One of the nice things about Houston is the number of used bookstores. Half Price Books was started in Dallas, after all, and so they’ve got a healthy presence in Houston. Of course, on top of that, there’s a number of independent bookstores as well, including my favorite, Long Lost Friends Books.

Now, this is both a great thing, as it provides a steady source of new reading material…but it’s also poses a problem in that it’s entirely too easy to aquire a backlog of reading material. This wasn’t quite as much of a problem in my younger days (which weren’t all that long ago, dammit), for a variety of reasons. There’s the obvious matter of opportunity, in that I didn’t often get the chance to hit up Half Price books, and when I did, I usually didn’t have too much cash to burn…but, perhaps more notable than that is the fact that, in my younger days, I read just about anything, regardless of quality.

These days, I’m more jaded, and thus more selective in what I devote my time to reading (in theory, at least). I mean, the standard ‘farmboy gets a sword and saves a princess’ narrative tends to pale after the first dozen times. As a result, I find that I have to dig a little deeper whenever I go book shopping. Well, used book shopping, at least- there’s at least a couple of new-ish releases that I’d like to pick up (Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves, Peter Cline’s Ex Patriots, Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist, maybe Glen Berger’s Song of Spider-Man, to name a few) but they haven’t really hit the used bookstores yet.

As a result, I’m left to just sort of poke around for either something that looks vaguely interesting, or something by an author I’ve heard of before in some capacity or another. I always have to get something, because it may be a compulsion at this point (and I have a ton of store credit from traded in books anyway).

For example, here’s today’s haul.

Today haul

Note the P.G. Wodehouse, proving I read Real People Literature sometimes. (I only got the Photon book ’cause I had a Photon lunchbox as a kid, despite never owning the toys).

The comics are from my pull-box at 8th Dimension Comics, but the books are all from one used bookstore or another. Comics also read faster than proper novels, so they don’t get added to The Backlog, pictured here (and this isn’t counting the two or three books I’m partly through reading right now).


That Eric Flint anthology only counts for half, ’cause there’s only one or two stories I want to read out of it.

The Backlog is…intimidating. A lot of titles wind up in The Backlog because I get the idea that I ‘should’ read them some way or another. Sometimes it’s a matter of a compelling title or cover (like, say, Evil Genius). Sometimes it’s because it’s from authors I’ve enjoyed before (like Butcher, Gardener, or Walton). Sometimes it’s because the work itself has a reputation behind it that makes me feel like I should read it just so I’m familiar with its place in the canon (Lovecraft, arguably that Gundam novel), or sometimes I just want to read something terrible and cheesy, just to tell myself I could produce something better (Cybernetic Samurai, because seriously, I don’t expect it to be very good). Sometimes it feels like I’m assigning myself homework, or making myself eat my literary vegetables, which makes me slightly less inclined to read as much as I should (especially when one has a Netflix subscription).

Ultimately, by sharing this backlog, it makes things seem a little more manageable. And on top of that, it gives you, dear reader, the opportunity to make requests of what you’d like to see reviewed…well, if not first, then sooner rather than later. Or heck, I’m sure you’ve got a big backlog of your own to wade through- any titles in particular you’ve been looking forward to reading? Or maybe stuff you’re NOT looking forward to, but you’ve decided you should read it at some point or another anyway?


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