Organising my TBR

I’ve had a Goodreads account for a few years, but I only really started using it at the start of January when I set some reading goals for myself and wanted to keep track of my reading progress. In mid-February I took advantage of the to-read shelf and input the 63 books I currently had in my physical TBR pile in my living room and in my to-read category on my e-reader. What I did not anticipate was just how easy Goodreads made adding books to my to-read list; when I see a book that strikes my fancy, I don’t need to check the library website, check the library’s ebook collection, consider the price on Amazon, etc. I just press the “Want to Read” button and bam, it’s in my to-read list.

My list kept growing and growing, until it had risen above 130 books, and it was starting to stress me out. I was adding to it faster than I could read, and many of those books were the first installments in trilogies or even longer series. On Friday, I decided to do something about it. I didn’t prune it, but rather I changed how I look at it. Rather than seeing every single one of those 132 books as books I absolutely must read, I saw them as books that I think look interesting and are worth reading. Some are books I desperately want to read, others are books I think I’d like to pick up one day when I’m in the mood for literary or historical fiction.

To help me out, I created three shelves: one for books that are not yet released, one for those I want to read ASAP, and one for those by diverse authors (as part of my goal this year to read more diversely) who don’t fall into one of the previous two categories. I then split up the ASAP books into four categories, based on the number of subsequent books currently available, if any. So, for instance, Marissa Meyer’s Fairest is on my solo shelf, because I’ve read all the other Lunar Chronicles books, while The Bone Season is on my duology list, because there are currently only two installments available.

This might seem totally over the top, but my plan was to limit the number of books I read that had two or more sequels, as finishing those books often meant adding double the number of books to my TBR, whereas reading a standalone removes a book. However, it was more valuable than I’d anticipated, because it helped put the numbers into perspective. While many of the books are the first installment in a series, many of those series currently only have one installment. While I’d thought most of the books would be in the trilogy or 4+ groups, in fact the majority are in the solo category. Here’s how the numbers actually shake out:

Solo: 26
Duo: 5
Trio: 8
4+: 2

As you can see, most of these books are actually single novels. If we count all the sequels then there are more series installments than solo books, but I was previously under the impression that most of the books on my TBR had two or more sequels already in print, so there are actually far fewer books in total than I’d thought.

Of course, the total number of books on that list, including all the sequels, is 69, so apparently my definition of ASAP is rather generous, but even 69 books is a much more manageable number than 132 (or, if I included all the sequels in my TBR, 158). Looking at it this way is making me excited about my TBR again, because it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. 69 books, even adding the 12 books on my list of 2015 releases, is a manageable amount for the next year.

What about you? Do you organise your TBR in any way, or do you just keep a mental list of things you’d like to read?


2 thoughts on “Organising my TBR

  1. I have an additional difficulty. Recently – and ongoing – I am engaged in rehousing my books after having them still boxed up since we moved house. A few I am happy to discard, but the bulk are staying with me. Your TBR numbers are not nearly as daunting as mine, I have discovered to my horror. The cause of this is mainly that I not only have a core mental, if not (yet) physical TBR shelf but have two additional shelves: books that I so enjoyed that I want to read them again (at least once); books that I know I’ve read, or perhaps have read, but so long ago that I have now forgotten their contents while I’m not ready to recycle them via a charity shop. Perhaps I should point out that I am including non-fiction as well as fiction.


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