My Frightening TBR Pile

Mr. Bemis Reading Happily

It’s very Twilight Zone to be constantly surrounded by a rotating assortment of interesting books at affordable prices, yet have all those pesky adult responsibilities getting in the way of the reading I’d like to do. Depending on how you feel about it, I work either in paradise or in an over-sized torture chamber. 

If you are not aware of the paradise (or hellscape) in which I work, the Friends Garage is a magical place where thousands of books are donated every month and a community of compassionate volunteers lovingly organize these books for your shopping pleasure. Our goal is to simultaneously re-home great reads and raise funds for library programs and services. An unintended consequence of this work is to become aware that you exist in a world with only so much shelf space.

Thus, the TBR (To Be Read) pile is born. Simply put, a TBR pile is that stack of books you’re going to get to eventually, probably when you finish the library book or when we have our next snow day. They bring you joy in their potential for hours of cozy reading, and they bring you pain because you want that joy now, but you need to adult.

If you want to accumulate or grow, your own TBR pile, check out for all the ways you can shop our stacks. If you can't wait to our next book sale, please check out our wonderful local book stores (The Raven, Dusty Bookshelf, Signs of Life) before you go online browsing!

Without further ado, here is the frighteningly long list of books on my nightstand waiting for their day in the sun:

TBR Pile: Non-Fiction edition 

The Power of Serving Others by Gary Morsch and Dean Nelson

I’ve heard people in Volunteer Coordinator circles talk about this book, but one day I picked this book out of the never-ending tower of Self Improvement books and read the Contents list: Get in the Boat, Get Over Yourself, Look in Your Hand, Give What You Can,  Think Small, Be There, Lose to Win, Love Anyway, Pull out the Arrow.  Whoa.  That reads like a poem and I’m here for it!

The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

I’m a science nerd.  What can I say?  Clouds are super cool.  I simply can’t wait to read this book. Each chapter is a deep dive into a particular type of cloud.  There’s even a chapter on Contrails.  Spoiler-alert: while flipping through this chapter I didn’t see anything about government conspiracies.

Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

I began birdwatching during lockdown and I know this much: Corvids are wicked smart and crows CAN USE STONE TOOLS! If a book wants to talk about these awesome creatures and their ability to thrive in urban environments, then I want to read it. This book gets bonus points because it is spooky season.

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier

Have I mentioned that I am a science nerd?  This book has been recommended to me about a trillion times.  When this title showed up in our stacks, one piece of praise guaranteed this a spot on my TBR:  “Natalie Angier makes planets and particles sexy.  She lends molecules an air of mystery. -Sylvia Nasar”

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

With just a glance at this book, it looks to be an engaging, well-written autobiography of a geobiologist.  This book speaks to my new curiosity for gardening and the fascinating world of plant science.  Anyone who has read this book has raved about it.  It even made President Barack Obama’s Reading List for 2019

TBR Pile: Fiction edition

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

There is a special place in my heart for this author.  He wrote the Water Knife, whose main protagonist is a hydrogeologist, and it paints a pretty darned accurate representation of what might happen when (not if) we run out of water.  He puts lots of science in his climate-induced dystopian Sci-Fi, and I love that.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Short Stories are my jam.  They are perfect after a long day when you’d love to read but don’t want to risk getting drawn into a book and staying up until 2 AM.  While I love some pretty messed up short story collections, ahem The Best of Roald Dahl, tumultuous years have drawn me towards funny and playful stories.

Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

These last few years, books like News of the World and Whisky When We’re Dry, showed me that I like Westerns! This book looks to be a light combination of Western and Mystery.  I’ve already read the first few pages, and the characters have me putting this book on the top of the pile!

TBB Pile: To Be Browsed a.k.a. Reference books

Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities by John M Carrera

As the author writes, “The Pictorial Webster’s is in effect a Wonder Cabinet of the Nineteenth Century.  It is filled with both the Factual and the Fantastic.” On the surface this book just contains restored woodcuts from Webster’s Dictionary, but a deeper dive reveals gems hidden in the captions.

Isms by Stephen Little

Oologies is one of my favorite podcasts, so naturally I was drawn to a book named ...ism: Understanding Art.  One day I’ll read this book and be able to rattle off the differences between Perspectivism and Humanism.  Alternatively I might just look at cool art for an hour or so.

The Hedonism Handbook: Mastering the Lost Arts of Leisure and Pleasure by Michael Flocker

I mean, the title alone. With chapter headings like “Overrated Virtues” and “Nirvana: Take it or Leave It”, just shut up and take my $1. Whilst writing this blog, I flipped to the Introduction and was met with, “No human thing is of serious importance - Plato”, thereby cementing this book’s hallowed spot on my TBB pile.

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers

In contrast with that last title, sometimes I need to read something a bit more wholesome. Like that time a student asked what was the greatest event in American history, and Mr. Rogers responded with, “I suspect that like so many ‘great’ events, it was something very simple and very quiet with little or no fanfare (such as someone forgiving someone else for a deep hurt) that eventually changed the course of history.”

-Angela Hyde is the LPL Friends & Foundation Program Coordinator.