Reducing Your TBR & TBR Stress

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Hello everyone! Today, I’m here to talk about something that plagues many of us- and at the moment, has been plaguing me. Many people have stopped doing TBRs, #0by16 was immensely popular and tags like the ‘TBR Shame Tag’ exist! TBRs are a massive fixation in this community and whilst I love them, they are also no-good assholes who want to ruin everyone’s fun.

When I was a kid (well, technically I am still a child, but I’m hardly 9 anymore, so when I was a kid) I loved reading. Nothing much has changed there. But I also used to go downstairs after finishing a book and complain about having nothing to read. Now as much as this ailment plagued 9-year-old Keira, it is something that 15-year-old Keira wishes she could say. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I mean, no I don’t want to have zero options of things to read and resort to buying tons of Kindle books or rereading old favourites constantly, but I want to go back to the days of a more reasonable and limited selection of unread books. I want my bookshelves to bring me pride and happiness and no stress whatsoever.

All this considered, I have decided to reduce my TBR and if you are in a like-minded position, or simply interested in what I am doing (if you are, I’m immensely flattered and rather confused by it), then here is my action plan, laid out (mostly to hold myself to them and not change them…). I’m determined, so let us begin.


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I have two main goals:

  • Be generally less stressed about reading. Reading is a pleasurable hobby, not a chore or a job. You have school to put pressure on you- don’t add any.
  • Have a TBR comprised of a maximum of 25 physical books and 10 e-books and A MINIMUM of 4 physical books and 1 e-book (yes, I’m putting a minimum amount- like I said before, I still want some choice of what to read next).

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This is perhaps the simplest, quickest and hardest stages. Don’t start with your TBR books: start with your read books. You aren’t planning on finishing that series anytime soon? Chuck it. Don’t remember that book and have no interest in finding out what it was about? Chuck it. You get the idea. (Also- don’t actually check it: many charity shops or charities themselves accept donations or you could give them away to friends/family!)

Then go onto your TBR- any sequels to those series you don’t plan on finishing: those can go first. Has it been on that unread pile for over 2 years… you’re probably never going to read it. I recommend reading the first chapter. Does reading it make you feel uncomfortable? Are you bored? Disappointed? Uninterested? Get rid of it. This is not the time for ‘but…’ or ‘I might read it someday’- this is time for being harsh. Pretend the world depends on it or something. I don’t know. Just do it. And do it first. GET RID OF THE BOOKS. If you leave them in the closet or in a pile somewhere, they will almost certainly magically reappear on your bookshelves.

I lessened my TBR by about 16 books doing this and freed up about a whole 2 shelves of space. It’s just good news all around seeing as I lost a lot of baggage and guilt along with those long-unread books or unfortunate presents/impulse buys.


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There are lots of yearly challenges, which I highly recommend doing. Some include:

Others definitely exist: just find the one for you! You can also challenge yourself- I have a list of 12 books to reread by the end of the year, for example.

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Another ‘challenge’ that isn’t so common now, but was popular a couple of years ago is a TBR Jar Challenge. I did this the other year (or tried to) and failed quickly, because I never wanted to read the book I pulled. However, I am restarting it, with slightly different rules. Here they are:

  • All TBR books are eligible unless they are sequels to books I have not yet read.
  • I must pick one book out of the jar every month.
  • I can also pick a book if I am unsure what I want to read next.
  • Once a book has been picked, I have one month to read it.
  • If I either have no interest in reading the book or don’t start it by the end of the month, it gets returned to the jar and another book is picked (whether or not I want another book). The name of the discarded book gets written down for future reference.
  • If a book is picked a second time and gets discarded in one of the two aforementioned ways, I must get rid of it.
  • Rather than constantly going through all the books, if a book is selected which has already been read, then it is simply thrown away and another is selected.
  • This will continue after reaching my goal.

This way, I will have a wildcard on my TBR each month, never need to worry about what to read next and have a way of continuously culling books I will never read.

I am also putting together a Short TBR Jar Challenge in which all physical books under approximately 300 words (okay, it’s more like 310) get entered again in a second jar, with slightly different rules to the main one. E-books don’t count, because the page count isn’t really a major factor for me with them.

  • A single book is chosen for every 20 books I read.
  • The same rules apply as with the main jar once a book has been picked.

This way I will give myself a bit of a break between possibly longer books. Normally I would do this with a ‘guilty pleasure’ read, which results either in a reread or a purchase of a romance novel. Not that this isn’t an excellent past-time which I enjoy very much, but it tends to lapse into me only reading romances for weeks, which isn’t so great.


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Second only to culling, this is probably the easiest way to reduce your TBR and it’s by far the most obvious one. If you want to have less unread books, you obviously have to read more of them! That requires little explanation.

I will however say that my monthly TBR and current reads have migrated off of my beautiful shelves to take up residence on my bedside table along with a cute little checklist on a post-it note. Why you ask? To make them equally easy to reach as the computer at the end of the bed to hopefully encourage my lazy butt to read when I’m bored and not just wack out a couple of hours of Downton Abbey or something. Also, to keep in my mind that I have actually got a TBR so I don’t leave them all to the last couple of days in the month (which I definitely haven’t done before…) 🙂


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I don’t like book buying bans and they don’t work and they are unrealistic. I don’t have a ban. I am implementing a restriction. And no, that’s not me dressing up a ban as something nicer, it is the pure, unadulterated truth (I really love saying that phrase, it sounds pleasant… I also like the word ‘exuberant’. Say it, go on. Doesn’t it feel good to say? Roll of the tongue nicely? Nope. Okay, that’s just me being a weirdo then… ANYWAY). The terms of this restriction are:

  • One book may be pre-ordered every four months courtesy of my dad. (He usually doesn’t buy books for me, but as I am only 15 and do not have a job yet, he does buy e-books and treats me to these).
  • One book may be pre-ordered every four months with my own money.

However, these pre-orders come with two stipulations:

  1. The pre-ordered book must be the next thing you read once receiving it (after finishing the book currently being read, of course).
  2. The pre-order must be a) an incredibly highly anticipated standalone that you have been dying to get your hands on OR b) a sequel to a favourite series OR c) a book by a favourite author. I don’t want to start too many more series and I want to make sure the pre-orders I make actually get read.

Then, there are a couple of restrictions that only apply to the end of the year.

  • A maximum of 9 books collectively may be requested for birthday and Christmas.
  • Amazon wish lists must be fully up to date and harshly purged by November 1st latest. This is because I made the mistake of not doing this and when splitting my wishlist between 4 families within my extended family, my parents added some extras from my list onto the pile. Mostly, this was great, but there were a few books which I probably would have ended up not getting and which I have now given away, which is kind of sad.

My biggest issue with receiving books for Birthday and Christmas and why I say 9 collectively is that both events take place in the same week and last year my TBR increased by about 35 books (especially when you factor in birthday money spent on books), which is ridiculous and totally disproportionate to my reading.

Other more regular restrictions are:

  • One ARC may be accepted at a time if contacted by the author.
  • One additional ARC may be requested at a time if it a sequel to a previously started series or a book by a favourite author.
  • One “guilty pleasure” (or not guilty) romance book may be purchased each month independently of any other requirements.
  • One book must be purchased for every 15 books read to keep up variety and new life in my TBR.
  • A maximum of 2 additional books may be purchased each month.
  • One audiobook which I do not own a physical copy of AND one audiobook which I do own a physical copy of (if using credit for the previously owned copy).

HOWEVER, there are also some stipulations on these additional books as well! They must be either a) a present OR b) a new release OR c) a sequel OR d) a souvenir. Of course, any schoolbooks I need will be bought… they don’t come under this restriction at all!


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Okay, so I’ve finally reached my goal (hypothetically speaking). At this point I’m probably in the habit of buying less books, but in order to maintain my goal and not go too far under or over it some of the rules will have to change.

  • Instead of having to buy 1 book for every 15 read, I can now choose to buy 1 book for every 5.
  • The two additional books a month can be anything.
  • If a book has been on the TBR for over 3 months, re-evaluate if you still want to read it.

All other rules will be the same!


Do you get TBR stress? How do you manage it? How many books are on your TBR and how many would you like there to be? Talk to me about your thoughts in this! Happy reading, Keira x.

P.S. This thing is almost 1900 words and there aren’t many pictures so if you read to the end… wow! Comment “squid bubbles” or something because this is probably my longest post ever. Congratulations and thank you 🙂

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