Managing my TBR

Welcome to Readers Anonymous! My name is Tessa and I have a book problem. I don’t know exactly what the problem is but that’s why I want to talk about it. I read a lot but I also acquire many new books. As a result, my To Be Read (TBR) shelf is out of control.

I think the problem lies in the fact that I don’t read as quickly as I acquire books. If you buy three books a month and read three, you don’t add to the TBR shelf. The number stays the same. But if you buy three books, read three books, receive another five for review, and request a handful of Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) through Netgalley, that number goes up. I rarely request books on Netgalley right now but even so, somehow my TBR gets longer and longer, even when I’m reading more.

Tsundoku: buying books and never reading them

I’ve been reading double the amount of books the last two years and any previous year. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic or if I’m consciously making the decision to read more. 2020 was still a year where the majority of the books I read were for book tours but I toned that down in 2021 and will continue to do so this year. I want to read more books I think I’ll enjoy, DNF more if I don’t like a book, and I want fewer obligations. I think this approach has allowed me to read more because I enjoy it more.

My TBR status

Ok, the big confession. How big is my TBR? If we go by my Goodreads shelf, it’s 432. If we go by all the books I own, that number is much higher. I have 312 unfinished books on my Kobo, 90 on Amazon, 102 books on Bookfunnel, 3 on Netgalley, hundreds of books from bundles (Humble Bundle and Story bundle, plus all my physical books. Yes, I have a book buying problem. But even if I don’t buy anything for the coming three years, will I ever clear it out?

Slimming down the selection

I know I have books I’ll never read. I’ve donated a few books of books at the beginning of the year, even books that were still untouched. I want to take a month this year to go through more books, read a chapter, and see if I still want to read them or if I want to donate them. If they’re digital, I can archive them.

There’re also dozens of free books I claimed on Kobo, Amazon, and Bookfunnel. I have no idea if I’ll like most of them. Some I added to my library as research because they’re in the same genre I (want to) write in. They’re not books I bought for reading pleasure but for work. I need to make time to read those too, or at least, write down the important bits I need for my data collection.

Putting the books into collections (for non-fiction, research, pleasure, reading challenges, book tours) will give me more focus on what to read too. I recently finished my last book for the r/fantasy bingo and I want to join in again this year. By adding my selected books, I can easily pick one of those instead of scrolling through a near endless list of titles. I have so many ebooks I don’t even know what I own or where I can find them. I also have duplicate copies of the same book because of that. Or ebook copies that I also own as physical books.

Hopefully, by the end of this year, my shelves will be more organized and less in size.

What about you? How big is your TBR? Do you have any tips for me aside from a book buying ban? Would you be interested in monthly updates on how I’m managing my TBR? Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Managing my TBR

  1. Emma AKA Dgtlwriter says:

    I know what you mean about a TBR list, and then the *actual* TBR list 🙂 Sometimes it’s hard for me to reconcile an afternoon reading on the sofa; buying and downloading books feels more productive. The reader’s mind is a unique place, isn’t it?

  2. Krikket says:

    Much like my game library, I have accepted that I like acquiring new reading material, just in case, and have learned to be all right with the idea of never finishing it all.

  3. Izzy says:

    Ever since I first heard of the word, I’ve loved it. However, I also love having unread books on my shelf. There’s a term for that as well, and it’s not considered a bad thing when you factor in psychology.

    I’m a DID system, so my TBR has books from ~10 different people who don’t always share reading tastes. Our reading capabilities vary greatly, depending on who is fronting. It’s frustrating and not something the majority of the population understands beyond “omg I have a large, TBR too!” If I wasn’t a system, I wouldn’t have a large TBR. XD

    We deleted our NetGalley account last year or the year before, but recently made a new one and have been keeping up with it [mostly] pretty well. The DID bit is still frustrating, though, because it’s not something people tend to understand (especially without stigmatization), which means no forgiveness in the event of forgetting to read/review a book before it’s archived, etc.

    • Tessa Hastjarjanto says:

      That’s so interesting! Is there a book multiple people liked? I only know a little about from another blogger.

      I think the review rate on Netgalley is an unnecessary metric that only stresses people out, imo.

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