Autism, family, Mental Health, Parenting, reading

The Autistic Bookdragon Part 2: The TBR

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Good morning! First, happy Easter, happy Passover, happy spring!

Why am I posting today? Because later this week is not looking promising, that’s why. There are other posts scheduled, but there shall be a drought after those… And I hate to feel like I am neglecting this space too much…

Anyway, on to the topic at hand…

My current TBR is pretty reasonable. And yet, I can see it quickly spiraling out of control. Why? Simply because: life.

At the moment, I have a total of 22 books on my Goodreads account. That’s new reads. But this is not counting re-reads — of which there are 4 at present. Not horrible, though. You may be scratching your head, wondering what I’m all in a dither about (or how did a withered hazelnut get in your hair — let’s blame the children).

Here’s the root of my concern: I have very demanding kids, a constantly changing schedule, and rarely the opportunity to just sit and read for hours at a time. I have been limping through a re-read of Soul Music (part of the illustrious Discworld series). I’m enjoying it, and I have even (as already stated) read it before. But it took me a week and a half to make it to 75%. Because of specialist appointments for Muffin, end of the marking period for White Fang, spring arriving (i.e. yard work), and all of this translates to — once Muffin is in bed, I might be too tired to read.

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So, how does the autistic bookdragon go about preparing a TBR that she can easily keep on top of? There are a few key factors to put into play.

Cost. Resources are limited, and the price of things is crazy when you’re a stay at home parent. How much of my TBR can I obtain from the public library system? Don’t forget giveaways. Or if you have a birthday coming up, be sure to refer relatives and friends to your TBR.

Time. Realistically, I don’t expect to be able to read more than 20 new books in a year. At least until Muffin’s older (or maybe in college). I set my goals low, so that I’ll be happily surprised if I exceed them.

Chances to read. If the next few months include a lot of waiting in doctor’s offices or something similar, I’ll be sure to have plenty of books on hand for the occasion. If I anticipate more time at home, I’ll probably plan on going to the re-reads first (since I may not have a good environment to concentrate on brand new material).

My triggers. This is a definite issue. Everybody has certain things they don’t like to read about, but for some of us on the spectrum, triggers can be varied and far-reaching. Mine range from gory violence to lots of swearing to explicit sexual content to bullying to describing foul smells in too much detail. Yes, I am a tender baby unicorn and must be handled with extreme care when it comes to my reading selection. (If I accidentally hit a trigger, I could be near-catatonic for the next 12 hours. Not kidding.)

Life plans. There are some books that the rest of the world (okay, my rather small world) is raving about, but they just don’t fit into my ultimate frame of what my life needs to look like this month/year/ever. So they may be on my TBR, and I may never read them. I’m allowed to change my mind.

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What happens if I feel the TBR is becoming not manageable? Well, my Vulcan side takes over (for the good of the whole).

Cut items from the list. Every once in a while, I go through my Goodreads and Amazon wish lists, and re-evaluate. Did I change my mind about an author, or a series? Truly, we don’t need to finish it all. (We need oxygen, tea, and cats, and tiramisu.) Am I so uncertain about reading a particular novel that it’s just making me squirm to the point of wanting to take another shower? Then it’s gone.

Don’t be afraid to DNF. I know some readers have a major issue with not finishing something. Not me. No such qualms. I have gleefully sent bunches of selections back to the library drop-off bin before page 100, with no regrets. Except for the time I wasted. And it brews a resolution to choose more carefully in the future.

Listen to your inner self, and make that critical choice to begin with. Not impulsively adding 743 new releases that “everybody else” likes to your TBR makes you feel less stressed at the start. It’s truly all right to opt out.

It is okay to watch the movie instead. Even allowing for needing to pause a DVD for bathroom breaks, getting snacks, wrangling misbehaving toddlers, and tending to a needy cat, it will only take you about 3 hours to finish watching most movie adaptations of a popular book. (There are always exceptions, but in general, this is the case.) As opposed to possibly 3 months to finish reading the novel. Especially those titles that just aren’t clicking for you, but you want to know what happens to the characters.

Most of all — are you enjoying what you’re reading? Life is short. Even shorter if you live in a pocket of the globe where hours of the day magically get shaved off at random points (that’d be me), and you suddenly find yourself with 14 hours less in the month than everybody else got. Anyway, it is too short to waste on books that just don’t thrill your little Vulcan heart.

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3 thoughts on “The Autistic Bookdragon Part 2: The TBR”

  1. Happy Easter! I really need to be better at trimming my tbr down, but I have gotten *so much* better at DNFing- I’ll still give a book a chance and read over 60%, but if it’s failed to woo me by that point, I’m done (I know that probably doesn’t sound great, but it’s better than how I used to be for sure!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eeep these seem like sensible rules to live by…I just wish my brain was that sensible. 😂 I TRY to DNF but I just can’t?!? It really bothers me to have unfinished things lying around…and I have the entire curse of always trying to read everything of ever that’s published.😂 Like someone literally keep me off the internet for a while please because I have 1000 books added on Goodreads! I NEED IMMORTALITY. Ahem. So I think your list sounds very wise. And plus raising kids and balancing reading and also being an author…you’re just incredible. 🎉🎉

    Liked by 1 person

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