Most people on Goodreads seem to add any book that vaguely pings their interest to their To Read shelf, and it's often a bigger number than their "Read" shelf. Sometimes by as much as a factor of 5.
Me, on the other hand, I like to run a tight ship. I add only books I have a genuine and specific interest in locating (that's why "owned and unread" is mostly a separate and also highly incomplete shelf -- the thrill of the hunt is off, if it was ever on as opposed to just collecting something I happened upon cheap, so I apparently don't care if I never read those), and I weed through it regularly to remove anything I've since lost interest in. I also periodically go on requesting sprees to reduce the number. My dream is to empty it -- much like crossing off everything on a "to do" list -- but at 61 titles, my shelf is currently the most loaded it's ever been, so I want to talk through why they are still on the shelf, some of which have been here since 2012.
[edit: this was a wise choice. while going through them, I eliminated 6 titles. Which I guess I could have left on here to explain why I kicked them off...but it was just so liberating to obliterate them instead.]
[edit number 2: also I might try to update this list as titles on it are read or otherwise removed. for the time being at least, I've used a spoiler cut to hide the original annotation where that happened. Last updated December 2019.]
1. Midnight Moon - Dorothy Lyons
A 1940s horse book, second in a quartet, of which for some reason only the third ever became mega-popular (Golden Sovereign -- one of my fave horse books ever, courtesy of Mom's copy). I managed to read the first one via Interlibrary Loan, but my state doesn't have this one, and it's stupid rare so secondhand copies start at $50. That takes some saving willpower I do not yet have.
2. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell - Chris Colfer
Backstory: I was so enchanted by the cover, the fact that Darling Chris Colfer had realized a lifelong dream of authorhood, and the amazing photos & fanworks that people were posting on their Tumblrs that I wanted to make sure I bought my own copy, and vowed not to let myself read it until I did. That ploy did not work because I still could not bring myself to spend $17 on a single book, and I also could not decide if I wanted to spend less money for an audiobook instead, or if I wanted to save the treat of his narration for a bonus gift after I knew the story.
By the time I found a reasonably priced secondhand copy, two more in the series were out and I had gotten used to waiting. I don't want to spoil the magic, so I am patiently waiting until I am as breathless with anticipation as I was in the summer of 2012, before Glee hurt me The First Time.
3. Blind Beauty - K.M. Peyton
A rare contemporary YA (not middle grade) novel featuring horses, I loved this in high school. I also own a copy. I can't remember anything about it except that I used to love it, and I wonder if I still would, now that I have read so many other horse books. Basically, I want to make sure I still need to keep this copy.
4. Walking With Sausage Dogs - Matt Whyman
I loved his "Oink: My Life With Minipigs" memoir, but for some reason, this follow-up was never published in the U.S. Which means I gotta figure out how to order a copy online without paying an arm and a leg in shipping or being required to pay in pounds, and it's probably easier than I think, but also requires a non-zero amount of effort.
5. Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal - Chris Colfer
I love movies with companion novels. But I wanna see the movie first. And I was averse to paying the $12 it would take to buy a copy, which was not available for rental anywhere in 2012. I'm no longer quite as in love with the idea of the movie as I was when it first came out and it was a rare and precious thing to have him be the center of attention, so I continue to hold off in hopes that I will feel the inspiration to watch it...strike. Like lightning.
6. Alpha Dog - Jennifer Ziegler
I bought a copy at a used book sale in 2010 and I still do not know what the hell is wrong with me that I have not read the splendid rarity that is A DOG-CENTRIC YA NOVEL. My aversion to reading without a deadline is too powerful for my own good. (that, and every time I finally decide to read it, I remember I put it in a box somewhere and can't find it.)
7. National Velvet - Enid Bagnold
I've been trying to make myself read this since I was like 12. It feels wrong to not have one of the classics of the equine literature world under my belt. It's just...racing. It is so hard to churn up interest in it.
8. For Love of a Horse - Patricia Leitch
I feel like I might have read this when I was a kid -- something about that 70s photo cover feels familiar, like it was one of the thrift-store books my horse crazy best friend had, before I really knew what a thrift store was. I do know I now own this and the second book in what is apparently a 12-book series, and I'd like to know if I want to unlock the entire thing, or if can get rid of these two.
9. Sunny Days for Sam - Jennifer Shirk
[edit: worth the time spent reading]I added this back when I had read almost no contemporary adult or "chick lit" novels, and it seemed like a rare one that would appeal to my YA-fixated heart, not least because a friend marked it "squeaky-clean." I still think I would enjoy it, because there are few romance tropes I love more than "grouchy misanthrope is charmed against his will by a sunny optimist" (hey there Zoo), unless he is also a single dad (hey there Zoo, again).
10. Everything Left Unsaid - Jessica Davidson
This is an Australian novel, and I'm pretty sure ebook format is the only way I'll ever be able to read it -- I might even have to buy it since I can't tell if it was published in the U.S. (that's whatcha get for befriending an Australian on Goodreads). I don't have an eReader yet. However, I can't delete it because it's always good to keep a teen romance/cancer novel on deck. I get cravings for them every so often.
11. Running Barefoot - Amy Harmon
The aforementioned Australian friend rated this 4 stars and put it on my radar. To my frustration, despite claims she is a NYT bestselling author, I see no versions of this that are not self-published or ebooks, which means this is gonna cost me more than the $5 max I prefer to spend on books I don't already love. But: I can't let go of my interest in a romance that stems from an age-mismatched friendship they had years ago. I'm also curious to know how the guy's Navajo heritage will factor in.
12. A Different Blue - Amy Harmon
Possible age-appropriate student/teacher romance? With the way the girl is described, I am at the very least gonna get an amazing Caring Teacher story out of it, so yeah, I want this. If I time my reading right I think it could end up being a favorite. Stupid same availability issues as above.
13. Rescue Ben - R.B. Smith
This was an author promo/advertised book on Goodreads. I curse the day it crossed my path, because it turns out it's tiny-press-published and EXPENSIVE AS HECK ($20 and up, USED, as a paperback) but...it's a nearly-500-page dog-centric book! What wealth. I need it.
14. Young Adult Authors Series: Presenting Lynn Hall - Susan Stan
(As LJ knows), Lynn Hall is one of my favorite authors and there is almost zero biographical information about her on the internet. I checked this out via ILL once and I found a large part of it was discussion of her work, so I'm holding off on buying or checking it out again until I've read more of her novels (to avoid spoilers and better appreciate the analysis), but still -- this is more biography than Marguerite Henry, my other favorite (and vastly more popular) author has, and quite a treasure trove.
15. Beginner's Luck - Laura Pederson
Checked it out of the library once and found the print was very small, on top of being the start of a quartet, but in a good way -- like it's dense quality. It looks like an adult novel that would appeal to me, since the protagonist is a teenage girl, but one of the awesome ones who runs away from home to make her own living (as opposed to the runaways who end up living on the streets and hooking for cash/drugs). I just didn't feel like I had the time to give it the attention it deserved, and I want to be able to really sink into it.
(I know I mention needing to be in "the right mood" a lot, but I have wrecked good books by reading them at the wrong time, and I have had lifechanging experiences by reading books at the right time, so this is one of the few areas in life where I can and need to trust my "gut.")
16. Counting to D - Kate Scott
I usually don't add YA novels to this shelf, because appealing options are so plentiful and easy to spot in the "wild" (a.k.a. local library shelves). But dsylexia (...that typo was not intentional but I'm leaving it there) isn't a real common topic in YA, and it stuck out to me. The fact that I can't get it via ILL has made me more stubborn about finding it than it probably warrants.
17. Echoes of Pemberley - Cynthia Ingram Hensley
YA Pride & Prejudice reimagining WITH HORSES and focusing on Darcy-Equivalent's sister. And also a WWII-era diary discovery! What are "all my faves." Alas, no way to get it through ILL, so it remains a Quest Book.
18. Pegasus - Marilyn Holdsworth
An adult novel featuring a rescue horse! Horse-centric adult books are rare and precious. Literally, in this case, unfortunately. It's buyable, but not for the cost of shipping.
19. Appaloosa Summer - Tudor Robins
[verdict: AMAZING]See above. I actually have a Kindle version of this (it was a freebie, and the sequel was only $2.99 so I bought that too and called it 2-fer-1). Just waiting on the Kindle. I CAN read eBooks at the computer, but I always end up going way too fast and skimming them by accident.
20. This is Not a Love Story - Suki Fleet
This was a dream plot in my starry-eyed KLAINE, OTP days (when I was willing and able to transpose them onto every gay couple in every story ever). The library had it but only in ebook form -- I stubbornly checked it out anyway and read about 100 pages of it on the computer, before the explicit sex outweighed the glorious hurt/comfort aspects of it. I have yet to try again, but I still hope to one day be able to properly review it.
21. Heroines on Horsebook: The Pony Book in Children's Fiction - Jane Badger
Jane Badger runs one of the most definitive website guides to vintage horse books out there, particularly of British books. I have used it to research many a found book that Goodreads lacks in. This book is a limited/specialty print run, on top of being British, so it's pricey. But it fills a unique niche of reserach on a topic very dear to my heart.
22. Cinchfoot: The story of a Range Horse - Thomas C. Hinkle
I don't usually put specific vintage horse books on this shelf either, preferring to accept whatever comes my way at sales (also because I own like 30 already that I have not read), but I read another book of his I really liked and wanted to remember the author. I actually managed to find a cheap copy in an antique store a year after putting it on here, so now its status is more like "old book politely reminds owner it's ready to go whenever."
23. A Cowboy's Christmas Promise - Maggie McGinnis
Soemtimes I just wanna read cute romance books. I'm picky on content and tone, but featuring horses is a good way to go. "Single dad falls for vet" is even better. Alas, it refuses to be obtainable through my libraries.
24. Wichita's Riverside Parks - James Mason
I did some research and it looks like this contains some history of the zoo I was fascinated by in I'll Trade You An Elk. But I'm not in Kansas
25. Oliver, The Cat Who Saved Christmas - Sheila Norton
[edit: Read. A cute Christmas story.]ADULT NOVEL FEATURING A KITTY!! I have targeted this one for Christmas this year because our library finally got a copy.
26. The January Queen - Joyce Stranger
And thus my eyes were opened to the infinite world of animal book options by Joyce Stranger. I still want to read this most -- spoiled 20-year-old is given a "tumbledown cottage on the farm and a few animals and has to fend for herself." WHAT AN ADVENTURE. Can I have that life?
Will have to buy it, though for once I actually do want to own it, not just read it.
27. Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage - Denis O'Connor
What a title! And a vintage memoir about cats in the countryside AND restoring a dilapidated cottage/childhood home sounds impossibly charming. Have to buy it somewhere if I want it, though. Hashtag, NotLivingInBritainProblems
28. Bickie's Cow College - Bert Rhoads
LOOK AT THIS RIDDIKULUS COVER. I made a post about it. I do not remember where I found it but I cannot rest until I know what the heck a "cow college" is and why the cover features a cow wearing a mortarboard. Alas, no libraries around here have it and secondhand copies are around $10. I'm not $10 worth of curious.
29. The Fairy Tale Girl - Susan Branch
I checked it once (via ILL) but 3 weeks was not enough time to handle this much amazing text of her incredible young life on top of her amazing illustrations. And it's just the FIRST of a 3-part memoir! On here to remind myself to buy a copy.
30. A Thousand Boy Kisses - Tillie Cole
[verdict: yeah it was pretty lame and barely 3 stars]Debating removing this. I'd have to call it in from ILL, and I don't like to waste those on books I'm not sure are going to be better than 3 stars, but...I dunno. Maybe it will be epic in its tear-jerk-ness. The possibility tantalizes me.
31. Spirit Level - Sarah Harvey
I'm somewhat intrigued by the idea of a "donor kid" meeting all her sperm bank half-siblings, just because donor-conceived kids are a rare topic, but again...gotta call it in from ILL and not sure it's amazing.
32. The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics
[edit: read, and it's awesome!]This looks spooky and moody and basically like the sort of book you simply MUST read in October or November. The season is here! And...okay, it is now aged up enough to request via ILL, so off to do that now.
33. Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote -- Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
Iiiii loooooove tiny houses! And one with BONUS DOGS?? Still too new to request via ILL, but: soonish.
Now we're into books added within the last 6 months, so there is still some leeway as far as how bad I wanna read them. But it's also about time that I really took a second look beyond my impulse-adding.
34. The Museum of Heartbreak - Meg Leder
"Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up." OK I want to see the items in this museum immediately. This cover has me hyped.
35. Starting from Here - Lisa Jenn Bigelow
[edit: read, pretty cute]I added this as a possibility when I was looking for lesbian books over the summer. Local library didn't have it, and time was of the essence on that craving so I dropped it from the running, but from the mention of her saving a stray dog and being "taken under the wing" of the vet, I think this might be worth a read for other reasons.
[edit: kicked off the list because this author's What Girls Are Made Of sounds horrifyingly awful, and after carefully scrutinizing the reviews for this one, it too sounds like it has a good chance of hitting a rage trigger.]The cover looks like a Deb Caletti/Sarah Dessen novel, basically, which is promise enough. I skimmed over the summary and it sufficiently matched that style, so as I do with Caletti and Dessen, I'm putting that out of my mind and expecting to get a good novel with no preconceived expectations. I think it's about Burning Man? Or related to it somehow?
37. The Courtship of Jo March - Trix Wilkins
Someday I am gonna reread Little Women. And when I do, I want this antidote on hand because my heart cannot stand how much I cannot choose between Laurie and the Professor, and my heart ends broken no matter who Jo chooses, unless I have two happy endings side by side in parallel universes.
38. The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth - Meredith Rusu
This was not in my local library system, tragically, because it's too new to request via ILL. My renewed PotC obsession from summer has since waned. But it's been 14 years since Will and Elizabeth were first introduced to me and I still love them/their world. It'll come back, and when it does, I will want this part-prequel (of Carina's life, a.k.a. FAN FICTION!), part-novelization of the fifth Pirates movie in my hands.
39. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom - A.C. Crispin
A.K.A., the pre-series backstory of 25-Year-Old Captain Jack Sparrow. I've been warned this is LONG and somewhat dense. I definitely need to be in a more pirate-intense mood to tackle it. But when I am......when I am, a library better come through, because holy hell why is a 6-year-old book based on a wildly popular movie franchise priced the same as a rare 80-year-old horse book, e.g. at $40 and up.
40. The Diddakoi - Rumer Godden
Looks like a short, sweet vintage children's book with a slight pony element by way of gypsies. I would like knowledge of it my brain. Annoyed I gotta use ILL for something so slight and that was published in so many editions, though.
41. The Companion - Sarah Dunnakey
I'll be honest with you: I added this because I thought I could get an AU Miles & Monroe (Revolution) out of the historic part. Might be too literary for me. Or it might be a very readable and intriguing present-day story of researching and solving a historic mystery; those are always neat. However, it is still very new, and not owned by any libraries in state right now.
42. After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia
[edit: read, and not worth it.]This appears to be a YA collection, or at least it caught my attention because it has one by Carrie Ryan and another by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I don't usually like short stories -- but I do better if they are arranged around a theme, and I love apocalypse and post-apocalyptic dystopias! Short stories also means less time spent world-building, in the case of scenarios not resulting from the only two I find acceptable, natural disaster or disease. Also MY LOCAL LIBRARY HAS THIS why is it not already in my hands?! It's literally checked in, right now, 1.4 miles from my house.
43. The Memory Book - Lara Avery
[edit: it was pretty good but I shipped wrong and that set me up for disaster.]Local library system has it, and since I'm out of checkouts, time to collect it. I'm always fascinated by the idea of a teenager having the equivalent of Alzheimer's, but what really grabbed my attention was: "through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family..."
44. The Land of 10,000 Madonnas - Kate Hattemer
[verdict: well written but I did not care for the characters, borderling 3 or 4 stars]"Five teens backpack through Europe (to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend)" STOP RIGHT THERE, I'M IN FOR THE ARMCHAIR VACATION. (Will have to ILL request)
45. This is The Story of You - Beth Kaphart
[edit: worth the time spent reading.]Beth Kephart and I do not get along well. I've read 4 books of hers over the years, and rated the first three 3, 2, and 2 stars due to her increasingly maddening writing style, after which I decided I was Done. But "Nothing But Ghosts" tempted me back, and it was so amazing that I'm willing to try another, since this was recommended for "readers who enjoyed" the above book. Plus neighboring county has this.
46. These Healing Hills - Ann Gabhart
[verdict: AMAZING. There was not even much overt romance or hurt/comfort, but it was a cozy setting and still worked fabulously as a Barbie-Julia-Joe + Sam as the Double-Crossing Fiance set]I have wasted a lot of hours of my life googling romance novels for specific tropes when I need to feed a Shipper Fix by casting beloved TV characters in one, so when one crosses my feed that has clean text and looks like it might come in handy later -- like this one's hurt/comfort element -- I lock it down.
47. Behind the Attic Wall - Sylvia Cassedy
A friend recommended this as as one of her favorites. Orphan girl being sent to live with pinch-faced great-aunts in a "great and gloomy" house? With possible ghosts?? Sign me UP.
[edit: kicked off the list; I just cannot get myself on board a weird dystopia with mysticism elements to boot.]Moderately intriguing -- a girl growing up in remote Alaskan wilderness, assuming she's in a post-apocalyptic landscape...only to find out that has been a lie, and now she's alone in the modern world. I do not like the "magical twist" thing mentioned, though. Available in neighboring county, or I would have pitched it by now.
49. The Horse Dancer - Jojo Moyes
I want absolutely nothing to do with the gross ideology present in Me Before You, and I'm not thrilled by what I hear about another one of her novels, so I am hesitant to touch her work, but like...how am I meant to resist a novel aimed at adults with horses that my library has.
50. Things I'm Seeeing Without You - Peter Bognanni
[edit: ugh]I am presently first on the request list for this at the library (it's still on order), after going on the Google Prowl for books in which I might find something resembling Miles & Charlie's family relationship on Revolution. I pinged this one based on the phrase "with nowhere else to go, she turns up on her father's doorstep."
51. Good Guys Love Dogs - Inglath Cooper
I somehow wound up with this in my Amazon recs, and even though it looks very self published...I dunno, it's a romance with animals, and she has a bunch more varieties, and after reading the sample it doesn't sound any more amateurish than a properly pubilshed romance, but it does already have way more animal focus.
52. Home on Apple Blossom Road - Sheila Robert
[edit: and absolutely worth it.]Inheritance + treasure hunt + sweet small town romance is an appealing formula. This type of book is often enjoyable in the way those pre-sliced tubes of frozen sugar cookies are appealing at Christmas.
53. Holly & Ivy
[edit: another pleasant seasonal read, and I did in fact go with Burke and Mitchell for it]I see "single dad + 11 year old daughter + daughter bonds with childless widow" and my brain goes straight to a Zoo place. To be honest, I was actually planning to Miles/Rachel it because Rachel seems more like the corporate type, but we'll see. Maybe I can say "to heck with character molds" and just cast Billy Burke and Elizabeth Mitchell. Saving it for Christmas either way.
54. My Life as Country Album - L.J. Evans
This looks self published as heck (never a good sign when reviews comment on the need for proofreading), but "inspired by Taylor Swift songs" is right up my alley, as in I have often listened to Taylor Swift songs and thought, "What if there were accompanying novels." Just need to figure out if it's properly "young adult" or "new adult" (a.k.a. "young adult with graphic sex"), because I have seen it referred to both ways and that's usually not a good sign. I read the sample and I'm not real impressed, but I'm not horrified out the gate, so I need more time to think about it.
55. Snow Bound - Harry Mazer
[edit: it was amazing!]I found this while trying to google the answer for someone on What's The Name Of That Book? by using different keywords. Survivalist story + vintage teen novel = right up my alley. (Survival stories are better when cell phones and the internet are eliminated as tools for locating people or avoiding getting lost in the first place).