How long is your TBR (To Be Read)?

Pre-covid I had about ten books on my list- ten books that I 100% wanted to read.

During COVID that numbered ballooned up. I was reading so much more than normal, I was just throwing about everything onto that list. I didn’t want to fall short and not have a book in the cue. This was my particular form of neurosis: not having a list of books to read at the ready.

Three week ago I had 383 books on my TBR.


Three hundred, Eighty, Three.

I knew that it was time to stop the madness. I know that I will never again have a year where I read hundreds of books. I know that next year I will probably hit somewhere in the 75-85 book range. And I know that I will just keep adding books to my TBR. I REALLY KNOW THAT THIS MANY BOOKS ON MY TBR WILL STRESS ME OUT.

So I began to do what I normally do when I find a situation spinning out of control: Make a plan.

  1. Get rid of books that I really don’t want to read.
  2. Determine a number of books on the list that seems reasonable.
  3. Figure out how many of each time of book should be on the list, with the realization that I will always be adding books because they are books and books are awesome.

The hardest thing about step was was dealing with Goodreads. After I would successfully take off a few books, I would begin to get LOAD ERROR message. This was frustrating and slowed me down as I shut and restarted the APP. But I was able to get from 383 to 200 rather easily.

But going below 200 has been, slightly, a challenge, because as it turns out, there really are 200 books I am fairly interested in reading.


If I break it down, I am most likely to read 50 rom coms, cozy mysteries or light books. As I like to read before bed, I like something not too taxing. We all learned last week that I have little to no brain power after 4pm.

I am most likely to read six memoirs or essays, because books like this I read a chapter a day and it probably takes two months to read.

I occasionally need a psychological thriller, because sometimes you have to live vicariously through the actions of a fictional character. And who doesn’t like a twist? Four on the list sounds about right.

You know I love cheery self help books, but as with memoirs/essays, six is probably a good number.

No more than four non fiction of various ilk. I know myself, and reading a non fiction over a three months is about my speed.

I also like to have some fiction appropriate to book discussion available for my book clubs, though I’m probably choosing no more than five books for clubs.

This makes my maximum TBR 75 books.

So, with my reading habits in mind, I have gotten myself down to 155 books. 80 more to go.

I see on my TBR that I have SO MANY self help books. This is going to be my greatest challenge- getting that number down by looking for the ones that really aren’t going to interest me. I don’t like overly clinical books- they are way to dry for me. I prefer less psychological jargon and research studies, and more Rah Rah go team. I want to read a self help book and be happy- not read one and find ways to be sad, which is often my problem with this genre.

I also love a good organizing book- but my mind files that under self help and not non fiction, and I really don’t want to get into my brain and tell it that it’s classifying books incorrectly. My brain can’t handle criticism too well, especially when it’s coming from me.

So every day I try to take off two books. And if I add a book, I make myself take off five. I’m very hard on myself.

January 1 is my self imposed deadline to 75. I’m holding myself accountable by posting it. You are all free to mock me if I don’t get down to 75.

And now I’m off to take off two books…wish me luck.

66 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen Friday: TBR

    1. You know I added that 80 days book because you were talking about it and it looked so interesting! But it’s been driving me batty!! I have considered just reading all the light books quickly, and that should cut down the list naturally…😆

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  1. I see an extreme Marie Kondo influence here. Your list is not sparking joy but causing anxiety so I hope this idea works for you. I know personally that I need a list of some sort, even if a book becomes a “why did I ever believe I wanted to read this” book. I think of Goodreads as just a large sticky note, just another way to give me a memory boost, not a stress inducing pressure point

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    1. Me too. When the number is reasonable it’s fine. But like anything else, even if it’s organized, when you have too much stuff it’s just not feasible. I know I’m not going to read all those books. So why keep them there!?! I’m feeling much better every time I delete something!

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      1. If they like fashion, the Dior exhibit at Brooklyn museum amazing. Morgan library is my favorite hidden gem museum. Six is Broadway show I’m most looking forward to. Tell me type of food they like and I’ll give some inexpensive food places

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok. They should see the Polanski (sp) exhibit at the 42nd st branch of The public library. It’s free (but need to reserve tickets) and it’s large and has all different stuff. I thought it was worth seeing. Ramen- ippudo or Totto. My fave Chinese is Han Dynasty. I’m trying a Thai place tonight so will give you rundown. Vanessa’s dumplings inexpensive and yummy. Nom wah tea parlor is touristy but authentic and old school and one of oldest restaurants in city

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  2. Good luck with reading through your TBR. My TBR got completely out of control in recent years but I’ve been ruthless with my books in the last few weeks and have been donating physical books to charity and deleting Kindle books that I’m not going to read. It’s felt really liberating to finally accept that there are books that I owned and I no longer want to read and to just get rid of them. I still have over 2000 books on my owned TBR but it’s half of what it was so I’m feeling good about that. I definitely need to read more of what I own rather than buying more though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The one thing I’m good about is reading what I buy, even if I start out just reading a chapter a week. But I knew my list was out of control!


  3. The only book list I have is for my two book clubs. I have a book-buying habit, though, and stacks of books to read…someday. I try to have one fiction book and several nonfiction going at the same time. That doesn’t include books I read or skim specifically for my book-writing projects. And magazines! OMG.

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  4. I had to unsubscribe to Good Reads and whenever I get the Amazon Prime Reading email, I delete it immediately. I already have a que of books (nowhere near the amount you do). So my new goal is to read one book a week. If only we had unlimited time to read….

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  5. Have the same problem but worse. My “To Read” list has grown but not to your levels. Since COVID I’ve nearly stopped reading. Projects of all types have taken center stage. By the end of this year, I bet I’ll only read 4-5 books. I totally enjoy epic books so it is rare I read one under 600 pages.

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  6. I have a scratch off poster with 100 books that I want to get to. I think I’ve read 17 of them so far. Then I made a list of all the books I actually already own. That’s another 218 and I’ve read 22 of those. And then there’s my Goodreads list, which has a few of the same books but also more. I am not going to stress about how many books I have/want to read, I’m just going to concentrate on reading them – LOL

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  7. I have several lists based on genre and a couple other criteria. Usually, I don’t have all that many per list (though I just looked and I had over 100 on one list, which shocked me), but I do tend to hang on to more than I should. I’m very much a mood reader, so when I’m looking for a book to fit a current mood, I tend to toss books I run across onto a list for later that I’m not in the mood for right now, thinking I’ll get to it when I’m in that type of mood. I have started to go through and remove quite a few that have been there longer than maybe 6 months or so that I keep passing on in favor of something else. Granted, I DO read hundreds of books every year, so with that in mind, my lists aren’t too crazy huge.

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  8. I love this! I feel soooo much like you do! I’ve downloaded way too many ebooks, wasted time on not-good ebooks, and a few dozen hardcovers just waiting for my eyes only! I too try to read before bed — it makes me sleepy — yet I barely get through a chapter a night. But we shall keep the home fires burning!

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  9. You are already doing so well on cutting your list back. I’m impressed. I just live with the fact that I have more books to read than I can keep up with. I have cut way back on the ARC’s I request because I do feel pressure to fulfill my obligation on those. I am very gradually catching up after two moves with the lockdown in between. I have gained some time by cutting out Facebook out of general protest over their censorship. That has been liberating.

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  10. I don’t typically keep track of how many books I read in a year but out of curiosity I want to now. 🙂
    I do have books written down for my TBR list but honestly its usually whatever book catches my eye at the moment when I am ready for one. Been trying to read new authors lately. So many out there to be discovered. I also usually am listening to an Audible book and reading a real book at the same time. Not simultaneously of course. 🙂

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  11. I don’t have a TBR List as I generally don’t follow recommendations from Book Sellers, Newspapers, or authors as they generally have a connection to a particular publishing house. Books just seem to find me: there are twenty lined up in a pile in my bedroom of an assortment of genres, none of which have been recommended.

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    1. I do pick a lot from personal browsing in book stores, but I did a test this year to try to make down how I learned about a book to see where the idea of books I liked came from, and hated came from. Results sometime in December!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My TBR list is sooooo out of control, because I just keep adding to it. When I read Christopher Hitchens saying (of his upcoming death) that his only regret was the books remaining unread, I felt seen. I know I’ll die with hundred (if not thousands) of unread books, and I’m OK with that. I have anywhere between 150-200 unread physical books on my shelves, a few less remaining unread on my kindle, the same again on my “want to read” list on Goodreads, although less than 25 on my Amazon wishlist (I had a cull recently of anything I couldn’t remember how & why it got there). The difference is it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve a bit of a “oh look, shiny new books!” mentality, and it’s the only joy I indulge in absolutely without guilt or stress.

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    1. I’m good about reading what I buy. There’s no book I own that I haven’t read at least part of. But the list of what I want to read…when it’s too long I get overwhelmed….which is exactly what happened

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  13. I feel you. I have so many books as pdf waiting to be read. More than 100. There are also so many that I see and want to read but I don’t write it down because I currently have 5 books that im in the middle of reading. Ever since my son started school, I haven’t been in the mood. I’ve been reading many romance novels that we’re not on my TBR list because they relax me. My TBR is mainly parenting books and self help with a few novels.

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  14. I was going to tell you if you’re looking for a good self-help book, I wrote one. It’s on Amazon. But you’re trying to make your list smaller, not bigger. Anyway, it’s a small read if you’re interested.

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