Waging War Against My TBR

Posted May 13, 2020 by Emily in Investigated / 1 Comment

Tackling My TBR

One of my biggest bookish goals this year is to make some progress on my TBR. And by TBR, I mean the gigantic pile of books I want to read but still haven’t gotten to. It’s a big task, and big tasks need solid plans. So here we go.

Assess the Enemy

Before I can start, I need to make sure all my information is up to date. This means ensuring I still want to read the books on the list and that I haven’t already read them. This is important because my TBR is kind of intimidating, and making it seem a little less so will undoubtedly help me achieve my goal.

I don’t really keep track of my TBR on paper; I mostly use Goodreads’ “want to read” function to track books that I, well, want to read. I just need to sit down one day and…

Delete Duplicates

These are books I accidentally shelved twice. For example, I probably should get rid of some individual novellas that have been pulled together in a collection that I also want to read.

Remove Sequels

Not all sequels, just sequels to books I haven’t read yet. It doesn’t really make sense to have the whole series on my TBR when I don’t know if I will even want to continue reading it past book #1. If I end up reading (and liking) book #1, then I’ll just add the rest of the series later. But for now, the goal is to purge the list, and this is one of the easiest ways to do it.

Read all the Synopsis

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Read all the synopsis and see if the book is still something I’m interested in reading.

Catalog My Physical Books

A decent portion of my TBR is my physical TBR – books I own but have yet to read. This is a whole other mess beyond my Goodreads “want to read” shelf, so to deal with it, I’ve decided to catalog all my books. How am I going to catalog them? Well, that’s a question for Future Emily to figure out (I’m still working on it).

Plan of Attack

Next, I have to figure out how I’m going to attack my TBR and the priority of each category. It’s probably going to end up something like this:

  1. Books I own but have not read
  2. Sequels to books I enjoyed
  3. Books with an interesting synopsis

Own & Unread

My newly arranged shelves

I really, really, really need to read the books on my shelves because my opinion of them will determine whether they stay there or get rehomed. This is my biggest priority because I’m out of shelf space, but don’t want to get rid of a potential favorite accidentally.

To try to focus on this, I decided to turn all the books I’ve read backward, so their pages faced forwards instead of their spines.

Now, I don’t care what interior designers say; I’m not a fan of the look of a shelf of pages. But I hoped that by (sort of) hiding the books I already read, I’ll be able to focus on the ones I haven’t touched yet. They’re just staring at me, begging to be read!

The keyword is “try”. It didn’t work. I kept my shelves like that for about a year before I finally gave up and turned the spines back around. It was just too annoying to hunt for books I needed to take pictures of for #bookstagram.

This year, I’m trying something different. To keep my shelves manageable, I’ve decided to limit the number of books I buy to the number of books I read from my shelves. I’m only allowed to buy a new book if I read one that I already own. I’ve only bought one book so far this year so you can see how well that idea is working. I’m open to suggestions.


Sequels are next on my list, but they’re a bit of a lower priority. I have a crappy plot (and character) memory, so to save time (by limiting rereads), I like to binge read series. As a result, some sequels have been on this list for years. Oops! I really gotta get on that.

Take The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, for instance. I loved The Cruel Prince when I read it in 2017 but still haven’t read the next two books. 🙈

Sounds Interesting

Books that sound interesting are at the bottom of my priority list simply because there isn’t exactly a pressing need to read them. They’re just something to keep in mind when I’m looking for books to read.

So that’s how I plan to wage war against my TBR.

How do you tackle yours?


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One response to “Waging War Against My TBR

  1. I love this plan of attack! I can understand what you mean about the “want to read” shelf on Goodreads, which is why to actually collate the books I haven’t read on my shelf, I created a new shelf called “interest”. It houses all the books that I haven’t bought but really want to read. As for my shelf, I’ve given up. It’s an eclectic mess but for the most part the books I haven’t read do stand out so it’s okay for now.