I’ve read enough blogs and browsed Pinterest for enough hours to know that TBR lists are extremely popular. Like, everyone has one. But not me.
I’ve been an active reader my entire life, but I’ve never practiced having a to be read list.
So, why not?
What do I consider a TBR list?
I consider a TBR list a long list of books that have yet to be acquired or are already acquired. I expect the list to take more than 2 weeks to complete. And more books will be continuously added so that the list never is complete.
I think TBRs are a hopeful plan of what’s to come, that may never actually materialize. It’s a wish list.
It’s a willful plan to accomplish something.
It’s a list made so as not to forget something that once caught your attention.
A TBR list is your “maybe someday I’ll get around to it” list.
So why not have a TBR list?
Isn’t it helpful? Isn’t it a great way to increase your reading by always having the next book lined up?
Well, there are many reasons why I personally don’t have a TBR.
I read what I like as soon as I get it.
I have no patience when it comes to books. If I get a great library haul they’re getting read right away. There’s no need to let it wait on a pile for long to become another entry on the TBR list.
If I don’t like a book I’m quick to put it aside and choose another.
I rarely buy books. I borrow.
Tiny libraries. Public libraries. Free e-books. Friends’ books. Mom’s books. Husband’s books.
There are too many places to get free books that I typically don’t buy books. So that means no stack of TBR books waiting on my shelf. And a very limited permanent bookshelf overall.
A friend loans me a great book and I read it quickly to return it in a timely manner. I get a library book and it must be returned in 3 weeks. New releases might be 2 weeks.
If I don’t have the book, I can’t read it. If I don’t have a book it’s not on my TBR list.
I browse for books in the moment.
I see a book I like, I get it. Spontaneous. Intuitive.
If I’m in the mood for an epic fantasy, I seek those out. If I want self-help, I go to that.
I’m not really concerned with having a bank of books to choose from. Just the ability to grab what I like as the mood strikes.
It feels like a to-do list.
Similar to the above, I like a little spontaneity. So the idea of a to-do list for a hobby is a bit restrictive to me.
I have enough to-do’s in life and reading should be free form and only done when I want.
I’m really enjoying the 2022 Reading Challenge, so having a goal and a guide can be motivating. But I can tell you now that I do not have all 50 books planned out. My strategy is to find books I want to read and then find the category they satisfy. I think it’ll all work out in the end.
There’s guilt if I don’t get to them.
If I promise myself I’ll do something and then don’t do it, I’m left with a feeling of guilt.
There are already enough things in this world that I’m committed to doing to be a better person. As long as I commit to reading books, any books, I’m ok with that. Choosing a particular book just gets in the way.
It starts a vicious cycle of accumluation and want.
I choose to keep my possessions minimal when possible, so a large collection of physical books waiting to be read does not suit my lifestyle. I prefer to permanently keep only those books I really love or that have special meaning.
So if I acquire books with only the intent to keep them on a TBR list for an indefinite amount of time they can quickly become clutter. And clutter attracts clutter.
Exceptions to the rule…
Of course, there will be exceptions to any rule. So technically, sometimes I have a TBR list.
What I mean is that I place books on hold at the library and wait for them to become available. Or I pick 3 or 4 books at a time, and they technically are a list of TBR next.
But to me, this isn’t a TBR because it is so short-term and merely for practical reasons, like securing a popular book that has a 24-week waitlist. I don’t obsess over the book while I wait, it’s just a pleasant surprise when it pops up on my account.
It might be impossible for an avid reader to only acquire one single book at a time. So I don’t consider the logistics of having a few books on hand a TBR.
Do you have a TBR list?
Comment below to let me know why you do or don’t have a TBR list.