How do you organize your TBR?



Recently I went through my Goodreads “want to read” list and took off almost 200 books. Now I have a little over 100, which feels more manageable.

I removed books that I’ve already read (duh), books I own (I don’t need a virtual reminder when I have a physical copy), and books that have been on there so long I no longer remember why I wanted to read them. There are also books associated with interests that were once strong for me but have lapsed, or reading challenges I’m not pursuing any more. Those were jettisoned as well.

I’d like to do a periodic purge of this nature to try to keep my list more streamlined, but the question remains of how to organize what I have left.

I like Goodreads as a tool; it has the information I want and it’s easy to add books and connect with other readers. So I’ll keep using it as a handy place to store my list of books I’m interested in, but am not ready yet to buy or check out from the library.

Whenever I add a book, I put it in at least one category (nonfiction, historical, around the world, fantasy, etc.) so when I’m in the mood for a book of that nature, I can narrow down my choices easily.

My physical TBR pile mainly consists of two kinds of books: nonfiction that I’ve bought at some point because I thought I ought to read it, but which was superseded quickly by other distractions; and classic literature I’ve bought in nice editions that look lovely on my shelves, but that I haven’t gotten around to actually cracking open yet.

I hope to make a dent in both of these during the next three months, by not acquiring anything new, and only reading from my own shelves. Meanwhile, I can still keep adding to my online TBR list — making the number slowly creep up again …

That’s about it for my organizing; my picking up of book recommendations is usually pretty random, and I just park them on the list (or in the pile) until I need ideas for my next read. I’ve shed most of the challenges and review commitments that I scrambled to keep up with during my first years of blogging. Right now, I feel like reading according to the whim of the moment, though I may get back to a more structured approach at some point.

How do you manage your TBR list? Do you keep a physical pile, or an online list, or both? How do you like to organize them? Do you have goals for this year’s reading from the TBR?

Linked in the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction AddictionΒ andΒ Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!

34 thoughts on “How do you organize your TBR?

  1. We book bloggers are forever obsessed with are TBRs πŸ™‚ Mine is so informal and disorganized. It consists of a rough idea that I want to read through Harold Bloom’s Weston Cannon, a couple of history book lists, plus a list of about twenty books that I keep on an electronic sticky.


    1. I used to not even keep a list, I would just go to the library and look at what was on the “new and interesting” shelves. Book blogs have given me too many ideas that I want to keep track of now.


  2. I’m a “whim of the moment” kind of guy (as I’ve reiterated ad nauseam on my blog) though I use challenges (aka goals) to shape my choices. I think I have a half dozen tbr books on Goodreads from eons ago, my real tbr pile being by the bedside!

    Other tbr books are scattered around bookshelves, with a stack of a few recently acquired titles on any spare bit of shelf I’ve cleared of works no longer required on the voyage.

    So, like you, I’m a whimsical reader: I suspect I’d be a hopeless literary scholar with a booklist to get through and deadlines to achieve. At the moment I’m ‘sparked by joy’ with my cluttered shelves and book piles, gems in a treasure chest to riffle through at leisure!


  3. Most of my TBR books are together on shelves I’ve set aside for them. At one point I organized them by the year I bought them, in an attempt to motivate/shame me into reading those first. But they’ve gotten out of order now. I am stacking the books I buy this year together, again in an attempt at motivation. I do still have a list sorted by year purchased though.


        1. Yes, that’s a very handy feature, I use it a lot — I guess I was thinking of physical books, which I often don’t add to Goodreads when I acquire them. Keeping a stack of all the books I acquire in a particular year would be an interesting visual reminder.


  4. It’s an excellent question, Lory, because I don’t organise my TBR – I pick books up on a complete whim. The only organised bit are my arcs, which I very much organise…


  5. Lady, I’m so impressed! Those mad organisational skilllzzz! I feel rather basic in comparison. I’ve got a physical pile of books that are TBR for my blog reading list, and a physical pile of books that are TBR for after I finish that. And both of them are jumbled up in a single Goodreads “want to read” shelf. It’s not sophisticated, but it works for me! Ha! I do also keep a spreadsheet though, but that’s mostly for tracking what I’ve reviewed on the blog, which reviews I’ve got in draft, etc. I love seeing how other readers organise their TBRs, so much variety in the bookworld!


  6. I participated in a focus group at my old library several years ago and they revealed that because so many people put books on reserve now, dash in to pick them up without lingering to look at what’s new, they felt pressure to come up with more programming and innovative displays. I may have said that was worthwhile anyway but I realized that I was becoming one of those people, and my TBR was dictated by reviews for Publishers Weekly (I switched to one per month so it wouldn’t dominate my reading as sometimes the books are disappointing), when my reserves came in, and whatever pile at home happened to fall over on me. There are certain library branches near me that are fun to browse in so I make a point of browsing there and at bookstores for ideas as often as I can.


    1. I miss browsing at the library! I used to go at least once a week. But my life has gotten so frazzled I hardly go in anymore, if anything I put e-books on hold and then I don’t even have to leave the house.

      I like the method of reading from whatever pile falls over on you. Sort of a modern form of divination.


  7. I’m pretty whimsical too. I have to have a lot of books around so I can pick the one that appeals in the moment! We all know what it’s like to take 5 books on a weekend trip just in case, right?

    My physical TBR pile lives on the bookcase in my bedroom (officially on 2 of the 5 shelves, but it long since spilled over onto a third), and is mostly organized by the method of getting as many books into the space as possible. The books for Adam’s challenge live in a stack of their own so I won’t forget which they are. About 30% are actual purchases, and the rest are those that have come to me through serendipity.

    I keep my lists on Amazon, mostly, where they are completely out of control. I probably have five? One for books I’d like to buy, one of books to get from a library, one of books I think I should buy for work (which I also may want to read, but that is incidental), one for Kindle books, one for my husband to consult…


    1. Oh yes, I used to keep Amazon wishlists too but I stopped that at some point. I’m all about streamlining at the moment.

      Organizing by how to best fill up the space is a favorite method of mine too…


  8. I don’t really manage them, I just let them slowly consume me until I am one with the TBR monster and it has eaten me whole. The includes the physical TBR pile, aka Book Mountain, which is currently somewhere north of 400 books and has taken over my bedroom. My husband may or may not be unhappy about this state of affairs – I’m not sure, I’ll let you know once I’ve found him amidst all the books. … I think my children are in there somewhere too. o.O


  9. I don’t have much of a physical TBR, just my Goodreads list – which has around 850 books on it. This does not bother me much; I don’t feel like I must read every single book on it. I treat my TBR as a curated library. When I add a book, I also add it to a genre shelf for the same reason as you – so I can find a particular type of book when I’m in the mood for it. Other than that, I don’t really organize/prioritize my TBR list in any way. I do like to review the whole list once a year and remind myself what’s there, and remove as much as I can (usually only 20 or 30 titles, though! Everything sounds interesting…).


    1. I don’t mind having a lot of books on my list either, only it felt like time for a cleanup. It’s been about five years and my interests have shifted, so there was a lot of dead wood. I like the idea of treating the TBR list as a curated library, full of potential for future engagement but not a list that must be gone through at some point.


  10. You’re more organized with your TBR list than I am. Mine’s just an ever-growing list of book titles, although I do periodic purges to try and keep it from getting into insane numbers. πŸ™‚


  11. My ” TBR Beast” has over 1.5K books! LOL

    I love that yours has only 100! Yes much more reasonable!

    There is, though, a method to my madness πŸ™‚

    At the beginning of the year I posted about how I organized my TBR by month for the entire year, so I can stay away from GR my favorite procrastination realm besides Pinterest and write more. πŸ™‚

    I called my “free subscription box” because I’m trying to ignore it now and be “Surprised” when I check what I’m supposed to read every month : )
    here is the link:

    I basically calculated how many books I could read in a moth (approx 6) and created that many categories and GR shelves: 1) New releases, 2) eARCs, 3) physical ARCs 4), screen adaptation, 5) Backlist owned physical/audio 6) A book I always wanted to read. Then I created monthly shelves and picked one book to read every form each category for each month. THAT’S IT! πŸ™‚

    I still change it a bit depending on my mood but at least I don’t spend HOURS mindlessly scrolling down the GR rabbit hole with the excuse of looking for what to read next πŸ™‚ I do have one rule. I can “ADD” books. It monthly shelf has to stay the same size. I can only replace books. The only time I can exceed the Six book cap is when I add a short book like a novella or anthology πŸ™‚

    I also love that you don’t need a virtual reminder of the books you own! I need all the reminders I can get πŸ™‚ and removing books that you no longer remember why you wanted to read may sound common sense but to me is genius! πŸ™‚


    1. Haha, I love the idea of the free subscription box! I should try that.

      A year ago I took all the books I own and haven’t read and put them on their own physical shelf. That was a big help in remembering where they are, at least, even if I don’t always manage to get further than that.


  12. One thing that has been helping me, is when I add a book to my TBR, I add a comment and specify where the recommendation came from. So if the book stays for a while on my TBR, at least I can remember why I put it there in the first place.
    I also try to add a new TBR book to another shelf as well when possible – France, Japanese literature, etc
    As of now, I have 1,469 books on my Goodreads TBR shelf… Every Saturday or so, I go through the 5 oldest, and try to decide if I delete a book, keep it on my TBR, or put it in a newly created shelf – my TBR-maybe


    1. Ooh, that is a really good idea. Sometimes I remember where I heard of a book – but not always. That is good information to have for many reasons.


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