Limiting our TBRs

As readers, we are constantly discovering new books. Sometimes people introduce them to us and other times we find them ourselves by sheer luck or through our own research. Either way, it’s a never-ending process of adding books to our mental, digital or written lists of books to read. The notorious TBRs.

I never gave much thought to what I added to my ‘to be read’ list on Goodreads until I saw someone on Twitter commenting they were ‘cleaning up’ theirs. That got me thinking in all the books I’ve added that I’m never really going to read, which are a nuisance when I’m looking for something that I actually want to pick up. So today I want to discuss if we should limit the books we add to our TBRs or if it’s better to add any book that calls to us, no matter how small the reason might be.

As I said before, I never really considered what I added to my TBR. If I heard a nice thing about a book and it sounded intriguing, I would add it. Then, when looking for the next book to read, I’d have no idea which books were actually worth it. I’d click on some and think to myself: “Why on Earth did I add this book?”. The thing is, as time goes by, our reading tastes change. A book you added to your TBR a few years ago might not interest you anymore because you’ve outgrown the theme or even the genre.

Other times we are even lying to ourselves. We say we are going to read something, maybe because it’s hyped and people recommend it a lot or because it is a classic, but deep down we know it’s not true! My theory is that we find comfort in having some books on our TBRs because they represent that we at least tried, that we gave them a chance.

“Have you read Jane Eyre?”
“Oh no, not yet, but it’s on my TBR, I’ll get to it eventually!” BAM! I feel an instant peace of mind as I award myself a mental gold star for knowing the book and having considered reading it at one point.

Joking aside, just knowing some books are on my ‘to be read’ list make me feel better, like I won’t forget them. But there are books that I know for sure I’m never picking up. Why do I keep those then? Well, because I hadn’t really considered ‘cleaning up’ my list before. I just ignored the mess I had created.

Now, as a little weekend project, I’ve decided to take off of my list all the books that I know I won’t read and to actually consider more carefully what I add to it. I think that by doing that, I will actually read more books that I’m truly interested in and enjoy, as opposed to reaching out for books that maybe someone recommended to me ages ago and don’t fit my reading style anymore.


  • I’m letting go of series I don’t want to finish.
  • I’m admiting I don’t have to read ALL the classics.
  • I’m saying goodbye to books with the same bored plot I’ve read time and time before. I enjoyed it once or twice before, but I don’t need to read it again.
  • I will stop giving some authors a second or third chance to prove themselves. If I didn’t like their writing by now, they’re not for me.
  • I’m cutting loose books I know I’ll never own (that is, not available as e-books or as printed copies in my country).

So now I want to hear your thoughts on this, what do you think it’s better? To have a list of books that you keep updated and know for sure that fits your reading style or a very diverse list comprised of recommendations and books with mildly interesting topics that might give you a pleasant surprise?

31 thoughts on “Limiting our TBRs

  1. My TBR is super duper small, because when I put a book on there I AM going to read it! Right now I have a classics TBR (25 books), because these are the classics that I own and NEED to read. I have a contemporary TBR (20 books) and these are the books that I WILL be reading soon, and then I have my “maybe” TBR (6 books), which are books that sound pretty interesting that I’d like to read if I ever get through my real TBR. And with that few of books I’m STILL overwhelmed! I don’t know how people have monstrous ones! So my point? Of course I’m going to agree with you and say that we should all have shorter TBRs 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s amazing. My TBR is 400+ books. Help hahah I can tell you it’s a mess and it doesn’t help at all when I have to pick up a book, so keep doing what you are doing! 😀

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  2. I think it’s handy to have a TBR, as I can’t remember all the books that I want to read and that I’ve had recommended to me, but I think you do need to do a bit of spring cleaning every now and then. I’d love to be able to read every book that I hear about, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and I’ve got other things I need to do like eat, sleep, and work. 🙂

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  3. I go on TBR cleansing every so often. Having like a million books in my TBR it’s just way too stressful for me haha I have around 260 books in TBR right now and it feels like a lot. 4 years ago I used to add anything that sounded mildly interesting, but now I only add books I know I will get to. I know some people add them just in case.

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    1. I have over 400 and I think it’s way too much because probably 100 of those are books I don’t want to read anymore. I’ll feel so much lighter when I finally take them out. I’m honestly excited for that moment?? I’m such a weirdo haha

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  4. Great post, Esther! Very thought-provoking.
    I agree with you 100%.
    When I first signed up for goodreads, It was just when I started to read in English (instead of my native language). My 15 years old self was so amazed with all the HUGE selection of books out there, lying all around, that she just added and added and added many books to the TBR.
    Some of then, I read. Some of them, I lost interest in or tried and discovered they weren’t for me. And some of them I had to let go because I couldn’t get them on my kindle and couldn’t afford buying then online.
    These days, I’m so much more organized when it comes to my TBR and the books I read.
    Honestly, before I even consider putting a certain book on my TBR, I do a thorough check of the author, the book and the reviews. Unless, of course, it’s an auto buy author – that’s another case completely (:
    Why do I do that? I think it’s because I don’t want to be disappointed with the books I pick up.

    LOL, have you read my mind? I have so many of those books I’m just lying to myself and others I’m going to read eventually. Someday. And I find they tend to be by famous authors\overly hyped books.
    Whenever someone mentions them, I’m immediately all: “Oh, of course I’m going to read this book! Its been on my TBR for forever now. I’m deffinitely going to pick it up soon.”
    But deep down I just know I never will.

    Having books on your TBR is *very* comforting. It gives you a sense of security. Because you just know that if you ever find yourself with nothing to read or simply in a bad mood, you have “those books” lying around. You don’t even need to read them for it to make you feel better.

    I feel like there is just so much to say about this topic.
    Just like our TBR, it’s an endless one 😉

    But alas, as much as I love writing, even I have my limits. I tend to overthink things to the point I don’t know what to say anymore. Like now, A horrible habit.

    Great discussion post and beautifully written as always, Esther 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh Zoey thank you, you’re the nicest. I couldn’t put it into the right words, but you did: it gives us a sense of security! If all else fails, they are our plan B.
      I think when we all join Goodreads we are amazed at how cool it is to have a vitual bookshelf and go crazy filling it up haha I have to clean the mess I did in 2012 when I first joined. All the books I added that I’ll never read are so annoying to see!
      Thank you so much for joining in, I love hearing what you have to say always ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always check my TBR list from time to time and remove the books I’ve outgrown. I’ve owned my Goodreads account since years ago so there were tons of books before that I’ve added on my TBR shelf that I’m sure I wouldn’t want to read much anymore now that I’ve grown older. 🙂 Other than “outgrown books,” though, I don’t remove anything else. Because I’m either still interested on the books I didn’t remove on my shelf or I’m still neutral on whether or not I should still read it. xD Cleaning is hard, my friend. Even virtually. Great post, Esther!

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    1. Thank you! I joined Goodreads in 2012 and apparently I decided to read ALL of the classics, I have to take some out because I’m clearly not interested in many of them. And uugh I know, I can’t believe we have to clean online too haha but it’s necessary 😛


  6. Cleaning up your TBR list is a great idea! Unfortunately for me, my TBR list is in the form of over 1000 books on my kindle app…a bit harder to clean up, admittedly. Nonetheless, it’s still a great idea. Like you said, our tastes change. Sometimes I”ll be scrolling for a book on my kindle app and I’ll click on a cover that looks great, read the synopsis, and think “Since when did I think this was something I would enjoy?” Granted, I have some books I downloaded since maybe January of 2015, so my tastes have definitely changed since then. Maybe one day I’ll clean it out… Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂
      Ohh that must be annoying haha Thankfully I usually only get the book when I’m about to read it, so my Kindle is clean. My Goodreads account is the problem 😛
      It’s funny how a year can change our reading style. We never notice until we check our TBRs!

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  7. I pretty much add everything that even remotely interests me but at the same time, every six months or so I clean up my TBR and get rid of all the books I’m not going to read. I try to really force myself and evaluate if I’m really gonna get to some books but sometimes it takes me awhile to really be honest and kick some books off, it’s usually those that are super hyped. But at the same time, I don’t think I should limit my TBR (I have over 1500 books on it) I’m okay with having limitless possibilities when making my monthly TBRs, and since I do themed months it’s a lot easier when choosing from one category

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    1. Omg 1500+ books! I have 400+ and I thought it was a lot haha
      That’s a nice way to see it! I’ve never cleaned mine up, so it’s truly a mess. If I did that and added books more carefully, I could have 1500+ books like you, but that I know are worth it. Thanks for joining in! I love hearing what people do with their TBRs 😀

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  8. I like your decision to not give some authors second or third chance to prove themselves.
    I actually made a similar decision. I’ll read one book and if it was just okay I’ll read one more. But if it was written too descriptive ( that’s the writing style I don’t like), I’ll give up on that author.
    Instead, I want to try new authors, especially debut ones that still need support bc they don’t have fan base.
    This year because of that I discovered two amazing authors and gave chance to some really good ones so I am happy with my decision.

    And as for tbr list, ohh, I’ll have to be honest with myself and delete some dystopians from there bc I really don’t read that genre anymore.
    And I’ll have to see if there’s any book with aliens there so I couldn delete it as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I gave an author three chances because of the hype and two of them were sooo disappointing. I can’t bear to read another ‘meh’ book when it’s clear it’s not for me. It’s fantastic that by doing that you found authors that are a match for you!
      Same here with the dystopians. I think I won’t pick many of those anymore, I’ll have to let them go.
      Thanks for joining in and I’m glad you relate to some things I said 🙂


  9. PREACH! I totally relate to all the things you mentioned! My Goodreads tbr is so long, and I have deleted things from it that I don’t even remember adding. I should take some time to actually go through and trim it down, because I am totally guilty of all the things you said lol. It’s hard for me to let go of the ones I feel like I should read, but probably never will is all reality (Ulysses?? Hmm…) Great post!

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  10. Fantastic post, Esther 😊

    I am so bad when it comes to adding things to my TBR on Goodreads so it’s actual insanity. I’ve had my Goodreads account since 2010 and at the start I just went crazy and was like LET’S ADD ALL THE BOOKS. I’ve recently started going through a massive clean up though, but then it’s like the books I remove I just end up adding new ones 😂 I have the world’s worst memory too so I use Goodreads as a way to make note of books I find interesting and then I’ll go back later and decide whether I want to read them. Admitedly, since I’ve started blogging I’ve become a lot stricter in what I want to read and I have a higher priority TBR, but then I’m also extremely indecisive and curious so I just want to read everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lauren! 🙂
      Hahah that’s me right there! I have yet to clean my TBR, but I’ll do it this weekend. Wish me luck, because I know I’ll probably end up adding books instead of taking books out :’)


  11. “I’m admiting I don’t have to read ALL the classics.” God, same. When I was in college, I felt SO pressured to read all the greatest classics, but now I’m only keeping the ones that really interest me.

    My Goodreads to-read shelf is actually not for books I really WANT to read, but more like the books I’d like to check again sometime. So I’m definitely one of those people who are constantly cleaning up their lists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what my Goodreads to-read list became, I tried cleaning it up but it always end up with books that I don’t want to read after a few months 😛 Our reading tastes change so much without us noticing!
      As for classics, I’m glad you could relate! College does that to a lot of us, then. So bad haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s weird. I’m actually thinking of not cleaning up my to-read shelf just so it could become a good representation of how my taste changes over the years haha.

        Lol I think it has a lot to do with meeting lots of literary snobs there. Well, in my case, at least.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yesss, they have a weird influence around them. It’s in their air of superiority, it makes you feel that pressure to become a snob yourself 😛
        That to-read shelf experiment sounds really interesting, can you imagine actually keeping it the same for 5 years and then look back at it? It would be amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yas, I’m actually very excited! I just created a new goodreads account, so let’s see what’ll happen in five years time, haha.

        Ugh I’ve been one of them at one time, and I am so ashamed at that phase of my life haha.

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