June 20, 2019

Can We Run Out of Stories to Read?

Stacks of books with text: How Do You Find Books to Read?

Is it possible to run out of stories to read? *smile*

We’ll get to that question in a minute, but first I’m asking for your help…

Those of you who have been following me or my blog for a while might have seen me talk about some of my health issues over the past few years. I’ve struggled with everything from an antibiotic-resistant bone infection that disintegrated part of my jaw to an intestinal infection that turned every bit of food I ate into poisonous toxins. Fun! Luckily for me, things had mostly calmed down over the past year.

Several years ago, one of the other issues I dealt with was severe nerve damage in my ankles and feet, which prevented me from being able to walk. After 2 years of treatment and physical therapy, I’d been mostly recovered for the past year and a half.

A few days ago, however, the nerve issue returned with a vengeance, and I’m once again struggling to walk. Of course, this happened literally within hours of me finishing all the reservations for our upcoming family vacation … which require me to be able to walk. *sigh*

Now I’m looking at a bunch of unplanned-for doctors’ appointments and treatments over the next month, as I try to salvage my mobility before we leave for vacation. And I was already trying to scale back my blogging over the summer to give me more time for writing projects and prepping for our trip.

So… If any of you would like to guest post here at my blog, now’s your chance. *grin* Guest posts could be about writing craft, sharing lessons from your struggles, details from your day job or hobbies that might be good for writers to learn about, etc. I’d be most grateful for the help, and you’d get to borrow my audience to share your insights, experience, or expertise. Win-win!

If you’re interested in sharing a guest post with my readers, please reach out to me through my Contact page. Let me know your idea and if you have a preference for how soon you’d like your guest post to run or if you’d like to request a specific Tuesday or Thursday.

Not sure what you could post about? Check here for suggestions and tips on proposing a guest post. Thank you!!!

Nothing to Read?

A few days ago, I saw a tweet along the lines of “I ran out of books in my to-be-read pile.” Naturally, as someone with a towering to-be-read pile, my jaw dropped with a scoff. How could this be possible?

What's the size of your TBR pile? Have you ever run out of books to read? Click To TweetFor paper books, I have a disorganized pile in one out-of-the-way corner of my home. As shown in the image at the top of this post, I have another semi-organized bookshelf next to my desk stacked two piles deep for those books in the “top” of my TBR pile.

That’s not even counting my Kindle. There, I have almost 2000 books in my TBR pile and a ridiculous amount of nearly 650 in my “Top of TBR” collection.

In other words, I have enough books just in the “top” of my to-be-read pile to last me about a decade. And that would assume I never purchased another book…which is highly unlikely. *grin*

I know not everyone has quite the insane TBR pile that I do, but I still wonder if it’s common for people to run out of books to read. I especially wonder if it’s common for writers to run out of stories in their TBR pile.

All that got me thinking about why my TBR pile is so large—besides the fact that I hoard books. *smile* So let’s share insights into how we find books to read.

Where and How Do We Find Books?

One reason my TBR pile is so large is because I read romance. The romance genre has always been blessed with prolific authors who might release multiple books a year.

Where do you find new books to read? How can we expand our choices? Click To TweetThat means just from my list of auto-buy authors, I pick up a dozen or so new books every year—and my auto-buy list isn’t that large compared to many readers. Between following my favorite authors on social media (especially Twitter and BookBub) or signing up for their newsletters, I hear about most of their new releases pretty quickly.

When I discover a new-to-me author I enjoy, I’ll often binge through their backlist as well. I used to subscribe to several deal and promo newsletters, which shared books on sale, but I’ve cut back on most of those because my TBR is so large. Otherwise, most books I pick up because of recommendations from friends and people I follow on Twitter.

So for me, my list of how and where I find new books is:

  • new releases from auto-buy authors
  • backlist of enjoyable, new-to-me authors
  • books on sale that sound interesting
  • recommendations from friends and those whose opinion I respect (“influencers”?)

Are We Open to New Possibilities?

If I didn’t pay attention to recommendations or sales, my TBR pile would be much smaller, but then I’d also never be exposed to new authors that I might enjoy. Every new-to-me author might become a new favorite, and I don’t want to lose those opportunities to find something I love.

So maybe that’s the lesson I can share from my experience with having plenty to read: Be open to new possibilities.

We could try a new-to-us genre or author. We could watch for recommendations from new-to-us sources. We could sign up for notifications about sales in our favorite genres for low-risk ways to grab books from new-to-us authors and/or use a service like eBookTracker to follow sales on recommended books.

For me, being open to new possibilities has also helped expand my reading of stories from authors in marginalized communities. If all we pay attention to is a very small bubble of sources, we’re less likely to see release announcements or recommendations for diverse stories. I’d have missed out on many of my favorite books of the past year if I’d limited myself that way, so this isn’t just a call to do the literary equivalent of “eat your vegetables.” Good stories are good stories.

Most of us started writing because we love to read, so we should try to keep up with that habit. Reading can help us with research, replenish our creative well, and inspire our muse. And if we’re open to the potential from a broader range of genres, authors, and recommendation sources, we’re unlikely to ever run out of books to read. *smile*

Have you ever run out of books to read? What’s the size of your TBR pile? How do you learn of new books to buy? Has your TBR size or methods for finding new books changed over the years? If so, how? And don’t forget—let me know if you’re interested in guest posting for me!

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Clare O'Beara

Thanks Jami. I know I promised you a guest post and the writing has got under way since the college year ended, so I’ll have it ready soon.
You don’t want to see how big our joint TBR pile is. Books are scattered all through the house. And we’re in several libraries.
One of my lecturers claimed buying books is a way of promising ourselves more free time in the future.


Sorry to hear about your health issues. 🙁 I hope you get to enjoy your vacation without pain.

I’d offer to write the odd guest post, but I write sci-fi so I’d probably bore your readers to death.

On the question of reading lists, I do run out of reading material, often. Sci-fi is my passion, and I have a long list of fabulous Indie writers I haunt. Unfortunately, I’m a voracious reader so a lot of the time I’m waiting for one of them to bring out something new. I also read some fantasy and some detective/crime novels, but as I don’t know those genres as well, I tend to wait for recommendations. Again, none of my favourite authors write fast enough. 🙂

When my Kindle is totally ’empty’ I browse the Amazon lists, but trying new authors like that is very hit or miss. I’d rather have too many books than not enough!

Clare O'Beara

Hi Acflory, I write SF too, as does Jami, so don’t let that stop you. We each have something to learn and something to share.
If you run out of reading matter, read good quality non-fiction. Write your next SF based on a future version of the East India Tea Company or something.


Firstly, I hope your health issue improves in time for your vacation. I have long term rheumatoid arthritis so understand how pain and mobility issues can be very frustrating when all you want to do is enjoy yourself and have a break. I have a massive to-read list that probably runs into the thousands. Most of those are on wish lists or stored in my e-book library. I’ll periodically browse the free books on the Kobo web site to see what I can pick up to try new authors. I’ll also go on recommendations or reviews by a few friends on Goodreads, particularly for lesfic. I do read a lot of non-fiction on topics that interest me or for research. I buy non-fiction in print and will browse Amazon until I spot something or I’ll use by bibliographies from other books to seek more specific titles. Sometimes I’ll pick up a non-fiction during my weekly food shop. I’ve got a thing at the minute for first hand experiences of modern warfare and there are a spate of publications from ex-army and special forces here in the UK at the moment hitting best seller lists so the supermarket stocks them. Because I write short stories I buy a lot of short story collections in my genre (horror/paranormal) to check out the level of competition and support other indie authors. I also buy collections by classic short story writers so I can study them to improve my craft. I also buy non-fiction…  — Read More »

Rae longest

Would you believe I have a book closet in my “office”? It has shelves and a huge storage bin built in on three sides…almost three bursting shelves of my TBR alone.


Hey Jami, I’m sorry to hear about the health issues. 🙁 Hope you feel better soon! Wow I was also flabbergasted to hear that someone would run out of books to read. XD That sounds like an impossible feat to me. While I don’t have 2000 books on my Kindle, I do have at least several hundred still untouched, lol. Recently I’ve been buying fewer books, because I really have too much. In fact, I sometimes even re-read books, as I find this to be an effective way to focus on certain techniques you want to learn, since you’re not as concerned about understanding the story, as you’ve already read it. But I don’t read the whole book again cover to cover; I just read the sections or chapters I’m especially interested in re-reading. It’s a delight to read my old books again, as this ironically exposes me to a wider range of writing styles. As you know, I’ve been reading mostly 21st century gay romances written by English-speaking authors in North America or the UK. Not that this is a problem, but I’ve grown accustomed to a certain writing style over these past few years. So it was powerful for me to re-read books from very different contexts, e.g. Chinese novels, French books, books written in the 19th or earlier centuries, books from very different genres (not romance), etc. Therefore, yes, I cannot understand how you can possibly run out of books to read, particularly if you re-read books…  — Read More »

Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber


At first, I felt guilty going back to an old favorite that’s stuck with me, when I have so many in the TBR pile. But I have found that as a writer, the second (and sometimes third) read shows me little details that weren’t obvious when I was just a reader and caught up in the story.

Too many times, I’m re-reading and find myself in awe of the talented writer who set everything up and then knocked it all down perfectly. Seeing it unfold is very helpful. What’s the mantra medical students have? “See one. Do one. Teach one.” I think. I look forward to the day where I can successfully “Do one.”! *grin*


Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber


I’m actually relieved to learn I’m not alone in my TBR pile habits.

I find new-to-me authors via the Overdrive digital library through my public library cards (for me that’s the Greater Phoenix Digital Library). My Bookbub “ebook bargains for the week” newsletter puts a lot of authors and books in my path I might not ordinarily find. I’m currently in trial periods of both Kindle Unlimited *and* Audible Escape. Both have put authors in front of me I might have never seen…

I pay a *lot* of attention to the “blurbs” on books — I came to love The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher because he “blurbed” the covers of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series. When a favorite author contributes to an anthology, I am usually introduced to a few other series/authors, as well.

I’ll probably never reach a point where my TBR pile isn’t longer than the lifetime I have remaining in which to read them! It’s enough to wish I could be a full-time reader. (Similarly, I have more yarn than I can knit/crochet in this lifetime. At least I’ve been smart enough to stop going to yarn websites and drooling….)

But if reading and to-be-read lists/piles are wrong, I never want to be right. 😉


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