Saturday, 24 January 2015

How to Tackle Mount TBR: A Survivor's Story!

Hello! My name is Chuckles and I'm a Bookaholic!

It started for me when I got back into reading after years in the wilderness-thanks to being forced to read Harry Potter by a friend at work! I started thinking how cool it would be to locate a few books about vampires and werewolves so I did a google search and found Goodreads. Oh boy was that a life changing event! Suddenly I had a list of authors-Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, Jeaniene Frost, Carrie Vaughn, Jennifer Estep and more. Now my library sucks and is many years out of date but I did manage to grab Kelley Armstrong's 'Stolen' and Charlaine Harris 'Living Dead in Dallas'. Yeah I know, I hate not starting with book 1 but these were all the library had. And I loved them! Armed with the phrase 'Urban Fantasy' I was glued to Goodreads lists and searching bookshops and Amazon. And the books piled up very quickly. Within a year of joining my tbr was 600 books. I breezily ignored the issue and was grabbing books quicker than I could read them.

Then came the Summer of 2013 when I got the surprise birthday gift of a Kobo Glo. And I started doing Read and Review for Indie Authors. The floodgates opened with free and bargain ebooks flooding in every week and I was up to 800 tbrs in a few months. Due to family problems I barely read anything in 2014 compared to previous years and in September my tbr hit 900+. That was the final straw and I did not want a 1000 tbr in 2015! Something had to be done. Today, I stand proudly on a tbr of 605, well poised to get back under 600 by the end of January. So what was my cunning secret?

Chuckles Guide to Reducing the TBR:
1) I went back and re-read the blurb on Goodreads for each of the free books I'd downloaded and thought' do I really want to read this book?' I think I was able to delete about 30-40 books thinking 'why did I download THAT???' So take another look at those books and decide what you can live without!

2) I looked at the book reviews for all the free books that were left on my list, trying to carefully avoid huge plot spoilers. I was looking for multiple reviews of each book that mentioned the same things-very slow to get into the story/hardly any action in first half, horrible whiny annoying MCs that need a slap, MC 'heroes' who are unlikeable thugs/rapists/gangsters or who spend all their time drinking/drug taking, YA love triangles/instalove, more sex than plot/erotic storyline, books where the characters swear six times a sentence for the entire book. These are the things that most put me off books or make me abandon books, so I deleted the free books that fell into more than one of these categories. That took a whopping 100 books from the tbr! OK I might miss out on a couple of good books by deleting that lot but I can live with it!

3) I checked and noted the length of all the ebooks that were left on the list and made the shortest books my priority to read. As some of these introduction novellas are short, I could get maybe 6-10 of those read in a night, which served several purposes. Firstly, it gets a lot of books moved from the tbr to read list, bringing the tbr numbers down. It also let me see if I wanted to continue with a series after reading these short free prequels. A few I read made me want to read on with the series but quite a few weren't good enough for me to care what happened next so I was able to delete a pile from my wishlist too!

4) I have stopped going through free and bargain books on Amazon daily to see what I can pick up. Instead I joined a company who email me daily with details of a couple of free and bargain books featured on Amazon in my chosen genres. I add the odd one to tbr but it is a lot less than I'd add looking daily myself. For anyone interested it is Enter your email address, choose your categories and get the bargain list sent daily to your inbox.

5) Catch up on your favourite series because these are books that you can zoom through faster and you know you will enjoy them(mostly!). This was what I did during the Christmas holidays and into January.

6) My new rules-a) only download a free book if I really really want to read it, not just because it has vampires and is free. b) only buy ebooks under £1 if trying an author for the first time and can't get it free. c) try to borrow new releases from friends instead of just buying first!

So that reduced my tbr by about 350 books in just 4 months! Now every book I have are ones that I want to read. Of the 600 left I estimate about 350 are books where I have read at least one in the series and need to catch up. About 250 are new purchases by new to me authors. Some will be read and loved, some abandoned and disliked but at least I feel as if I have got control of that mountain of books for the first time in five years!

Are you managing your tbrs or are you in book pile chaos?


  1. My problem with my TBR is it's bigger than that and I purchased everything that's on it -- I don't keep note of free books! So it's harder to pare it down, because I know I was interested enough to spend money! Good going, though, wow.

    1. Yeah I can fully understand it being harder if every book was bought. That's the advantage for me in having a 'no book buys over £1' rule and a pretty tight book budget!

  2. I have two different lists on Goodreads for books I want to read - the one called TBR is the one where I already own the books, or they are part of a series I really enjoy, or written by one of my favorite authors. That list currently has 875 books on it o.O Yeah, that happened - because I'm exactly like you used to be - only I add books that I think I will really read... one day.

    I also have a list called 'might read one day' where I add books that look interesting based either on the summary, or reviews I have read. That list is huge - and I don't know if I'll ever get to any of those books, but I thought it was kind of nice to keep a list of books I think I'll enjoy.

    Also, I'm a very fast reader, but I think going through my freebies and possibly get rid of some of them could be a good idea. I agree with you that some of the free books are much more hassle than the time it takes to read them due to many of the same things you mentioned in your post.

    Enjoy your weekend, and your smaller TBR shelf :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. I actually had to tackle my wishlist using rules 1 and 2 to get it reduced as well coz it was scaring me how many books out there I seemed to want to read! EEK! I'm also a fast reader (thankfully!) which is letting me zoom through these series I need to catch up on. I think I still need to read faster though!

  3. These are great tips! I own about 3,000 freebies, but I keep those on a separate Goodreads shelf so that my TBR looks a lot smaller. :P

    3 and 5 are ones I think I can actually handle doing! They're very smart! I actually just put a bunch of series books on my reading plan, so #5 will be put into action soon! 3 is just genius! I have a TON of those short prequels, so I think I should set aside a day or two every month to give them a read and see which series are worth pursuing.

    Angie @ Pinkindle

    1. The phrase 'I own about 3000 freebies' makes my eyes water! It's darn difficult to reduce freebie buying though when your brain yells 'but it's FREE!' at you...Step 3 actually came about one night because Icouldn't be bothered reading a long book and I grabbed a 50 page one. Then I still had time to read another couple. By the end of the week I'd read 15 and thought 'hmmm, this could be a plan'. At the moment I'm on 5, catching up on my very favourite series. Each book is taking me a day, day and a half maximum which is making me so happy!

      Good luck with the pile!

  4. Wow, we both got into read in very similar ways, but my book that got me into reading was Twilight. Imagine my surprise that there were books waaaaaay better books out there. I pretty much stalked all UF books.

    I really need to delete a lot of my free books. you are so right.

    1. When I was a kid I read everything I could get my hands on. The 'in' books then were Enid Blyton and then at high school every girl was reading Sweet Valley High. Seems weird that I loved SVH yet I hate reading romance novels now...I was also right into horror novels. Sadly reading pretty much stopped for about 15 years due to a series of stressful jobs. When a friend at work in 2001 mentioned Harry Potter I just turned up my nose at it and said 'Kids books! Pah!' But she insisted and 6 months later I was hooked on Harry and suddenly I wanted to read again! I have a lot to thank JK Rowling for!!!