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Tackling the TBR [1]: An Introduction

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Tackling the TBR: An Introduction
(I’m going to need a better banner)

I’ve always been envious of those people who are perfectly happy reading only one book/series at a time. I used to be like that – back in my adolescence where the closest bookstore was an hour and a half away – but that changed as soon as I became a bookseller. It got worse when I became a book blogger. My level of awareness of the sheer number of amazing titles on the market skyrocketed, and I suddenly found myself struggling to read ALL THE BOOKS.

My solution at the time was to purchase all of the titles I might want to read, resulting in a 4000+ book collection and a massive TBR. The books sit on my shelves, taunting me as I walk by, just begging to be read. I’m desperately trying to get through them all, but the math just doesn’t work: if I read 100 books a year, it will take me 40 years to get through my current collection. That doesn’t even take into account new titles coming out. I need to downsize, but that’s a topic for another post… In any case, it has led me to the following philosophy:

 The TBR pile is simultaneously a book-lovers best friend and worst enemy.

 So, no matter how much I’m enjoying a particular title, I always have one eye on my shelves, wishing I was reading those books too. If I spend too long on one series, I get impatient, and that sucks the fun out of the whole process. It also stresses me out to have unread books from favorite authors, especially since many of them reached their series-enders more than a year ago and I still haven’t managed to finish them. It’s reading ADD at its finest, and I’ve already implemented many different strategies to try and counter it and make my reading process as enjoyable as possible (such as the mantra “only read the best books first” and “life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying” – both of which have been life-changing), but it’s not quite there yet… I’m still stressed.

So what I need is a system that’s flexible, allowing me to bounce around between series and genres, but I also need one that helps me finish series I’ve started and keep my favorite authors at the top of my priority list. Today, I had an epiphany on how to make that happen… I’m calling it “Tackling the TBR” And it works like this: 

  At the beginning of each month, I will select an author from each of my favorite genres, compile all of their unread books onto my TBR Tackler shelf, and pick from that pile throughout the month as the mood strikes me.

 I think it’s brilliant.

 But then again, I haven’t actually tried it yet. :P

  I did try a version of this method where I devoted a month to a particular genre, but that didn’t give me enough flexibility to follow my moods. I also seem to feel more satisfied when I use TBR shortlists and can see it getting smaller as time goes by, so the fact that I’m compiling specific authors, but from a range of speculative genres into one place to pick from, is incredibly appealing.

 I know I’m starting a little late, but here is my TBR Tackler pile for the remainder of May 2015:

 Science Fiction: Rachel Bach
Urban Fantasy: Kim Harrison
 Fantasy: Sara Douglass
Romance/NA: Ann Aguirre
Young Adult: Rae Carson

These are all the unread titles from my chosen authors… So many good ones! Instead of posting updates, I will probably just keep using the same post to track my progress, kind of like what I do with my Bout of Books posts.

 I’m really excited to try out the system – I’m hoping it will help me focus my reading while giving me the excuse I needed to finally finish some of these series. Wish me luck!

 Anybody want to try out Tackling the TBR with me? Let me know in the comments – I could use all the help and support I can get. :P

by Niki Hawkes

14 comments on “Tackling the TBR [1]: An Introduction

  1. I plan on tackling my owned TBR on my nook through readathons. If I also get an itch to buy anything more than $5 going to the library. I will exclude buying an audio book or two when I get a job because I have been getting dizzy reading in the car lately. I just want to read my tbr so I have more answers for bookish questions! Good luck =)

    • Awesome – it looks like you have a good system in place. I’m doing very poorly for my current readathon that ends today, but I bet focusing on nook books next time would make it go better (I read faster digitally… Is that weird?). Good luck with your goals!!

      • There is the RYBSAT starting Monday. The read your bookshelf a thon that’s a week too. Don’t worry I did bad on this one too because finishing my final took longer than I thought… No I read faster digitally too not by much though. I’m just hoping I can follow my plan =\

  2. Im looking for different ways how to tackle my tbr too. Currently I am trying to read one book from Netgalley, one from Edelweiss, one kindle freebie and one purchased. And then repeat the process.

    I like your idea too. I might try it out next month with you, if you could help me understand the rules a bit better. So basicalyI i write a list of genres and then pick one author/series for each genre? I am confused since you picked three different books for ya ….

    • Ooh – I like how the one of each method sounds because it still allows for flexibility of genres but you still get all the “obligation” reading in the mix.
      I’d love company trying this next month if you decide to try it! As you can see, I’m still working out the kinks. :) you’ve got the basics though. This month I didn’t have a YA author with more than one unread title, so I thought I’d try a “onesies” category. Come to think of it though, if I’m true to my method I should have just picked one author anyway like I did with the romance category… I’m going to change that. :) reading ADD strikes again haha.

      • Yeah I have four folders/collections on my Kindle and just pick one book that suits my current mood. It’s not a bad method, and as you said, I do an obligation reading done, but I tend to neglect favorite authors and some genres because I do not get so many review copies from them…

      • Yeah, I can see how that would be a great way to keep up on the arcs. I have been trying really hard not to request any other than top priority reads, but that request button is just way too easy to hit haha.

  3. My “TBR pile” is ridiculous, made worse by the fact that I can’t just look over at an actual book shelf and see them, which means I’m more likely to forget what’s there.

    I have a bad habit of reading books I don’t enjoy, because I’ve been told so many times, “You just didn’t give it a chance — maybe the plot gets better after the two-thirds point,” or the ever-popular, “Who cares if the writing is terrible as long as the protagonist kicks butt?” So I read things I really don’t like, thinking I’m required to give every book a “fair chance”… (Honestly, though, if the first 100 pages stink, how likely is it that page 101 is going to be brilliant?)

    Your system seems like a good one; it offers focus, which is one thing all of us with reading ADD need. I think I’ll give it a try. (I will also compile and PRINT a list of all the e-books I have. Seeing the titles at a glance will help me keep track better.)

    • As much as I love being able to take an entire library with me, it is a pain to keep track of all the digital copies. I was actually trying to figure out how to represent them for this feature, so I absolutely love your idea to print them off. It would also let me physically cross books off books as I finish them, which is an oddly satisfying perk.
      I can totally relate to the “you just didn’t give it a chance” thing. For the longest time I kept forcing my way through books I wasn’t enjoying because I felt guilty for quitting. It was worse with series because I have a hard time letting go of sunk costs, so it felt wasteful not to finish a series id already invested so much time in. However, about a year ago I took to heart the quote “read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all” and cannot stress enough how much it had improved my enjoyment of reading. It still bothers me not to finish something, but I found if I take 10 minutes to skim and spot read to the end, maybe even read the last chapter, I feel like I get the essence of the story without wasting any more time on it. For the record, none of them ever get miraculously better haha.
      Anyway, I hope this system lives up to potential, and will be happy to have someone try it out with me if you decide to do it. Good luck! :)
      …and I’m totally serious about stealing the ebook printout idea.

    • “If you build it, they will come.” Although for bloggers it always seems to take a lot more effort to get them to come. Your method is interesting. :)
      Thank you for the compliment… I just might check it out.

  4. Pingback: Tackling the TBR – May & June 2015 [1] | SERIESous Book Reviews

  5. Pingback: The Obsessive Bookseller Simplifies Life [2]: Book Journaling | The Obsessive Bookseller

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