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Tackling the TBR [65]: January 2021

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

January 2021 TBR Tackler Shelf:

After 65 months of experimenting, I finally found a Tackling the TBR system that completely works for me, start to finish. The ah-ha moment seemed to be a reality check I faced mid-September where I realized I’d only be able to get through a finite number of books before the end of the year… and that I could calculate fairly accurately what that number was. This brought me out of my ambitious reading TBR and lofty goal-setting (both of which are my natural tendencies, but were leading to major frustration). So I gave myself five slots a month to fill with what had better be the most important titles on my list (reserving one for review obligations, so actually four) and stuck to those titles with a determination I hadn’t been able to find up to that point. It worked so well. I’ve been able to finish everything I set myself to read and have felt MUCH more relaxed about my reading pace – more so than I have in years, if I’m honest. Who knew the key would be recognizing how delusional I am when it comes to ambitions lol.

With this type of planning in place and a fully-realized system I’m loving, I’m extremely excited for 2021. Because I’m no longer stressed about getting through everything and am truly focused on the best books first, I’m somehow squeezing in more than my five pre-allocated titles every month. I think it’s because I’m feeling reinvigorated, reading is fun again, and I’m reading only quality books.

Another change I made happened around the same time as my ah-ha moment: I became committed to becoming more digitally minimal – deleting social media, deleting gaming apps, setting limits on other time wasters, and generally making my phone a resource for only reading, writing, and adulting. It has taken some practice, but living more intentionally and getting away from the mindless scrolling that was sucking HOURS out of my days has definitely freed up a lot of time for reading and other creative projects.

In September I also decided it was time to get my eyes used to reading physical novels on a regular basis again. I used to read 100+ novels per year without audiobook or ebook (back in the day) but an eye strain injury over five years ago stole a lot of that from me. I finally realized that my eyes were as healed as they were going to get, and a lot of the trouble I was having with reading had more to do with being out of practice more than being injured (at least, I hoped that was the case). So I committed to picking up a physical book at least once a day to see how it would go. I’m not going to lie – it was touch and go at first and a little uncomfortable, but after consistently trying it and moving in baby steps for a couple of months, I’m THRILLED to be back to reading 40+ pages an hour without any major discomfort. I feel like I’ve been gifted new life in this. As a side note, I’d be willing to bet staring at backlit screens fewer hours every week per my new digital minimalism goals also increased to the amount relative eye-power I had to spend on reading. Total win.

I have a lot of new fantasy series I’m hoping to try in 2021. This month I’m adding a couple in while still reserving most of my focus for the authors I know I already love. Wish me luck. :)


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [64]: December 2020

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

December 2020 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I’m late again posting… it has been a really busy work month (with a 4 year old in tow) and my pregnancy has stolen what little energy I have left (hence the minimal reviews… my backlog is growing). And my reading time has suffered a bit as well as a result. luckily, I’ve picked out a relatively conservative TBR Tackler Shelf to cap out the year – most of my energy going towards savoring Rhythm of War. Many people in my reading group have already finished it, but I’m sitting pretty at about 20% with no intention to rush through it. I read Oathbringer so fast when it came out that I missed most of the details along the way and didn’t retain much (as discovered during my reread in November). So this one I really want to do right. I’ve three YA to supplement the month and have Rage of Dragons lined up to read for my book club. All things considered, maybe a relaxed, Stormlight-filled month is exactly what the doctor ordered. :)


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [63]: November 2020

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

November 2020 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I’m a little late posting this month, and I didn’t even realize it until yesterday… a lot going on in November I guess. In any case, I’m thrilled at my lineup – Dawnshard, which is a novella between Oathbringer and Rhythm of War, the massive tome that is RoW, and Abercrombie’s First Law world. Velocity Weapon is more or less a review copy, and I’ve already read it (3/5 stars). In some ways, it’s a quiet month of reading because I have such a narrow focus of books. In others, it’s the best reading month of the year because I’ve been prepping for the new Sanderson for so long (and I know it wont disappoint)!


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [62]: October 2020

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

October 2020 TBR Tackler Shelf:

My new conservative system worked great in September – I finished all of my titles but one (Best Served Cold never became available from the library, so I read a different book instead). I even had time for a few extras.

But the best part is that I didn’t feel stressed about reading for the first time in recent memory, and that’s a huge win.

October got away from me a bit – it was only yesterday I realized I hadn’t composed a TTT post yet. I’m gearing up for Rhythm of War with a reread of Oathbringer (so good). My AF review title is Deadly Education (which I’ve already finished and it was awesome!). And my ARC for the month is Fugitive Telemetry which, omg, I can’t believe I snagged so early. Waiting for the next one beyond that is going to be agonizing (I know, shut up, lol).  With the Abercrombie finishing out my adult reads for the month, I threw in a YA to break things up a bit. I liked Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series (well… most of them), so I’m hoping this is a YA with a bit more substance.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [61]: September 2020

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

September 2020 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I had a wake-up call.

And I blame my Goodreads Challenge tracker. I realized all of my reading goals were completely unrealistic based on how many books I’ve read so far this year. Because I don’t think I’m going to miraculously incorporate a ton of extra reading time between now and the end of the year, it’s pretty clear that I’ll only have a chance to get through about 20 more titles. This was hard for me to absorb. After all, I have a ton of series I want to finish, and a bunch more I want to start. Not to mention all the new releases I want to dig into. But those ambitions just aren’t going to happen based on my current reading pace. 

This calls for some organizing.

I started with a template – a new note on my phone month headers and five slots to fill with titles below each month. My review obligations with Audiofile Magazine took one slot a month. That left me with four more spaces to fill. That’s not a lot of books ::sobs:: so I really had to get a clear idea what my highest priorities were. Only the elite survived the cut, and based on that list this post is my much more realistic lineup of titles for September.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is my AudioFile obligation, and Colonyside is my ARC (omg soooo excited!), and all the others are books I most want to read at the moment. I’m glad for a nice mix of genres here, and am especially glad I saved a spot for a new series. I think with such basic ambitions and such good titles, I might actually increase my reading pace enough to add a few extras, but those only get added once I’ve finished my lineup. I experimented with this system in August (after my TTT post was already live, unfortunately) and it worked tremendously, so I’m optimistic for it going forward. It also coincides with my newfound focus of digital minimalism, which I’m sure will play a factor in my reading pace as well. Things are lookin good! ^_^


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [60]: August 2020

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2020 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Physical Copies:

Audiobooks:

I didn’t get around to reading The Light of All That Falls last month even though it’s still high on my list. Ashes of the Sun took me almost three weeks to get through and by the time I finished I needed a break from high fantasy (so I picked up the new Hunger Games Prequel instead). Heading into August finds me with a few different priorities. I’ve been playing in my library at home and have decided to start including more of books I actually own in my TBR. Something about knowing they’re secure in my collection takes away the urgency I feel to get around to reading them. It’s odd. But hopefully I can start training my brain out of that thought process. I’m also doing my 1500 for 1 challenge again to help regulate how many new titles I’m bringing home. Overall, I’m feeling more like myself again. It took three months to dig out of my reading hole and I’m almost clear (two more titles to wrap up). Unconquerable Sun is my review obligation for the month and I’m hopeful it’ll be a good scifi novel. In any case, I have a nice balance of specfic genres here so I’m hoping it’ll be another great month of reading.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes