How to master your TBR pile (well… try to)

I feel like I am a strange creature in the book blogging community, because somehow, by some magical powers invested in me or something, I have my TBR pile under control.

I know, sometimes I also feel like I’m living in Narnia or something.

While other book bloggers and massive readers scream about the heavy, endless pile of unread books sitting on their shelves, waiting on their e-readers to be read and sweating profusely about everything, wondering how the hell they will read everything, I currently have 4 books to-be-read. 4. (Let’s be clear, I am not talking about my TBR on Goodreads. It is VIRTUAL AND IT DOES NOT COUNT okay. Does it make me panic because I want to read and get so many books? YES. Still it doesn’t count okay.)

Somehow, because of that, I (probably wrongly) feel that I have my TBR pile under control and therefore, am sort of qualified to give some advice in that area and help you do the very same thing. Let’s face it, I’m just as lost as you are, but still, here’s how I (kind of) manage to control my TBR pile.

Me with myself, a mood.

πŸ“š Read all of your books (for the most part) before getting new books

I realize how crazy that will sound for most of you, mood readers, people taking advantages of book sales, random trips to the bookshop and not being able to resist the beautiful books and so on. I think that’s one of the only times where I feel sort of fortunate not to have a library or a bookshop close-by with the books I want to read – this way, I avoid all the temptations.

I currently have 4 books to read, books that are at my disposal – two physical copies and two on my e-reader. I will NOT get new books until I read two of these. Okay, I will try. But I’m restricting myself this way, I’m sort-of-keeping things under control. If I listened to my inner voice, I’d buy the 20 books I have on my wishlist over on Book Depository right now.

πŸ› Don’t buy too many books – or take too many books at the library

When I have the delicious freedom and budget to get some new books (since I don’t have a library #internationabloggerstruggles), I am literally not allowed to get over 5 or 6 books, and that would already be a whole lot for me. First of all, because well, even if I am thankful to be able to buy 5 or 6 books at a time, sometimes, I need to keep this budget under control and NOT go crazy. Or try. Also… if I add so many books to my TBR at a time, well…. I will probably panic afterwards?!

πŸ’» Don’t go crazy with ARCs requests

I find it really easy to click on every little book that sounds really appealing, when I am spending time over on NetGalley. Even if they are on “wish for it” all the freaking time (#internationalbloggerstruggles), it is way too easy to ask for new books that way and, let’s face it, kind of thrilling.

But what happens when or if you magically get approved for everything?!

Whenever I am spending time over on these kind of websites, I read the synopsis attentively. I take a look at my Netgalley ratio and the books I haven’t read just yet. I also take a look at the publication date: is it close? Won’t that stress me out too much if I request it and get approved? Are there other books or ARCs that I need to review on a closer date?

See, thing is, I like to review my ARCs on a timely manner – not because I am a control freak (inner voice: YOU ARE), but because, well, it stresses me out otherwise and I just like to do this as best as I can. When I have to many books due at the same time, I PANIC. And let’s face it, I am NOT here for that.

πŸ™‰ Don’t listen to your bookworm’s impulses

This is probably the hardest advice to follow – I struggle with it the most. There are days when I’m adding books to my basket almost compulsively, then I hear my inner wisdom voice (that’s probably my sister tbh) telling me “do NOT get these books. You STILL have books to read. Read at least ONE, then you can get a new one.” Even when I’m like this:

Let’s be honest here, my sister’s telling me this, because she reads everything that I buy, I am a faster reader than she is and HER current TBR pile is INSANE. I think she hates me. (Hello. Yes, I love you too)

πŸ“ Add books to your TBR pile on Goodreads, on your wishlist, in your bullet journal…add them virtually.

Really, it’s all about self-control. I want a book, I add it on Goodreads, I add it on my wishlist, I scream about it for about 2922715 hours. I have been screaming about wanting “THE BOOK WITH THE BIRD” for approximately a month, seven hours and eighteen seconds. I haven’t even bought it just yet. RESISTING IS HARD but I am doing this. Also it’s probably next, once I’ve read two books on my TBR pile. It’s waiting on my wishlist and I am EXCITED.

If you manage to do all this, you’re great. Or slightly crazy, just like me. Now go get yourself a book to celebrate.

Once you’ve read one of your books on your TBR pile! As a reward. We do love rewards after all.

Yes so that probably made me feel like a control freak, but I am very happy with my process and not at all frustrated (for real!), just thought I’d put that out there.

Do YOU keep your TBR under control? What are some of your tips and tricks to do so?

Can you read the books you own, or can’t you resist getting new ones?

Do you tend to go crazy with your bookworm impulses and ARCs requests and get a gazillion books at once… only to regret it afterwards?! Let me know your thoughts in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

196 thoughts on “How to master your TBR pile (well… try to)

  1. Hello Marie!!
    I love these tips so much! And that is so awesome that you got your TBR under control πŸ˜€ Just 4 books to read on your bookshelf- that is amazing!
    Unfortunately my TBR is much less under control! I try to avoid the library, bookstores and second-hand book stores now by telling myself that I already have enough books to read. My weakness is that I can easily borrow ebooks/audiobooks from my library using a phone app. Because of this, I am always tempted to read a new book that catches my attention rather than an existing one that I own. It is awesomely convenient, however, the downside is that more than half of my bookshelf is still unread :’)
    My goal for these few months is to read those unread books! I am doing well this month I think (4 of the books I read are already on my shelf πŸ™‚ )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh I get that so much haha, I have the “chance” of not having a library, so less temptations, but… ordering books online and especially e-books, that’s way too easy to do and you get the books right away. I need to control myself often not to get tons of books hahaha.
      YAY, so glad you’re doing great with your unread books so far, I hope you’re enjoying them πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much,Sophie! πŸ™‚ x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes ordering online is so tempting! I had a phase where I bought ebooks online a lot and ended up spending a lot of money since I didn’t realize how quickly it all adds up. Thankfully I learned to control myself there! Yes I am enjoying the books on my shelf now! Most of them are older books (since I bought them from second hand stores) but they are very worthwhile reads.


  2. OMG! I seriously had myself a giggle over this cause I am the WORSE at compulsive book buying & requesting! it’s terrible, so much so that for the month of May I have set myself up to read 7 of my Netgalley arcs & that will make a small dent in the stack *sobs* I’m aiming to living a life more like yours lol, I can do w/o the night terrors πŸ™‚

    Great post as always Marie! ❀ ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha, well…. think of it this way, at least, you can never run out of books to read and you have TONS of possibilities for your next read πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much, Lilly!! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for all the great tips Marie. I struggle with my TBR and I hadn’t in the past. When I discovered Book Tube I went on a crazy buying binge for the past few years. Before, I would purchase one book, read it, and then purchase another. I’ve started a self imposed book buying ban until July, and I have found that I’m gathering more books from the library.. old habits. Yes I do need to practice self-control.

    I also agree with you that the TBR on Goodreads, is just virtual and does not count.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’re so welcome, I’m really happy if this could be useful πŸ™‚
      It’s so easy to get sucked into the… Endless book spiral haha. There are so many books everywhere, everyone is talking about one book or another and… we can’t help but want everything and forget that we can’t read it all in the blink of an eye haha.
      I hope these will work out for you! Thank you so much for your comment πŸ˜€


  4. It’s so, so hard for me not to feature every post you write like this Marie… because its so relatable. Love the idea to keep your TBR virtual. That is pretty much what I do I realize after reading this! I don’t have books to read lying about and I routinely take books back to the library if I don’t think I’ll get to them after all. ARCs I have pulled back on and only request if I really want to read it or if I was denied for a book (because what else combats such sadness except for another book?!) Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awwwww Dani, you’re so sweet thank you so, so much for your comment ❀ ❀
      I think it's so good to know what makes us feel pressured and to just, try and do our best to get rid of that. Reading and having massive TBRs should make us happy and if it doesn't, we should just try to reduce the TBR so it doesn't feel as daunting haha.


  5. While I think all of your points is really good advice, I really don’t see myself following any of them πŸ˜€
    I’m a book hoarder. And I’ve been to a lot of different book signings. My first RT (Romantic Times) convention, I brought 97 books home with me… the year after, I went to BEA in Chicago, and came home with over 100 books. So yeah, there’s just no way I’ll get my TBR under control – but I actually don’t fret too much over that. It’s nice to have so many books to choose from. And it doesn’t seem like any publishers get upset with my mood-reading – the keep accepting my ARC requests πŸ˜€
    I’m really glad you have things under control, as this also means you’ll soon be able to add some more books to your TBR shelf πŸ˜€ That’s always a pleasure, no?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 100 BOOKS??? Okay…. quick question, how did you manage to carry all of these books?! I am amazed haha.
      I get it, if it would stress me out, I admit that having so many possibilities of what to read next is also pretty cool – and you’re so lucky about the ARCs πŸ˜› As long as it doesn’t stress you out, but makes you happy, that’s what matters πŸ˜€
      Oh yes, I’m always eager to add some more books to my TBR πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀


  6. Such great advice! I’m currently trying to read the books I own instead of library books and it’s sooooo hardddddd. This is all such sensible advice! My current strategy (which so bad for a book blogger) is to not have the time for reading or reading posts that get me excited about too many books. I did preorder something for the first time though and it’s coming in the next few days and I AM SO EXCITED!!! This was an A++ post ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh it’s not so bad ahah, I get that – I know that sometimes I really need to avoid some blog posts or just close my eyes haha, otherwise I’d be tempted by too many books and life becomes IMPOSSIBLE haha.
      OH YAY that’s amazing, what is the book you pre-ordered?! πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much, Shar!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tend to think of my Goodreads TBR pile as opposed to my real one because, while I do buy a fair number of books, most of the ones that I haven’t read are ones that I didn’t make the decision to buy myself. Most of the books I’m not sure I’ll get to, I get from the library. Due dates keep them from piling up, but recognize this isn’t an option for everyone.

    I tend to read all the books I’ve bought, or at least, try to read them. The ones someone else bought for me, though, can sit on the shelves untouched for years. . .


    1. Having a great library really must be amazing – with the due dates, they don’t pile up as much as other books, for sure, and the books you’re not sure you’ll enjoy, you can get them from the library as well, so that’ fantastic πŸ™‚
      OH I hope that you don’t have that many untouched books…. you can always trade them if you’re really not interested, haha. πŸ™‚
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think the library is going to be one of the first things I look into whenever I move somewhere and will play a roll in where I decide to live πŸ˜‰

        I’ve never thought of that, good idea!

        You’re welcome ❀


    1. Haha I get that – once we start blogging, our TBRs can very easily explode. I’m one of these people getting very stressed out when I have a massive physical – or e-books – TBR waiting for me, I’d rather keep it small and work my way through it before getting new books. Some people, however, like having all the possibilities and bigger TBRs, so that’s good too, that’s a good way to see things, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, you have so much to choose from πŸ˜€


  8. Wow! That is incredible! I have 3000+ books on my Kindle so I don’t think there is ever going to be a time when I will be as caught up as you are. My physical TBR is better but I still have a ginormous bookshelf that I need to get reading. Part of me wants to have a Beauty and the Beast type library just because I don’t ever EVER want to run out of reading material. Great self-control, though!


    1. OH MY HOW???? I don’t know how you do it, I would be SO stressed out πŸ˜‚ but I admire that so much, that you’re feeling okay with it – I hope you are?! At least, yes, like you said, you’re never running out of reading material and that’ pretty amazing, too, so much to choose from πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Megan πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like I have my own personal library that I can borrow books from any minute of any day πŸ™‚ Yes, I will probably never read them all, but I guess that just means my kids will have their own personal library when they inherit my stash lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m trying to do to the same right now, but I need to shceudle my time better and actually read more. Right now I’m on a “tem,porary book ban” meaning that I purchase two books every six I read. And sometimes I purchase books that I’ve already read but I wanted them in a physical copy. Or if I’ve spend my monmey on other stuff, I simply skip the purchase.
    And is kinda working. For sure it also helped me notice a lot of books that I’d, still to read, and… that I didn’t want them anymore. I made a lot of space on my shelves πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s such an amazing strategy! I kind of have the same one, I can buy books whenever I have read a certain amount of my books and it’s great – always more to read, but still keeping control of it all in a way πŸ˜€ I’m glad it’s working out well for you πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Camilla! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am like this too, I try not to buy too many books and have piles and piles of unread books in my life. The thought stresses me out. I think the only thing I struggle with is getting too many books out of the library because I can just return them if I don’t get round to them. Self control is key!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, well, some people are perfectly okay with huge TBRs haha, I know it tend to stress me out, but if it doesn’t for you… you’re all good haha πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much!! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes yes yes! This is more or less everything I believe when it comes to my TBR. (In fact, I have a TBR-related post similar to this one scheduled for late May…) I don’t believe in Goodreads as a TBR you should be counting either. It just drives people crazy. So, that’s my biggest tip: Don’t count lists of books to read as your “To Be Read” list. It might be your “To Read” list, yes. Thanks to English this looks like the same word. BUT ITS NOT. One is a wish list and one is a to do list. Focus on the to do list and you’ll be much more in control. πŸ˜€

    I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone in this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh YAY I’m so glad you could relate to this, Jackie! πŸ˜€ Agree, we need to focus on the books we have at hand and just forget about the wish list for a little while, that helps haha πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much! πŸ˜€


  12. Well I mean my TBR physically isn’t too bad. I don’t read ARCs or have Netgalley as I’m not a fan of eBooks – it’s just personal preference. So I own a fair amount of books. I have around 70 books I’d guess now that I need to read.

    Ironically I enjoy rereading books too which doesn’t help xD I also don’t buy books online really…it’s only when I’m in town at college that I hear the bookshops calling me haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, well 70 books that’s still a whole lot for me πŸ˜‚ I think it’s great that you’re not into e-books, there are less possibilities and less temptations that way? πŸ˜‚ But, when you have great bookshops, I guess it’s almost impossible to resist, I know I couldn’t, haha.
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Okay but first of all: YOU ARE A MAGICAL AND WONDERFUL CREATURE. I applaud you! And then second of alll….I can’t do this.πŸ˜‚I just, nope. Hahaha. I am terrible about collecting books, and even if I DO exercise self-control, I get sent a bunch from publishers anyway. So I figure I might as well just actively add to the problem and be squashed by my TBR pile and die happy I guess. Netgalley and Edelweiss are doing their best to help out my TBR problems by denying me everything at the moment though…so I should thank them?!πŸ˜‚But seriously, I have so many books to read right now…*drowns*

    But I LOVED your tips and they’re so sensible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww you’re way too sweet Cait, I’m trying, self-control is so hard though, haha. You’re so lucky that you get so much books without asking, though, I mean, all the choice you get, it’s hard to pick what you can read next haha, but also it has to be good, having so much to choose from πŸ˜€
      Thank you so, so much Cait, this means a whole lot that you enjoyed this ❀ ❀


  14. Wow you do sound like you have your TBR under control! So impressive!! I think one of my biggest issues is having self control when I go to the library. I do think I have good self control when it comes to ARCs though (I generally only allow myself to request one for every month) Anyway great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, it’s amazing that you have this self-control for ARCs, too πŸ˜€ I understand your struggles with the library though, if I had a library I would have the HARDEST time not getting all the books hahaha.
      Thank you so much!! ❀


  15. This is such a great post! I’m a HUGE control freak when it comes to my TBR. My Goodreads TBR currently counts 26 books divided over two shelves and quite a lot of future releases which I don’t really count as A TBR because a lot of times I still remove half the books if I lose interest. My “owned but not read” shelf only has 3 books at the moment!

    I get super stressed and sometimes even anxious when I own too many unread books or when my Goodreads shelves are a mess so I’m always organising it and making sure it’s somewhat in order. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much for your sweet comment, Ayla! ❀
      I love your organization skills, my goodreads TBR is a bit of a mess πŸ™ˆ but I'm just like you when it comes to physical copies or books owned, I prefer keeping the pile down, otherwise it stresses me out haha.
      Thank you so much!! ❀


  16. The fact that you said a goodreads TBR doesn’t count has given me a bit of my sanity back. While I do have a decent amount of books I own that I need to read, my Goodreads list is never ending because that’s where I add everything. I agree with so many of these points though! I’ve started to tell myself that I can’t purchase anymore books until I finish one. (Finish one, buy one. That kind of thing.) The exception for this being auto-buy authors and series I’m reading because I know I’ll finish it. It breaks my heart that you don’t live near a library though. πŸ˜₯ I also work at one, so I’m a little biased, hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I would never count my goodreads TBR, even if it’s not 1000 books-long (yet…), it still feels way too overwhelming at times, so I’d rather not count it, at all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      I think that’s such a good strategy, I’m also trying to do that, too. I hate having a big pile of unread books, it makes me feel so sad!
      Oh it’s so, so cool that you work at a library, that’s awesome!! πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❀


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