The Many Faces of my TBR


Like many bookworms, I basically live and die by my TBR (“To Be Read”) list.  Even in the midst of one read, I’m wondering – in the back of my mind, yes, but wondering – what’ll I read next?  And where will it come from?  My own shelves, a friend’s shelf, the bookstore, the library?  I’m both exhilerated and intimidated by the fact that, though I may go through ten books every month, I’ll never come close to scratching the surface of everything that’s out there.

Now, some bookworms have a meticulously curated TBR.  They have spreadsheets and goals, and they methodically log information as they go along.  Yeah.  I don’t do that.  Oddly enough, although I’m quite organized in other areas of my life (have you seen my pantry?), I like to take a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow approach to my TBR.  As a result, it resides in several places, all in incomplete form:

  • Goodreads – This is my primary list.  I try to add to my “to-read” list on the site whenever there’s a book I really want to read.  That way, I know that my list is always accessible, and I can just whip out my iPhone in the middle of the library stacks if I’m having trouble choosing a book.  That said, sometimes I bypass Goodreads and go straight to…
  • Library Holds – If I want to read a new release, I often cruise right to the library website and reserve it, skipping Goodreads altogether.  (With some popular new books, I can’t waste the precious seconds adding the book to Goodreads – I must get on the library reserve list IMMEDIATELY.  Yes, I realize this might be a touch crazy.)  This has the effect of creating a secondary TBR for me on the library website.  And also, I get the fun of checking to see where I fall in the queue for my next borrows.
  • This blog – Some time ago, I posted about TBR Insanity and told you all about the silliness that ensued when I wrote down a list of the books I wanted to get to “next” (in some nebulous way).  Every so often, I go back and look at that post to remind myself… oh, right, I meant to read that book ASAP, hahaha.
  •  Challenge lists – I keep Word documents with lists of various reading challenges – Rory Gilmore’s reading list, The Guardian‘s top 100 books of all time, and the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list, and I cross them off as I go along.  I don’t make conscious efforts to get through these lists quickly – especially not the 1,001 Books list; that’s a darn lot of books – but if a book on one of these lists happens to pop up on another TBR, I happily cross it off the list.
  • A piece of paper – At one point, I kept a TBR on several sheets of looseleaf paper.  It was quite an extensive list.  I think it’s in one of my purses, but I haven’t seen it for a long time.  It is entirely possible that it came to life and ate my box of fluourescent paper clips, which has been missing for roughly the same amount of time.
  • My head – I can’t even tell you how many mental notes I’ve made to read something.  The funny thing is, this is one of my more reliable TBRs.  Once I get the idea in my head that I need to read a book, especially when I decide it’s urgent, I don’t let go easily.  I usually last about three days with an idea before I either buy or borrow the book.

Do you have a TBR?  Is it all organized in a central location, or is it scattered to the winds like mine?

4 thoughts on “The Many Faces of my TBR

  1. My TBR is pretty much all over the place, too, and I have a hard time keep up with it. A few years ago I started a database and I meant to keep everything central there, but it was too much work to enter in the books and I’ve let it go. At least I know that between all my different lists and recommendations I will never run out of things to read! 🙂

    • So true! I was thinking about that this morning – I was at the DMV getting a new driver’s license and the attendant was asking me about TV shows, and I said I didn’t watch much TV because I preferred to read. His response: “There are no books anymore!” Oh, dude. Oh, dude.

    • Thank heaven for Goodreads, right? Were it not for that site I think my head would have exploded by now from all the must-read books floating around in there. 😉

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