10 Tips for Tackling Your At Home TBR

If you’re not up to date on current book lingo, TBR means “to be read”.  For the book obsessed, your TBR pile is probably higher than Mount Everest right now, and it’s growing daily.  This is often a result of giving into books that are super hyped up, best seller must-read lists, books you’ve been recommended (online and in real life), books from your high school reading list you missed out on but decided to finally read, the books you couldn’t help yourself buying when you casually browse your local bookstore, and the oh so popular late-night browsing the internet book purchases.  Yup, the struggle is real and it’s often one us book lovers fall into headfirst.

But, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of things you can do to make some headway and make a dent in your massive TBR pile.  So check out our 10 tips for tackling your at-home TBR.


The painful but necessary first step is to take inventory of all your unread books.  If you don’t know what books you have to read, how can you read them?

Taking inventory also requires some reflection: what kind of reader do you want to be?  What are your reading priorities and have they changed since you added that first book to your pile (years ago)? Are there books on topics you are no longer interested in? Once you have clear answers to some of these basic questions, you’ll have a better idea of what books should stay in your TBR pile and what needs to go.



Believe it or not but not all books belong on your TBR.  There are some books that you want to read at some point in your life (say, during your next long vacation or when you finally retire) and then there are books that belong on your TBR pile. These two categories are not the same thing. Your TBR pile is for those urgent, intensely curated books that are of utmost reading priority. So separate those urgent reads from any other books you just anticipate wanting to read some point.



After you’ve taken inventory and made a decision about what books actually belong on your TBR, make new stacks with the books that you’re planning to read in the near future according to your reading style.  If you’re a mood reader, organize your books and have stacks dedicated to a particular subject matter or genre.  If you have reading goals, make a stack with those books you’re prioritizing and pull from them exclusively.

The main goal here is to make the books you want to read easily accessible when you need them or you’re in a particular reading mood.


Remember those mini TBR stacks I recommended?  Well, whether those work for you or not, I highly recommend adding books according to the date the arrived on your TBR.  It’s a well known little secret that the longer a book sits on your TBR pile, the odds of them being read drop drastically.



Don’t hide your TBR under the bed or behind any other books, keep it where you can see it.  Give them a home on a nice shelf or in an area that you highly traffic.



I can’t stick to any book buying bans so I don’t recommend them to anyone.  What I do recommend is that you always remember step number two – not all books belong on your TBR.  The books on your TBR should be stranded island material, not books you just anticipate wanting to read whenever.

In that same token, keep your TBR pile diverse – be mindful about discovering new authors, writers from a wide variety of backgrounds, authors of color, add some books in translations, a variety of genres, etc.



Obvious tip right? This really is the crux of getting through your TBR pile. Moaning that you have no time to read isn’t going to help you read the gazillion books piling up around you – just do it and prioritize reading.


In order to read more, you really have to make books a part of your life and daily routine.  Some tips include – never leave home without a book, always have a book on hand, listen to an audiobook while you’re out for a walk, at the gym or doing household chores, and pencil in some time in your schedule to read.



It’s easy to get distracted by book FOMO and changing personal interests. Sometimes the book everyone is talking about on #bookstagram isn’t a book that belongs in your TBR pile.  Some indulgence is good but spend some time scrutinizing the synopsis, the author, the ratings, and reviews.  This should give you a clear enough idea of whether or not you’re truly interested in a book and if you should make it a priority.



Your TBR stack will inevitably get out of control again, its just a fact of life.  Plus your reading tastes and interests are likely to evolve over time. So every so often – let’s say, once a year – reevaluate the books that are still hanging out in your TBR pile.  If neccessary don’t be afraid to move a few of those books to your “to be read at some point” shelves. Then add anything hot off the presses that deserves the coveted space you just made.


– Set monthly reading goals. 

– Create a reading space in your home just for reading.

– If a book isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to set it aside.

– Turn off or silent your mobile devices during your reading time.

– If you’re feeling generous donate books you know you’re never going to read to your local used bookstore, library bookshop, charity shop, or little free library.

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