How I'm Managing my TBR

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I reached a breaking point earlier this year when I realized that I had over 800 books on my TBR list and that wasn't including a bunch of books I have in boxes that never added to my Goodreads. Due to other obligations I'm lucky to read about 7 books a month. At that rate I would reach the bottom of my list in, oh about A DECADE! Oy vey. I knew I had to do something to get things under control so I scoured the web in the hopes that someone, somewhere had some sort of system I could implement in my own life. Turns out everyone else has the same problem but no solutions. I'm pretty pleased to share that I have a system that is helping me keep a bit more organized and much less overwhelmed. Ready? Here is what I've been doing:

Step 1: Trim the fat. I went through and removed books that no longer sounded all that interesting to me. I also have decided that I want to start saving more money so if I didn't currently have the book I checked out my local library. My library tends to offer books in multiple formats: physical copy, audio book, e-book via library and e-book via overdrive. If a book wasn't available in any of those formats and if I didn't already have it I re-evaluated my desire to read it. Overall, I trimmed my list in half and currently have 428 books on it. (That's also my birthday, so I figure it's a good sign.)

Step 2: Lists Galore. Using both Goodreads and Excel I began creating sub-lists. Books that are available at my library belong to my Goodread library shelf. For some featured on the Excel workbook (decided to do this halfway through) I went one step further. In Excel I have 4 different worksheets for the 4 different formats books are available at my library.

(Books @Library is a worksheet full of books that are available in some format. I just hadn't yet thought to break it down further at that point)

I also created some lists for books I have received from publishers. In Goodreads they are all on the "from-the-pub" shelf. My excel worksheet is a bit more detailed.

The top list contains books that have not yet been released, organized by release month. The bottom is full of books that have already been released, organized by the date I received them.

The next shelf/list is for books I actually own  (purchased, won from a fellow bloggers, was gifted etc.). I just call this shelf/list purchased. It is a very simple list. Nothing fancy there.

Finally for Goodreads, if there is a book that I still really want to read and it isn't currently available to me then I have a shelf called Want. Every so often I check my library, but for now they are just sort of there while I save.

Step 3: Create a Smaller TBR List At this point, all of these lists are completely overwhelming. I wanted to create a smaller rotating list that would pull from all my other lists, so I created my Upcoming Reads. This list is updated every time I finish a book and is also updated at the beginning of each month.(I'll explain why a little later on.)

Okay, so here is how it works. 4 titles I received from publishers will be on the list. 3 titles availble via my local library. 2 I "purchased." Finally 1 that has been on my TBR for over a year. (Eventually I hope that time span will decrease slightly.) The books selected are currently in tiny lists according to the above criteria.

How do I determine which books are moved into these brackets? Well. . . .

4 Books From Publishers: 2 books are selected from the top list based off of the publishing date. It's currently March so I would select 2 books that sound the most interesting to me to be on my list. The other 2 books are from the list of the already published. These are selected based off of when I received them, going from the top.

3 Library Books: These are actually really random. Currently I'm adding the monthly Sarah Dessen book for the challenge I'm participating in and then two others that sound good.

2 Purchased: These are selected based off date obtained.

1 on TBR for over a year: I literally just go to Goodreads and sort by "date added."

Now to decide the order to read. I just go down the line.So the above lists becomes this final list:

Step 4: Maintain and Rotate I cannot handle my list becoming that out of control again so every new year will bring a trim where I will cut down the list if needed.

Every time I finish a book I will pull from the same category that book fell into and add to the list. Every month I will refresh this list a bit, mainly because some books are at that point published and no longer belong where they were before.

I've only been doing this for a little over a month, but already I feel much less overwhelmed and much more organized! If you have any questions feel free to ask away. If you have suggestions, I would also really appreciate that.  Overall I really hope this helps someone who just realized that their list is out of control! Initially It is incredibly time consuming, but after that the upkeep really isn't so bad.

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  1. Whoa, you are serious. That is awesome. I unfortunately think I need to do something like this with my homework/research papers. :/

    1. Haha I know what you mean. I'm really organized with this stuff, but the school stuff always seems harder for me to manage.

  2. This actually sounds pretty fabulous. I'm going to have to take a stab at trying something like this myself. Also, fun side note, my birthday is 528 :)

    1. You should! I can't wait to hear about what you do to organize your list! No way?! Yay for birthdays on the 28th!!

  3. Remember that time I visited this post two months ago and have had this window open ever since? Yes, that really did happen. My goodness! I've clearly been lazy since I kept coming back to the post, reading about your awesome system and then never actually leaving a comment. So, here I am finally to say that WOW! I love your advice! I have a spreadsheet system, too, but yours is more detailed and way more awesome! I love that you were able to 1) trim down your TBR and 2) find a system that really works for you! Thanks for sharing all of your tips - I definitely want to include some more information in mine like you did! Woohoo for getting organized :)