How I’m Managing My TBR in 2023

Over the last year or so, I got into the habit of snapping up physical copies of nearly any book that piqued my interest. And, after joining Bookstagram and getting back into the book blogging community, that was a lot of books. I bought a TBR cart to house the shiny new titles to be read and got a lot of joy from adding them to the shelves.

Except that the shelves got full. prettu quickly. And then there was a stack next to the TBR cart and on top of the TBR cart. I confess I started to feel really overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of unread books hanging out in my home office, a feeling I’ve never experienced before. Books are my happy place. How could they ever be a source of guilt and stress? And yet, the knowledge that I wasn’t reading them at nearly the rate I was bringing them in did start to make me feel guilty.

At the start of the year, I went through the TBR cart and got rid of a good handful of titles that no longer interest me. The books (mostly) fit on the cart now, and I feel so much better having some of the unread titles off to new homes via my Little Free Library and a trip to Half Price Books.

But one cleanout won’t do much if I don’t rethink how I manage my TBR. Otherwise, the room will just keep on filling up with unread books. So, this year I have some very specific goals around how I’ll be managing my TBR. They are…

Read primarily from the TBR cart and my NetGalley shelves

There are so many amazing titles I didn’t get to last year, so I want to spend some time catching up on them. If I can’t find a book I want to read on the TBR cart, that means I need to do another cleanout. I’ll still let myself grab highly anticipated new releases like the latest Emily Henry or Berkley title I didn’t get a ARC for, but I want to focus on the book I already have to start the year.

Use Goodreads to keep track of books I want to read

I stopped using the “Want to Read” feature and would just grab a copy of a book if I wanted to read it, which is silly because I can only read so many books in a year and tastes change over time.

Don’t buy a book if I’m not planning to read it in the next few weeks

This is largely brought about by seeing books I snapped up in hardcover come out in paperback before I’ve gotten around to reading them. I actually prefer paperbacks, and they’re less expensive, so it doesn’t make much sense to spend more for a book to sit around on my TBR cart for a year (looking at you, Matrix).

I’m really hopeful that these goals/rules for myself will help me read through the physical TBR backlog and avoid letting it stack up to the point of overwhelm again. There are so many great books out there, and I want to actually read the ones I’ve brought home! The rest will be waiting for me when I’m ready for them.

I’m curious, book friends–how do you manage your TBR?

11 thoughts on “How I’m Managing My TBR in 2023

  1. I don’t buy a book unless I KNOW I’m going to like it, or I’ve already read it and loved it. Does that sound silly? To some it might, but I love to reread books. I mostly use ARCs or the library to get new-to-me books. I also pretty much only read on my Kindle. I do have physical books, but those are either pretty collector hardcovers, or books I’ve had and loved forever. All our physical books are ones my husband and I adore. If its a book I’m not going to pick up again, I donate it or give it to a friend who wants to read it.

    I wish you luck on your TBR this year!! I highly recommend Project Hail Mary!

    • That definitely makes a lot of sense! I don’t tend to reread books any more, but I like to keep my favorites around. Otherwise they go in the Little Free Library once I’m done with them.

  2. Interesting post! I use a spreadsheet to track my reading including my TBR list. I notice that avid readers do a variety of things to manage their TBR shelf. I buy a very limited number of books for myself – and they will almost always be in digital form if I do. I’m just not a collector of books and rarely re-read a book .

    • The spreadsheet I use doesn’t have an area for TBR, but that’s definitely a good way to track them! Thanks for sharing–so interesting to know what other readers do!

  3. Great post with some really helpful advice.
    I’ve not been managing my TBR very well, either.
    Using the promise of no more new books hasn’t been cutting it! I need to get some new ways of managing the TBR so will let you know if they work.

  4. Good luck with all these goals. I think not buying a book I don’t plan to read in the near future can be hard. If there’s a really good deal on a book from my wishlist, I don’t know if I could pass it up.

  5. I’m terrible at managing my TBR. I read mostly NetGalley books and occasionally read an audiobook from my TBR. Good luck!

  6. Good luck with managing your TBR AmandaKay. I don’t manage mine at all. I have several bookcases full of books even after donating several bags of books to my church’s used booksale. I buy what interests me, but I still use the library, KU and Scribd, so I don’t buy as many as I used to.

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