Recently I read a piece on Book Riot with the author talking about their TBR (which stands for To Be Read) list as if it was this ironclad thing, a ‘commitment’ in their words. If that’s how you use your TBR, more power to you. This isn’t an argument with them, on what is better. I want to explore what TBR means to me. I’ve just never thought of them that way. I’ve always used my TBR as a list of books one day I’d like to get to. I cull it quarterly. Sometimes a book that caught my eye and I added it on impulse has lost its luster. I have no qualms about removing books that have been sitting on the list forever. I’m obviously not going to read them. I do like to keep it a bit organized, but I’m not at all married to the idea they have to be read in some kind of strict order.
I did go through a phase where I added ALL the entries from all the years from 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. WTF was I thinking? I can tell you actually. I was thinking that I was coming from this very limited range of books and I wanted to be cultured and educated. It took me a bit, but then I realized…I’m really not that cultured. I read a few books from the list that made me what to bash my head against the wall. I kept a few that I really do want to get to, but the rest were cut. I’m not going to force myself through this subjective list (which ends up being way more than 1001 if you start adding all the revisions) to read books that don’t interest me. I could be reading these other really great books. I already came to terms with the fact I’m not going to be able to read all the books. But I want to try. I want to read all the books that interest me. I can’t do that if I’m stuck reading books that other people think I should be reading. I would understand if I was in the same place I was three years ago, just reading urban fantasy and mystery novels, but I read pretty widely now. I am keeping books like Jane Austen on my shelves. I have two kids and they might want them one day. I tend to do my genre fiction on e format because those tastes are pretty much mine and tend to be a little more depending on my age and what’s going on.
I do make a monthly TBR as you probably aware of if you read the blog regularly. I take books of my TBR shelves (I have separate bookshelves for the unread books and the read books) that look the most interesting to me at this time. Sometimes I get to them, oftentimes they stay on the shelf for the next month or they get removed for awhile. This sounds crazy probably, but I found I get through books a lot quicker if I have a (somewhat loose) plan. The only hiccup tends to come in the form of my ebooks. I like both my print books and my ebooks, yet the physically of the print books tends to cause me more panic to read them. Because I can see them literally piling up where my e books are really just ones and zeros on this nifty electronic device. That’s a dilemma for another day though. It doesn’t stop me from picking random books from either medium though. I tend to have an ebook going on each of my apps, Kindle, Kobo, and Scribd as well as an audiobook on the Audible app.
But again, I never feel like my book choices aren’t spontaneous. I still randomly pick a book of any of my shelves. In fact I raved about a book I’d read so well to my friend that I just went and picked it up off my shelf for a reread (note: it’s The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey). TBRs do help me also with my diversity goals. I’ve already noticed if I get too spontaneous, due to the problems in publishing, I end up with a pretty narrow batch of authors (hello all straight white people). I do tend to lean more to women authors automatically so that part isn’t problem for me, but like I said, my book picks by other marginalized authors suffer.
How do you treat your TBR? Is it something you HAVE to stay committed to? Is it fluid? Is it just a list of books you’d someday like to read? A list of books to keep track of?