TBR lists: We all have them. Whether physical or digital or paper, teetering towers or orderly shelves or modest stacks, lists or spreadsheets or tags, readers have to-be-read lists. And I’m guessing there are as many approaches to organizing them as there are TBR lists to be organized.
I have a habit of buying books and then not reading them, saving them for…what, exactly? More than half the books I own are unread, which means I have a massive TBR pile staring me in the face every time I look at my shelves. Scared to know the actual number, I’d never cataloged these books in any meaningful way. The downside? On several occasions I purchased the same book twice; on others, I passed up a good deal on a book I wanted to read because I thought I already owned it.
I did, however, track books I wanted to read but didn’t own. As with most bloggers, I’m guessing, my TBR list grows at a rate proportional to the number of other blogs I read. I started a Google spreadsheet maybe a year ago to track these recommendations. What began as a single sheet soon had to be split up into sheets by genre because, with everything on one page, the spreadsheet took too long to load (!). Which would be fine, if I had any hope of actually getting to all those books any time soon! What I liked about the spreadsheet approach was how much extra data I could add: most notably, who had recommended the book to me and/or where I’d read about the book. But the spreadsheet was hard to reorganize on the fly, and it ended up just being a repository instead of an active reading tool.
Enter Goodreads. Long ago, when I first considered Goodreads for TBR maintenance, I turned it down because of how easy it would be for me to add books willy-nilly. Just the click of a button and BAM! One more book on my neverending, overwhelming list. I finally made the switch to Goodreads when I discovered the private notes field on each book’s record. (Was that always there and I missed it? Or is it a newer feature?) I can now keep track of where I read or heard about a book, just like in a spreadsheet, but in a prettier, easier to reorganize way. I’ve kept myself from over-adding by trying hard to list a source with each book I mark to-read.
At this point, the books I own as well as most of the ones on my old TBR spreadsheet are on Goodreads. The result is a little overwhelming, since I’d previously used Goodreads only for read or currently-reading books. My list grew exponentially overnight! I really enjoy the social aspect of Goodreads (are we friends yet?), having the opportunity for interaction built right into list maintenance. I also love the ease and flexibility allowed by the Goodreads “shelf” system in terms of organization. Though I’m afraid now I’ll go a little tag-crazy — how many tags is too many??
Of course, my new system still has kinks and probably always will, but it seems so far to be the best approach I’ve tried.
I’d love to hear about your TBR list. Is it physical, paper, digital, or a combination? Does it include the unread books you own, or just the ones you’ve heard about elsewhere? Do you separate TBR books from the ones you’ve already read, or mix them together? How do you sort or tag your TBR list? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with me? Do tell!