TALES FROM THE TBR TOWER: March 2021

There’s an old joke that reading books and collecting books are two very different hobbies, and like so many readers, I buy books long before I get around to reading them. I try and keep on top of things, but newer, shinier books will always come along and push others further down my priority list. As a result, I have a fairly sizeable TBR (to-be-read) stack growing on my windowsill. The oldest only date back to Christmas 2020, but there are more being added every month. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to run through what I’ve currently got on the TBR, and what you can expect to see reviewed here in the coming weeks and months.

There are thirty-eight books on the stack at present, and fully half of them are Star Trek novels. Having recently finished my read of Kirtsen Beyer’s Voyager novels, it was my original plan to head in to another long Trek series. With a little help from Twitter, I narrowed that choice down to the Vanguard series, an eight-book saga set parallel to The Original Series. In preparation I bought the whole series, but then decided to get through some of my TBR before tackling another long series.  That was in February, but at the start of March I bought more Star Trek. This time in the form of Enterprise tie-ins. I’ve already read and reviewed all the post-finale Enterprise novels, and hadn’t really intended to read those set during the series. But I also can’t resist a good bargain, and got the whole set for a steal. they’re fairly short books, even by Pocket Books standards, and I’ll probably use them as palate cleansers between larger books before going back to Vanguard. Also on the Star Trek front is Christopher L. Bennett’s The Buried Age, about Picard’s life before The Next Generation. The current plan is to read that one next.

Also taking up a lot of space is Black Library. Though in this case it’s physical size as well as number of books contributing to the tower. I had planned to spend March celebrating Warhammer (you may have seen #WarhamMarch floating around on Twitter). What I forgot when planning the celebration was just how big the books are. The Ahriman, Night Lords, Blood Angels and Dark Angels omnibuses currently weighing down my floor are all huge door-stoppers, and getting through them is taking longer than I expected. Also on the Warhammer stack is Gave Thorpe’s Armageddon Saint, the first two Black Legion books by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Steve Lyon’s Dead Men Walking and Dan Abnett’s Penitent. The latter I will almost certainly get around to this month as I am reading Pariah right now, and I hope to take down another omnibus before April rocks around.

The last third of my TBR is much more of a mixed bag. Mike Brooks’ Keiko trilogy is there, and those are the books I’ve had waiting for the longest. I read book one a few years ago, and plan to reread it before tackling books two and three in the series. Another trilogy is Keiran Shea’s Koko, which I started reviewing here, but haven’t felt a rush to get back to. I’ve also got two books there I know next to nothing about. Essa Hansen’s Nophek Gloss is the intriguingly titled first book in the Graven trilogy, a debut I picked up after seeing it mentioned a few times online. Then there’s a John Birmingham’s The Cruel Stars, which looks like just the sort of military SF I crave. I’m planning to wrap up a few series before starting anything new, but my eye is drawn to these two quite regularly.

On the non-SF front, I have three books on the TBR, all of them the first in a series. Devin Madson’s We Ride the Storm and K.S. Villoso’s Wolf of Oren-Yaro will hopefully pull me back to fantasy after a few months of not liking anything I read of the genre. There’s also R. Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before. This is one I’m not expecting to enjoy, having heard a lot of negativity about, but I’m a curious man by nature, and that curiosity has got the better of me this time around.

On top of all that I still have the ongoing Dune reread, which is going on at a steady two books per month pace, meaning I should wrap up in time to read Lady of Caladan not too long after it comes out. Some of the longer and denser books coming up migth delay that schedule a little, but there’s plenty of flexibility and I’ll certainly finish the reread this year, and hopefully in tome for the new Dune film, assuming cinemas are open and safe by that point. Fingers crossed.

With all this on my plate I’m planning to hold off on new books for a few weeks. Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace has thrown a small spanner into those works, being one of my most anticipated releases of the year, but I’m determined not to pick up any new books until I’ve made a dent on this TBR tower that threatens to fall and crush me during the night. With any luck I’ll be either finished with or caught up on a lot of ongoing series by the end of April, and will have space for some of the books I’ve been eyeing. One of the few redeeming qualities of the global pandemic is that it’s pushed release dates back enough for me to get up to speed. A small mercy, but I’ll take it. Once I am caught up, I’m thinking it might be time to delve into some of the classics that have slipped me by until this year. David Brin, the late Ben Bova, Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds all have large back catalogues that I’m tempted by, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

 

What’s your TBR like? Be sure to leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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