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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