My TBR Piles: A Love Story

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” — Jane Austen

I feel you, Jane, and I completely agree. Yet here we are, at the start of the second month of 2021, and I’ve not made much of a dent in my TBR piles (I have two: JAFF/Austenesque and non-JAFF/Austenesque). In fact, both of my TBR piles have mostly been gathering dust since 2019; I’ve done very little reading. And yet, I keep adding to them. Did you know that the Japanese actually have a term for this? It’s called tsundoku, which roughly translates to “collecting books you’ll never read.” And while it may sound like a bad habit, it’s not used in a negative or mocking manner, because the understanding is that there’s an intention, at least, to read the books.

“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” — A. Edward Newton

If I counted all the books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, I’m fairly certain the number of unread novels would outnumber the novels read. On the one hand, that’s a little bit pathetic… But on the other hand, it gives me something to look forward to! My Kindle and shelves are full of potential and the promise of excessive diversion, ready to be tapped into at any given moment.

The fact that my piles are growing and remain largely untouched is completely my fault, and don’t let my piles fool you…they know it, and they’re not happy about it. They’re stalking me. They’re feeling neglected and unloved. But in my defense, I went from editing/releasing Sanctuary – which consumed most of my 2020 – straight into editing An Unexpected Harvest, which will easily eat up the first half of 2021.

I’m not sure about other authors, but I find it difficult to read new (to me) JAFF stories when I’m writing or editing my own; I find it too distracting. And I also have the bad habit of comparing my writing to that of other authors, and I’m frequently on the losing end when the happens… So when I’m writing or editing but in need of a little “JAFF jolt,” I tend to return to old, familiar favorites, a few of which are listed below.

First is Imperative, by Linda Wells. This is not just a book, it’s a saga. I especially love Linda’s incarnation of Darcy and the way she starts off the story with a pretty decisive action from him. The reader is immediately sucked in…right alongside Elizabeth. Son of a Preacher Man, by Karen M. Cox, has been a longtime favorite of mine. There’s just something about Billy Ray Davenport’s narration of the story that pulls me in—I can clearly hear his voice, that drawl, as I read along. His love story with Lizzie Quinlan is so pure and sweet; it’s a coming of age tale that should not be missed. A Marriage of True Affection, by Jodi L. Covey, gives detailed glimpses/vignettes into the Darcys’ marriage, from their first morning as husband and wife and first few days of wedded bliss through the births of their children and other momentous—but not always happy—events. It’s wonderfully written and illustrates the intense love and passion (scorching hot) that exists between Darcy and Elizabeth. I love the way the author works in some details from Pride and Prejudice (along with some that Austen never would have imagined), but from her Darcy & Elizabeth’s points of view.   

Even though I avoid reading new JAFFs while I write/edit, it doesn’t mean I avoid reading altogether! Here are some of my non-JAFF reads from 2020:  

Floating Twigs, by Charles Tabb. Another coming of age tale that I came across in a bizarre way; someone had written a less than glowing review of Sanctuary and had mentioned this novel as one they loved, and so I thought, why not check it out? I enjoyed the story and the author’s writing style very much. Seven Years to Sin, by Sylvia Day, is a *steamy* historical romance that a friend recommended. I enjoyed it and will definitely read other HRs from her. Persuasion, by our girl Jane Austen, is one I re-read because one of the contemporary variations I’m “writing” (using the term very loosely) feels a bit more Persuasion-ish than P&P-ish… It remains to be seen if Darcy and Elizabeth will morph into Wentworth and Anne! Finally, I’m currently reading a wonderful novel called The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. I first learned of this book through Goodreads, and the premise sounded different and interesting. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I love it already.

So what’s next in my JAFF TBR pile (which I hope to dig into over the summer)? These new-ish Pride & Prejudice variations are perched at the top of my long list: Nine Ladies, by Heather Moll; Married in Haste, by A.K. Madison; The Price of Pride, by Abigail Reynolds; and Sons of Pemberley, by Elizabeth Adams. I’m also looking forward to The Year In Between, a recently released Sense & Sensibility variation by Christina Morland. And there are new releases coming soon from Jan Ashton and Mary Smythe!

Oddly, with the exception of Nine Ladies, which involves time travel and is a mix of Regency and contemporary eras, all of the stories listed above are Regency-era stories. What does this signify, you ask? Well, I think it shows that the JAFF community is in dire need of a new contemporary Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel to add to their bookshelves. *rubs hands together gleefully*

So now that I’ve rambled on about my TBR piles… What about you? What are you reading? Is there anything I absolutely must add, JAFF or non-JAFF, to my TBR piles? What do you recommend? Please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Have a wonderful February, and happy reading!

Peace ~

Cat

6 thoughts on “My TBR Piles: A Love Story

  1. I loved reading about your “piles”. LOL. Your tastes are definitely similar to mine. I agree with all the JAFF favourites you mentioned. I’ve read them all and they’re all great. Nine Ladies is my favourite read of the year so far. You must get to it! I definitely agree there are not enough modern variations. Currently, I do happen to be reading a modern P&P, called “Angel of the Centerfold” by Michaela Robertson. Definitely mature rated, but the plot is excellent and quite different. Another to add to your pile, if you haven’t yet read it. I always have about 25-30 books in my TBR stack. My problem is that most of them never get moved up because of new released books I’ve been anxiously awaiting. They are my in betweens—that is unless I re-read a favourite like the ones you mentioned. I am all anticipation for An Unexpected Harvest!

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    1. Hi Marie! I’m so glad you enjoyed Nine Ladies. Heather is a dear friend and a wonderful writer, and I’m so happy for her success. I plan on making Nine Ladies my first beach read this year! And I read Angel of the Centerfold such a long time ago! On one of the fan fiction sites. I vaguely remember it… I’m so glad you’re looking forward to An Unexpected Harvest! I can’t wait to put it out there. Thank you!

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  2. Imperative is such a great saga! It was my go to favourite since 2014 when I found JAFF (along with her others) but as you know I have now added Sanctuary to these.
    I have managed to catch up on my TBR mostly but still have some to go. I do have health problems at the moment so I’m rereading low angst as well as my favourites. I’m hoping for good news then I can catch up.
    I’m definitely looking forward to your new book as I’m certain to love your Darcy and I’m equally certain that he and Elizabeth will have their happy ending (I’m hoping there’s plenty of happy ending pages!)
    Good luck with publishing! 🙂

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    1. Hi Glynis! Wow, incredible that Sanctuary has earned a spot next to Imperative! Thank you! I love Imperative so much, its my favorite of Linda’s stories. And of course my Darcy and Elizabeth will have their happy ending! They arrive at it the long way around, but they get there. Hope you are feeling better soon. Thanks!

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  3. At the beginning of 2020, my TBR on kindle counted 262 books.
    Books I had bought but not yet read which was absolutely ridiculous. I decided to not buy any more books until I had read those and by the end of the year, I was down to thirty-something which is a reasonable amount.
    2021, I am dedicating to my “want to read pile” on GR which is at about 550 books🙈. I may need 2022 as well for that.

    The goal was to read more, write less. Well, I am failing miserably.
    I wrote 530 000 words last year and wanted to write half this year. I have already passed the 100 000 mark so that is not going particularly well…

    I want to read but I cannot concentrate when new stories are hijacking my thoughts, demanding to be written. I have read 20 stories so far but most were one-shots.
    A book I want to recommend is by a talented author: Laura Moretti. Her book “Games of Love and Cruelty”. Loved that one and all your favourites, Cat, are on my list too.

    I am excited to read your harvest story, Cat, I love modern variations. Lucky me, I still have the third book of Sanctuary on my kindle, waiting for a moment of quietude to be enjoyed.

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    1. Oh, Elin, I relate to all of this! But the fact that you’ve written over 100,000 words already is excellent. Reading for me is tough right now; I usually get in about 15 or 20 minutes before I fall asleep at night, so it takes me forever to finish a book. Once I really focus on writing (and not just editing, as I’m doing now), I probably won’t read much at all. Something has to give, so reading gets shoved to the side. I will definitely look into the book you recommended! I’ll just add it to a pile… LOL It’s never-ending. I hope you enjoy Volume 3 of Sanctuary, and I’m glad you’re looking forward to An Unexpected Harvest! Thanks!

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