Saturday, April 14

How To Keep Your TBR In Control: Trying Out & Rating Different Methods

Hello, friends! As bookworms, many of us suffer from over-flowing to-read piles. Some of us have the privilege to own an unbelievable amount of books - either as physical copies or ebooks - while others have to battle with incredibly long wishlists when picking their next. And, yes, of course there are some, myself included, who struggle with both.

What I'm trying to say here is that, one way or another, most bookworms are buried under massive to-buy and/or to-read-owned book piles. Keeping track of all that, deciding how and when to get rid of books can prove to be tough. Helpful tips are all over the internet, which is great! But sometimes, it's hard to predict which method would be the best, and how exactly to go about doing it when there are no pointers given. To help you with that, in today's post, I'm here to not only list some common methods, BUT to also showcase how well they worked for me, what difficulties I faced, etc. while trying them. 

Disclaimer: This is only MY opinion. I cannot guarantee that what works for me, will work for you the same way. With that being said, I did my best to stay as objective as possible when commenting on these methods. So let's get right into this!

TEST #1:

First thing you should note about them is while they are very popular, they don't work for everyone, and that's totally fine! But they can be super-useful, and here's what I learnt when I was on a book buying ban: 

1) You should pick a concrete start and finish date.

Something I do a lot, and I mean a lot, when I have to do something - e.g. studying - is that I promise myself "I'll get started on this tomorrow, for sure!", and then I keep telling myself this for days without end. Obviously, the only thing this accomplishes is making me dread the whole thing more, so stop! with! that! Pick a date, and actually start you book buying ban.

Choosing a concrete time for the end is super-important, as well. It is hard to push yourself when you have no idea when you can stop. Try picking a date, OR a goal you have to complete, e.g. if I read half of the books I own, I can get more, or if I have put aside X money I can stop the ban. 

2) You might want to find a partner in crime.

This is such an underrated thing, but can make or break any challenge you set for yourself. It is much easier to suffer alongside someone, so if you can find someone who wants to do the same thing? That's the best thing ever!! You can complain to each other and cheer each other on when one of you is ready to give up. If you cannot find someone else who's ready for a book buying ban, try finding a family member or close friend who will keep you in check, and who will berate you if you end up screwing up. 

3) You should set very clear rules for yourself.

Exceptional situations can arise, so do try to consider these when starting a book buying ban. While on a ban, it has happened to me that a book I really, truly wanted was around 50% discounted. Obviously, it is worth it, but wouldn't that be breaking the rules?? Depending on your own judgement, leave - or don't - yourselves little loopholes for situations like these.

4) You should NOT give up after the first - or even hundredth - time when you break the rules.

This is something I struggle with SO MUCH. And not just in book buying bans, but in every part of life - if I screw up once I want to give up immediately, WHICH IS ALL WRONG, AND YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT EITHER. It can feel like shit when you fuck up, and it IS the perfect excuse to give up the whole thing, but push on even if you do make some mistakes throughout.


Depending on your ability to follow the rules you set for yourself, book buying bans are incredibly useful. Personally, I'm a very competitive person, so doing it with someone helped me TONS, because I didn't want to be the one to fail first haha. The one thing, however, is that you should definitely set CLEAR rules for yourself - I've tried book buying band prior to doing one for this post, and they mostly failed simply because I didn't have a concrete idea of when I planned to stop, what exceptions I should allow myself etc.
TEST #2:


1. Divide your TBR based on genre, length or anything you want to.

I didn't use to organize my to-read list on Goodreads in any way whatsoever. However, around a year or so ago, I decided to give it a chance, and wow, it made my life so much easier! 

I mostly divide my books based on if they are standalones, sequels, first books in a series, OR by themes, as in, ones that are perfect for Christmas, for Halloween etc. I also used to have an "unsure" shelf, which... didn't really work for me, but you might want to consider it, because it certainly has its benefits.

2. Keep the physical books you haven't yet read on a visible shelf, clearly divided from those that you have already read. 

I'll admit that I tried my best to organize my shelves this way, but I failed miserable. It just feels SO UNNATURAL to, for example, own various books by the magnificent Holly Black, and then divide them based on read/unread. I WANT THE BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHORS AT THE SAME PLACE. Khm. 

BUT! I do think it's important to put unread books to a visible place on the shelves as a reminder of my failure as a way to remind myself of what I still need to read. 

TEST #3:

This part of my post is about the type of "rules" you can set for yourself to keep your wishlist in better control. 

Tip #1: Try limiting the number of books you are allowed to have on your wishlist. 

A few years back, I limited my Goodreads to-read shelf (which is a combination of my wishlist and owned-tbr) to 300 books. That is STILL a massive amount, in my opinion, but it's much easier to manage than the 1000+ books I used to have on it before. OBVIOUSLY, you all know best what number would work best for you, but I do recommend challenging yourself this way, as it pushes me to be stricter, more responsible when deciding which books I'm truly interested in. 

Tip #2: Go through your wishlist at least twice per year. 

Y'all, if you think it's hard to do so, boi, I can relate to that! It took me many a failed attempt before I was able to bring my old, massive to-read shelf down to around 300 titles. To be honest, the reason I'm so meticulously keeping it in order is because I remember those experiences all too well

Some tips to help you delete books from your TBR:

1. If you don't remember anything at all about a book, even though, you know you've read the blurb various times? It probably should GO, because it obviously didn't make a huge impression.

2. CHECK THE REVIEWS! It is super-important to check both positive and negative ones. I love list reviews and reviews where what they liked/disliked is clear, so I can ponder a bit if those things would bother me. For example, if I see someone say the heroine was "unlikable and rude" as a negative thing, but those things seem super-cool to me, then yay, go for it.

3. Ask friends who've read them already if they think I'd like them.

4. Alternatively, you could say you don't want to read anything under a certain average rating. I don't do this, for three reasons: (1) it's unfair to indie novels, which I see constantly rated down for the dumbest reasons, (2) in MANY CASES books by minority authors are rated in an unfairly harsh way, (3) this method overly favors novels by popular authors with a passionate and massive fan base (think Cassandra Clare or Colleen Hoover).


And that concludes my post about all the different methods I could think of to help you keep control of your ridiculous tbrs. HOPE YOU LIKED IT, and that you actually found some usable advice, although, I'll admit that this topic has been discussed SO MUCH that I'm unsure if I've contributed to it or no haha. 

Have you tried any of these methods? Did they work? How do YOU keep track of your tbr and not let it get out of hand?? Share with me your - very surely awesome - ideas!


  1. Quote: "I also used to have an "unsure" shelf, which... didn't really work for me, but you might want to consider it, because it certainly has its benefits."
    I do have a not-sure shelf. I usually put two types of books in it: the ones that don't have any reviews yet because they're a long time to come out, and the ones that have a number of them, but I'm still waiting for the "definitive" reviews to get posted. I mean...the ones that will tell me the very thing, for better or worse, bound to tip the scale once and for all. The funny thing is, sometimes the books I had impulsively marked as TBR get kicked out the list, while the ones I marked as NS make it to the TBR yeah, as you said, not super helpful.

    Quote: "CHECK THE REVIEWS! It is super-important to check both positive and negative ones. [...] if I see someone say the heroine was "unlikable and rude" as a negative thing, but those things seem super-cool to me, then yay, go for it."
    Haha, that made me laugh. But it's SO true. I ultimately decided to give a chance to the Dark Passages duology by Ilsa J. Bick because so many people were rating it 2 stars or DNFing it on account of its being "complicated" or "confusing". Reading those reviews, I realised that they simply weren't the right audience for the series, but I might be. And boy, did I love it. So...NEVER DISCOUNT LOW-RATING-REVIEWS.

    Quote: "Alternatively, you could say you don't want to read anything under a certain average rating. I don't do this, for three reasons: (1) it's unfair to indie novels, which I see constantly rated down for the dumbest reasons, (2) in MANY CASES books by minority authors are rated in an unfairly harsh way, (3) this method overly favors novels by popular authors with a passionate and massive fan base".
    YES YES YES. 'Nuff said.

    Lovely post (and funny too)! Of course, my TBR+NS shelves combined hold less than 100 books (YEAH YOU READ IT RIGHT), but for all those who struggle with their TBR, there is food for thought in here.

    1. The problem with my "not sure" shelf was that I already had SO MANY books on my normal to-read shelf, and then added SO MANY to this shelf, as well, and then didn't take the time to update it frequently. Smh.

      I'm glad that "method" has worked for you, as well!

      THANK YOU!! Love your comment :D

  2. Great idea, I love this. I have been thinking that I need to work on some of these things. I think my biggest problem right now (asides from buying too much) is that I need to read things and then get rid of them. Trying to decide what I don't need to keep anymore is hard, but I'm trying to give away anything that doesn't fit into the "really like, love, or will definitely read again" pile once I finish reviewing it.

    1. Thanks!! I should definitely become better at giving away my books, tbh. But I'm just so attached to them haha.

  3. This is such a cool post! It’s helpful for me to keep my unread books separate from my read books. I also count my unread books once a month. If my TBR shelf is overflowing, I don’t really want to get more books. I also go through my wishlist a few times a year and delete all the books that no longer interest me. That’s hard sometimes because I’m interested in EVERYTHING.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks! Those are some good habits! I RELATE!! I do the wishlist delete thing, as well, and my god, IT IS HARD!

  4. I have well established rules for book buying. The books must be on sale or part of a series AND on sale. I have been really good at following these rules, but I must say, I love your idea about having a buying ban buddy to keep you in check. Genius!

    1. Wow, you have strong self-control! Thank you, I tried to come up with at least ONE useful thing lol.

  5. I don't do book buying ban, but I say to myself I'm allowed to buy books as a reward if I do x, y things. /cricket sound/ I just say reward instead of ban, yeah. �� I like having a reading queue with 15 books. It keeps me from getting lost in my tbr. ��

    1. I think that's a great idea, books as a reward are FANTASTIC. I onyl do that when I have to study for a final or exam, push myself with the promise of buying books when it's done.

  6. This is really helpful - I've been thinking a lot about how I can start working through my TBR and these tips will help a lot.

    Something else I've been doing is trying only to read from my TBR. Sure, I'll read my book club's monthly pick and any holds from the library that come available. But beyond that, I'm trying to stick to just books from my TBR - which is so much harder than I thought it would be! But I'm slowly working it down to a more manageable number:)

    1. Thank you, glad you found them helpful! :)

      I'm trying to keep to my TBR & wishlist as much as I can, too, but, my god, it's SO HARD when there are recs coming from insta, twitter, goodreads and the blogs I follow. You're strong to keep doing it, good luck!!

  7. I've been tackling my TBR for a few years now - I divided it into my Kindle books/Netgalley/and physical TBR. It's taken a few years because rules and concrete steps don't really work for me, plus I'm a mood reader.

    I spent at least a week going over reviews and passing on or deleting books that no longer interested me and then went from there.

    My physical TBR is the last to go and I'm doing good! I went from 139 books last January to just under 70 right now. My goal is under 50.

    I'm not really requesting many review books and I don't buy many books right now so that helps.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. Wow, the progress you've made, esp with your physical tbr is amazing!! I've just collected in an excel doc all my physical books, and I'm hoping to read a lot of them this summer... I currently have over 100 books. I have a bad habit of reading more ebooks than physical, unfortunately. :(

  8. Great post! I really try to limit what I had to my Goodreads TBR (just books I want to read; not books I own) and I try and go through every now and then and delete things that I'm no longer interested in, etc. I don't do book buying bans but that's because I'm really good at not buying a lot of books. I try and use the library if I don't own it or have it for review. I also have a ton of books that I already own and still want to read (though I've gotten rid of a lot too) so I'm trying to focus more and more on those and not all the new books, etc.


    1. Thank you!! Sadly, the library is not an option for me, because even the biggest one doesn't really have English books. *cries* But that is a great solution for anyone with a great library nearby.

  9. I know for sure book buying bans don't work. I keep adding books on my wishlist and the moment the ban ends, I go bonkers and buy everything. I've accepted that some months I buy more than others. However, I would like to be more conscious about my older books because more often than not they get abandoned and that's not fair

    1. That's a very good point about book buying bans! Also, same about my older books. I've just written down all the physical books I own (because those are somehow harder to keep track of for me) in an excel, and will try to tackle A LOT this summer.


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