Friday, January 22

The Book Lady and my TBR pile

My TBR pile has taken over three rooms in the house now. What is TBR? To Be Read.

It started innocently enough. I live in a small town and it takes 25 minutes to get to Wal Mart. No other place sells books nearby, and the library has a waiting list of 5-10 people for every new book that comes out.

So, I started hoarding books.

Every Tuesday, I’d go to Wally World, and wait for the Book Lady. She’s in her late fifties, with a long gray braid, and hates her job. I listen to her while helping her unload the new books, place them in piles wherever she directs me, and secretly skim the best of the new crop off the top.

I was the first to own the newest books. In a small town, that’s prestige.

Oh she saw me doing it. My little stash I hid over by the Pepsi machine. The furtive glances I throw people if they get too close to my pile. But I carry on, asking about her kid (thirty and never been married) her husband (engineer) her cat (Tom).

My TBR pile grew. Mwahahaha.

I started hiding the stash in little insignificant piles. One under the coffee table. One next to my computer. One in the closet.

Soon the piles became ungainly. They’d topple when a cat walked too close and swished his tail. I hid books under the sofa cushions, in decorative baskets and under plants. I threw a blanket over the pile in the bedroom, and even put a small stack in the laundry room.

Then one Tuesday, the Book Lady wasn’t there. I waited, pacing, not getting my fix. My fingers trembled, my eyes shifted warily from side to side. I asked at customer service about her. Was she ok? I hope there wasn’t an emergency?

No answer. She just didn’t come in today.

I was crushed. It was Tuesday, and I had nothing to add to my TBR piles.

Wednesday morning, I flew into Wal Mart. No new books. Wednesday afternoon, nada. I asked at customer service for her cellphone number, sure something terrible had happened.

They took in my pale coloring, bitten-down fingernails and slight drool. No. They didn’t give out cellphone numbers.

Finally, Thursday morning, at 10am, there she was! The Book Lady!

Where have you been??? I cried, overjoyed to see her (and the books).

Busy. She said it curtly, harshly, and turned her back on me, braid swinging over her shoulder.

It was at that moment, I knew we hadn’t bonded over books, she didn’t care if I knew about her cat, dog, son, husband. She was only there for the job. My shoulders drooped, my eyes teared slightly. I asked in a low, woebegone voice, do you have the new Nora Roberts?

I don’t know. I’m very busy.

I slumped away, looking backward over my shoulder, lower lip hanging out, chubby cheeks fallen in despair. I snagged a bottled water and a Hershey’s, so it looked like I came in the store for more than just to see the Book Lady, and waited in line.

A few moments later, there was a tapping on my shoulder, and the new Nora Roberts book appeared in my vision.

This what you’re looking for?

It was!!! My faith was restored! The Book Lady really cared!

And I got a new morsel for my TBR pile.

And how big is YOUR TBR pile?



  1. Wow - this post makes me so sad for you. Please, please learn to love Amazon - they have free shipping if you spend $25. This could liberate you completely from the cranky book lady!!!!

  2. I only have a small bookcase full with some random ones scattered, some with bookmarks that I started but they weren't enough to hold my interest at that particular time. When the piles get too big in the living room, my dh moves them to my computer room.

    But I do agree with Christi, Amazon could become your new best friend. Although, there is something to be said about browsing books, sometimes that's so much better than actually buying them.

    You did make very grateful for my B&N, Borders, and Powells--although it's been a while since I trekked to downtown Portland to go to Powells.

  3. only about 10 books...and counting...but don't get me started on the I've-Read-It-But-Must-Keep-It pile...

  4. Nice post, Carrie.
    Where I live there's Wal-Mart, Hastings and where I work. None of them are great about carrying romance, esp cata romance. I try to figure out when the book lady arrives at each, but no-go. By the time I get there, even where I work, they are gone, gone, gone. Argh! I know, order, but I don't want all of them, just select authors/titles. I'm going to have to get sneakier.
    That was a great scene, btw.
    You should use it in a book of your own.

  5. Oh, this is funny! I love having a TBR pile, though--makes me feel smug. I even have a bunch in my car, so if I'm eating lunch at the hot dog stand in the summertime, I can read and drool Spanish (or Coney, depending on where you live) sauce onto the pages. Personalizes the books so no one else will really want them.

  6. I don't have TBR pile. Every book I have ever bought is read within a week. I am now a proud kindle owner. The DH got it for me for chritstmas. I have bought 2 books. One finished and the other over halfway done. I do have a wall of bookshelves in the guest bedroom. Why is it there? Because I have read every book on the shelf and when family, friends,others ask for a recommendation, I can give them an honest answer.

  7. Carrie, you're hilarious! Are you sure you shouldn't be writing romantic comedies? I nearly spit my tea out on my monitor reading this post. :)

  8. oh hey, i'm a gold member with amazon! they send me emails on a daily basis with "we have recommendations for you!" and by golly they know what i want! but there's something about holding the book, reading the blurb, and being able to leaf through.....i have no wal mart/book lady restraint.

    thanks for the comments all!