I don't know how or which settings (I thought default), but all my new books stay on the top of the list as long as I don't re-sort. For example, if I search for 'author:Bradbury', add some of his books and some from Robert Ludlum, then reset the search - all the books I just added are on the top. From there I can go next-next-next to edit metadata.
For Read there's Reading List plugin - configuration panel lets you to make new lists and choose appropriate action (like, add/remove tag 'tbr' from column when book is added/removed from the list). No need to open metadata editor.