Saying “No” to TBR in 2019

This week I wanted to talk about the book term TBR, or “to be read.” Most of the readers of this “little blog that could” are probably familiar with the term, but a TBR is a list of books you set to read in a period of time, generally a month.

This was a term I was familiar with before joining Bookstagram (book-world’s little corner of Instagram), but it was really thrust upon me as a must when I made my Bookstagram account in June of 2018. It seemed like every account I followed was posting a stack of books they wanted to get to every month, and I felt like I HAD to post one to be a part of the culture. I was putting together these ever growing stacks that never got completed.

So, in 2019, I am cancelling TBR. (We’re cancelling everybody and everything else these days, so I will just give the TBR the boot preemptively.)


ANXIETY: Every month I would put together stacks of reasonable amounts given my schedule … Then I would look at every other TBR stack on my feed and see stacks twice as high. My need to be a better Bookstagrammer would lead me to build my stack (like my expectations) unrealistically high. I would then, as anyone would guess, feel like crap because of how many incomplete books I had (sometimes as many as 1/3 to 1/2 of the stack).

PERSONAL/WORK LIFE: When I would start to get stressed about how many books I wasn’t getting to and what a failure I was, I would double or triple my reading time. As all of you can probably connect with, I was doing this at a detriment to every other part of my life.

When you spend all your time reading, you don’t connect with real people. To most readers, this may not seem like a bad thing, but I promise you there are at least a few nice things and at least two nice people out there who deserve a little bit of your time.

But, possibly worse, I was taking most of the time out of my work life, which left me with botched projects, extended deadlines, and professional all-nighters. As a coworker, I started to realize how unfair it was to drop the ball on important things to meet a burden I was ostensibly putting on myself.


2019 is about simplifying and streamlining. So, when it comes to my reading life, that’s the mantra.

For 2019, when I finish a book, I’ll pick up the next one. I hope to keep it that simple.


(Because, of course, aren’t there always? – But for me there are only two exceptions)

POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE: I am taking part in the 2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge, which you can find out about here. To keep up with that, I am part of a Goodreads group, and I plan to do their monthly prompt group read. Also, two of the advanced prompts are “2 Books that Share a Title.” I will be reading those in February since one of them is Pride and Prejudice, and @paperbackbones is hosting a read-along.

BOOK CLUB: I also have a book club I take part in with some coworkers, so I will read those books every month, of course.

Other than that, I really do plan to cut out “TBR” from my vocabulary in 2019. It is not worth the anxiety of feeling like a failure or the time it takes away from other areas of my life.

What are your thoughts on the “TBR” concept? Do you feel like planning a month’s worth of reads takes the fun out of it, or do you like the process of curating a month’s reading beforehand? Let me know in the comments!


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