I’ve finally written my highly anticipated second post on my unpatented TBR management system.
Last time I explained what I do when I want to add a book to my TBR… depending on the book, it might end up on one of several tabs. But the main tab, my “short list,” is what I look at when deciding what to read next.
This short list is what I keep on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and BookLikes. This whole Excel system actually started because of GR. I was asked last time, why not just use GR shelves? The truth is that, when I was using GR as my only place to house my TBR… well, I felt like a bit of a liar.
You know how when you get a friend request from someone, and you can see how many friends they have and how many books they have? (And if they have more friends than books, you just ignore them? Or is that just me?) Well, that book number… is the total number of books on all your shelves. And I always felt super-impressed by some of these numbers – how are these people reading so many books?! – and then somehow disappointed when I clicked through to the profile and saw that two-thirds of that number was books marked “to-read.”
Not, of course, that anyone’s being intentionally dishonest… I just found it misleading. And didn’t want to be misleading myself. So I decided to keep the majority of my TBR to myself, and use my Goodreads list only for those books I was planning on reading relatively soon… the first incarnation of my short list.
Even though it started because of an admittedly ridiculous reason, I do like using Excel better than Goodreads for sorting my massive list. It’s true that my multi-tab system could be achieved using their shelves, and I could even modify shelf settings to include a column for notes. But Excel is better in other ways. I can see more titles on the screen at once. I can drag and drop, moving books around without waiting for the page to reload. Not to mention, limiting my online TBR means that when I go to the library each week and pull up my Goodreads app, I only have twenty or thirty titles vying for my attention rather than hundreds.
So… how do I decide what ends up on that list? As you saw last time, I have no shortage of choices.
I have several authors whose backlists I’m working through, so typically when I read one of theirs, I’ll add another to replace it. Similarly, I try to always keep a decent mix of genres, so when I read a thriller, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, chick lit… I tend to choose similar books from my other tabs to replace them.
I add a new chunk of books once a month, and while I don’t make myself read them in the order I add them – that’s the whole point of having a good mix, so I can still read according to my mood – I don’t like those books to linger for too long. If a book’s been on my short list for about six months, I have to ask myself if I really want to read it, or if I’ve lost interest in it. I might make a point of reading it then, or move it off the short list for a while to make room for books I’m more excited about and try again later, or just bump it off my TBR altogether.
And I do occasionally go through and bump books from my TBR (usually this happens before they make it to the short list, but you never know… I’m fickle like that), and I usually don’t feel too bad about it when I do. I figure, if it’s something I’m really meant to read, I’ll come across it and get excited about it again. If I don’t, well… at least I’ll never know what I’m missing.
I think I’ll end it here for now, but if I get enough questions in the comments about things I haven’t thought to include, maybe I’ll turn this into a three-parter.
Is there anything else you’re dying to know about how I organize and pick my books to read? Do you ever go through and weed your TBR?