Before I figured out how to borrow ebooks through OverDrive, I was limited to my fairly small personal collection and sporadic trips to the local library when I could talk my parents into taking me. This was also before I actually started using my Goodreads account, so I did a lot of rereading and checking out whatever looked good (based on a glance at the cover, maybe a quick read of the first few pages). Oh, I also had the school library, but their fiction collection gets smaller as you get older and I wasn’t a fan of nonfiction.
All this to say, now that I have a pretty extensive digital library as well as a never-ending list of books to look at next, I feel like I spend as much time choosing what to read as I do actually reading.
To TBR Or Not to TBR?
Even before I can decide where a book goes in my to-read queue, first I have to decide if it gets added to the queue at all. Whether I came across the book on a “101 Books to Read Before College” list (as an aside, I’ve been working on those since, like, middle school, and yet I’m two years into college without ever having finished them) or from a review posted to a friend’s blog or in a Goodreads recommendation list, I’ll check the synopsis and skim some reviews to see if sounds like something I’m actually interested in.
If I’m honestly not sure, or if I just don’t have time to check it at the moment but don’t want to forget it, I shelve the book as maybe read to come back to later; if I do want to read it (and/or I enter a Goodreads giveaway for it), it gets shelved as want to read / TBR. Once I acquire the book, or if it bypasses this whole process because it was gifted to me, it gets moved to my read next shelf.
From the books on my read next shelf and the TBR books that I know my library has, I like to put together a tentative reading order. At the top of the list is usually upcoming ARCs, as well as time-appropriate titles (ex: LGBTQIA+ rep for Pride Month, or seasonal reads) and books that fulfill reading challenges. If a book has been on my list for a while, it’s likely to also get bumped up a few spots so I don’t forget about it again. And with all else equal, hype can also get a book priority status in the queue.
Once I have the order laid out, I don’t always stick strictly to it; I might shuffle it around if I commit to a blog tour or buddy / book club read, or if I’m just more in the mood for one book or another.
Sometimes I read the first book in a series and love it so much that I have to marathon the rest before moving on to something else. Sometimes I find myself with a book hangover and reach for an old favorite to get me through. Sometimes I’m feeling anarchic and randomly pick a title from the next 10-20 I have listed.
But if I’m being totally honest, sometimes I just don’t feel like pulling up my spreadsheet to check what’s supposed to be next, or I might be suddenly interested in a particular book or genre — in which case I’ll just look through my Kindle until a title catches my eye. A little spontaneity never hurt anyone, after all.
Do you plan out your TBR? If yes, how do you approach it? If not, would you ever consider it?