What does TBR mean?

We all have been there — your library has spilled over, filling your room with piles of books waiting to be read. Your nightstand is ready to break down from the weight of January’s reading list. And your tablet overheats every time it loads your Kindle Unlimited library.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, buying books is half the fun. Unfortunately, many of those books end up on my TBR list. What does TBR mean? Read on to learn what TBR means and how to create your own TBR list!

What does TBR mean

What Does TBR Mean?

TBR means “To Be Read”! It’s essentially a list of all of the books that you want to dive into, but haven’t gotten the chance to start reading just yet.

Unfortunately, life gets in the way and reading doesn’t always happen as often as we’d like it to.

Adult things prevent you from reading as much as you want and you end up with a LOT of books in the pipeline. (If I’m being honest, sometimes I buy books knowing too well I won’t be able to dive in until next year…)

Don’t be in despair, my fellow bibliophiles. I have a neat solution. One that you’ve problem encountered before, but I can help you properly implement it. It’s called a TBR list.

How To Create and Organize Your TBR List

First of all, we need to make a deal.

I know life can be hectic but your alone time is way too valuable to waste it on menial things.

Trust me. Every time I stopped reading because I was “too busy at work” or “too tired, I’ll just watch Netflix,” my mental balance was off.

Promise me that you’ll find the time to do what makes you happy. In this case, reading.

Every TBR list is going to be different, depending on your goals and personal preferences.

For example, 5 years ago I wanted to be a kick-ass copywriter. Instead of reading the stuff I usually read (philosophy, fiction, autobiographies, etc.), I devoted my time to reading industry-related books like “Ogilvy on Advertising” and “Cashvertising.”

Creating a TBR List

books to be read (tbr)

Having a specific goal in mind will make it easier to create and organize your TBR list. (Note: Reading should still be fun. Don’t make it a crutch!)

Your TBR list might be about reading some of the classics or burning through Poe’s anthologies. Perhaps, you are an artist so reading about your craft is a no-brainer.

Whatever the case may be, there are a few ways to create your TBR list.

1. Pen and Paper

The old fashion way is still my favorite choice! Write down however many books you want to read in a week, month, or year and start crossing them off as you go.

2. Excel Sheet

We’re getting a little bit fancier now. Excel allows you to organize via genre, author, date, etc. You can get as complex as you want.

You can even create a schedule (e.g. “Finish XX pages by 12/9”) and record your own reviews next to every book.

3. Goodreads

I have mixed feelings about this one, but I see a lot of people using Goodreads as a TBR list.

While you’ll find a lot of gems on there, the reviews could prevent you from going in with an open mind.

Knowing what the community has to say about a book can be helpful (and save you some time), but I personally like to take my chances. Besides, I have a “weird” technique to help you decide if a book is worth it. Keep reading!

4. Facebook Group With Friends

Oh, my wild college years. We used to have an informal “book club” using a private Facebook group. Me and five friends would add a book every month to a yearly list.

Since we all had very different tastes when it comes to reading, our TBR list was very interesting, to say the least!

Unfortunately, we never managed to read all of them (5×12=60 books a year) but the group idea has a lot of potential!

5. Your Nightstand

Last but not least, go with what you see every day next to your bed! Grab a book from the pile and go at it. That’s what I do most of the time, anyway.

Creating a TBR list is the easy part. But what about reading all these books?

How To Get Through Your Reading List And Have Fun Doing It?

I said it before, but what’s the point of a reading list if you’re not having fun? Here are some tips on how to read more books and have fun doing it!

1. Read Things You WANT To Read

Don’t force yourself to include books that you know you won’t like. That means you should curate your TBR list in order to fit your personality — not the other way around.

When I was reading the aforementioned copywriting books, it got to a point where I had learned all the theoretical stuff and it was time to move on.

But, I had a few books at the bottom of my list. And I pretty much forced myself to get through them. I wasted a few weeks for no reason.

If you don’t care about politics, philosophy or science, don’t read about these subjects. Don’t get peer-pressured by the internet to read “important” books.

After all, the more you “train” your reading muscles, the more you’ll crave more complex and serious books. Trust me.

2. The “Weird Trick” To Find Out If You’re Going To Enjoy A Book

“Don’t read to finish books. Read to satisfy your intellectual curiosity.” — Naval Ravikant

I’m guilty of trying to finish every book I pick up. I don’t know why, I just feel that I have to finish it, even if it’s bad!

A profound realization I had recently is that most books, statistically speaking, ARE bad. Yup.

Just because someone was able to publish (or self-publish) a book, doesn’t mean you owe him or her your valuable time.

My recommendation is this:

  • Read at least 50 pages
  • Treat books like a blog post

If you read the 50th page and you still feel like it’s a drag to read it, then you’re allowed to skim through it (like a blog post).

If you’re STILL not satisfied, throw it out. I mean it.

Don’t feel that you need to reach the last page. You should be excited every time you sit down and open the damn thing! (I should definitely take my own advice…)

3. Create A Habit

It’s harder to start working out and easier to keep working out. The power of inertia — an object in motion stays in motion.

If you stop reading for a while, you’ll notice that your attention span will be shorter and it’ll be harder to focus on your book.

But if you want to go through your TBR, you need to have some discipline… at first.

Put aside 30-60 minutes every day for reading. It might take a few weeks until it becomes a habit. After a while, you’ll look forward to it.

4. One Book At A Time?

That may stir up some controversy… But there isn’t a rule preventing you from reading 100 books at the same time or just one.

In my opinion, it’s better to focus on one fiction and one non-fiction. That way, you can give you brain some variety, without thinning yourself out.

5. Make It A Ritual

An uncomfortable chair, noise, and too much heat or cold can deter you from reading. Make the effort to create an environment that puts you in a “reading mood”.

We have a whole post about this subject. Check it out: “How to Read a Book.”

So, there you go! Do these things and you’ll soon have to update your TBR list!

What NOT To Do…

books in boxes

One advice many bibliophiles follow is to not buy another book before reading everything you own. I disagree. I believe that money spent on books is money well spent.

Even if you don’t end up reading all of them in a month, your library will thank you in the long run.

I see books as an investment. For me and my future family

Plus, I like to own dozens of unread books to remind me of all the knowledge I’ve yet to possess…

“Sometimes, looking at the many books I have at home, I feel I shall die before I come to the end of them, yet I cannot resist the temptation of buying new books. Whenever I walk into a bookstore and find a book on one of my hobbies — for example, Old English or Old Norse poetry — I say to myself, “What a pity I can’t buy that book, for I already have a copy at home.” — Jorge Luis Borges

How many books are on your TBR list at the moment? How long do you think it’ll take you to read them all?

I’ll start. I have 7 books in the pipeline and I predict it’ll take me 3 months.

Your turn.

About the Author

George Kourakos is an ad-man by day, a writer by night. He is a mathematician with a creative side. Working full time as a copywriter, George wants to explore his creative side by writing about his favorite topics.

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