A TBR Plan{Getting Serious about the TBR}

Posted March 27, 2014 by Stormy in Blogging, Books / 23 Comments

Back in July, I blogged about how I was going to use a TBR jar to help me cure my TBR antsy. And because I know you’re all insanely curious. . .


I failed spectacularly at using the TBR jar.

In fact, my TBR is now even LARGER than it was when I started the jar. The way I had the jar set up was just NOT working for me. I like to browse my shelves, and picking a random title out of a jar sounded good in theory, but never worked out. I would pull out names, decide I didn’t feel like the book at the time, shrug, and place the title back in the shelf(at this point, I may have gone on my computer and ordered even more books, but we won’t talk about that).

TBR Guilt

I love books. I don’t want to feel guilty about books, ever. And most of the time, I do pretty good at this. I don’t feel guilty for passing on books I don’t think are for me. I don’t feel guilty  when I’m super in love with a book and try to get everyone to read it. I don’t feel guilty for reading fast. I don’t feel guilty for taking a short reading break. But I do feel guilty for buying books and not reading them in a timely fashion. It’s more because I BUY the books. And even though I pretty much never buy a book full price, I still dislike having 100 books on my shelf that I haven’t read.

Trying other people’s methods

I’ve tried using methods I’ve seen others talk about for whittling down the TBR, and again, fail. The TBR jar didn’t work well(I forgot about it half the time). I can’t stick to a reading schedule. Reading is the one thing in my life I don’t schedule, and I want it to stay that way. I enjoy being a mood reader.

So I’ve come up with my own method. I don’t know if it will work or not, but I’m really enjoying it right now.

TBRs + Jar Method

I liked the look of my TBR jar, so I’m keeping it around. . . but changing it’s function(more on that later).

When I decided to get serious about the TBR, I wrote down a list of every book I own and haven’t read. Nothing was excluded. Physical books, ARCs, E-ARCs, Ebooks, non-fiction, fiction, YA, adult, etc. Every. Single. Book. on my shelf that I haven’t read, all listed in a few spiral notebook pages.

I didn’t want to create the strict schedule of a reading schedule, but I wanted something that would give me a bit more structure and hopefully prevent those “But. . but. . I have nothing to read! days”(And yes, I have those even though I have 100 books on my shelves to read). I read about twenty books a month, on average, so I decided to create monthly TBRs for March, April, May, and June.

For each month, I listed twenty books I’d like to read, as well as a few “bonus” picks if I happen to read fast that month. And during that month, I’m picking books from that month’s list, but not in any particular order. Basically, I narrowed down my library for a specific month. I still get choices(twenty, in fact!), and can be a bit of a mood reader, but the TBRs give me a foundation.

I actually only listed 17 books because for twenty books, one spot goes to my book club book, and two are for my TBR poll winners(and for the TBR polls, I just draw from random books on my shelf, not necessarily books in that month’s TBR list). I also highlighted TEN books on each list that are my “priority” books that month(though it’s really seven, because the TBR winner slots and book club pick get automatic priority).

March TBR list

I got excited with March’s and also listed the genre & what format the books were in, but I didn’t keep that up. As you can see, when I read a book I cross it off, and where I’ve allowed places for the book club pick & TBR winner.

Now, because I’m me, I don’t expect to follow this plan exactly. Already, I’ve read a book not on my March TBR–Purity by Jackson Pearce. I also read one that was on my June TBR(I figure in that case I can just switch books). BUT I am hoping that even with a few off-course books, these lists and narrowed focus(but not completely restrictive!) will help me cut my TBR in half by August, which I’ve decided is my goal and pretty doable. Of course, can’t plan for everything–life interferes, reading slumps, etc. But if everything continues as it is, I do hope to chip away at the TBR.

And what about the TBR jar, you may ask? I’m using the TBR jar as a visual representation of my TBR. Sure, I can glance at the books on my shelves, but I can’t really *see* how many books I have left to read at just a cursory glance. I’ve written the titles of all my unread books on slips of paper, folded, and placed in the jar. Basically, it still looks like it did in the first picture, just with more paper. I can glance over at the jar and see how full it is immediately. Every other week or so, I’ll go through the jar and take out any titles I’ve read. The goal is to see the amount of paper in the jar dwindle down.

photo 1(3)

As you can see, the jar is quite full right now, but the visual representation is definitely working! I’ve already had to add a few more slips of paper to the jar(oh, Kindle daily deals, how you always get me!), so my goal is just not to run out of room.

Let’s chat about TBRs!

Do you ever feel guilty about all the books you own but haven’t read?(Or do you have more self control than I do?). Do you have any methods for taking care of your TBR? Do reading methods like schedules work for you?


23 responses to “A TBR Plan{Getting Serious about the TBR}

  1. Hahaha I soooo have TBR guilt. I have ARC guilt, I have TBR guilty. It’s just kind of everything. I’m just really trying to mix up ARCs and books I own at the moment but then oh no, I’m neglecting egalleys.
    GO YOU planning out your month! I cannot do that. I have books I know I need to read but I can’t plan out my reading! Sigh. The joys of being a mood reader haha

    • Stormy

      That darn TBR guilt! I totally know that feeling–trying to mix up ARCs and owned books. When I read ARCs, I feel guilty for neglecting books I bought or were gifted to me. When I read books I own, I feel guilty for neglecting ARCs. Hopefully I can get out of this cycle of guilty reading soon!

  2. Kelly

    Reading is the one thing in my life I don’t schedule, and I want it to stay that way. I enjoy being a mood reader.


    I’ve pretty much given up on getting through my eBooks, but they’re literally all Kindle freebies. I can’t stomach the thought of paying for an eBook, for some reason.

    But I’m working through my physical TBR in a semi-visual way too! I’ve stacked all of my unread books in our fake fireplace, and as I read one, I get to move it to my bookcase. It’s pretty therapeutic to see those stacks decrease in size, but it also means I’m sometimes tempted to visit the book store (“but I’m doing so good! I’ve already gotten rid of half of a stack!”)

    Best of luck with your new system.

    • Stormy

      I totally get that about kindle freebies. I do have some ebooks I’ve bought(I tend to go cheaper w/ ebooks, but I don’t mind paying some money for them. But I totally get that).
      Ooh, I’d do the same thing with the stack. It does sound like a good visual way too know how many books are on your TBR though!

  3. Kindle Daily Deals own my soul. They seriously get me every time. I can’t pass them up. I inventoried the books I own and have not read last weekend and the number appalled me. I can’t even admit it, bc I’m so disappointed in myself. Lol. AND I just got $75 in Amazon gift card money for my bday to spend so I know I’m going to be adding more to that list. I do a schedule though for my ARCs. I’m not really a mood reader so that works for me. Although I try to give myself one “free” book per week where I can pick anything I want. That helps me dwindle down both my ARC TBR and the older books I have lying around waiting to be read.

    • Stormy

      Those daily deals!! Haha, I totally get it–I got a $40 credit because I traded in some old textbooks back to Amazon. Right now I’m replying to comments in one tab and browsing Amazon on the other. I can’t help myself! “Free” books are nice–if I scheduled my reading, I feel like I’d HAVE to have at least one free read a week. I do tend to read my ARCs in vague order but sometimes the pull for a certain book is just too great!

  4. I totally get you. I have so many books too, and I started feeling guilty for buying so much and not even reading the ones I have now. But I can’t help it. I actually did well last February in lessening the list and everything. But then March came along and poor. The number increased yet again. I’m not really sure if I’ll ever even bring my THR list below hundreds. Also Kindle Deals totally get me all the time. :))

    • Stormy

      Yup, it’s a cycle! I was doing pretty well until November/December. . .my town has a really large book sale in November and I stocked up! My TBR is wavering around 100–it goes up & down over that line, so right now I’m definitely focusing on keeping it under that three-digit marker.

  5. I have a TBR jar and left it at my Grandma’s house during Christmas break. Going back through it, I noticed that I had read a lot of the books without even realizing it. I have a huge problem with reading too many books at once *cough cough* 8! So I am going to add 8 more to that list (books I actually want to read/can read faster) in opposition to the ones I’m slugging through. My goal is to read a lot and learn more about my personal reading style. This sounds really silly but I hope it helps me. Best wishes!

    • Stormy

      Yes, I did that recently with a stack of book titles and it felt so good to realize I was reading books and hadn’t even realized it! I’m impressed that you read so many books at once. I normally only read one, but sometimes 2-3. Never more than that, though, and if I’m reading 3 that usually means at least one is non-fiction!

  6. Cait

    I’m a poor miserly bookworm so I don’t buy a lot of books. I have about 5 that I feel super guilty about because I haven’t read and I’ve owned them for about 4 months. That’s shocking for me. Right now though, I have ARCs coming out of my ears. I swear I didn’t request them all and I don’t even know why they’re all here!! And it’s not the reading that’s drowning me, it’s having room to post about them on the blog. Gah. #bookwormtroubles I do love your TBR jar, though. 😉 Very cute even if it isn’t so functional. I like that you cut up music…hehe!

    • Stormy

      Ha, I never buy books full price, but I am a killer book bargain hunter. I’m super impressed with those 5 books. Putting me to shame! I understand the ARC thing though. I had my list down to ZERO, and in March somehow it’s creeped back up to 15-17. Some of those I won, so I didn’t request them all, but it’s still a lot!

  7. I feel so guilty over my TBR too! I love your system, it’s so much more organised than just me going over to my shelf/Kindle and being like “Alright, whatever my hand touches first!” or “Man, I don’t want to read this, it’s way too long.”

    For controlling my TBR, I’ve imposed a book-buying ban on myself because I need to save the money for other hobbies. So the only things on my TBR right now are my shelf books and the ones I have existing on my Kindle. 🙂

    • Stormy

      We can feel guilty together! Oh, and trust me, the going to the shelf/kindle thing definitely still happens! I find the best things about the list just reminded HOW MANY unread books I have and that I do in fact have plenty to read.

      I haven’t exactly put myself on a book buying ban, but I’ve made a LOT of restrictions. I’ve gotten some books from paperbackswap, but the last time I bought a book was in February when I bought Cress, so I’m pretty proud of myself there.

  8. I’m so bad with TBRs because I’m such a mood reader! There’s a 2014 TBR Challenge I’m working on with 12 books and that’s helping me with a lot of the books I push off, but I really like this TBR Jar idea for everything else! I think maybe it would work better for me if I had 4 or so jars that each contained a different genre to somewhat accommodate my mood reading. I also really like your handwritten lists rather than a Goodreads list. I adore GR, don’t get me wrong, but I keep a handwritten list of books I’ve completed each year and it’s so satisfying to write instead of click! Great job! 🙂

    • Stormy

      I think having different jars for different genres is a really good idea! As a mood reader too, it makes a lot of sense to me. Like this week I wanted to read something from my “list” but I wanted a contemporary & there weren’t any on my March TBR. I went off-list, but I was still reading something from my TBR, so I didn’t bother worrying about it. And yes, love the handwritten lists! GR is super useful but I really like having my handwritten TBRs. I also tend to write out my top ten tuesday lists by hand first too.

  9. I’ve tried numerous methods to whittle down my TBR list and to be honest, I started doing what your doing a month or so ago and it really works. I had a variety of genres on my list each month, and a variety of formats, so if I feel like a contemporary, I can pick one, or if I feel like a fantasy, I can pick that and it really helps. I think April is going to be more a digital month, but the genres are varied and it makes for a freedom feeling, but also a controlled choice. I’m so glad you’re trying it, it works for me, and by being able to list them, I get people involved and get some opinions just beforehand, it’s great! I hope it works for you Stormy! 😀

    • Stormy

      Yay, I’m glad to hear that! I think just having a list(but one in no particular order) helps me remember just HOW MANY books I own that I haven’t read!

  10. “Reading is the one thing in my life I don’t schedule, and I want it to stay that way. I enjoy being a mood reader.” YES! I feel the same way. I tried scheduling, but my stubborn self ends up going out of my way to read a book not on my TBR just because.

    I feel incredibly guilty about my TBR pile right now. Because of my (very busy) job, I have to read a lot, but can’t review any of those books for the blog. So I have about 10-15 books I want /should read, not including my NetGalley e-galleys. I have a priority list by release date for books, but I feel like I’m not getting enough reading/reviewing done. 🙁

    • Stormy

      Yup, reading schedules definitely aren’t for me! I can make general lists(like this), and not feel anything if I get sidetracked, but an actual schedule? May just give me hides.
      I hate feeling guilty about the TBR, so I’m there with you! I don’t want to feel guilty for anything reading-related. . . including how many unread books I have on my shelves.

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