How I Am Tackling My TBR List

Every reader I know has an ever-growing To Be Read list.  With the ease of ebook publishing, now more than ever can you get your hands on cheap, easily stored books.

We all joke about the mountain of books, both digital and physical, that we continue to build without reading.

But as a writer, I want to actually read the books I have, not just collect them.  After all, I want people to read MY books when they come out rather than have them languishing on someone’s TBR list.

So, I needed a plan!


Step 1 – The List

Since I much prefer physical books over digital books, my bookshelves are pretty full.  However, I am more likely to read a physical book and have been much more strict on myself about what book I’m bringing into my house.

I recently cleared through my books and gave away anything I knew I wouldn’t read, I had started and couldn’t get into or I had read and wouldn’t read again.

Yes, I’m the sort of person who can read books over and over.  In fact, that’s the mark of a real “keeper” book (in my personal opinion), if I can read it again and again.

Then I put my not yet read physical books sticking out further on my bookshelf so I could see how many I hadn’t read.  Eesshh, more than I’d realise.

Book shelf full of books. To Be Read List. TBR List. Image from Pixabay

I wrote these down in a notepad.

Next, I went through my tablet and did the same with my ebooks.  Now, I get offered a lot of free ebooks.  Some of for reviewing, others are just from friends and supporters who want to give me their book to read.

Books for reviewing, are always read first.  After all, I have them scheduled in my blog so I need to make sure I have read it in time.

Other than that, ebooks can slip unread for ages.  I think it’s mainly due to the fact that after a long day of working on the computer, the last thing I want to do is stare at another screen for hours, reading.


Step 2 – The Order

As I said, books for review will always be at the top of this list.  I try not to take on too many books to review at once, otherwise, I’d never get to any OTHER book.

After that, I usually aim for books by friends, books I have been dying to read, books I won etc.

Now, I have a number of well-known, traditionally-published books on my list, so I like to mix in those lesser-known Indie author books too.

A Quick Point

When self-publishing became big, all us book lovers were thrilled with the sudden influx of “free books” being offered everywhere.

I’ve been on platforms that do massive offers giving away dozens and dozens of books every month.

I’ve been on newsletters where the authors are sharing 10 free books a week.

Woman sat on bed surrounded by flying books.  Image of Pixabay

One of the things I did, was step back and stop the FOMO urge from taking over.  FOMO, for those who don’t know, is the “Fear Of Missing Out”.

It’s a well-used marketing technique and there’s’ nothing wrong with it.  But if you aren’t careful, you can get swept away.

I no longer accept every free download I hear about.  Even if it’s a book that sounds good.  Hoarding it on my tablet isn’t doing me or the author any good.

So I make a note of it, and when I’m ready to get more books, I check through my list.  Yes, it might mean I have to pay for it now, but so what?  I want to support my fellow authors.


Step 3 – The Schedule

Yes, I now schedule what book I’m going to read.  I remove the choice to just “pick any” as depending on my mood, I’ll reach for a book I love that I’ve read before.

I want a whole load of new books to fall in love with and maybe read over and over.  But that won’t happen if I don’t actually read new books.

One major point, I am honest about my schedule.  I used to read a book a week, I honestly can’t do that now.  My working schedule, family commitments etc are just too hectic and sporadic to allow me to do that.

Close-up of Calendar, diary, wall calendar.  Image from Pixabay

So I aim for one a month.  If I can manage two, that’s great!  But I have to at least read one.

I have a list, in order, of the next books I’ll be reading over the coming months and I have to stick to it.  I even have a specific day I have to start the book on and read for at least 10 mins as a minimum.


Why Does This Work for Me?

This system works, for me at least, because I suffer from sensory overload at times and looking through my bookshelves, scrolling through the books on my tablet will leave me anxious and less likely to actually stop and pick a book.

By making that choice early, I bypass the sensory issue.  By giving myself a specific day to start the book and the 10-minute minimum, I get over the hump.

Even in things we love doing, starting can be the hardest part.  As writers, we know this, just getting starting can be a struggle even when we are looking forward to writing our story.

It’s the same with many things, reading being one.  By taking just 10 minutes to start, I force myself to focus on reading, let other tasks, chores and errands fall away and I start the rhythm.  I often then read for longer.

If I can’t, I stop after 10 mins and usually find I’m itching to start reading again when I get the chance.

Reading can often be put to the wayside for other “more important” tasks, but reading is important too.  It’s relaxing, it’s quiet time, so we need to prioritise it.

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How do you tackle your TBR list?

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25 thoughts on “How I Am Tackling My TBR List

  1. Pingback: Things You Can Do During Social Distancing – Official Author Website of Ari Meghlen

  2. Pingback: January Goals 2020 | Monthly Goals

    1. Random choosing definitely leads to choice overload a mind can sometimes mean you just revert back to a book you e already read. I did that way to often

      1. Yeah… This year I allowed myself 4 re-reads, one of which I needed to re-read so I could finish the other two in the series, and the other 3 were a series I last read in 2008 (holy crap, that’s more than a decade ago!!!). Still, I did better this year than last year, and I think a good chunk of that was due to planning.

      2. It does show a little planning with reading really makes a difference. I love re-reading books and I have to reread some in order to remind myself of the world/plot of a series. 🙂 It’s so weird thinking 2008/09 etc is a decade ago!? It doesn’t feel real.

        (Apologies for the delay, I am trying to get back through all my comments)

  3. I set up a target list in January which is my starting point. To that I’ve added books that got my attention – reviews mostly, plus Prime Reads from Amazon. However, I will slip books ahead – like an Elizabethan mystery which I won.

    1. I totally know what you mean. Sometimes I can barely manage one book a month. I’m looking forward to xmas hols things usually slow down enough to catch up on reading

  4. My system is pretty simple. I threw away a TBR list and made a “recommendations list” instead – it contains anything that caught my attention (mostly from Amazon and Goodreads recommendations) and ‘survived’ reading the blurb.
    When I have finished a book (if standalone or I don’t continue the series) or the whole series, I look at that list and choose one book, two at most, to purchase – based on what would fit my current mood/taste. That way, it’s under complete control.
    Somehow, I am completely immune to grabbing a lot of stuff in advance, even though the fact I went full digital might make it very easy.

  5. My system of tackling the TBR is similar to yours, Ari. Right now I’m so far behind that I’m planning to take a month or so off to play catch-up and enjoy some great books who’ve been begging for my attention. I always find that this time of year is the perfect time to curl up and read. Like you, I prepare books I can hold and turn real pages, so I read those by day and eBooks by night. My already read and need to write reviews is top on the list. Happy Reading!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Bette. I’m planning on a reading binge over the xmas hols, always perfect for reading. I hope you manage to get a month off to read

  6. Love these tips, Ari. Keeping on top of a TBR pile is hard work at times, and the guilt can be overwhelming, but making a realistic schedule of how many books you can read and when is a big help.

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