The reason my To Read pile got so out of hand was that whenever anyone mentioned a really good book that they had enjoyed, I would rush to Amazon to order a copy so I didn't forget about it.
This would have been fine if I'd been reading as fast as I was buying, but I wasn't and somehow, after sitting for perhaps more than a year, the books often lost their shiny appeal. It's not that they were bad or my friends were making bad recommendations, it's just that there was now a New Shiny that everyone was talking about.
After many years of this, should I have ever been so foolish as to try to stack them all up, my To Read pile would have been taller than me! :(
I have been making determined efforts to reduce the pile, but I also wanted to keep up with new things too and this was when I started to notice Goodreads. I'd joined LibraryThing some years ago, but for some reason I just didn't get on with it. The focus at that time seemed to be on sharing a catalogue of your books, which I wasn't interested in doing, so though I transferred my database of books read and had every intention of cataloguing the rest of my books, I just never got around to it. I don't quite know what it is, but there's something about the Goodreads vibe that suits me better.
Anyway, now I have an online To Read list it means that whenever someone mentions a really good book, I can rush immediately to Goodreads and put it on my To Read list there. I can then buy sparingly, as and when I need something new, based on what I've made a note of. I like being able to read the reviews too as it can help me decide whether something is really what I would enjoy rather than buying it just because everyone's talking about it at the moment.