I’m sure this comes as a surprise to no one, but I have a lot of books to read. The list includes ARCs and eARCs as well as published physical and digital books. Not so much in audio though since, for the moment, I am no longer commuting to my day job. But yeah…it’s a lot. So much so that I am seriously debating pausing my book subscription until I can at least pretend I’m somewhat caught up.
One way I’m working on this is coming up with creative ways to pick what book to read next. I’m not a reader who has to blow through a whole series before I can move on. As a matter of fact, I like taking breaks between them, because spending too long with the same characters can be tedious (looking at you, Dresden). But simply browsing the shelves doesn’t always do it; sometimes I like to let Fate decide what I’m going to read next. And that’s where the fun part comes in.
There are myriad ways you can pick what to read next off your TBR. You can play a game, let the cards decide for you, roll the dice, or tag a loved one in. There’s really no limit to the creative ways to pick your TBR, and even if you ever find yourself stumped, you can turn to reliable BookTube to discover different ways to do so. I’ll admit, the “picking my TBR videos” are some of my favorite to watch when I’m trying to come down off a hard day at work. They are super creative sometimes and always find a way to make it their own.
What I am doing for y’all today is giving you more than a handful of ways to pick your next read. Some of these are inspired by BookTube, and, when applicable, I will reference the BookTuber I first saw it on. By that I mean that I am not saying they are the ones who came up with the game; I’m saying that this particular BookTuber is the first one I saw doing it. They were very likely inspired by other BookTubers, since this is a community that does share ideas a lot.
Onto the options!
As the header indicates, these ae options that take the bare minimum effort. They’re still fun ways but they require little-to-no prep on your part.
Go By Mood
Okay, hear me out before you get mad, because it can be more than just the typical “mood” reading. What I mean is think about how you’re feeling at the moment when you are looking for a new book. Are you sad and need a lift up? Or are you sad and want to cry yourself dry? Are you looking for hope? Are you wanting to think? Solve a mystery? The possibilities are endless there. So it is still a way of reading based on the mood you’re in now, but by actively asking what mood you want to be in next.
Have Someone Else Pick
Here you just have someone else pick your book. Doesn’t matter who they are to you, as long as they have access to your bookshelf. Just have them tell you what to read next. Bonus points if they’re readers too and want to buddy read with you.
These ways require just a little bit more effort before jumping in with choosing this way. The hardest part about these as sticking to your own self-made rules when Lady Luck does not smile upon you.
This is probably another easy one to do, since all you need is a glass jar, scraps pieces of paper, a pen, and your personal library. Then you write on the scraps, put them in the jar, shake it up, and go! Fair warning though: with this option, you’re leaving it all up to chance as to which scrap of paper you’ll pick. But you still have a small amount of power, since you choose what to write down, so you can choose book titles, genres, or prompts! If you really want to chance Fate, you can do a mix of all three.
This is typically how my book club picks our books. We all throw out book titles and pick them from there. Recently, we have had one person put up three as their tributes, but we still keep it full for when we need it.
With this option, you can either use a regular six-sided die or an appropriately sided roleplaying die. Personally, when I go this route I use both types and then base the prompt off of that. For example, I will roll a D20 and a D6 to get a letter of the alphabet. Then I’ll go to my digital library (because my physical books are definitely not in alphabetical order) and pick a book from there. You can also use a dice roll to pick which book off your shelf to read. Something like that may require multiple rolls to get the shelf and book number. That’s not factoring in if your books are shelved two or three rows deep. If you choose this, be sure to get a clear understanding of your own rules before proceeding.
There are numerous apps and sites that will let you create your own spinning wheel. As with the book jar, you can pick whether they are prompts or titles and spin the wheel. Personally, I would use it for book titles, since my issue isn’t too many genres, it’s took many amazing sounding books. No whammy, please.
Please note, with the exception of the first one mentioned, I’m not necessarily crediting the specified BookTuber with the TBR idea. What I am saying is their channel is the first one I first saw it on. I will be linking the first video with the game since they typically give a breakdown of the specific rules for that BookTuber.
Jesse’s TBR Cards
Jesse from Bowties & Books created these cards with the idea to help diversify your reading. And boy howdy, do these cards have that in spades (I had to do at least one pun). Some are very specific, such as reading a translated book. versus more open to interpretation, such as reading in a different format than you normally do. Plus, you’re helping to support a small BIPOC owned business and the Black artist behind the card’s designs, the talented iLivieSimone, which is always a good feeling. Below is the video they debuted these cards in!
This one comes from Maddie of book browsing blog. She creates prompts that vary from “Newest acquired book” to “Mom picks my TBR” and blindly puts them up on the dart board. Then she lets the darts fly and goes from there. Below is the first episode with this game.
Modified Board Games
There are quite a few versions of these floating around. In most situations, the BookTube will take an established board game and modify the spaces with their own prompts and books. Then they roll the dice and go from there. Two of the more popular ones are Becca’s Bookopoly from Becca and the Books and Jadeyrareads with her TBR Pursuit game. I really love that one, since it combines one of my favorite board games with one of my favorite past times.
Gavin from How to Train Your Gavin came up with Play Your TBR Card Right, which appears to be based off the “High/Low” game. He’ll pick two picks, one he is super excited about and the other not so much, and lay out five cards. He’ll flip the first one over and have to guess whether the next one will be a high or a low card and that determines which he reads. Personally, I’m not a fan of “punishment” reading, since my time is too limited to read a book I really am not excited about. But it is still a fun way to determine which book to pick next.
A lot of BookTubers use their own variation of this game, but Kaylani from Kaylani SimplyMe is where I saw it first. She created a BINGO board with random numbers and prompts and uses a BINGO wheel to pick her next prompt. She does have special rewards when she reaches a BINGO on the board, but it’s also a unique and time intensive way to pick what book to read next. Check out her video debuting the game.
Jasmine from Pardon My Imagination does this, and it’s exactly how it sounds. She gift-wrapped her entire bookshelf and will randomly pick books throughout the year to determine what she reads next. I love this concept, but it takes a lot of preparation and I would think help from other people not only to wrap the books, but mix them up on the shelves so you don’t know what you’re getting.
And there you have it! Those are just some of the more fun ways that one can use to pick their next TBR book. Hopefully you found one the fits your lifestyle, as well as new-to-you BookTubers to watch. Good luck on conquering your TBR mountain!