Bookfessional: Mt. TBR

Posted April 14, 2017 by Jessica in Bookfessional, Jessica / 19 Comments

Bookfessional: To be read . . .


It’s so common a concept amongst avid readers that breaking down the acronym was probably unnecessary.


There are as many ways of categorizing and organizing a TBR list/pile/MOUNTAIN/etc. as there are individuals who keep one.

I’m pretty sure I fall on the ridiculous end of the size spectrum, a feeling that’s reinforced every time one of my blogger and/or Goodreads friends posts something about getting their TBR down to 40 books or how their New Year’s resolution is to read their TBR.


I have thousands of books on my TBR.


And it grows every day. I have zero hope of ever reading Mt. TBR in its entirety. Even the idea of maintaining a TBR with an end goal in mind is baffling to me.

You: Then what do you use it for?

Me: Trying—yes, trying—to keep some kind of hard copy of all the books I would like to read should an opportunity present itself.

I have subcategories of TBR shelves on Goodreads.

When there are, at last count (which, sadly, is months out of date), 2103 on your “books-i-own-but-haven’t-read-yet bookshelf alone, subcategories are required if you hope to maintain even the semblance of order.


Truthfully, most of the books added to Mt. TBR get lost by the wayside. Periodically, I’ll have a hardcore OCD moment and scan the pages and pages of books, looking for any that slipped through the cracks, the books that I’m interested in enough to reasonably think I might one day actually read, and those get added to the shortlist. But the rate at which the shortlist grows in comparison to those removed, marked as “read,” makes the goal of eventual completion as unlikely as it is for the comprehensive list.


How do I prioritize?

A couple of different ways.

1. New installments of ongoing series.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Most of the time, I’ll read these before the next installment is released, but sometimes, for various reasons, enough time passes that I’m closer to getting the new book than I am to the release of the current one, and I’ll double up.


Many are the series that I’ve started but have languished indefinitely. These are a few that I’ve been better about keeping up with:

2. Final installments of ongoing series.

I’ve mentioned several times my somewhat bewildering reluctance to finish a series I’ve read from the first installment up to (but rarely through) the end.

If I don’t finish it, it’s not really over. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s my neurosis, not yours. #getyourown

I do usually finish them. Eventually. So these books are the closest thing I have to a one-day-i-absolutely-will-read-this-book list.

Right now several of the books topping this sub-mountain are:

3. Those rare books that for some reason really got their hooks in me.

These books are the most fluid in their prioritization. Most of them are already a lower priority than the books from series I’m already invested in, so they can hang out for years. Until one of the aforementioned OCD moments hits and I downsize.

When it’s been years, or even just a year, it’s hard to remember what put the book in question on the shortlist to begin with, and if in the between times, it’s received a multitude of bad reviews from readers I trust, it gets bumped. #themsthebreaks

The top of this list looks like:

What about you? What does your TBR look like? Is finishing it a realistic goal?

Jessica Signature

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.



19 responses to “Bookfessional: Mt. TBR

  1. I do not have nearly the count that you do, but I don’t think I will ever get to the bottom of mine. PLUS, I have NO organization on my shelf. To make it worse, a lot of them were imported from my kindle when GR did that import thing, and I have no idea what half the book on my shelf are. I downloaded them for some reason, obviously freebies, but have no idea what they are about or why I would want to read them. I need to organize that tbr, so I know where to look for things. Then maybe I could investigate what I have.

    • I was super organized once upon a time, but the last year I’ve been super slack. I’m okay as far as traditionally published books go, but the freebies and indies . . . I don’t know if I’ll ever get them back under control.

  2. I stopped adding them to Goodreads because it would be never ending. But if I just go by books sent to me for review that I was interested in but haven’t got around to yet I am already looking at over 100 books. Then, like you, I have series I want to catch up on, series I want to start, rereads I have been looking foward to.

    So when it is all said and done I go with ‘what sounds good to me RIGHT THIS SECOND’ and I read it without regrets!
    Nathan recently posted…Non-Fiction Review: ‘ Baking Powder Wars’ by Linda Civitello

  3. I hear ya. I get a bit overwhelmed when I look at my TBR list on goodreads, my actual “owned” TBR list, not just books I want to read. I spent a couple weekends just going through my GR list, reading the synopsis and deleting books from my ereader that no longer interested me. As for physical books, that one was easy… and oh so hard. We moved this past summer and I wound up running out of boxes for my books. So, I got rid of a lot. It took all I had to not go back to the thrift store and buy them all back but it had to be done. Now I just try to limit the books I purchase and take on for review. I still have a huge TBR list but it’s nowhere near what it had been last year.
    Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) recently posted…Review: Shattered Pack by Aileen Erin

  4. My list isn’t quite as long as yours, but I’ve gotten to the category stage. And yes, I have a books to read sooner rather than later list too.

    My owned but haven’t read books is up to 259, which I thought was terrible, so I’m glad yours is longer.

    I also don’t like to send series! I have several that I’m just not read to end yet!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…I’m still here!

  5. Dang…lol My tbr pile isn’t that big because I usually read most of the books I get my hands on. Now there are a few on my bookshelf and now I have a few on my Kindle but I do get through them in a couple of months. It’s funny because I just started reading a new series and realized I had one book on my bookshelf and one on my Kindle when I started looking.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Freebie Friday!

  6. Well my TBR pile is a MT. I have just over 1,200 on my list to read. That doesn’t include series books. I use to add all the books in a series, but stoped now I just add the first book and if I finish that first book, liked it, then I add the next in the series. One way of trying to keep my list down.

    I’ve also got three stacks of paperbacks sitting at home on my desk, one from the library, another of books I bought, and the last books I’ve won. All are books I still haven’t read.

    As for every finishing I don’t think it’s realistic, but having the list and stacks helps me keep some kind of organization.
    Angela recently posted…Review: The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire (Half-Moon Hollow #3) by Molly Harper

  7. I resemble this post. I do have THOUSANDS but I have an organization system. You can read about it next Monday at the Book Nympho if you are interested. BUT did you know that the Goodreads shelves can be combined for searching? What I mean it’s like a Venn diagram, since I have shelves for both 2017 and library. I can select both shelves and get the intersection. I have 53 books read on my 2017 shelf, and 401 books on the library shelf. The intersection of this is the 11 library books I’ve read in 2017. You go into My Books select 2017 and then at the bottom of your shelves you can add multiple and then I select library. I have a 3 shelf funnel to help me prioritize my TBR. My freebies are all shelved as kfree and also by genre, so I can pick by genre for my Thrifty Thursday post monthly. So I read at least 12 Kindle freebies a year. lol Anne
    Northwoman recently posted…Thrifty Thursday: The Clue by Carolyn Wells

  8. Are you me? That sounds like exactly like my TBR mountain. Except more organized.

    I’m pretty sure I have at least 2000 books on my Kindle alone waiting to be read.


  9. Aurian  

    O Jessica, we are kindred spirits! I do have over 5.000 paper books that still need to be read. And yes, I keep buying more and more. I don’t keep lists of what to read. I do have a list of all the books I own, and a list of the books I have read. But my stash is easy: everything still unread is on my livingroom shelves. Yes, they are huge. Everything read, except some absolutely favourite authors, is in my upstairs library, formerly known as spare bedroom. And the attic. I do try to keep it a bit alphabetized, but usually new books from series I love end up read first.
    Will I ever read them all? I don’t think so. Perhaps when I don’t have a day job anymore.

  10. I have a TBR pile that feels daunting. It’s spread between three shelves on my goodreads app. I have my books to read that are not for review (112), my review ASAP pile (17) and my review catchup pile (88). The catchup pile is older ARCs that I never read yet skin I’m attempting to clean it up and not accept too many new review books. And my pile of 112 books is smaller than it was as I did a huge purge recently. It’s overwhelming. I’m trying to limit my purchases and saying yes to more ARCs. J also have a wishlist that is ever changing and is currently at 58 books. I also have a wishlist for my daughter of 9 and a TBR pile for her of 50. She owns a ton of books as well.

    So though I don’t have thousands on my piles, it is still scary to look at.
    Chrystal recently posted…Author Sally Christie`s Reading List | Guest Post | #TimelessTour @SimonSchusterCA

  11. Karin Anderson  

    OMG! I’m not alone in the world. 😀 I have an Excel Library (not just a spreadsheet…a library) for my books. I haven’t updated it as religiously as I usually do, so several are missing, but this is my current count (physical books only): 1596.

  12. Wendy Fraser

    This so spoke to me! I have a huge number of books I own which I haven’t read. Currently I own around 2,600 books – 90% of which I haven’t read! I have 13 (yes 13) bookcases full of books which are double-stacked. I also am manager of a medium sized public library…. so the problem is real. I tend to purchase whole series even when I haven’t started them. The other thing I do is read the first in the series, buy the rest and then never bloody read them! Terrible. I have this thing about reading endings – I don’t. I am a prolific romance reader so that ending better be happy, if I feel slightly uneasy about whether it is…then I don’t read it OR I just simply don’t want to say goodbye to the characters. I am also a huge re-reader, so when I feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of (awesome) books I want to read – I pick up an old favourite. Does not help me get through the Mt. TBR at all – then there is the fact that working in a library I want to read all the books!

    I love my books, but sometimes it is rather overwhelming. Nevertheless – I continue to buy more than I read 🙂

  13. Hi, Jessica! I’ve actually posted a discussion about tbr-list too. My tbr-pile is huge, and I don’t think finishing it is a realistic goal. I have similar approach; I have subcategories of tbr shelves on Goodreads. As a mood reader I just pick up whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment.
    Ksenia recently posted…My never-ending tbr-list