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21 Ways to Organize Your TBR Pile

Laura Diaz de Arce

Staff Writer

Raised in a suburb built over a swamp, Laura Diaz de Arce is a South Florida writer with a penchant for long-winded explanations and a nasty reading habit she can't seem to kick. Her other quirks include sudden exclamations in Spanish and talking to cats. Laura has a Master's in Literature, which is currently lost somewhere in her office closet. She is the author of "Monstrosity: Tales of Transformation" and "Mask of the Nobleman." You can find her poorly spelled tweets and blurry photos on Twitter and Instagram @QuetaAuthor.

It was John Mulaney that famously said “Nothing feels as good as cancelling plans.” Which is true, but a close second is procrastination. And what better example of satisfying procrastination is there than a To Be Read pile or list. If you’re overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or whelmed, and don’t know how to get a start on all those book recs you have in a stack next to your bed, we’ve compiled a set of possible organization strategies to finally tackle it…or to at least feel productive while you procrastinate reading. Here are 21 ways to organize your TBR pile!

1. Most Recent Release to Oldest

Keeps you in the loop, at least at first, of popular literature.

2. Oldest Release to Newest
Chronological arrangements are an oldie, but a goody.

3. Alphabetical, by last name of author.

Because you secretly want to work in a library anyway.

4. Reverse alphabetical, by first name of author.
For the contrarian who thrives in a little bit of chaos.

5. ROYGBIV by spine color.

Aesthetically pleasing while piled on your chair is really what we’re going for here.

6. Ordered by number of letters in the title.
For those of you who want a method to this madness.

7. Numerically by ISBN.
Required: a magnifying glass to see those tiny numbers.

8. Prioritized by the number of Twitter followers the author has.
Take that, classic literary writers! Welcome to the age of the Meme Wars!

9. Prioritized by how much you like the person who recommended it.
Elena in accounting who always has a spare allergy pill for your runny nose, FIRST! Elizabeth that takes the last cookies at the office, second to last.

10. Prioritized by how hot the main character sounds.
This may or may not have been how I have been organizing my to be read pile


11. Prioritized by how pretty the cover is.
Yes, you can judge a book by it’s cover. No one will fault you for it in your own TBR pile.

12. Hat Trick.
Put the titles in a hat, then select in order.

13. Ask Oracle of Delphi.
Involves a pilgrimage to Greece and you run the risk of her stepping off her stool for bothering her.

14. Which author would win in a fight?
Make a bracket, then rate it by the author’s fighting skills, prowess, and ferocity. Now decide who would beat who? Would Shirley Jackson beat Oscar Wilde? (Yes). What about James Baldwin? Tana French? Make a bracket. Take bets that will never be resolved if you’re the gambling type.

15. Tenured Professor Grading Method.
Write each title on a large sheet of paper. Then go to the top of a staircase and fling the papers in the air. Collect your papers in descending order, the one at the top goes first and the ones at the bottom of the stairs fail—I mean, are read last.


16. Let the Stars Decide!
Take each title and assign a zodiac symbol to each. Then order them by compatibility to your own sign. Geminis go last.

17. Snail Racing
Collect a bunch of snails. Assign each snail a book. Build a snail track. Then watch them race! This technique is not particularly riveting, but it may work for those of you with a more quirky personality and a lot of time on your hands.

18. Runes
Fortune telling that may require animals bones and a shaman.

19. Ask Paul the Octopus
The Octopus that predicts the world cup. Yeah. Ask him. Our tentacled friend seems to have his life in order.

20. Crystals?
I have no clue how crystals work but I’m sure they can do something here.

21. Ouiji Board.
Answers! From the great beyond! Oscar Wilde would like to note that he is upset you have him coming in last in the fighting bracket.


Now get to reading!