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msknight

Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Currently reading

Your Beauty Mark. All You Need to Get the Hair, Makeup, Glow, and Glam.
Dita von Teese

My TBR journey

Hunger For Knowledge wrote about their TBR pile recently - http://hfk.booklikes.com/post/1199398/climbing-through-the-tbr-mountain - and asked, at the end, what our TBR stories were.

Actually, I've been reasonably good. I returned to photography heavily a few years ago, to learn more about lighting, etc. but I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to make any progress in the community. After all, when judges on panels dismiss your photograph of a flower not because of the photograph's technical merits but because, "it's just another flower shot," I realised that I wasn't going to get anywhere; the elite are where they are, and are actively stopping anyone from following the ladder behind them. It sort of screwed things up.

I have an ear for music, but it requires constant practice and time is at a severe shortage for me. True, it's great to sit there, plonking away at the keys, bringing joy in to the hearts of the people around you, but it is a transient thing and there are people far, far better at it than I will ever be.

It was when I returned to writing that I realised, in the twenty years between books, that I had actually been practising writing all along. The web sites I had written, the reports I'd penned, all the communicating I was doing in my line of work ... I was, "writing," all along. This was where I would stand the chance to make the most difference with my life. The world of books.

My TBR pile is small for a number of reasons. Some technical, some practical. Also, because I'm of the opinion that to be a good writer, the necessity of writing is of as much, if not more, important than reading other books. Thus, reading books is lower down on my long list of current priorities. I thus don't feel guilt at not being a voracious reader. Indeed, I put fifty pounds behind a limited edition of a new book that I believe I will value, (and I mean, personally treasure, rather than re-sell for profit later) rather than spend it on twenty paperbacks that I might end up tossing in the recycling bin in a few years time ... if you know what I mean.

Thus, my TBR pile is born of different priorities than most people.

To start this, I'll take you back to the photography stint and the web site I was writing at the time ... I had actually started reviewing the popular books that were going around on my web site - http://shootstart.com/index.php?page=55 - but there ended up being about six or seven TBR on the pile and they were actually shelved last weekend; I'll likely never look at them now; priorities have changed ... and I don't feel guilt at not reading them.

The free e-books mostly remain unread and I've now stopped responding to the, "Free for launch day," sort of things that people are using to boost their sales numbers. If I come to a book for the sole reason of it being free, then that's the wrong reason for it to be on my TBR pile. They'll never get read, so they are discounted.

I have about five physical books in the TBR pile, having concluded that I prefer physical paper over e-book. That doesn't mean I've discounted e-books entirely, however. There's one sample which I downloaded a couple of weeks ago, something about a hot dog vendor sleuth which sounds interesting; it's just a matter of finding the time to read it, because I know that if I like it, I'll end up buying the whole damn series! Also, not long ago, I went through J.B.Garner's three parter on e-book. (Indomitable, Indefatigable and Incorruptible)

I'm being driven by recommendation primarily. The horror book on my TBR pile (way outside my usual read - I've forgotten the name and I'm not at home right now, and it isn't on my "shelf") was a recommendation on Twitter by an independent book shop I follow. "The Celestine Prophecy" is a recommendation from a colleague. "For The Sins Of My Mother" was by the people who serve in one of the shops I go to for my lunch time salads.

So I'm careful to only put books on my TBR pile that I'm going to read, and if the TBR pile is too large, then I stop adding to it. After all, if I miss a book that's hyped at launch, it will be hyped tomorrow for reputation, so I'm not fearful that I'm going to miss anything. I mean, The Celestine Prophecy is from '93 and I picked it up a few weeks back. I don't fear I'm going to miss anything if I don't get it right now this minute. In fact, if I dodge a few £5 bullets now, then I can afford that special, limited edition £50 bullet that has my name etched in to the casing.

I believe that a chunk of this is down to why I read books. My entertainment vector doesn't come from reading. Some people watch films, some listen to music, some stand and stare at art, and some people read books at a rate like I eat lunch! Ten people can read the same book and take ten dfferent things away from it. I guess my reasons for reading books are why my TBR pile is so small and I don't have to pick up the shiny-shiny in the book shop.

The jacket and blurb are an important part of a book, to get it picked up and fire curiosity. But I'm caught because I don't want to give the best of the book on the back; I don't want to reveal everything to the reader before they've even opened the first page. Yes ... it's an art that is taking considerable practice. But that's probably why I'm not as enticed by the blurb of other books, and value recommendation more ... even if it is for genres that I've never read before.

And that, for what it's worth, is my TBR pile journey.

Have to go now. I'm an early bird and my friend will wake up shortly. I actually fell asleep on his sofa yesterday afternoon at lunch time; proof that I desperately needed this unwind time. Another lazy day today, of reminiscing and discussing all and nothing over coffee and croisants; but I have to journey home later, and be ready to return to the way of the keyboard-warrior tomorrow. *sigh* - so, my apologies for this hastily thrown together piece and all its punctuation errors; it's all I currently have time for.