Monday Mumbling – The Looming TBR

On the upside, reading e-books I’ll never be found dead under a pile of papers/books. Thanks for telling us about that KZ. Recently Kassa wrote a post where she said she was feeling overwhelmed by her huge TBR so she simply moved them all to another file, tucked them away and chose not to worry about them. Starting fresh with books she wants to read now.

So Kassa inspired me to look at my own TBR which was kind of freaking me out when I opened it, although I had nowhere near the books some people have. Many of those books are perfectly fine book, great books even, but for whatever reason, I’ve lost interest or I’ve later found they have themes I don’t think I’ll enjoy. And when you have 300 books sitting there, what reason would I have to pick up the ones I don’t think I’ll enjoy when I have 50 I’m sure I’ll love.

I also decided to clean things up. To make sure that books were properly labeled, in the right folders and filed away. Many books in my TBR I had read but never moved to a proper file. I also gave myself permission to be honest and say “I’m never going to read that.” Some I bought, some I got as gifts or I won, but I’m never going to read them and to be honest, with the number of new books coming out, I would need to spend 10 hours a day for about 3 years to ever catch up. Not gonna happen.

So I started organizing. Those books I doubt I’ll ever read (although you never know) got moved into a special file and set aside. Then those remaining books I filed into separate “levels”.

  • Promised a review (This doesn’t include BER) 20 
  • I REALLY want to read 27
  • I want to read 44
  • Maybe want to read 40
  • Unread indefinitely 144

Now the files are not written in stone. A book that I have in the maybe file means I’ve not given up hope on it yet and I’ll go through that file periodically and see if I’m in the mood for something there and move it to one of the other files, they still hold interest for me, but they aren’t calling my name.

My objective would be to read something from at least the first two every week (two of each would be nice) in addition to my BER commitments. To be honest I have bought very few books in the last months. Or those I bought have been consumed almost immediately upon purchase (leaving the TBR languishing). I used to go and just buy what appealed to me, but now there are so many books, I’ve been more selective and am checking on GR for what the word on the street is. I look for those reviewers whom I’ve learned to trust and what they thought about it. It’s not the sole deciding factor, but I can often find out things that I know irk me, that may not be evident in the blurb, that are pointed out by another reviewer. If I’m spending $6.99 for a novel now, I’d like to make sure it doesn’t end up in the Unread file in a year because later I heard about X and it turned me off the book.

So we’ll see how it goes. Now that I’ve written these numbers here I can go back and compare in 6 months or so and see if I am on track or what the heck I’m doing. :-) How do you handle the TBR? Do you just keep building up? Have you ever purged and started fresh? Do you go on book-buying moratoriums until you catch up?

I beg to differ. LOL

21 thoughts on “Monday Mumbling – The Looming TBR

  1. Cole says:

    Oh man… yeah, boy do I understand.

    A few months ago I tried a tiered system — Tiers 1-5, 1 being the highest, but I found my preferences only lasted a week or so, then making my lists totally worthless. That taught me just how wandering my interests are!

    So, what I found was that my real concern was that I was passing up books that 1) are classic m/m books, 2) are popular at the moment and getting good reviews, or 3) books I’ve looked forward to reading a long time, all because my list was so overwhelming it was causing me to read fluff books or ones that de-stressed me, just because I was stressed from my TBR pile. I mean, that’s not right!

    So, I finally spend a whole week making up a master challenge for a year from this month, where I made a list of 25 books in 8 or so categories (like, gay lit and self-published books, for some variety). I tell myself I’ll be happy if I get through half of them. That way I can read some fluff when I need it and start over with the big picture already worked out the next day. I’ve already read several of the “big” books I was putting off and I’m so happy. It’s working!

    So I really hope your system works for you!

  2. Tam says:

    Glad it’s working for you. I’m not sure if I’ll lose interest in the ones I’ve selected or not. I don’t think so, but who knows. I WANT to read them but if I’m in the MOOD to read them is another story. Although in my REALLY want list, I have all types from fluffy shorts to more dark novels so I should in theory be able to find something in there that fits my mood at any given time. I’m also saying that 90% of any new books I buy should go in the REALLY want file or else why am I buying them?

    • Cole says:

      Yeah, that’s my biggest problem honestly. I buy way the hell too many books. I think it just feels good. So not only do I have a reading problem (I mean, I knew that) but I have a shopping problem. Jeez!

      • Tam says:

        I always rationalize it by saying “at least it’s not meth and hookers”. LOL

        • Chris says:

          LOL! My rationalization is similar, Tam. :)

          I don’t really have a system. I have a dropbox folder that has stuff that I think I want to read at a particular time. It has some subfolders – a couple of specific authors I’m working on reading (Richard Stevenson) or just want handy for impromptou rereads (JCP, M Chandler), stuff that I might want to read at some point (moved from the main folder), etc.

          Having a tablet and being able to access my books on dropbox, instead of transferring them via an SD card or a cable has been awesome – so much easier if I get a whim to read something that’s not on my tablet!

          • Tam says:

            Because I read on my laptop, I keep everything there, but it all goes into a Dropbox folder as well. So whatever files are on my computer are mirrored on Dropbox. That way if I’m on someone else’s computer or at work (ahem) I can access my books that way. Much better than ferrying memory sticks around all the time. Which of course I lose for months on end. We must have 10 of them kicking around home, all with random stuff on them. I should work on that.

            We’ll see if I clear some out, it’s an experiment and if nothing else this has forced me to clean up some of my folders and label things properly.

  3. Jenre says:

    Oh you’re so organised, you put me to shame! I have one TBR folder for books I’ve bought, one for Reviews by Jessewave, One for BER and one for my blog reviews. The Jessewave folder only ever has a maximum of three books at a time because I don’t request books if I have three in the folder already. BER books go in and out quite quickly too. I’m making a concerted effort with my blog review books and have about 10-12 in there at the moment.

    My main TBR pile is the worst though. I rarely read anything from it because I’m reading the review books so it’s currently going down about one book a week. I currently have 311 books/short stories in that file and at one book a week it’s going to take me about 6 years to clear that if I don’t buy anything else!! Crazy

    Perhaps i need to do as you have done and rank the books. Decide which ones I really want to read and stick with that file.

    • Tam says:

      It can be overwhelming when you have that many. I had the same basic system as you, but the TBR was getting bigger and as you said, not going down (although I was buying new books, I was reading them instead of my older books). I just looked at some of them and though “I am NEVER going to read this” so just remove it. I’ve not deleted it, but if I can’t see it everyday then I don’t feel so overwhelmed. We’ll see how ranking them goes. It’s pretty random “yes, I really want to read that” but that could change. So we’ll see.

      I’ve been trying not to buy so many, but sometimes I feel badly because I know I’m missing good books, but there are so many books out there, I just couldn’t read them all. I don’t usually take on many books for review so hopefully I can burn through that pretty quickly, I hope. LOL

  4. obsidianbookshelf says:

    Tam, “meth and hookers”, ha, ha! I should get with the times. I’ve always rationalized with, “At least it’s not cigarettes and beer.” :D

    This is an awesome post (and comments). I’m always interested to read what people are doing to organize their TBR. I’ve tried to re-name my ebook files with date-of-purchase and organize it that way. I’m also starting to delete stuff I know I’ll never read.

    I guess if we all were truly masochistic, we could add up how many hundreds or thousands of dollars, euros, pounds, or whatever we’ve spent on ebooks over the years, and it would act as a buying inhibitor — but I don’t think I even want to go there!

    • Tam says:

      Eeek. Ignorance is bliss. Yeah, I figure if each book in the “I’ll never read this” file was $4 (average shorts and longer) it’s over $600 that I rather tossed away. Sigh. Still when my aunt and uncle are both smoking they probably send that much money up in smoke every month. At least I have something to show for it and I MIGHT read them someday. Maybe.

      Once their in my folder I have them by date, but sometimes that freaks me out. I thought about just doing them alphabetically, but that doesn’t really work because I have to be in the “mood”. So we’ll see how this works. In six months I may have abandoned the whole concept. My attention span is small at times.

      • Cole says:

        Oh you guys are killing me and my need to constantly organize. I’ve got so many new ideas that I’ll probably not read several books implementing a new system! For shame!

        “Cigarettes and beer” .. eek! I’ll just finish this beer and get right on that list :D

  5. K. Z. Snow says:

    At the head of the bed, I have unread fiction divided from unread nonfiction. At the side of the bed, I have books I’ve started but not yet finished. In the garage, I have books I’ve finished but won’t likely read again — at least for a while. In one bookcase, I have literary classics and world-religion-related texts. In another bookcase, I have a couple of series, regional history books, and paranormal stuff. On another set of shelves, I have GLBTTQ fiction. On top of my big old walnut desk, I have US and world history texts.

    The material on my Kindle is just . . . there.

    So, yeah, a lot of hardcovers and paperbacks — and the looming threat of being squashed like a ‘possum on the highway. ;-)

    • Tam says:

      At least you have them all divided. I really can’t tolerate a lot of paper books anymore. i have some, probably 3-4 full shelves on an average Ikea bookcase worth but a few years ago I purged in a huge way.

  6. […] Tam explains how she’s trying to manage her TBR. […]

  7. ingrid2009 says:

    My question is where do you people find all these books to buy? Even if I wanted to I would not know where to find all those books. I buy maybe 10-15 books a month. And I don’t feel like I miss out on books that I should read. Now I do hate the feeling that I should read books because it is the latest thing.

    • Tam says:

      I get a lot of them on sales at Fictionwise. I just bought 9 books for $17, mostly novellas or novels. It was 60% off. I could have bought more, but I figured that was enough. LOL Also when ARe has the 50% rebate I tend to stock up.

      I also hate that pressure that something is the next big thing and EVERYONE is reading it. I tend to dig in my heals just because.

      • ingrid2009 says:

        I hate fictionwise. The few times I tried to buy books there it wouldn’t let me because I was in NL.

        Even so those sales are maybe 2-3 times per year. That still doesn’t give a TBR list of 300 books

        • Tam says:

          I think for some of us who review, we end up buying 9 books, and then you get 5 from publishers to review, so you end up reading three of the 9, then you buy 9 more and so on and so on. :-) You plan to read them, you want to read them, but they come in faster than you can read with the publisher books. I know Kassa had something like 1000. Eeek. I freak with 300 but I know that’s small and there are more people like Kassa than not.

  8. kaetrin says:

    Well, according to Goodreads, I have 803 on my TBR. I’m pretty sure that has captured all the paper and ebooks and there are some (a lot of) audiobooks in there too (and I’m also sure that not all of my TBR audiobooks are on the list). Argh!! I mostly live in denial because the pressure is too much.

    What you said about buying 9 and reviewing 3 and then reading 3 and then buying another 9? Yep. Yes and Definitely.

    My tbr isn’t very organised I’m afraid and Chris does not help me with the whole not buying books thing because she keeps reading really good m/m books which end up on my wishlist and tbr. So, that’s it. I blame Chris! :D

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