My TBR stacks (really, double stacked shelves) look like this.
There is more at the office. I know because the former resident of the back bedroom texted my on Tuesday to tell me it looked as if Wall-E had been decorating my office. I head there tomorrow to try to wrestle with that. It's a nice dilemma, I know. But how to determine what moves to the top of the TBR pile and what hides behind the outer shelves? Like most avid readers, I have my own means of sorting. If Paul or Donalyn or Katherine or John or Colby suggest a title, it moves up the stack. If a teen recommends it, ditto. And after that I rely on my own criteria:
1. Do I already love the author? Move to the top.
2. Does the title intrigue me? Move to the top.
3. Does the cover grab my attention? Move to the top.
4. Is it in a format I love? Move to the top.
5. Has it been getting good reviews? Move to the top.
6. Does the blurb inside the front cover sound interesting? Move to the top.
7. Is there a blurb from an author on the cover? Move to the top.
8. Is it about a subject, topic, issue that is rarely covered? Move to the top.
9. Has it been the buzz on Twitter or Facebook? Move to the top.
10. For some unnameable reason, does it linger in my hands? Move to the top.
Publishers Weekly's Elizabeth Bluemle collects the starred reviews and publishes them. Here is the latest compilation through March 2013: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=10542.
What have I read from this list of illustrious books? Among others: PENNY AND HER MARBLE, ELEANOR AND PARK, NAVIGATING EARLY, SPLASH OF RED, TAKE ME OUT TO THE YAKYU, BUILDING OUR HOUSE, THE DARK, EXCLAMATION MARK, EVERYONE CAN LEARN TO RIDE A BICYCLE, LUCKY DUCKLINGS, MAGGOT MOON, MY BOTHER'S BOOK, BENJAMON BEAR, THE BIRD KING, BLUEBIRD, BLACK HELICOPTERS, THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING, FROG SONG, HENRY AND THE CANON, HOKEY POKEY. HOW TO BICYCLE TO THE MOON TO PLANT SUNFLOWERS, NELSON MANDELA, OUT OF THE EASY, PEANUT, SCARLET, and A TANGLE OF KNOTS to list only some that I have read and loved.
Now, does that mean that I only read books with positive reviews? hardly. For one thing, I am often reading advanced copies; some of these books have not even been reviewed yet. But I also know that reviews are subjective. WHEN THINGS COME BACK, the Printz and Morris winner received not one starred review before it won these awards. There are plenty of others that have flown under the radar.
But, given the rather threatening nature of my TBR shelves, I will pull some from the starred list I have not read. I will pack them for the two upcoming road trips where I know the flights (and the inevitable delays) will give me ample time to read.
Here's wishing you success in narrowing down the TBR stacks. Here is what NEISD did for its student population to help them: http://neisd.libguides.com/content.php?pid=463857&sid=3797602. Lucky kids.