Spring is finally here, and my urge to clean and organize is in full gear! Some of my energies go towards more traditional spring-cleaning pursuits — purging my wardrobe (I don’t really need those XXL tees fired from a cannon, do I?), clearing out the mail building up on the dining room table, etc. — but I recently felt the dire need to address an issue in my digital life. I needed to pare down my Goodreads to-be-read (TBR) list.
I like to think of myself as a committed reader, but each time I looked at my 572-title TBR, I just couldn’t fathom getting through the whole list, ever. It was time to take action.
Knowing that it wouldn’t always be easy to remove books from the TBR list, I created guidelines to follow as I went through all the titles. I followed my weeding rules strictly and successfully slashed my total number of to-read books down to 404!
I acknowledge that 404 is still a huge number, but I’m pretty proud of myself. Even though I wasn’t physically getting rid of books, I still felt a twinge of guilt each time I took a title off the list. Thankfully, my guidelines made the process easier. If your TBR is weighing heavily on you, please use any or all of my approach!
There were three main parts The Great TBR Weeding of 2017:
- Develop criteria for books that stay on the list
- Decide on deal-breakers. What absolutely must go?
- Develop a list of other factors to consider while assessing a book
And here are the guidelines that came out of this break-down:
Criteria for Staying on List
- Has an average of 3.5 stars or more
- Plot summary is still intriguing
- Is a title that falls under one of my reading challenges (e.g. This year, I’m reading all the titles from the Best of the Best Books of 2016 list I created in December)
- Books I wouldn’t read cover-to-cover (e.g. textbooks, cookbooks)
Additional Factors To Consider
- Ratings given by my friends on Goodreads
- Was the title a friend’s recommendation?
- Do I own a copy of the book already? If so, was it a gift?
- Did I add it to the list because of literary guilt/obligation?
- Is it out of print? And if it is, is it worth finding?
- Is it longer than 500 pages? (I’ve realized recently that I’m not a fan of super-long books, so I’ll avoid them when possible)
It took a full weekend to go through my entire Goodreads TBR, but being me, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In the end, I deleted 168 books from the list. The primary reasons for not making the cut were low star-ratings and unappealing plot descriptions.
I did make 8 exceptions to my guidelines, so I’m particularly interested to see how much I end up liking those. And even though a fair number of books didn’t interest me upon reassessment, there were a bunch that I’m excited about all over again! (See lists of titles below.)
So, even though my TBR is still pretty ridiculously long, my reading brain feels a little bit lighter and is ready to tackle a spring full of reading!
Do you have any tips for paring down a TBR list? Share in the comments below!
My 8 Exceptions (and why I’m keeping them on the list)
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti – the book was a gift and I”ve heard it recommended on podcasts
Conversion, by Katherine Howe – the witchcrafty topic intrigues me, plus it would be a good pairing to read with The Crucible, which I have been meaning to read for YEARS
Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee – the book was a gift and I promised a friend I’d read it to discuss
A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler – the book was a gift and it’s gotten good ratings from Goodreads friends
The Chimes, by Anna Smaill – the magical-music premise sounds too cool to pass up
Boy Snow Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi – very mixed reviews from friends, need to see for myself!
Smoke, by Dan Vyleta – the description is so intriguing
The Truth about Forever, by Sarah Dessen – I thought I’d read it but totally haven’t. I don’t have to wait until May for a new Sarah Dessen book. Wohoo!
Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
The Shadow of the Wind , by Carlos Ruiz Zafon- this one has a boatload of stars from my friends, plus it’s a book about a books, and I can never resist a book about books.
The Incarnations, by Susan Barker – a Beijing taxi driver starts getting letters from his past incarnations… too cool!
The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal- love the premise
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Annie Barrows – so many stars!
Neon Green, by Margaret Wappler – Chicago in 1994 with ALIENS? Yes, yes, yes!