How To

How To Finally Get Through Your TBR List

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Carina Pereira

Staff Writer

Carina Pereira, born in ‘87, in Portugal. Moved to Belgium in 2011, and to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 2019. Avid reader, changing interests as the mods strikes. Whiles away the time by improvising stand-up routines she’ll never get to perform. Books are a life-long affair, audiobooks a life-changing discovery of adulthood. Selling books by day, writer by night. Contact

There’s a big threat out there, delaying a reader’s victory, promoting a constant battle between ourselves and our TBR list: book recommendations. (We’re guilty of it ourselves with TBR, our custom book recommendation service!)

Every time I’m scrolling through Goodreads or Twitter, or checking any literary platform, I end up with a huge list of books to buy and, once I buy them, with an even bigger list of books to read. The ratio between book recommendations and books read never gets proportional because, for every book read, I get about five new recommendations to add to my TBR pile.

I could say this is a constant struggle, but who am I kidding? There’s nothing more exciting than another promising story awaiting. Still, balance is a virtue, so here are a few tips to help you get through your TBR list once and for all.

1. Take short notes about a book when you add it to your pile

Most of the time, a few weeks after a book has been recommended to me, I’m looking at a title and I already forgot why I wanted to read that book in the first place. Writing about each book allows me to sort out a priority reading, and I go through the pile a lot quicker.

2. Keep your TBR pile all in one place

If you scatter books through the house, you’ll end up forgetting some of them, because there won’t be a quick visual reminder of how many unread books you still have. Choose one place to put them all and then get to work. Preferably, the books should be in your way, every day.

3. Set a reward system

For each ten books you finish, and only then, you can buy a new book. This one usually doesn’t work because if we had any self-control we wouldn’t have a TBR pile problem to begin with, but it’s worth giving it a try.

4. Get rid of your ereader

Before you close this page, this is not ebook hate! I love ebooks and I fear the day my old Kindle Touch might decide he has had enough, but digital books are weightless and an ereader can hold lots and lots of books. Which you don’t see, so they are never in the way, like printed books are, looking at you askew with disapproval because it’s been three months and you still haven’t picked them up to read. The last time I checked, my Kindle had twenty-six new books to be read. Would I leave twenty-six printed books in one corner of my shelf without reading them? No. So, just for a few months, until you get this TBR list sorted out, ditch the ebook buying.

5. Stay away from Goodreads and literary platforms

Now, basically I am telling you to stay away from Book Riot for a while, which is not what I am supposed to be doing, but literary websites are as much a trap as they are a blessing for book-lovers. Accept no recommendations from them, or that pile is just going to keep getting bigger. Don’t let them convince you to purchase The Hate U Give, which is great by the way, or the fabulous Exit West, and please stay away from any Must-Read New Releases type of post. Definitely don’t sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations.

6. Don’t walk into any bookshops

If there’s a bookshop on the way of your daily routine, take another route. It will be a refreshing change and…No, don’t go in there, what are you doing? I said stay away! Is that another new book?

7. Ask friends to stop gifting you books

Someone’s going to have to re-write that Christmas list, right? Go ahead. Do it. It’s “no books,” not “more books.”

8. Don’t talk about books with other people

You know how readers are: they’ll want you to read the books they have loved. You’ll want to read them too. Unfriend them. Your TBR pile does not need them in its life.

9. If all of the above fails, quit your job

No job, no money, no books. No need to get out of the house and accidentally enter a bookshop. Also, you’ll eventually starve and die, which is fine because what’s the point of life without the promise of new books to read, anyway.

If these tips can’t help you get through your TBR pile, great. It’s a lost battle. Embrace it. There are wonderful worlds awaiting out there for you and they’ll be ready whenever you are. No rush.