It really sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just don’t let your TBR get out of control. After all, reading novels is something we choose to do, and it’s not as if we’re being forced to add every single title we ever hear of to our I-want-to-read-this-one-day list. (Except you are when it comes to my books. Everyone must read my books.)
However, every week, there’s someone on Goodreads or Twitter, in their blog or writing platform, discussing how behind they are on their TBR. And when I think around 40 (what I currently have either on GR or on a scrap of paper somewhere) seems like a lot to buy/borrow and read within the next several months, there comes up a Tweet or a post that informs us all someone just culled 100-1,000 books from their want-to-read shelf.
So, here are some suggestions from this moth, who manages to regularly keep the numbers down. Because life is short, and I like to give advice, and trust me, you all need to take my advice (whether you know it yet or not).
(And, I really need to get a post out, to remind all of you I’m still alive, and this seems as good a topic as any. Brutal honesty wins out today, I guess…)
Don’t worry about reading all the books “everybody else” is raving about. Between all the genres I just don’t try anymore and my limited funds, I couldn’t acquire every single title of note from 2018, or 2017, even if I wanted to. So I’ve given up attempting to even recall all of them. I do make note of the impending releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, and titles in YA and fantasy (my favorites) that just sound great. Buuuut…
Don’t hesitate to edit the list. If you come across a bunch of ARC reviews from bloggers whose tastes generally fall right in with yours, saying that a certain hyped selection is really not doing it for them, listen to that, and seriously re-consider purchasing or requesting it. Or if you (as I recently did) get the book in question (maybe you didn’t cancel that pending library hold in time), get a few pages in (I usually give it through the first chapter), and your overall feeling ranges from “meh” to “what the heck?”, have no shame in setting that title aside.
Don’t impulse-order. Whether you may face book-buying remorse when that 10-title order from the internet shows up on your doorstop, or you’re trying to carry 10 hardcovers up the hill from your local library (yup, that’d be me) in snow, sleet and hail, more does not equal better. Focus on the releases you know you can’t live without that season. Like the newest Maggie Stiefvater. Or the latest Volume in The Order of the Twelve Tribes…
Know why you’re really choosing to read what you’re reading. Are you picking up a novel you’re actually dreading, but feel that if you pass on it, you’ll be “left out of the loop” on social media? Or can you not wait to open that cover because you just know a rush of emotions and fun and character development are coming your way? Yes, discovering new authors can be awesome. But there’s a lot to be said for sticking with the tried and true. For example, I learned in my youth that I honestly don’t care for murder mysteries, horror, romance, or most of the classics. So, it benefits me now (since it appears a few more days get chopped from my personal calendar every year since I turned 35) to not spend extra hours every month on books I just know aren’t my thing.
Reading is not a competition. Yes, it’s a good idea to encourage yourself to finish a selection in a timely manner. It shows self-discipline and being principled, and I come from a household where we keep saying “one day” and then one day never arrives on certain things. So once I start a book, I like to finish it within a week. (Re-reads are the exception to this rule.) However, don’t compare yourself to other readers. If it takes you a month to complete a really long book or one that gives you trouble because of vocabulary or time period or whatever, so be it.
Set reasonable limits. If you’re on Goodreads (actually, I should say when) and are realizing you can’t even remember why you added a particular title, delete it. If you saw a movie version of a novel and didn’t care much for the story, delete it. If there’s a book on your list that was added in 2015 and you still haven’t gotten around to it… You get the idea. Also, when it comes to “the 100 books everyone should read” and similar things, don’t get sucked into it. Seriously. Life is too short.
Take advantage of the library. The library is great because of the free factor, and the no-guilt return if you didn’t like a book. Also, think of the space you saved on your shelves for the future releases you have to have (like all the forthcoming Beaumont and Beasley tales by Kyle Robert Shultz). Plus, investigating a book at the library, with your hands and opening the cover and examining the font size and how many pages there are — maybe even reading the first page — can really help you make up your mind. Sometimes online browsing just doesn’t cut it.
Forget about ARCs. Unless it’s the biggest release of your year, and your soul will shrivel into a useless husk without an advanced copy. Truly, people get fixed on the rush of frantically clicking the button on Netgalley, and then being approved for the latest “next Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson”. And then many times, the hype falls flatter than a skydiving pancake, and bookworms are found sobbing into their carpet until you have to build them a boat and rescue all the animals, two by two. Ain’t worth it, folks.
So, now that you’re all scratching your heads and saying, “Thanks a bunch, Daley, I basically can’t add anything to my TBR by an unfamiliar author, or that I won’t get around to reading within 29 days, or that didn’t come from the library,” relax, grasshoppers. Here’s what I suggest for keeping your list to a reasonable length, and not getting stressed out by attempting to get to the end of it before you’re 98 years old and can’t read small fonts or recall where you left the book…
Do invest in reading a lot of reviews — good and bad — about new titles that may interest you. Take a few hours every month and devote it to finding positive and negative reviews of the same book. This could assist in making up your mind faster and possibly without spending money on a selection that you end up not caring for.
Buddy read anticipated releases. This can certainly help narrow down your choices for a particular week or month. It will reduce your TBR and achieve it pretty quickly.
Remember that above all, reading for fun is supposed to be just that — fun. So many of us became book bloggers in the first place because we love the world of story and the written word, and want to share that joy with others of the same vein. Pressuring ourselves to meet requirements that actually aren’t required won’t make us feel good; so let’s do away with them.
7 thoughts on “Maintaining the Balance: Tackling That TBR Without Losing Your Bookdragon Marbles”
Some great tips, thank you!
Thank you for the reminder! Since becoming a blogger, I’ve had to be more deliberate about not ‘going with the flow.’ It helps that I almost never buy books unless I’m SURE I’ll love them, which usually means I wait until I want to reread them. (That being said, I have a stack of nine, yes, NINE Maggie Stiefvater books purchased in the last month… only two of which I had read before buying).
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Heheh…it is tough when we find that new author that just makes our heart soar. I loved The Wolves of Mercy Falls (and so did my son), so we’re buying the set. Eventually. But neither of us cared for The Raven Boys, so he’ll probably be skipping the rest of the series. I did actually pre-order All The Crooked Saints (as I firmly feel that if she has a “flop” – in the individual reader’s eyes – chances are high her next release will return to being awesome). And usually the only books I pre-order are Warriors. But Stiefvater is one of the few authors I will regularly take the gamble on. (My son loved All The Crooked Saints, btw, heheh.)
I read The Raven Boys first by her and I didn’t like it, but checked out a bunch of her other books before trying it again. I got like two pages into it a second time before buying the whole series (and adoring it). Have you read sinner? I’m looking forward to that one. Glad to hear your son loved Crooked Saints 🙂
I finished The Raven Cycle…well, mostly. I fully admit to skipping book 3 entirely, and I did skim a LOT of book 4. (I reached a point where I literally just skipped to the end to find out if Gansey died or not.) It just wasn’t for me. I loved the premise, but couldn’t get on board with the numerous subplots and the tons of minor characters that were just kind of there as scenery. I simply felt it wasn’t a good example of what she’s capable of.
I had some trouble with Crooked Saints, so I’ll have to re-read it pretty soon, after having mulled over the parts that gave me issues. I haven’t gotten through Sinner yet, but my son has; he adores the whole series.
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Well, if The Dream Thieves didn’t convince you, then it truly wasn’t for you 🙂 . I liked all the subplots and random characters because it felt like real life, but unedited real life doesn’t always make the best stories.
I’m looking forward to Sinner, then!
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Really fantastic list! I really agree with all of these! I think I’m actually doing better this year by not having a reading goal, cos that made it feel a bit like a competition for me. And it definitely helps to have a very limited list of ARCs!!
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