Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Towering TBR: My summer reading/research

Summer is the perfect time for reading!

Well, actually, so is winter (while staying all snuggly and cozy inside).

And spring.

And fall.

Okay, any season is the perfect time for reading.

Right now, I'm thrashing through materials on historical San Francisco, trying to firm up an idea for my next book (oh, I am sooooo slow!). All the fascinating stuff I’ve bumped into so far is 15, 20 years previous to my time frame, which kind of depresses me. But I know that nugget is out there, the one that will jumpstart my plot. I just have to keep looking!

What the photo below shows are just some (! just some !) of the books I plan to deal with this summer. These to-be-read (TBR) piles are towering next to my desk at home, under a looming 1881 map of San Francisco. (Everything is looming and towering, reminding me that time is ticking and I darn well better start writing a synopsis.) More piles hunch on the table(s) and chair(s) and lurk on the floor.

My stacks are a chaotic a mix of fiction and non-fiction in no particular order (rather like my mind right now!). The two TBR piles pictured here are good examples of that. Many of the books are for research (including Chronicling the West for Harper’s, The Making of “Mammy Pleasant, The San Francisco Irish 1848–1880). Some craft books (Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus) appear here and there. And of course, there are fiction/nonfiction books “just for fun” (The Ensemble, Death of an Unsung Hero, and The Glass Universe, among others). For light reading, I also have Raven Black (not pictured) that I must finish in the next couple of weeks for a mystery book club that gathers once a month.

My gut feeling is that summer will not be long enough to READ all of these. Maybe I should rename the piles to TBCPT&T (to be considered, paged through, and tabbed).

So what’s on your TBR (or TBCPT&T) list for summer?

Ann Parker authors the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press. During the day, she wrangles words for a living as a science editor/writer and marketing communications specialist (which is basically a fancy term for ìeditor/writerî). Her midnight hours are devoted to scribbling fiction. Visit AnnParker.net for more information.


  1. This summer, it appears, will be dedicated to editing projects. However, I am interested in some of the books your mentioned, Ann, so they may land on my fall or winter list.

  2. I now keep my TBR list on Goodreads--no more scraps of paper with long forgotten names of books or authors. I also try to limit the stack of books to what I can read in a week. At one point, had the stack fallen over, my demise would have been attributed to hoarding. Beside me now, Fortress Malta, An Officer and A Spy, and The Marshall Plan. Reading The Titian Committee.

  3. Thanks for the reference. I just ordered Raven Black. The problem with me is I read slowly, mainly because I read at bedtime. Then I conk out. That particular book sounded interesting.

  4. I also keep my book list on Goodreads, which is way too easy and accounts for my list growing out of control. In addition to those, I pick up books I've never heard of from the library displays. Working its way to the top of my stack right now is The Scorched Earth by William Gear (Civil War) and End of the Road by L.S. Hawker (for book club).


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