How Do I Maintain a TBR?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

The short answer to this questions is that I don’t do it very well! Finding a better way of organizing and staying on top of my TBR is something I have thinking about quite a bit lately. I am hoping that writing this post will inspire me in some way.

Do you maintain a TBR physically, online or both?

My physical TBR is vastly different than the one I keep online on Goodreads. I have a separate shelf that houses the books I own but haven’t read and it has been awhile since I have counted just how many books are on there. I don’t even want to know! I used to have no more than 10 unread books on my physical TBR, but that all changed when I started book blogging.

I just looked at my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf and there are over 1000 books on there! I am sure there are many that I am no longer interested in, so I really should take the time to go though it. Maybe I will write a few blogposts about why I am removing certain books from my TBR.

I know that a lot of readers have an “Owned” shelf on Goodreads and that is something I have been wanting to do as well. It seems like a good way of keeping on top of things.

How do you decide which books get to go on your TBR?

book GIF

Goodreads makes it so easy to add a book to my TBR that I really do not put a lot of thought into it. Book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers have the biggest influence on my TBR. A really glowing review will instantly make me add a book to my TBR.

My physical TBR is a different story. I am more picky about the books that I actually buy and a lot of it is influenced by deals that I come across. Books are very expensive here in Canada, so it is rare for me to buy one at full price. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks through Scribd and, so if I listen to a book I really loved I will try to hunt down a physical copy. I want my shelves to be a collection of my favourite books!

Do you ever “prune” your TBR to remove old books, how do you decide who stays and who goes?

I did this with my physical TBR recently and it was so freeing! I was also able to donate a lot of books to Little Free Libraries. It is so nice to look at that shelf and realize that I am excited about every single book.

As I mentioned previously, my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf is entirely different story. I haven’t gone through it in years. I hope to do that before the end of the year, so look out for a blog post about it!

How do you organize your TBR shelf? How many books are on it? Any tips?

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35 thoughts on “How Do I Maintain a TBR?

  1. During my time at university, I did not get to read any of the books on my TBR and I just kept mentally adding new books to it!😂 I mainly organize my TBR list by re-reading the synopses of older books and checking out reviews on them to make sure I am still interested in them. I also have a shelf of books that I have not yet read, but still need to… 😂 I am avoiding it also! Hahah.

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  2. Due to college, I couldn’t read the books I wanted many a times. So due to pandemic and staying at home, I could finish many of my physical books. Now I’m mindful of the fact what kind of books I really really want to read according to my choice of genre.🤭


  3. I write it down…then lose the notepad I wrote it down on. Then I create a physical stack, then that stack gets cleaned up or moved because it’s usually in the way. Then I just say screw it and pick up the book I want to read hahah. My goodreads is a mess. I even made a NEW goodreads so I could just start fresh and keep it organized but it quickly became chaotic because that WANT TO READ button is so easy! lol

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  4. I have an owned shelf on GoodReads, but for both that one and my want to read shelf I forget to add books so often.. The only thing that is really up to date is my currently reading haha! I often put something on currently reading and realize only then that the book was never on my want to read or owned shelf haha!

    My post!

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  5. My online TBR used to be out of control too until I had a massive clear-out earlier in the year. Now, it never goes above a hundred. My golden rule is that if it’s been on the list for more a year and I don’t have any solid plans to read it within the year (e.g. for a reading challenge), it has to go!

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  6. I’m definitely a poor organizer of such lists. I have an online list that I maintain at our public library. If I’m interested in a title, I often go there first. If I’m in no hurry to read it and they have it in their collection, it goes on my TBR list. I have one list on Amazon but that is a complete mish-mash, intermixed with book gift ideas for friends and family. I have a Goodreads TBR list. If I read a review and the book looks compelling, it often winds up there. And lastly, I have a couple of shelves in my house that holds books-to-be-read that have been given to me. These, I haven’t bothered to put on any list. So, you can see it’s a mess. Not sure I’ll ever find the time or motivation to get my TBR act together. Too much reading to do first.

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  7. I switched to all ebooks a few years ago so I only have a virtual shelf. I guess the size of it doesn’t bother me because I haven’t bought any of those books and I don’t need to look at them taking up space on a physical shelf. I think of my goodreads TBR as my possibility shelf that I shop from! Every once in a while I spot one I know I’ve lost interest in and delete it. Right now I have 171 on my GR want-to-read (possibility) shelf.
    I usually don’t buy an ebook unless I’m committed to reading it soon….so my kindle que is manageable.
    My biggest challenge with TBR is in the area of ARCs! I feel pressure to keep up and review them by pub day! I had to go on a Netgalley diet last year to get my % above 80. Now I’m very very careful!

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  8. Interesting! I also maintain my TBR on goodreads. Personally, I read the synopsis and then look at the cover and decide if I should make it one of my TBR:)

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  9. This was such an interesting post! I really need to go through my Goodreads as well, I think I have about 1200 books on my want to read shelf and I’m sure there are many on there I’m no longer interested in. I think I remember someone doing a post series where they went through 10 books on their Goodreads shelf each week and would talk about whether they kept it on/took it off and why, which seems like a really great idea and fun process to do!

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  10. I never want to go through my Goodreads TBR because that sounds like torture! But my physical TBR is pretty limited as I don’t get to buy many books as I’m a broke student 😦
    I also use Scribd and I read a lot of ebooks on it too! It’s honestly been a life changer for me since I started using it 2 months ago and it’s kind of made my physical TBR become overflowing since I haven’t really touched it and have been addicted to Scribd and all its shiny books!


  11. I’m the same as you – I add anything I like the look of to my Goodreads Want To Read shelf as a reminder to look it up, but I also keep a list on my blog of everything I own that is unread. It’s smaller but not by much – one of my main goals this year is to get it under 450 books, haha!


  12. I feel like I’m constantly culling my Goodreads Want to Read shelf, because if it isn’t in my physical TBR or on a list for the library or I’m not thinking about buying it, I need to rethink it. Over this last year, I got my list from like 900ish down to 700ish. I try to constantly be more mindful of books I go to add to my TBR.

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