covering more ground. If that makes sense.


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