Newsletter 1

Tackling the TBR: The Book Jar

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

It seems that every New Year’s, I come up with another elaborate resolution/book organization strategy/reading challenge/philosophy for the upcoming 12 months. Almost none of these ever end up being completely fulfilled, but that doesn’t stop me from making them, unverifiable optimism be damned.

This year, of course, is no exception. But there are a few variables that make this bookish New Year’s especially interesting:

  1. I’m moving on January 4th. Most of my books – some of which haven’t been seen outside of a storage unit in a decade – are coming with me, and I will desperately need a reliable organization plan for unpacking.
  2. Did I mention that I’m moving to NYC? So my book purchases for the next year are going to be drastically limited, both because of budgetary and shelving limitations. Hello, ebooks!
  • Because of said purchasing restrictions, I’m planning on utilizing the amazing NYC/Brooklyn Library systems. A LOT.
  • I’m hoping that a lot of my new release reading comes from digital galleys courtesy of my favorite publishers. Unfortunately, these galleys have expiration dates.

    Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve discovered a potentially awesome way to work through my extensive personal library, aka the Wall ‘o TBR, that will keep the books I already own at the forefront of my reading mind: The Book Jar.

    There are several variations that I’ve seen online, but the general gist is that you write down titles of books you want to read and throw them all into a big jar. When you need a new book, you draw from the jar to get your next read. Some suggestions include using different colored paper for different genres, some draw from the jar once a month or every third book or for every book they read.

    This seems like a brilliant solution for most of my bookish conundrums this year. It prevents me from feeling like I don’t have anything to read, despite the Wall ‘o TBR staring at me (because any book that’s new to me is a new book, right?). Which then keeps me from wanting to buy a whole lot of new books. It also makes my current library fresh and less daunting. Because there’s nothing more exhilarating and more overwhelming than staring at 1500+ books and trying to choose your next one.

    What I’d like to do for my Book Jar is to write down every single book I own and throw those into a jar, with new additions added in as I acquire them. However, some of those new additions I’m sure I would want to (and need to, as a blogger) read sooner than the jar will cough them up. There’s also the addition of library books and advance galleys that have a hard timeline.

    So help me out, friends. Should I keep a separate jar for new releases? Add those new releases to the main jar and leave it to the fates? Read the library books/galleys separate from the Book Jar experiment? And do I color-code by genre or make it interesting by not bothering? And how on earth do I organize these books when I do unpack them?


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