Resources to Make Your TBR List Explode
The last thing I need is to add more books to my reading list, but I have to admit…I LOVE me a massive, professionally curated reading list. So many books to add! So many rabbit holes to explore! And because I am nothing if not an enabler for my fellow book lovers, I’m going to share some of my favorite resources. Your TBR list can’t even handle the insanity I’m about to throw at you.
Library Reads began in September of 2013 as a way for librarians to share their favorite books being published that month. Librarians would receive advance copies of books, vote on their favorites and submit annotations, and each month, the top 10 vote getters would be tallied into a user-friendly PDF for librarians to hand out to their patrons. Now, before I go any farther, I will say that I have a few bones to pick with this resource, namely the lack of diverse authors, a decreasingly diverse aray of genres, and the tendency for big name authors like Lee Child, Harlan Coben, and Nora Roberts to show up on the lists with some regularity. That being said, this list still provides you with hundreds of annotated reading suggestions and I can almost guarantee you’ll find more than a few books to pique your interest.
The Indie Next list, courtesy of Indiebound.org, functions in a similar way to Library Reads – it’s an annotated collection of favorite titles released each month, as voted on by independent booksellers. And not surprisingly you’ll probably see a fair amount of overlap with the Library Reads lists as well. But Indie Next also tends to feature more diverse, lesser-known authors, more books in translation, and a greater variety of titles than you’ll find on Library Reads. Plus the archive is MASSIVE. You can spend hours flipping through each month’s selected books and adding stuff to your reading list.
Ultimate Reading List – Teenreads.com
“Our goal each month is to inspire you to read – and keep reading! With that in mind, we created the Ultimate Reading List – a list of more than 450 titles that we think make perfect pleasure reading for teens.” Yeah, you read that right. More than 450 titles. Some are YA titles, others are written for adults, making this one of the most well-rounded lists for YA readers I’ve ever seen. The website even offers handy downloadable PDFs: one for the list, one for the list with ISBNs & book descriptions, and a Banned Books version!
Starting in 2014, NPR did away with the traditional “Best Books of the Year” lists and created their Book Concierge, an interactive mosaic of books that lets you filter titles by genre, subject, theme, tone, etc. You can combine filters as well, so if you’re looking for “Book Club Picks” that are also “From the Dark Side” (dark or somber in tone), you can pull up a list automatically. The Concierge only goes back to 2014, but you can still see a list of NPR’s favorite books going back to 2008.
Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the Year
Every year, Publisher’s Weekly compiles a list of approximately 150 of the best books published that year, from fiction to romance to YA to poetry to children’s to graphic novels to self-help to cookbooks, and more. The Best Of lists (or at least the ones made available online) go all the way back to 2009, and that’s not even counting the Best Books of the Summer feature they started running in 2012.
Award Archives & Short Lists
Ooooh, I love literary award lists! (They even get their own special subsection for this post!) Besides being able to go back and look at previous winners, I can usually find the archived short (and possibly long) lists for these awards as well! There are, of course, dozens of awards to choose from based on your own personal reading interests, but I really enjoy long, multi-genre lists that give me lots of options to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites, but in general, I love the awards & reading lists generated by RUSA (Reference and User Services Association; a division of the American Library Association) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association).
- ALA Notable Books – Approximately 25 fiction and nonfiction titles are selected each year that reflect a wide range of subjects and reading interests. You can view the 2017 list here and the archived lists here. Archives go back to 1945 (!).
- The Alex Awards – 10 books published each year that are written for adults, but also have special appeal for teenage readers. Archives go back to 1998 (scroll to the bottom of the page).
- The Alex Award Nomination List – Full list of nominated titles for each year. Nomination archives go back to 2010.
- Audie Awards: Recognizes “distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment” from the American Publishers Association. The website only lists previous winners since 2014, but you can view both winners and shortlisted titles on the site. 2017 winners have not been announced yet, but finalists are listed here.
- RUSA Listen List: A list of exemplary adult audiobooks recorded each year for both fiction and nonfiction. Not all of the lists indicate which titles were shortlisted, but each title comes with a librarian-created annotation, plus several “listen-alike” suggestions, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. The RUSA website is undergoing a few changes, so some of the archived lists can be a little difficult to find. I’ve managed to pull up the last 5 years worth of lists, so click on a year to view the appropriate list: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013
- RUSA Reading List: 8 exemplary genre fiction titles are selected each year. Just like with the Listen List, you get annotations for each title, several readalike suggestions, and shortlisted books for each category. And just like with the Listen List, the archived lists can be difficult to find, so I’ve highlighted the last 5 years of lists here: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.
- YALSA: Best Fiction for Young Adults – Top 10: Pretty self explanatory. Top 10 Archives go back to 1997.
- YALSA: Best Fiction for Young Adults – Master Lists: Again, pretty self explanatory. Master list archives go back to 1996, although these lists included both Fiction and Nonfiction until 2010, when they were split into different lists.
- YALSA: Great Graphic Novels for Young Adults – Top 10. Archives go back to 2007.
- YALSA: Excellence in Nonfiction. Honors the best nonfiction book published for teens, along with a 5 title shortlist. Archives go back to 2010.
- YALSA: Excellence in Nonfiction Nomination List. Full list of suggested titles. Archives go back to 2010.
So by this point, your TBR list is at about 5,000 books now and you’re probably hating me for enabling you like this. But this is okay! One of the best things about being a bibliophile is the thrill of discovery, and there is plenty to discover here!
Did your TBR lists get ridiculously long after reading this post? Hit me up and let me know!