Dicussion: Love or Hate the Never Ending TBR?

Back in May, in an effort to make room on my tbr so I could start being more intentional about actually adding books again, I went through my list and deleted EVERY book that I had lost interest in reading, couldn’t remember anything about, or only added because I had FOMO. I don’t know about anyone else, but when my list gets too long I get overwhelmed to the point of not being able to choose a book. Hence all my super type-A lists, spreadsheets, and genre rotations etc. lol

In two short months it had easily filled back up to 90 stinking books, which I know to some of you is a drop of water in the ocean, but to me is a heck of a lot, hence another type-A list (which you can read here if you’re curious). Since creating that list, I don’t know, three weeks ago?, I’ve been devouring books at rates I previously couldn’t have even imagined. I’ve been regularly reading two books a week, sometimes more. But my tbr hasn’t gotten any smaller?

For every book I read there’s always another to add. I knock one off and add seven on. Sometimes it feels EXHAUSTING.

It’s not that I want to eliminate every book from my tbr. But guys, even at my best I’ve never read more than 75 books in a year, and if I have 90 books on my list that means I couldn’t even read them in a year if I tried. So say I have 15 books left over this year. Then next year I add another 90 books (105) and read 75, I have 30 books left over. And the next year 45. And it never ends! I will never read them all, not even close!!

Some people, I know, revel in their epic tbrs. I have one friend with thousands of books on their goodreads list. I guess you always have something to choose from, no matter your mood?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just my habitual check-list nature treating my tbr like a list to be completed at some point. You know, my work to-do list was that way this summer, always getting longer no matter how much work I did. Maybe that’s contributing to my tbr-fatigue? And maybe that’s why making a Rest-of-2020 Reading List has really helped me blow through so many books. The more I scratch off the closer I get to being “done”. I guess I get why people make monthly tbrs now. Huh.

So which camp are you in? Do you find the constantly-refreshing nature of a massive tbr to be frustrating? Or do you get a sadistic pleasure in watching it get bigger and bigger? Let me know in the comments!


P.S. My utterly ridiculous header image makes me stupid happy. Shout-out to the nerds who laughed.

45 thoughts on “Dicussion: Love or Hate the Never Ending TBR?

  1. Pre pandemic I kept a small, tight TBR (10 books max)During April and May I added about a million books. As I sit here in August, I hate that I have 97 books on my TBR. This week I made a declaration to dump half the books on it, keeping only those I absolutely want to read, my goal being to get the list down to forty books, tops. Too many books makes me cringe because I wonder when I will ever read them all, and then I almost freeze….

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  2. I should really start cleaning mine up. It’s worse since you have to add a book to your TBR on Goodreads to enter giveaways now. Apparently I have over 400 on my list, and I’m sure I no longer care about half of them. I also try to use the list to note books I think I won’t remember I want to read, not sequels or classics or whatever I’ll remember on my own.

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    1. What really bugs me about the goodreads giveaways is that if I already have the book on my tbr (which I always do, because I only enter in giveaways if I get an email, lol) it will still add ANOTHER copy to my tbr! I don’t need the same book in there twice, thank you! But I *have* to put the obvious books in my list, because if I don’t see them there I’ll forget about then when it’s time to pick.

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  3. I used to have around 200 books on my TBR, but I managed to narrow it down to about 20 books. It’s now so much easier now to actually read the books on there, and I definitely prefer a small TBR.

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  4. I have several hundred on my list, varying genres and lengths. It recently crept too close to a thousand, so like you, I went on a crazy delete binge of books that I knew I wouldn’t really get around to. It’s still a fairly long list, but not too overwhelming. I will say that I will feel better if I ever get it down to only a couple hundred. One day maybe haha

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    1. I go through and delete books regularly. I’ll add a book that I heard about on a podcast or saw on a tag that I don’t really know much about, and then later realize I’m not *that* interested in it. Or once the hype for a book dies down I realize I more had fomo than actual interest in the book, lol.

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  5. My TBR is hundreds of books long, which theoretically should stress me out but I guess I’ve just accepted it?? At this point, it feels more like a “loose idea” of what I eventually would like to read rather than a set-in-stone list of books to get to! I would like to have a more serious and actual list of what I really do want to read, though, instead of a messy goodreads page!! Interesting post! xx

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    1. Yeah, I’ve found that since I made an actual list of books that I want to read NOW I’m a lot less intimidated by my goodreads list! Even though mine is a lot shorter than most people’s it’s still too many choices for me.

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  6. I agree with Erin on this. I have hundreds on my digital list (mostly so I don’t forget about them). I add books that I hear are coming out next year (or in months coming), I add books that I’ve heard talked about on blogs and videos, and like brianna, I have dozens of doubles and sometimes triples because of giveaway entries. HOWEVER, when I write my TBR out for the month, THAT is always short and manageable. I take a hard look at my shelves and what I really want to/believe I will read, and then write up a small list.
    Literally, Goodreads to me is just a dumping grounds so that I have something to reference when I am looking for something in particular, gearing up for a big purchase, or am preparing blog posts about new releases etc.
    So I guess the real discussion for me depends on which actual TBR you are talking about, since apparently I have multiple πŸ™‚

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    1. I also am REALLY ENJOYING my short-term tbr! I don’t know that I could do a monthly one right now, just because getting library books is so difficult during a pandemic. They take much longer to come in than usual. But I could definitely see myself getting really into monthly or quarterly tbrs in the future.

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      1. Exactly. Its more of a landing place for books that I’ve heard of or peaked my interest at one point or another. Its a place I reference frequently when thinking about a TBR (or purchase) but deff not my actual TBR

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  7. Much like my last relationship I both love and hate my long TBR depending on what kind of mood I’m in πŸ™‚

    It’s my fault though I put every book I’m even remotely interested in on there just to remember it. And honestly I probably won’t ever read most of them and couldn’t tell you why I put some of the older ones on there in the first place!

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    1. SAME! Sometimes I look at a book and say “I’ve never seen that book before.” And then I read the description and say, “Hey, that sounds like something I would like! Good job past me!”

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  8. My neverending TBR list essentially functions as a mini-library so I don’t get paralysed by choice when I go to an actual library. I’ll pull out the list and look for titles that fit my mood.

    The actual TBR stack consisting of unread books in my house functions as a source of guilt for me. Although they aren’t powerful enough to stop books from being added to the TBR list.

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    1. I feel that! I have a book sitting on my physical tbr that I bought in 2014 and can’t even remember the point of now. Of course, my physical tbr is much smaller than some, and mostly made up of gifts, not books I picked for myself.

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  9. Honestly I’m a super mood reader and I don’t really care about my tbr. I know it’s several hundred books long on Goodreads, but aside from occasionally looking through it, I don’t really use it much, and I know that realistically I’m probably never going to read most of the books on there, and I’m constantly reading new books that’s not even on my tbr. My book selection style is usually just walk up to the new section of the library and grab books with familiar titles that I probably added to my tbr at some point… and then just pulling any other books that sound interesting even if I’ve never heard of them (which has really messed up my style of getting books in the pandemic with the library curbside pickup only lol), and since I don’t own any books I haven’t read, I don’t have to worry about a physical tbr staring me down.

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    1. I don’t have a massive physical tbr either, it’s mostly books from my personal collection that my husband bought and I might be interested in reading someday. I do NOT roll carefree enough to just walk into the library and pick up whatever I see, though. I guess I’m super picky, lol.

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  10. Haha, love the header image!
    I’m a bit of both – I love having a big TBR because it means I can always browse and find something that interests me at that moment. However, that means the opposite is true as well and there are always books on there that I added ages ago and have no interest in anymore. So I definitely want to go on a major TBR cleaning spree soon. πŸ™‚

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  11. I added books to TBR initially but then I realised how hopeless it was. It will just be there me not reading it for years so I started deleting books that I don’t have or not going to buy in near future. Now I just add only those books on TBR that I already have on shelf or in kindle. I keep note of books I want to read, get in future in diary or amazon wish list without adding them to Goodreads TBR. That way I have a clear idea on what to prioritise and control the shelf. Great post!

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    1. That’s an interesting way to do it! Most people are saying the opposite, that their goodreads tbr is just kind of an overflow of everything they might ever want to read, but then they keep their *specific* tbr somewhere else.

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  12. Is it weird that I don’t have a true TBR? I keep a small list on goodreads of books that have caught my eye, but I only use it when I’m looking for inspiration or have nothing else to read. I pants when I write and I also kind of pants my way through my reading selections.

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  13. What a great discussion post you have here. I am split on this but in reality I love having a TBR. Its the reality of knowing there will ALWAYS be books to read, that will pique my interest and make me want to pick it up. I am such a mood reader especially lately, but I know there will always be something to look forward to when it comes to books.

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  14. This was such a cool topic to discuss! I like having a “big” tbr but only as long as I feel like it’s manageable. It makes no sense, of course, because I’m constantly adding books to it, but I try to pay attention mostly to my physical tbr so it feels less daunting. Once my physical tbr is somewhat under control, then I allow myself to buy some new books (that were on my tbr but that I had no physical copy of). It’s the only way that I’ve found that I can kind of keep track of everything I want to read. Of course, that just means that my e-books and audiobooks tbr are constantly out of control, but oh well. I guess you can’t have everything figured out πŸ˜‚

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    1. I think the fact that I don’t really have a physical tbr (I get most of my books from the library) is why I get overwhelmed with my goodreads tbr so easy. A lot of people are shocked when I think 100 books is a lot, but I don’t have that physical tbr like a lot of people do to narrow it down.

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  15. I used to have a physical TBR of over 120-130 books or so. I now have about 35. I prefer smaller TBRs myself; I’d like to have choice, but having a large TBR is overwhelming and stressfull to me, so I try to keep it small. It’s easier said than done, though, especially with all those awesome books out there. My wishlist/GoodReads ‘to be read’ list which also has books I’m interested in but don’t own has no limits, though.

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  16. Lists, like my goodreads tbr list, aren’t a source of stress, but my physical tbr piles are. The piles are so deep I can’t count the books….I read around 400 books a year, but seem to make no dent, because the new and shiny keep on coming. One thing about the pandemic is that I haven’t been to a library book sale since last winter, but even that hasn’t helped much because I’ve been comfort buying vintage children’s books…On the other hand, I’ve been trying to be really on top of actually reading the new books I buy myself; only two of those on the trb pile at the moment….

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    1. I was fortunate during the pandemic, for the first two months I made a big dent in the physical tbr that I had just *happened* to build up in February through a series of coincidences, and by the time I was wrapping it up my library opened for drive-through service. If anything the pandemic has given me time to read MORE.

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