Saturday, 7 February 2015

How to Tackle Mount TBR: A Survivor's Story! #2

My task in 2014/2015 is to reduce the tbr pile from horrific to manageable in a short time. I'm sharing how I did it in a few blog posts which might help some of you to do the same.

In my first post I shared the steps that got me from up at 950 books down to 600 books in about 4 months. Don't worry if you didn't see the post or can't be bothered looking for it as I'll be repeating those steps here before adding my new steps for what I'm doing now.

Progress is still being made! In 2015 I have completed 34 books and abandoned many more than that using all the steps below. Not every step will be useful to everyone but there might be a step or two that helps in the task of controlling the tbr. My new task is to reach 550 books on the tbr by the end of February and be under 500 by April. It's a tough ask and if I don't hit the target exactly it's ok, as long as I have tried hard and got close!

So what were the first things that I did? Here is a recap for you:

Chuckles Guide to Reducing the TBR #1:
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 very 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.

And now here are the latest January changes that I tried to reduce it even more:

6) Next, I looked at reading the books that were under 200 pages. At the speed I read I can do 200 pages in a night of reading, so getting a book a night done would be great. I know what you're thinking, how do I know which ones to start with without looking at each book on my ereader? 

Well, on Goodreads all my book pages show the same categories-cover, title, author, #pages, date published (my)rating, shelves, review, date read, date added. These are the things I use for reference. To change your settings for a genre, at the top of the page click on settings. You will see ticks beside the settings that are being used on your pages. Simply untick what you don't want and tick what you want to see, then click save current settings. For me, I don't care about average ratings/#ratings as other people's ratings don't matter to me, but for my reference, I like to know things like the date I added the book, when it was published and of course, number of pages! So you can look at every book you've got on your Goodreads tbr and select your upcoming reads by number of pages! Those not given a page number can be manually checked on ereaders like Kobo. You need to change the settings for each category/genre you've created as a shelf name.

7) Psychologically, getting rid of those books like biographies, books not part of a series, kids books, books you plan to skim, manga, graphic novels etc helps make you feel like you're making progress. Tackle them and get them out of the way.

8) DNF/Abandoning can be your friend. This will not suit everyone but my reading philosophy is that if I am not enjoying a book or finding it really hard to get into, I do not finish. Time is precious and I have too many waiting books to struggle on through something I'm not enjoying. If you lose interest, ditch it! I know some of you feel compelled to finish everything you start but I just can't be doing with wasting time on things I don't like.  

9) Series Abandonment. After reading book one, did you think 'it was ok but I'll give book two a try to see if it gets better?' After book two, are you thinking 'not much difference from book one, but the series might improve eventually'? OK so where do you draw the line and decide that the series is going nowhere? Are you planning to read 10 or 15 books in the series and still be hoping it gets better? For me, if book one isn't great, that is usually it for me. If I'm not sure I start book two and give it 100 pages. If there is no improvement, it's over for the series. Set your own rules but don't struggle on with dead end series as it wastes a lot of booky reading time!

10) It might be worthwhile re-reading a few. Sounds counterproductive yeah? Well, I went back to 6 series where I gave book one 3 stars but wasn't blown away by it. I had unread books in each series to tackle but when I did the re-read, I was less impressed by these 6 books and chose NOT to continue each series. That saved me reading nearly 30 books which were taken off the tbr straight away! If in doubt, miss it out!

11) Avoid poor quality PDFs! It takes DOUBLE  or TRIPLE the time to read the buggers when the printing is tiny and faint, and frankly if the author can't send me decent quality files, why should I waste my time reading it?

12) Grab those bigger print paperbacks from your shelf as these can be read much faster than a page with small print. You turn the pages faster and feel as if you are reading the book quicker even if that is actually an illusion!  

A)Tips on reducing freebies/bargains you add to tbr: Ask yourself:
-do you REALLY REALLY want to read it or are you taking it just because it is free?
-is it from a genre you totally love or just a genre you wish you loved?
-does it have those things you hate in plot and character according to reviews?
-if you read it, will you need to buy lots of small novellas at inflated prices to read the whole thing?
-is it by an author whose other books weren't great?
-does it sound GREAT or 'ok for a freebie'?
-am I bored with this genre? Does this sound the same plot as another 50 books I've got on tbr? 
-have the previous books in the series been a bit blah?
-is this a good price for the length of book?
-how much have I spent this month on books that didn't make me scream with excitement?
-have I bought a pile of books I'm no longer sure I want to read? Do I need more restraint?


B)Tips on what to do with your unwanted physical books:  
If you don't buy a lot of freebies you might be left thinking-but I BOUGHT all these hardbacks and paperbacks and can't just throw them away! Well there are options out there to make you feel a little better:
-join book trading sites where you trade your unwanted books for books on your wishlist, amazon gift cards, points you can use towards books etc
-trade books with friends
-join book sharing sites like bookcrossing
-donate to charity shops and do your good deed for the week!

C)Tips on saving money on book buys:
OK so this won't help the tbr but you might as well save some money when you know you are going to buy some:
-visit the library first if you have a good local one(I don't sadly!)
-try to borrow the book from a friend instead of buying it
-ask friends/family to buy book vouchers for birthdays and Christmas
-force yourself to clear 10 books off your tbr before every new purchase!
-don't be sucked in by the 3 for 2 offer if you don't have all three on your wishlist
-check charity shops before buying new-quality might surprise you
-check library sales but don't buy everything!
-check sites like Smashwords
-lots of people share brand new copies of new releases on
-check the reviews on books BEFORE you buy

So, what tricks do you have to reduce the tbr? Are you drowning in books? Are you fully in control and feeling mega smug and want to gloat? Are you struggling with the DNF concept? How much time each day do you get to read? Do you need a shoulder to wail on? Share your experiences with us!



  1. Thank you for these tips! My TBR pile is out of control, so really need to work on reducing it. I'm staying away from free ebooks for awhile as they're just too tempting for me. If I don't know about them, I won't be tempted! :)

    Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such...

    1. I knew I was in trouble when I hit 950 books and if I hadn't done something then, it would've been 1000 soon. I'm so glad I'm doing something about it and as I make progress and see the numbers dropping, it gets me more motivated to read more!