When TBR Piles Get Out of Control

TBR Tuesday - January 2014

I have WAY too many books in my TBR piles.

This probably sounds familiar to you, if you’re reading this post. The fact is, I have a lot of books piling up around me, and it’s kind of driving me crazy, because we all know how much I love/need to cross things off of lists. I need to make some large dents in these TBR lists before I drown in them!

My goal (heh) is to clear off as many of these books as I can before I acquire more books. I know, this is easier said than done, but I figure if I make some lists then it will be easier for me to see and plan and be productive. This is a big reason why I made my special bingo card for 2014, but I also realized it’s just not enough.


First off, my TBR for January

My friend’s grandmother has chosen Pigs in Heaven for book club this month, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Barbara Kingsolver, so I’m interested to read this one. The rest of my list? Goals for Reread January!

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver The Child Thief by Brom The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

You might also be wondering why I only have four books on my list for this month (especially after all that bemoaning). Previously I’d been setting my monthly goal at five books, and while I like that plan, I’ve also decided to go a little easier on myself this year (heh). Since my book total goal for the year is 52 books, that’s one per week instead of five per month. Plus, none of these books are YA, and so they’re going to take me longer to read than normal (especially with the likes of Gene Wolfe in the mix).

Reading Challenge Progress

January puts me off at a slow pace for 2014, but that was my intention, so only a few reading challenge cross-offs this month. (See all of my reading challenge progress on this page.)

  • The Child Thief, The Hobbit, and The Shadow of the Torturer will get crossed off for Reread January.
  • The Hobbit can count toward square I3 (reread) for A&K’s Book Bingo.
  • And what the heck, The Child Thief can count toward square I4, since I’ve been wanting to read it again for a long time.
  • The Shadow of the Torturer will also let me cross that item off my list for The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience.

Hopefully I can do all of this in one month!


And here’s my master TBR list…

Ugh, this is like… almost 75 books! And my goal for the year is only 52. AND these lists don’t even include all of the debuts and standalones, etc. that I’d got on my reading challenge lists for 2014. Soooooooooo. Yeah. O_O

NetGalley / Edelweiss (29/35 done)

  1. The Waking Engine
  2. Defy
  3. Freaking Out
  4. The Lightning Charmer
  5. Tarot Beyond the Basics
  6. The Unbound (blog tour, upcoming)
  7. MTG 4: Theros
  8. Sugar Baby
  9. Divergent Thinking
  10. Salvage (debut)
  11. Elusion (debut)
  12. Meridian (Arclight #2)
  13. The Falconer
  14. Dissonance
  15. Servants of the Storm
  16. 365 Tarot Spreads
  17. The Map Thief
  18. Chasing Before
  19. The Murder Complex
  20. Unwept
  21. Lark Ascending
  22. Otherbound
  23. Transgender Lives
  24. The Spiritual Power of Empathy
  25. Color Song
  26. Rocket Girl
  27. Blue Lily, Lily Blue
  28. The Empath
  29. Mapmaker
  30. Etherworld
  31. The Mime Order
  32. The Body Electric
  33. The Brilliant History of Color in Art
  34. Krampus!
  35. Golden Son

Review Requests (3/4 done)

  1. Sorrow’s Knot
  2. The Crack in the Ceiling (Gave up)
  3. The Apostle: Destiny
  4. The Minimum Wage Millionaire

Already Own – Physical (16/44 done)

  1. The Demon King
  2. Rose Under Fire
  3. The Scorpio Races
  4. How to Say Goodbye in Robot
  5. Ultraviolet
  6. Tandem
  7. The Mapmaker’s War
  8. The Chronicle of Secret Riven
  9. Chaos Walking series (3 books)
  10. Maphead
  11. Leviathan
  12. Me Talk Pretty One Day
  13. The Name of the Star
  14. The Black Shore (Star Trek Voyager)
  15. Tigana
  16. Pale Fire
  17. Gone Girl
  18. How to be a Woman
  19. War of the Spider Queen (6 books)
  20. Wonder
  21. Angelfall
  22. City of Dark Magic
  23. City of Lost Dreams
  24. House of Leaves
  25. The Plucker
  26. Plain Kate
  27. First Day on Earth
  28. Tin Star
  29. In the Shadows
  30. The Truth About Alice
  31. Tiger Lily
  32. Enna Burning
  33. River Secrets
  34. The Winner’s Curse
  35. Illusions of Fate
  36. The Girl Who Never Was
  37. Afterworlds

Series Endings/Continuations in 2014 (8/12 done)

  1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters
  2. Into the Still Blue
  3. Ignite Me
  4. City of Heavenly Fire
  5. Redeemed (House of Night)
  6. Meridian (Arclight #2)
  7. Chasing Before
  8. Mara Dyer
  9. Ruin and Rising
  10. Throne of Glass series
  11. Skylark
  12. Mortal Heart

New Books/Series Coming in 2014 (5/7 done)

  1. Avalon
  2. Vitro
  3. Gretel and the Dark
  4. Dissonance
  5. The Falconer
  6. In the Shadows
  7. The Glass Sentence

Already Own – Audiobook (6/6 done)

  1. The False Prince
  2. Stolen
  3. The Way of Kings
  4. Words of Radiance
  5. Lexicon
  6. Red Rising

Already Own – ebook (3/24 done)

  1. Coraline
  2. Graveminder
  3. The Hallowed Ones
  4. The 5th Wave
  5. Fangirl
  6. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist
  7. Under the Empyrean Sky
  8. Deer in Headlights
  9. Boneshaker
  10. Infinity Blade 1 (novella)
  11. Infinity Blade 2 (novella)
  12. Enclave
  13. The Naming
  14. Wasteland
  15. Uglies
  16. The School for Good & Evil
  17. The Oracle Glass
  18. Assured Destruction
  19. Dairy Queen
  20. The Iron Witch
  21. Untethered
  22. Valkyrie Rising
  23. Mine to Spell
  24. This is Not a Test

Reread Challenge (3/4 done)

  1. The Child Thief
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Harry Potter book 1
  4. Harry Potter book 2

Oh, and then there’s monthly & quarterly book club picks! (11/12 done)

  1. Pigs in Heaven
  2. Ready Player One
  3. Inferno
  4. Gone Girl
  5. The Invention of Wings
  6. The Goose Girl
  7. Rose Under Fire
  8. Under the Wide and Starry Sky
  9. Orphan Train
  10. Me Before You
  11. The Sandcastle Girls – FAIL
  12. Pale Fire

I am out of control!


How do you handle massive TBR piles and lists? Any advice?

Read 52 comments

  1. Ugh, Nick and Norah.. bleh. lol Sorry, not a book I was a fan of. The only thing it really had going for it with me was that it was short!

    Other than that though, it looks like you have a very nice list of books! There are a few on there that I’ve read and really enjoyed :) So I hope you do too! I don’t even want to think about my giant TBR pile, it’s a little ridiculous. Even thinking about all of the physical books I have is hard! Let alone ebooks :P

    I just have a goal of 75 books this year, but haven’t decided on anything specific for the list, except my reread January books. On #2 now!

    Good luck finishing everything :)

  2. All I had to do was read the title “When TBR Piles Get out of Control” and I was like “oh hey, Kelley wrote a post for me.” :p

    I think the Bingo cards and other challenges with specific goals are great for some motivation to get through TBR piles, and they can definitely help us choose which book goes next. But you’re right, they’re not enough! There’s no way they can cover everything, especially when books keep piling up after getting them as gifts and buying them while all those great book sales were going on.

    It’s funny you’re lowering your monthly TBR, and now I’m actually making myself one. :) Mine isn’t nearly so fancy – I wrote a list for January on a post-it and stuck it on my laptop so anytime I think of putzing around the net I’m reminded I have a list of books to read. Some are for that Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, but the rest are for Reread January! :) I’m still super excited about the event, and hope I can at least get 4 of the 8 books I want to read crossed off my list. I’ve been wanting to condense my challenges into one page like you have yours, instead of a million individual posts. So I’ll probably do that soon and include my monthly TBR on it as well. It’d be nice to plan out which books will count for what rather than having to check all of my challenges *after* I read something.

    • Hahaha, indeed I was thinking of you as a I wrote this! The other problem with bingo cards and other challenges is that they also include things that AREN’T on my immediate TBR lists. And being a completion like me, that just adds MORE pressure for me to read MORE things instead of less. You know? (I’m sure you do, lol.)

      I lowered my monthly TBR and I’m already behind schedule. I should be finishing up The Child Thief today and I’m still only 25% into it. CRAP. It is nice to get a handle on the challenges and stuff while I’m planning all my TBR lists, and it makes things go much smoother!

      • Oh I definitely know. I’ve been eyeballing that horror Bingo card since the beginning of October wondering what I can use for the last few squares. I’m trying to not let it drive me nuts. And because I’m not nuts over those challenges enough I’m going to go back through and do the one-book-per-square thing for it. I feel all cheatery marking off several squares with one book. I wonder how far away from done I’ll be now! o_o

        My TBR for January feels like it’s huge, but so far I’m a little ahead of schedule, which is good because I have things to do and reviews to write. Eek to reviews! Having a TBR pile per month will help me out a lot with challenges this year, though.

  3. I have no idea how to handle a large TBR, but if you find out, PLEASE let me know. I think it’s smart to list them all, though. If I did that, I’d probably STOP BUYING SO MANY BOOKS. I’m pretty sure I have almost as many books on my TBR or more than you, and it drives me crazy too! It’s difficult, because I can’t resist a good sale(and I still have bookish gift cards from Christmas, so. . . . ) And there are more books coming out this year I know I just HAVE to get(Split Second, Cress, etc.). But I am trying to really make an effort to read more books from my shelves. I’m still using my library and requesting, but a lot less. I’m only requesting ARCs I really want, and instead of getting eight books at the library each month, I’m going to only try to get a few(mostly to help with my series challenge). So yeah, basically. . . my TBR pile is crazy too, and I’m trying to really make an effort to read a good chunk of it by the end of the year.

    • Yes, I’ve really just had to kind of block out twitter and NetGalley and the internet lately so I can stop buying ebooks. It’s just getting ridiculous. And you’d think that maybe our lists on Goodreads would be enough to make us stop, but I think it just doesn’t work for some reason. Like if it’s in a to-read list on Goodreads, it’s somehow “not real” enough lol. Good luck with yours! *deep breaths*

  4. Oh my gosh, Kelley, can the fact that I want to take some of those books off your TBR permanently be some incentive to really make that dent you want to make? That Bone Shaker sounds like such an interesting story. It’s right there in the title. And in the books you own, you have the whole Chaos Walking series and Stormdancer. My heart is just dying from the agony. And jealousy.

    As for how to handle your pile, I want to say, don’t care about it. Just read. And don’t buy any more books. I think my TBR pile is manageable because I can’t buy anything. I just borrow. And school offers a lot of time where I do nothing. It helps that I’m a fast reader. Like, I just tried out a site training you to read faster, and I could 500 wpm. Which is cool, but I couldn’t really care less.

    And you couldn’t really care less about that either, I suppose. Anyway, you said that right now, one of the books you’re reading will be long because of the author. I’m guessing maybe it’s adult? But no matter what, School for Good was a quick engrossing read for me. I had problems with it, but I read huge chunks of it at a time.

    • I know, I know, Shanelle. It’s ridiculous. I have so many good books AT MY FINGERTIPS! I need to READ THEM already! I like your advice, to stop caring about it, but for me that’s easier said than done. I’m a planner and I like clearing off lists because I feel productive and relief every time I cross something off.

      So you didn’t like the site that trains you to read faster? I’ve been wondering about this lately, actually, and wishing I could read faster. But I dunno, I haven’t tried for some reason.

  5. I had this exact same problem back in September. The TBR pile was enormous and I was starting to feel crushed by the knowledge that I had all these books I’d bought and never read. I went on a book ban, started a TBR challenge, and got down to business. I didn’t quite get my pile down to zero, but I’m at 10 now (for the old pile … since the book buying ban is over I’ve bought more…) and I’m feeling really good about that.

    What helped me was making small goals. “This month, I want to get down to 45. Now 30. Now 20.” Taking it in small chunks like that helped me stay focused, and watching my number decrease was absurdly rewarding. Maybe something like that could help you!

    • Wow, good job, Terri! I really need to ban myself from buying anymore books as well, but it’s so hard. I tried it around September last year and failed miserably. Now I’m feeling the pressure, though, so it’s easier to avoid making any more purchases.

      You’re so right about taking it in small chunks. I think maybe that’s why this list is going to help me, because I’ll be able to see my progress as it’s happening, and take it in small increments. Thanks for the encouragement! I love knowing that you were so successful with your similar goals. :)

  6. Ugh, I know exactly what you mean! I want to read as many of my Netgalley books as possible BEFORE going to uni as I’m not sure how much time I’ll have, but I also don’t because then I’ll have more to read as I can only take my Kindle.
    I want to read so many new books in the next month as part of a Goodreads group challenge, but I also want to re-read stuff for our event.
    Throughout the whole year I’ll be aiming to read books to fit the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, but there’ll also be books I really want to read that won’t fit in there at all.
    Plus I want to re-read some key texts before I go off to uni.
    HOW TO DO IT?? *pulls out hair*

    • The NetGalley ones kill me! I just don’t even let myself browse there. I don’t even HAVE that many NetGalley books, but I feel so much pressure in that department, and I’m sure it’s because I feel like I MUST send feedback for every book I get on there. Argh! I wish I could just stop time, read ALL the books, and then start time back up again with a clean slate lol.

  7. DUDE!!! haha – if you saw my spreadsheet you’d mess yourself. It’s insane just like yours. I don’t even put books on there that I own anymore…like ones that I purchase myself. Now it is only requested review books or those received unsolicited. I don’t know what I’ll do to get it under control. I have no advice other than, stop sleeping, listen to audio books when you can’t read…read in the bathroom…who needs showers they eat up 15 minutes of reading time. Essentially abandon all of life and submit yourself to the master which is the written word.

    That is all.

  8. I can’t say whether this works or not, because I’m just trying it this year, but my way of curbing my TBR pile is a self-imposed book ban until I make my way through the physical books I’ve spent money on. That means no requesting through NetGalley, no new purchases (unless its for the end of a series) and no free downloads on my Kindle.

    Zip. Nadda.

    If I’m unable to buy new books, I hope it will help motivate me to thin out my pile a little! Haha

    • Yeah, the self-imposed book bans just haven’t been working for me lately. I really need to like… I dunno, keep my debit account so low that buying books on a whim is impossible or something. Of course, that doesn’t help with NetGalley, but I’m usually better about that site because there’s more of an obligation to read/review quickly with those. Good luck!!

  9. Huge TBR list plagues me as well. I keep piling on more and more books every time somebody talks about a good book, and my face is literally — DDDDD: . I don’t think it will ever go down because there are soooo many books (and oh so little time). I guess we have to take it one day at a time (and try not to cry over books, which obviously will not happen). I always want to read books that are not on my TBR list. It’s weird. Lol.

    I wish you luck on your endeavor to get through your TBR list. You have a whole support system, rooting you on! :D

    • Thanks, Cee, and good luck with your massive TBR piles as well! I know you’re right; we’re all just destined to be surrounded by mountains of books we want to read. I’ve mostly accepted this. Well, maybe not. lol. As my sister told me the other day, at least this means I’ll never get bored!

  10. lol is there really anyone in the blogosphere who doesn’t have a rampant TBR? Those things are literally impossible to reign in…even if you don’t buy books, there’s still the library and NetGalley/Edelweiss and friends and D: D:
    And even just the GR TBR. Every time someone mentions a good book on their blog (or if I see an interesting book on the GR feed) it’s like *adds to the TBR*. THE EVER GROWING TBR.

    • I know, it’s crazy, Nara! I basically use GR as a way to track my progress, but also just to kind of “bookmark” all the books I’ve ever found interesting, so I can remember them later, lol. Even still, I try not to let my GR to-read/wishlist get out of control, but it’s hard. *deep breaths*

  11. I wish I knew! Iäm in a similar state, actually maybe slightly worse after my Christmas spending spree but I haven’t actually crunched the numbers yet. Ignorance is bliss! I’m going to try really hard not to add (much!) to my list in Jan. However one thing that made me feel better was a comment I got on my blog recently saying that books are for enjoying and acquiring them is part of that pleasure. And that is so true, I love adding books so I’m not going to feel guilty abut it. I know I will read them all eventually.
    Good luck with your challenge, it sounds very doable. That Child Thief is on my to read list for the future.

  12. Umm.. does this mean I should apologize for sending you the Chaos Walking series? But I couldn’t help it! Even moreso now that I’m reading it. It was just BOUND to happen! :P

    If it makes you feel any better, if you combine my unread books at home, plus my unread books here, and the unread books on my Kindle, I’d probably be close to 75. And the sad thing is that quite a few of those I know I will never read but only picked up because they were free >.>

    • Hahaha, of course not!! I’m really excited to read that series. Especially since for some reason January seems to be the month for EVERYONE in my twitter/instagram feeds to be reading it. It’s making me so anxious to get started on this series. >_< Yeah, I've started making myself NOT pick up the free books (especially the ebooks) if I know I'm not going to read them. OR unless I know I just want them for my collection and I don't really care if I ever read them, lol.

  13. I just take things as they come. It seems so much easier. At this point I should just wear a buzzer on the part of my brain that allows me to make purchases of books/magazines, and a little alarm that shuts down my computer as soon as I attempt to go through the Chapters.com checkout or visit NetGalley/Edelweiss. Yup.. that’s I need ;)

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  16. I can never handle my TBR pile, haha! I have books sitting on my shelf from ages ago. I tell myself “Man, I should really get around to reading those…” I used to buy new books all the time until I rediscovered my love for the library. Then all the books I borrowed got out of control, haha! I just can’t win here. :P

    As for controlling them? Well, my TBR pile would be so SO much bigger if I hadn’t stopped buying books for now. I’m trying to save up so this is *kind of* a win-win? :D

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  18. The number of unread books that I own is completely embarrassing. I have 266 unread YA books, 33 unread adult books, and over 250 unread Kindle books that I’ve purchased (I don’t count the ones that were available for free). It’s completely ridiculous and because I’m not a fast reader, it’ll take me about seven or eight YEARS to get through them all… and that’s only if I don’t buy any new books this year (which just isn’t going to happen).

    I’m actually incredibly overwhelmed by my TBR books. My ideal TBR pile would only have about 3-5 books on it. The Kindle TBR pile doesn’t bother me as much as my physical TBR pile because they aren’t taking up space in my apartment, but they are still books that I’ve paid for and spent a good deal of money on.

    My resolution this year has been to buy less and read more of what I already own. Basically, I just want to read more books than I buy because that’s the whole point of having books.

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