Some Thoughts on TBRs

Today, somewhat inspired by Lay @ Bookshelf Soliloquies, I’ve decided to talk about a topic that to me, as a reader, is fascinating: TBRs (to-be-read lists) and how we make use of them. I hope that this will interest you too and that we can open a discussion on how we deal with organising our reading. Fingers crossed that this post makes sense and that I manage to explain myself properly!

I’m sure that most people in the book community have felt overwhelmed by their TBR at some point — whether it is by the sheer number of books, the necessity to keep it in check or to revisit and clean it often. I myself have also experienced this in the past, but changing my view on TBRs and their usefulness has shifted my reading experience altogether.

A few years ago, I decided that I would no longer keep adding books to my Goodreads TBR. As the huge mood reader I am, it made no sense to me to have a list of books that kept piling on and I also knew that realistically I wouldn’t get to them all. Additionally, I went through my list and was brutal eliminating those that had been there for years and I didn’t see myself picking up anytime soon. I thought that if I really wanted to read those books they would re-enter my life at some point without the need to have them on my TBR staring down at me. And I can confirm that they do indeed return to you if you truly want to read them. For instance, I took The Raven Boys off my TBR after many years of it just sitting there and me having no intention to pick it up. Then, two years ago it popped up on my radar and I decided to read it. It instantly became one of my favourites.

Perhaps I’m making this sound much more epic or magical than it is, a bit like it’s destiny… But it’s more along the lines of we sometimes add and add books to our TBRs without really caring that much about them. My recommendation is simply to let a bit of time pass before adding them — unless you’re interested in reading them immediately, obviously. If you’re truly interested, you won’t really forget them just because you don’t have them on a list.

All this is not to say I don’t have a TBR at all, no. Granted, my Goodreads TBR is only 5 books long, and 2 of those are books that I’ve put on hold for now, but I do have a good old-fashioned hand-written TBR which serves me more as a guide than as a super rigid list of books I must read.

I present to you my TBR, written in a piece of crusty paper because I don’t want to have it anywhere else since I want to have the ability to switch it up as much as a want without it feeling permanent in any regard.

This picture above is how my TBR is currently looking. I like breaking it down into different categories that are relevant to me. I always keep:

  • Owned TBR (1) because I like to keep track of the number of unread books I own without having to go through my bookshelves. If I own more than one book from the same series, I’ll just write down the first one.
  • Goodreads (2) because I like to keep everything in one place. I’ll add an arrow from the ones I own to this column since I have them on my Goodreads because they’re on hold.
  • New Releases (3) so that I can keep track of the ones I’m more excited about.
  • +++ (6) is just a miscellaneous category for all books that don’t fit anywhere else on my TBR.

Recently I’ve added categories for Classics (4) and Dark Academia (5) because I’m very interested in these two genres as of now, and I don’t want to have to do research every time I want to read a book from either.

Additionally, I mark my books with C (for classic) and Q (for queer read) whenever relevant. I also switch these markers up depending on what I want to track at that time.

Whenever I come across a new book I might be interested in I will take a screenshot of it and later on I decide whether I want I add it to my TBR or not.

This system has truly worked for me, and it has completely changed how I approach reading. Even when making a TBR for a readathon I’ll make sure it is flexible and that I have many books to choose from depending on what I feel like reading. I truly only see advantages in having a guide TBR rather than a rigid one, using it only to have an idea of what you’d like to read next, but never giving it too much importance.

Today more than ever I would like to know your opinion on this topic. How do you manage your TBR? Are you strict with it or do you use it more as a guide? Are you ever overwhelmed by the amount of books on your TBR pile?

13 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on TBRs

  1. I admit every time I see a pretty cover, that book goes to my goodreads tbr (which has about 200 or so books I don’t know when I will be able to get to) I think it’s amazing you have shortened your tbr this much, a lot less stress I assume!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Maria! My perspective on TBR’s is very similar to yours. I’m a huge mood reader too so I tend to go with what I’m feeling at any given time. I’ve tried using TBR’s in different ways but I find them to be more of a hindrance than a help. I have a very generic TBR which I consider to be a “lifetime” TBR with books that are on my radar and I expect to get around to eventually, but it’s very flexible and I’m not too strict with when I read those books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so clever and organised! My Goodreads TBR is unreasonably long. I kind of know I’ll never get to every book on the list, but I like having it there so I have a lot of options and ideas if I’m stuck.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I currently have 75 books on my tbr, and that’s quite impressive as 2-3 years ago I had probably 300. But, as you said, I started being brutal about it and I frequently went over it and removed books that have been waiting for too long. Now I rarely put books on my tbr, my goal now is to read every book from there, and then be free. 😅 I’d love to just browse my library collection and read anything that sounds interesting.
    Loved this discussion, and you have a nice system!

    Liked by 1 person

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