Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: To Be Read (TBR) Lists

Chitter Chatter

I’ve been thinking about TBR lists for a while and decided to create a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics and which I can kick off with a TBR list discussion.


Some of you may recall that in my previous post, I mentioned my approach to owning things is in line with a philosophy of minimalism, I talked about mindful consumerism and how I’m trying not to feel owned by the things I own.

What I noticed whilst I was writing that post was that being owned by things may actually not mean only physical things. I think we could end up being owned by things that don’t physically exist or rather by certain expectations.

Closer to the end of last year, I started feeling uncomfortable about my TBR list.

Just looking at it started causing me anxiety. I felt like I could possibly never ever finish reading all of those books on that list. Rather than making me inspired and bringing me joy, my list became this dark and looming presence that screamed at me: “read faster, read more, keep up, you should add more books – you may be missing out”. I started that list when I joined GoodReads in 2012. And it grew since then. It grew much faster than what my reading pace was.

I started going through it in greater detail early this year and did not understand why some of those books actually made my list. It may have been a fear of missing out, it may have been an excellent review or a friend’s recommendation… or simply, my reading taste and preferences have just changed.

The list, with over 400 books on it, had to be minimised so I could feel I was in charge again.

I started deleting books one by one and it was a tedious process. And then I just could not be bothered anymore, took a deep breath and deleted it. Yes, very dramatic, I know. 🙂

I admit it was a radical solution and probably may not be for everyone. I reasoned with myself that if a book is meant to be then it would find me. I also rationalised that the amount of anxiety it would cost me to filter through that list, as I would end up obsessing for a long time if a particular book should go or stay, was just not worth it. It seemed like a sensible solution at the time.

Side note: I wonder sometimes if I accidentally deleted ‘The Book’… but at the same time, I got rid of that anxiety and that made it worth it overall.

What can you do if you feel like your TBR list is getting out of hand?

You could try following suggestions but ultimately, it is all an individual choice.

  • If you like a balanced approach, you could start with spring cleaning. We are now in the midst of spring so why not to prune your list a little via starting with your oldest titles (from the date you added them) and asking yourself – do I still want to read this book?

There are some great blog posts out there that talk about TBR lists’ spring cleaning.

One of my favourite ones has recently been written at The Orangutan Librarian’s blog  And if you don’t know that blog, I wholeheartedly recommend it for its wonderful posts. 🙂

  • You could also create several TBR lists.
    • You could create a short term TBR list, where books you want to read in the near future can wait.
    • Then you could have a mid term TBR list, where books you want to read in the next year or so can live.
    • And then there could be the one day TBR list. You know that day, when you will have lots of time and no work to do. 🙂

You could move books around these lists. Let’s say your short term list is ‘to read in the next three months’. If a book stays there longer than those three months, you could move it to the mid term list or even the one day list as it may just be something you are currently not keen to dive into.

And vice versa. Your one day book may become your short term book if it all of sudden starts appealing to you and you want to read it now. You could also put an arbitrary number on how many books you want to keep in those first two lists that is in line with your reading pace / time to read.

My inner organiser screams in delight about this idea. I like colour coding and organising everything. I may create different reading lists at some point but right now,  I have a relatively short list (under 20 books), which I constantly evaluate, so I am, rather than my TBR list, in control. 😉

  • Or you could just delete it and start a new one or…. not even have one at all. 😉

The idea of not having a TBR list somehow fills me with dread. Maybe I will do it one day so I could prove my TBR list that I am that BOSS I keep on telling it about. 😉


Whatever you do – there is no right or wrong way.

We, book lovers, know how precious those lists can be as books mean a lot to us. I am reminding myself that the purpose of my TBR is to serve me. As long as it does, it can stay. 😂

Happy reading everyone. ❤️


Chitter-Chatter Time

What do you think about TBR list?

  • Do you have one?
  • If you do: Do you maintain it or do you allow it to grow?
    • Do you spring clean?

Let me know in the comments below. 🙂