What Good Fiction Looks Like

Sorry if you thought this was going to be one of my serious opinion pieces. But really, every time I write a review I tell you what good fiction looks like, don’t I?

So just for fun — because I’m really struggling with writing reviews right now and that frightens me — you guys want to see what’s on my tbr pile, not including the many books I’ve actually bought and haven’t read? These are all the books waiting to be read and reviewed right now, sent to me by publishers and authors. They are shelved right beside my desk and every now and then I turn to them and say, “I know, seriously, I know. I really can’t wait to get to you. I wish I could read you all RIGHT NOW!” How does one have such great fiction waiting and not read it at once? I WANT to read all these. I’m dying to. But I am only one person and I pretty much read for a living, too. So this pile goes down slowly (but surely).

I left a little Paddington Bear in there for you. You can click on this photo to enlarge, too.

And then there’s my bedside table, and all of those except one, the bottom one, are also waiting for something. Tomato Red is by Daniel Woodrell, and I just really want to read that book because Woodrell is one of my favourite writers on the planet. But The Sisters Brothers is for June book club and review, Beautiful Ruins is a review book, the Gifts of Imperfection is for therapy, Inside is for work, and A Matter of Life and Death or Something is also for review. I’m reading that and Inside and Gifts right now. All three are very good, particularly Inside, which I don’t want to put down.

I think it’s fun to look at what others are reading or what they’ve got on their shelves and in their tbr piles. Want to share? Lead us to your photos by including links in the comments or simply list the books.



  1. I should go take a picture of my To Be Reviewed shelf because I’m also struggling to write reviews right now too. I can’t put my finger on what my problems is – I just started to notice that they weren’t coming as easily as before and each one kind of felt like a battle to do justice to the book and also to get my own personal stamp on it. I dunno, maybe I’m in a funk, but I’d like to get out on the other side of it so that I can knock out some of these reviews!

    1. Steph Author

      Yes! You’ve captured how I feel exactly. I’ve been working all morning and into the afternoon on a review today. It’s partly why my reluctance; these days it takes me an entire day to get out a review (that incidentally doesn’t make me any money, so I have to put work first).

      I hope both of us feel different soon; I suspect it’s how many we have to write, how much effort it is, but also the longer we leave it. The more we write, technically, the easier it should be. I just don’t have a schedule.

  2. Chris

    I wouldn’t be in a big rush to read the Cat’s Table. A quality writer but I never really cared for the characters and I still haven’t finished it.

      1. Chris

        No, it wasn’t me but it may be a familiar theme with some of his books. I hate not finishing books but I also hate spending time with a book if it’s leaving me unsatisfied. Too many books to read and not enough time so it seems silly to waste that precious time on something you’re not enjoying.

  3. Your to-review shelves are much, much neater than my own… and when I say “my own” I mean “my to-read piles of ARCs on the floor under the living room window” not “my organized shelves of ARCs and review copies.” And of course, there are also the dozens upon dozens of books I’ve purchased and haven’t read. I promised myself I would read only books I already own (besides my review commitments) until September 1, so hopefully I will make a dent in that…

    1. Steph Author

      My shelves are pretty neat, all over the house. but they’re not necessarily as organized as the review books. I like that, because it makes browsing a bit more interesting. :)

      I can’t believe you’re still reading only the books you already own. Didn’t you start that a while ago? Awesome!! That lasted about a week for me!


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