The Sunday Salon.comTBR 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.

My List

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.

My "to be read" shelves
A few of my fiction shelves

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.

Your Turn!

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!

Join the Conversation

84 Comments

  1. Like most book bloggers, I experienced what I call the TBR swell at one point in my blogging. Before blogging, I always had a list of 15-30 books I might want to keep my eye on, vaguely, with no real determination, and I just read things as I got to them. When I joined Goodreads, it was so much easier to keep track of my TBR! My virtual list quickly grew to the 400 range, and my physical list grew to about 50% of my shelves.

    That’s when it became too much for me. I changed the way I read blogs, and stopped adding things to my TBR most of the time. I went through my virtual books and deleted anything that would probably end up just being okay, or ones that were impulse adds. I started pulling unread books off the shelves in 30-book chunks and reading them like an editor would: read 5-10 pages, if it’s not working for me, reject it. I gave hundreds of books to Half Price Books. For my virtual TBR, I started requesting library books to do the same thing with, just to slim down the numbers. I even started looking up google book samples of books I didn’t own on my TBR and keeping or rejecting based on those! I partially stopped acquiring, though there were always new books coming in the house.

    By last fall, after a year of this, I was so tired of the TBR and physical unread books that I quit reading book blogs almost entirely. Until May of this year, I quit buying books completely, and I whittled my TBR down and down and down, until I had less than 10 books on it. There were still about 8 books on my shelves I hadn’t either read or sent elsewhere, and even though I wanted ot read them, I was so tired of this game that I packed them up and took them to HPB anyway. I didn’t even note which ones they were.

    These days, I have four books on my virtual TBR, and they’re all BEA books I’d planned to get but of course wasn’t able to when my flight was cancelled. I will be reading several of them during RAT and then the TBR will be lower. There’s one owned book in my house that I haven’t read yet, a new acquisition from paperback swap, that i plan to read before the end of the year. I love the freedom of having no TBR, of keeping a mental tally of some books that look intersting but otherwise reading what i want. I love reading book blogs now and if a book sounds interesting,I’ll just put it on hold at the library to check it out instantly. I no longer feel the need to buy books or have an extensive list of what to read. The freedom from TBR has really changed my life since May!!

    (and um, sorry for the novel-length response…)

    1. Novel-length responses don’t bother me πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking the time to type all that out! I remember parts of your TBR story from your blog, but it’s interesting to see the whole journey in one place.

      I’ve definitely gotten pickier about what I add to my virtual TBR, and I definitely buy fewer books, which helps. I totally admire your ability to cull such huge numbers of books! I try every once in a while but have never really gone through a few pages of everything to see what will actually work for me. At the moment, the thought of doing that is more overwhelming than having all those unread books! I can definitely imagine a moment in the future when my feelings will flip, though. I love the idea of ordering a book from the library for a trial run before adding it to the TBR.

      I’m impressed and inspired by your extremely lean TBR at present! That’s amazing. I bet it feels really good. I’ve never been one to force myself to read a book from my list, using it more as a reminder of books I might want to read at some point than a hard-and-fast must-read list, which keeps the stress lower. At the moment, it’s review copies that are stressing me out. I’m working on changing the way I approach them and look forward to a day (hopefully in the near future!) when I can focus on my TBR, the books I chose myself because they intrigued me!

  2. I use a tag on LibraryThing to separate the books I own and haven’t read from the rest of my library (I don’t keep them on a separate shelf, because part of me fear it would be too overwhelming to see them all together). But I also have lists of books I don’t own but want to read spread all over the place: wishlists on Amazon and BookMooch, a .txt file on my desktop, a handwritten list. Again, I think I’m trying to trick myself into thinking the list isn’t quite as overwhelming as it is by diving it. It seems to work so far πŸ˜›

    1. Haha, I completely understand not wanting to see your TBR books in their own place! It’d be at least half my collection…*shudder* I started out using LibraryThing, but the Goodreads mobile app and the much larger social network I seem to have developed there have gotten me to slowly shift my allegiance, though LibraryThing’s tagging system is, I think, superior. I definitely think if you use sites like Amazon and BookMooch it makes sense to keep lists on there. It makes decision time easy! My husband and I frequent used book sales, where it’s hard to look for one specific thing. I’m glad you’re succeeding in tricking yourself πŸ™‚ That’s a good way to preserve sanity…at least for a while!

  3. My “To Be Read” list is an enormous spreadsheet pushing 500 entries at the moment; I copy titles down into a physical notebook as well. This helps, since I don’t have the money at the moment to buy every book I want to read. I do have a small “To Be Read” pile at my parents’ house in my closet, but it also shares a shelf with the pile of books I can’t sell or give away, so it’s very small.

    1. Yeeeah…that’s where my spreadsheet was headed! I started a list in a physical notebook long ago but got frustrated because of how hard it was to organize. I definitely can’t buy every book I want right now, either, and often use the library or wait until I happen across them used. Your TBR pile sounds very manageable! Is your policy, then, to read each book as you buy it? Or do you mostly borrow (or “rent,” as I believe you say) from the library?

        1. Sounds like we have similar acquisition/reading habits, except that used book sales are my downfall and I bring in far more books than I can possibly read! I love used books and the library, though. I can’t remember the last time I bought a brand new book.

  4. I love Goodreads too. I didn’t used to keep track of my TBR list until I started reading book blogs. There were so many books that I wanted to read that I had to keep track of them somehow. I’m a little too trigger happy with adding books to my TBR list, but I would rather it be on there and then take it off if I change my mind, than forget about it and not have the choice.

    1. I’m with you, Kristi. I’d rather remember a book and then decide not to read it than neglect to note it down. Though that may change as my TBR list swells to insane numbers! We’ll see… πŸ™‚

  5. My TBR pile is ridunculous. I have an enormous quantity on the shelves, unread, and I could actually find out how many as I do have it all cataloged, but I just refuse to do so, as I am pretty sure I would cry.

    1. Ha…I almost cried when I saw the actual number of books I had. But the process of cataloging actually reminded me of tons of books I’d forgotten I even owned, so that was good πŸ™‚

  6. TBR lists can definitely be overwhelming! Mine, like others, has grown exponentially since I discovered the world of book blogging, and I haven’t really found a good way to pare it down (though Amanda’s sounds effective – and exhausting!). I mostly use Goodreads, although I have many unread books at the house that haven’t made in on there yet. With the Goodreads TBR list, though, I try to keep the top 10 or so books I plan to read at the top, and that’s about all the effort I make.

    1. Someday when I’m feeling especially productive and have very little to do, I may experiment with Amanda’s approach. It certainly does sound effective! That might be a fun Readathon project…read bits of all your books and give away the ones that don’t grab you! I just started a shelf on Goodreads called up-next, where I try to put books for readalongs, Reading Buddies, book groups, review, and ones I especially want to get to. It’s a really new thing for me, so I’m glad to hear pulling out a small number of books to focus on works for you!

  7. I definitely understand! I use Goodreads too for my tbr list and just last week I was sweating bullets over the fact that my unread shelf has grown to over 1,000 books!

    I also have a ton of unread books on my shelves and I decided that it’s time to cull ruthlessly from the stacks. I’m a huge library user so if my library has a book that I already own, I’m more willing to get rid of it since I can check it out when I want to read it. This year I’ve given away over 100 books and it feels great. I’m still hoping to give away more before the year ends.

    1. Ooh, 1,000 — I’m not quite there, but I’m well on my way! I’m really impressed you can give away a book if your library has it. It sounds like you have a great system established that’s really working for you! I use the library a ton as well (which, come to think of it, is probably why my owned TBR books never seem to decrease!) and would gladly read all my books from there. The problem is I love owning books I’ve enjoyed…so if I especially liked a book I’d given away and then borrowed from the library, I’d have to go and buy the thing all over again. That just seems silly to me!

  8. I would say that about half the books on my shelves are unread too. Maybe more. It’s really kind of sad, so I am glad I am not alone. I definitely find myself passing up books because I am afraid I may already own them and yes, I have purchased books before that I already own!

    1. Heh, from some of the comments here, I’d definitely say you and I are both in good company with our unmanageable TBRs!

  9. I do have virtual TBR lists on Goodreads, but I don’t worry about those books much.

    My physical stacks are the ones I keep track of, since their physical presence could be problematic.

    I keep the ones I haven’t read separate from the “read” books.

    I now have a much classier shelf for my Old TBRs (they were once on a barbecue cart in my bedroom; before that, they were on the floor!).

    In my office, I have the newer ones stacked on my coffee table and atop a bookcase near my desk. Visually present and a reminder of what needs to be done!

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    1. I agree that physical books are easier to keep track of as well as more problematic when they get out of hand! It’s amazing what can serve as a bookshelf when necessary, isn’t it? Sounds like you have a great system going!

  10. I really like your idea of only putting books on the TBR of Goodreads that have a recommender in the private field. That could help me be a bit more selective at that stage so that it doesn’t get so overwhelming.

    In reality, what I really do is Amanda’s method — put it on the library hold list and take a look when it reaches me. I’ve also started using Vasilly’s method of keeping my physical collection under control. If the library owns it, my copy goes to the Book Fair.

    1. I really admire you guys and your amazing willpower! I do like the idea of checking out a library book for a trial run, to see whether you actually want it on your TBR list. I always feel like I have to make note of a book, then get it from the library when I’m ready to give it a try. But, I could screen them ahead of time and keep the list leaner. That’s one of the great things about the library — you can always check a book out again later! I’m good about getting rid of so-so books after I’ve read them, but I love owning books I love, so I’m reluctant to get rid of books I own but haven’t read. If I gave them away and then borrowed them from the library and ended up loving them, I’d have to buy them again!

  11. It’s scary, isn’t it?? I’m almost afraid to join Goodreads. Right now I use amazon as my virtual wish list and try to add a comment about who recommended the book, etc. as I add to it. Don’t even want to think about the physical TBR pile!

    1. Scary indeed πŸ™‚ Maybe Amazon would be a better choice for me. Actually seeing the price might deter me from adding so many books!

  12. I don’t have a TBR list. I can’t. My reading works in entirely the opposite direction. I have very little control over the books I get (although I suspect my new Kindle will change that somewhat). For the past ten years I have only read the books that make their way to my town via expats, travelers and the odd shipments from home. I can honestly say that I’ve read 75% of all the English books in this town.

    Right now I have more unread books on my shelf (16) than I have had in a few years.

    1. Really interesting to hear about your reverse process. Hearing about your restricted access to books makes me feel bad for complaining (well…maybe not complaining…) about my excess! I hope your Kindle will make more books available to you. I’ll be curious to hear how it works out for you.

  13. Nice post, Erin! Your comment – “On several occasions I purchased the same book twice” – made me smile πŸ™‚ I have three copies of ‘Possession’ by A.S.Byatt and two copies of ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy and I haven’t read them yet πŸ™‚

    I used to keep my ‘TBR’ list (mostly books recommended by other readers that I liked) on text files. I still do that. Books which I plan to read in the near future (where I think my reading plans are concrete) – I add them to Good Reads. I love Good Reads, but I don’t want the ‘To be read’ shelf there to be too heavy and put me under pressure. I am going to continue keeping recommendations on text files and look at them whenever I want.

    1. That’s so funny — I have almost purchased duplicate copies of Possession several times, and I passed up a lovely copy of Anna Karenina because my husband and I thought we already owned it!! I like your idea of keeping a more restricted and concrete TBR on Goodreads. I recently started an up-next shelf that I’m hoping to use for books I’ll definitely be reading soon. I’m glad your system works for you! I’m hoping that, by keeping several shelves going on Goodreads (TBR-owned vs. TBR-not-owned, for-review, up-next, etc.), I’ll be able to stay organized while avoiding having a single list that makes me want to hide πŸ™‚

  14. I use and love LibraryThing, but don’t do a lot of stuff with an actual TBR list. I mostly use it to catalog the things I have, so I can search or make sure that I don’t buy doubles, and I also post all my reviews over there too. I was wondering about using Good Reads just this afternoon, so it’s kind of like you read my mind! I am wondering if there would be actual headway made with a TBR list by using a different system. Very interesting post. It gives me a lot to think about!

    1. When I first joined LibraryThing, I added all the books I owned to it. But, it turned out I was bad at maintaining my records, so as soon as I’d purchased a few books and given away a few others, my lists weren’t accurate or useful anymore. I would be much better at it now that updating my reading is something I automatically do whenever I start a new book. I tried to keep both LT and GR going for a while, and I still head over to LT sometimes, but GR is much more up to date. What I really love about GR is the social aspect. So many bloggers whose opinions I’ve come to trust are on there. GR does this cool thing where when you look up a book, if any of your friends have reviewed it, their review/rating comes to the top, so it’s easy to see in short form what others whose tastes you know thought of a book. Anyway πŸ™‚ I’m hoping having all my TBR books in one place will keep me on track more, too. I’ll be curious to see what you decide to try! Good luck!

  15. If it wasn’t for Goodreads I’d be a complete mess! I just discovered that personal notes feature too, I use it to keep track of who recommended what.

    My TBR list is a joke and I sometimes consider going through it and cleaning it up, in case I’ve changed my mind about reading some stuff, but I never do. About half the books I own are on my TBR shelf…Sigh!

    1. I love that personal notes field! So handy. I really need to purge my TBR (both digital and physical) sometime soon. It’s amazing how much can pile up on there that I don’t even remember adding! Though with the ability to note where I heard about a book, I’m hoping that particular problem will go away.

  16. Aw, your shelves are beautiful!!

    I’ve been thinking I need to delete some of the to-be-read books I’ve collected on Goodreads, but I’m not sure I will. If I can read 6,000 titles in a lifetime (the average assumption), then I have plenty more to collect. And why not build a list?

    Besides, by using Goodreads, I hear from all kinds of people about whether or not the book is worth my time. Much better than trying to build a list solo…

    Once I hit 6,000, I might start re-assessing. πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks! Okay, if I have 6,000 to read, I don’t feel so bad about my current TBR list. Totally doable! πŸ™‚ I’d rather have the list, I think, and not read everything on it than forget about a book that looked intriguing and may have become a favorite. The social aspect of Goodreads is one of my favorite aspects and a big reason in why I use GR much more frequently than LibraryThing these days.

  17. I also use Goodreads for all my cataloging. I haven’t been so good at it lately, but I can’t imagine keeping a list of ‘read books’ and ‘books to read’ anywhere else. Initially, I used to add books maniacally. Now I’ve slowed down. I don’t wishlist a book anymore unless it strongly appeals to me. I don’t feel too bad now about that, because even if I had to get through the books on my shelves, it will take me years.

    1. Now that I’ve been using Goodreads a bit for my TBR, I’m starting to see how good it seems to be for tracking lists. I do know I have to be careful about over-adding, though. I’ve tried to be really careful. You make a great point — I could read for several years just on what I’ve accumulated, so there’s no need for me to beef up my TBR list too much πŸ™‚

  18. I’ve tried not to use Goodreads as a TBR, as my greedy natures means that I’d be adding every book in existence to my pile!

    I have a physical stack of around 50 or so ARCs by the bed, a folder of audiobooks on my computer, all sorts of unread stuff on my shelves (which I dip in and out of), and a hideous number of ebooks on my Kindle. Other than books I’m scheduled to review, I tend to read as I like, so my TBR is fairly informal. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha, I know that feeling!! I’ve been working hard not to let it take over my own TBR. OH I didn’t even include my ebooks. Eek. I’m so not going there πŸ™‚ I figure they don’t take up any space, so they’re less of a problem…right?? I tend to use my TBR as more of a repository for books I want to read someday, not any sort of rigid list to which I must adhere. I do try to pull out reading commitments and put them on a special Goodreads shelf, though, so it’s easy to see them and to change them around. I’m actually trying to complete my current reading commitments and accept fewer in the future so I can do more of that reading as I like πŸ™‚

  19. I’m salivating at the site of your fiction shelves!!! They look packed to the brim. And I just gave up trying to keep track of books other than the ones I read. It just took too much time that I just don’t have. Some day!

    1. Yes, they are indeed packed. The one at the very bottom is actually partially double-stacked…eek! I bought a new bookshelf a year ago and it’s already filled. Precisely why I will eventually need to annex my husband’s soon-to-be-vacated shelf to my own collection. Muahahaha…

      I didn’t used to track more than the books I’d read. Who knows, maybe I’ll stop with all this extra organizing in the future!

  20. I’ve want to transition my TBR list into GoodReads, but haven’t figured out a good system for remembering to do that yet. I’m also not sure if I want it to incorporate both my physical TBR or just my virtual TBR, since that’s harder to pay attention to. Right now, I just have my lists all over the place.

    1. I was starting to have lists all over the place, which is why I finally seized on a low-key day to try a new system. It’s a lot of time to invest in a system you’re not 100% committed to yet!

  21. I use Goodreads as my main list and the “for later” list on my library’s website for those books I think I might want to read at some point. I have several TBR stacks on my bookshelves that seem to just keep getting taller!

    It is great fun learning how everyone tries to keep track of their growing TBR lists.

    1. Ah, yes, I just discovered my library has a wishlist of sorts! I should figure out how to work that into my system. I do use my library frequently. Funny how those stacks always seem to grow but never to shrink, eh? I’m really enjoying hearing how everyone handles their TBRs, too!

  22. My TBR pile is pretty intense too! There are two piles really, review books and non review books. Both are toppling and I have somewhere between 300 books probably to read. Ahh! It would be a dream to have all of my pile in goodreads but I don’t know when that would happen.

    1. I didn’t mention it above, but review books are the only ones I keep separate from their rightful places on my bookshelves. They have their own special spot on a narrow little shelf. My policy is, if I’m out of space on that shelf, I can’t accept any more books! If only I were so diligent about my other shelves…

  23. I also need to organize my TBR. Plus, I think it would be good to join Goodreads as well. I’ve been meaning to but I’m so lazy. Somehow, I think it requires oodles of work!

    1. I know that feeling! I’ve found, though, that Goodreads only requires as much work as you want to put into it. If you want to keep every book on your radar in Goodreads and meticulously cataloged, it’ll take time. But if you just want to add a book here and there or see what others are reading, it’s much less of a commitment.

  24. I recently blogged about TBR lists as well. I was also curious as to how others organized their lists. I have a little journal that I keep track of titles I’d like to read and titles I’d like to own. My shelves were organized by genre and authors but the books I haven’t read were mixed in. From the comments on that post, many people spoke of having actual tbr shelves of their unread books. That simply never occurred to me. I am like you and will buy books that I am excited about them and then wait to read them. I’m not exactly sure what I am waiting for either. During BBAW I remember people raving about Google docs and it has helped them organize their tbr lists.

    After all of that new information I was inspired to reorganize my own books. A couple of weeks ago I went through my entire bookcase and culled books from it that I no longer want or need. The rest I reorganized, creating one shelf of books that I haven’t read yet. I also made a separate pile of books that I love and would like to reread. I also have a chest full of books that I haven’t read since I didn’t have room in my case for two tbr shelves.

    And! I ventured into Google docs and started organizing the books in my journal by genre. It makes it a little easier to read and it helps to remember why I wanted to read such and such book. Also, I think it will help with future challenges I may sign up for.

    1. Wow, good for you, overhauling your whole system! I especially love the idea of pulling out potential rereads. I’m pretty bad about rereading, so maybe that’s something I should try. I seem to have some compulsion to keep all my books united, though, and am reluctant to separate any out. Weird, I know! When I made my brief foray into challenges last year, Google Docs was amazing for tracking that sort of thing. I added so many fields to track for each book! It’s nice, too, because it’s so easy to add a new one on the fly or delete one that isn’t working. I still use a Google spreadsheet to keep track of books I’ve read/listened to plus all my stats. I doubt that’ll go away.

    1. I’m finding out how easy it is! I’m loving the social aspect of Goodreads, too. So far, I’m a fan πŸ™‚

  25. I have an older paper list as well as one written out on my blog. I’ve recently tried moving the list over to GoodReads but was overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles on my lists.

    My physical TBR is probably one of the smallest in the book blogging world — 65 books. And I’ve actually read about half of them before I started blogging so they are actually to-be-reread books. I’m not really interesting in amassing a large library, and just the idea of having hundreds of TBR books overwhelms me! I couldn’t stand to look at that. (I also don’t have room in my house for hundreds of books, either.)

    I probably am a little shelf crazy when it comes to GoodReads, but I love having so many shelves. My physical stacks are constrained by space in how much I can organize them.

    1. That’s right, I forgot you have one on your blog. I can definitely understand having an overwhelming list. It took me hours to get all my physical books onto Goodreads. Sounds like your pile wouldn’t take long, though! I definitely aspire to have a massive library, but ideally, for me, they’d all be books I’d read and loved. I have a long way to go before my current library reflects that. I do currently have room for lots of books, but I move often enough that you’d think I’d have learned to cut back….books are heavy!

      I’m really enjoying Goodreads’ shelf feature, too. It’s so much easier to group books digitally.

  26. I don’t think there’s anything dreadful about TBR piles/lists at all! But then again, you’ve seen some of my shelves, so you know I proudly display all the books I haven’t read! πŸ˜‰ I feel like so long as I’m not going into debt or neglecting other financial responsibilities by purchasing books, there is hardly anything better to spend my money on! And there are always going to be more books out there that are worth reading than I ever will be able to read in a single lifetime, so rather than stressing about it, I’d prefer to just read what I can and enjoy it!

    I do try to separate books that I actually own but haven’t read from those that I think I would like to read but don’t have copies of on my GoodReads by having separate shelves for those so that I can keep track of books I need to hunt down. But that’s about as far as I go.

    1. Yeah…secretly I love my TBR and being surrounded by books books books. I keep my buying focused on used book sales, usually, paying just a dollar or two per book, so my habit definitely doesn’t break the bank. For some reason, though, I hate it when someone takes a book off my shelf and asks “How’s this one?” to which I have to answer, “I haven’t read it yet!” And when that happens several times in a row, I start to feel guilty πŸ™‚ I like your unashamed approach!

  27. Sometimes if a book sounds REALLY good then I’ll put it on my Amazon wishlist. Otherwise it takes several reviews or a lot of buzz for a book to get my attention. But I don’t keep a TBR list of books I don’t own and would like to read. Guess it’s just mental–probably because I already own so many books that I haven’t read yet (think my read/unread ratio is about 50:50). Never got into Goodreads and am actually thinking of deleting my account. I keep all my owned books in an excel spreadsheet.

    1. Wow, that is so organized of you! I thought about keeping everything in a spreadsheet, but it was too much data entry for me. I like how Goodreads pulls all the info for me. I should switch to something like and Amazon wishlist — maybe seeing all the prices would keep my wishlist smaller!

  28. Although I use LibraryThing to keep track of what I’m reading, my actually TBR list is a many-paged spreadsheet which divides books up not merely by genre but also era and country/region. Sometimes it’s hard to determine which category to put books into! It works with the way I mentally categorize books, though, and I’m able to add to it perhaps a little more easily than I would really like to admit.

    1. I used to use LibraryThing a lot more than I do. I’ve really started to enjoy the social aspect of Goodreads, which I think it does better than LT (even though LT’s cataloging features are better!). Your spreadsheet sounds complex!! Even with my few categories, I sometimes struggle to decide which label a book should have. Which often leads to creating new labels πŸ™‚ It sounds like you have a system down, though, which must be really nice.

  29. I love goodreads for the tbr ease and it doesn’t bother me AT ALL how big it gets. And I like to know who rec’d AND WHEN. I do wish, however, that I could decide how and what to do with DNFs that I someday hope to actually get to. I sometimes count them as read and sometimes I put back into tbr and then there are the crazy tags that I’ve started to let get away from me.

    I used to use an address book to write down author names and/or titles I wanted to read but now that I have an iPad, it’s only goodreads that has my list. Benefit on not having too sophisticated paper system is that goodreads came along at the right time for me to go bonkers with tracking.

    1. Oh, when…that’s a good thing to pay attention to, eh? Usually I’m pasting in a link to a review or article, which usually has a date on it, so I have that covered. But as I continue with my new GR TBR, I’ll have to make sure I include dates. I have a shelf called on-hold that I think I’m trying to use for DNFs I plan to pick up again. Although then I feel like I have to pick them up right away, or start where I left off instead of starting over. I don’t have a lot of books in that category πŸ™‚

      An address book?? No way!! Before I went digital with my list of books read, I totally tracked them in an address book!! We ARE book twins. Weeeeeird. Google Docs is what got me away from my Moleskine address book, since it’s easier to keep track of all the stats I like. Periodically I go through and update my Moleskine, just for posterity’s sake, though.

        1. Oh yeah…I guess “date added” would cover that, eh? πŸ™‚ See, I’m still finding all sorts of cool things GR can do for me.

          We probably should! I love the term bookread. Can I borrow it? (I checked Goodreads — just found out you can choose which shelf you want to compare with someone else! — and we definitely have some TBR overlap!)

  30. I have a Goodreads shelf called TBR Pronto. That shelf is for books that I must read by a certain time. I have another shelf just called TBR. There, I keep all the books that I’ve come across that I might want to read at some point. I am constantly deleting and adding titles to it.

    At home, I have ONE shelf, that houses the books from my TBR Pronto list. It’s in my family room. I cannot watch TV without it staring at me. That is my visual reminder and I usually do really well with it. There are never more than 8 titles on that shelf.

    That’s it! I have bookshelves but they house only the books that I cherish and there aren’t that many! Maybe, 15.

    1. My current TBR sounds like your plain old TBR. I’m still working out a system for myself for your TBR Pronto, but I like that idea, having some way to keep the urgent TBR books aside. Good call with the constant visual reminder! I have a shelf for review copies, but those are the only ones I pull out of their appropriate genre sections. So…you only own 15-ish books plus your TBR prontos??

  31. Ugh! I have TBR lists all over the place including a couple of spreadsheets. Lately though I’ve just been using Goodreads as well because it is so much easier and I like to be able to see the covers of the books when I’m choosing πŸ™‚

    1. I know, Goodreads is so much prettier than a spreadsheet! I love how easy it is to see who else has read it, too. I know I should judge based on other people’s reviews, but when they’re people whose reading tastes I sort of know, I find that really helpful.

  32. I have a paper list of books that I own that I haven’t read yet (currently at 83). I daren’t start a wishlist as I’d end up depressed at how many books there were out there that I wanted but couldn’t afford….

    I’m very new to Goodreads and haven’t quite got into it yet, but I have slowly started to list my TBR there.

    1. I think Goodreads takes some time to get used to. There are a lot of neat little things it does — I continue to discover them! There’s something nice about a paper list, until it gets too big to handle. Sounds like yours isn’t quite there yet πŸ™‚

  33. I also have a physical TBR shelf — perhaps 200 books. Just typing that made me stress out a bit.

    I’m getting MUCH better about a) not buying as many books and b) getting rid of books I’ve read and didn’t love. I want to have shelves of things I loved, and not much more.

    I used to use Goodreads, but I just didn’t love the interface, so I moved to Shelfari, which I think is prettier. I know everyone is on Goodreads, but I just couldn’t justify not liking it and still using it.

    1. I’ve gotten better at b! Not so much with a, though I do buy most of my books used (and cheap), which is good, I think. I totally agree that I want my shelves to be full of books I’ve loved. I don’t keep books if I haven’t rated them at least a high four.

      I’ve heard Shelfari is really pretty. I’m already on Goodreads and LibraryThing, so I am resisting checking out a third site! I also love the social aspect of Goodreads, where I’ve built up a network. But, I totally get the draw of a nice interface.

  34. My TBR is astronomical. It’s currently 478 TBR and pretty much all of them are stuffed into my quadruple layer, 4 shelved bookshelf. It’s quite hefty. I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen through the ceiling yet it must be quite heavy.

    I just keep buying the things. I buy them as if they’re going out of fashion. If there’s a nuclear war I’ll be ready. Just need to dig the bunker.

    I always used to keep a written record of books I read and owned, but it wasn’t very good as of course because I could never read my own hand writing. Then I discovered Goodreads and transferred my scrawl onto there. Then I decided I wanted a more detailed record and started a rather detailed spreadsheet complete with pie charts. There’s so much data you can collect – genre, setting, year published, author gender, language written in… and then there’s the colour coding you can do. It can go on and on. At the end of the year I always turn it into pie charts and see what my year’s been like so I can compare it numerically to the last… maybe that’s too much? I think it’s interesting.

    I really need to go through my TBR and try to get through the Dust Mites – the ones that have been gathering there for ten years or more. It doesn’t help that I keep buying new books (none in the past week I’m proud to say).

    But hey – it’s great to have this fantastic library on hand. I love rooting through it and stroking books that I am genuinely looking forward to reading. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right minute to read a book and I know that it isn’t always the right minute. I like having the books on hand so when that moment comes up, it won’t pass me by. I can’t rely on a library to always be open, or have the book when I need it – and it costs me at least Β£2.70 to get across the ferry anyway and I could get a second hand book for that.

    I call it fermenting – a book sometimes has to ferment on your shelf before you want to read it. You know it’s there, you’re thinking about it and soon it will be ready but not now.

    I’d panic if I didn’t have at least 100 books on my TBR nowadays. It’d be too weird. However, that isn’t to say I actually want it to go over 500. Over 500 and I would have a problem…

    1. Mine’s right around yours! Thankfully I don’t own all of them, though I do keep buying books. So far I’ve only had to double-stack a single shelf. I wonder if anyone’s TBR pile has ever broken their floor? Scary! I like your term “Dust Mites” — I definitely have some of those. I try to purge every time I move (every year or two), but somehow the pile continues to grow anyway. “Fermenting” is perfect, too. I have lots of books like that.

      I love book stats! I keep a spreadsheet for the books I’ve read. What I want to track seems to change at least yearly, but I’m always tracking something. I love the end of the year, when I get to look back and see what I’ve read and how I can analyze it!

      I agree with you — I love having books around me! I like knowing I have plenty of unread books just in case I need one. I’d just like to turn to my own shelves more often than I do, since I clearly bought those books because they intrigued me. Though it does seem like a good idea to have TBR boundaries πŸ™‚

  35. I generally add books I want to read onto my paperback swap wishlist. And ones I really HAVE to have on my amazon wl. As far as books I already own in regards to TBR, I used to use GR, but I keep forgetting. I guess I don’t have one. I’m just disorganized that way. πŸ˜€

    1. I still haven’t signed up for that! I worry I’ll quickly be overwhelmed if I do. I’m waiting for the day I realize I’ve been forgetting to keep GR current. That happened to me once already with books I owned. Hey, nothing wrong with disorganization if it works for you!

  36. I have an Excel sheet with about 400+ books on it right now but I’ve slowed down my adding to it because it feels slightly overwhelming. I use Librarything and for a while I did keep a separate shelf for my TBR books but it wasn’t that effective for me. Now, I keep a physical TBR pile of books that I want to read, and for the books on my Nook, I write up a list and keep the list inside the pocket of my cover. So far, this system is working better for me but I’m sure they’ll be problems soon. Most likely double acquisitions. Nothing is perfect. πŸ˜‰

    1. Hey, sounds like your system works for you! I love hearing about all the little quirks people have developed with their systems. I like your idea of keeping a TBR pile just of books you want to read (I’m guessing sooner rather than later). I might have to try something like that.

  37. I joined GoodReads but haven’t used it in any meaningful way. After reading this post I want to start! My fear isthat it will take me too much time to transfer my list over there. Time I don’t have.

    1. It does take an initial chunk of time and patience. I had a relatively free day, so I spent it cataloging books (which I love, so it wasn’t so bad!). Once you get everything in there, it’s pretty easy to maintain…but yeah, that first part can be a lot. For a long time I just used Goodreads to track books as I read them, adding each book as I started it and then marking it read when I’d finished. That’s a minimal commitment but will still keep a nice, sortable record of what you’ve read.

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