Book Features · features

Literary Discussions // Why I like having an unwieldy TBR

Friends, this title is not clickbait. It’s true. I have 173 books currently on my Goodreads TBR and, although I sometimes jokingly complain that my TBR is too long, I actually quite like it that way.

Before I’m excommunicated from the book community for such a brazen statement, hear me out. Yes, sometimes I wish my TBR was smaller (when it’s ready to fall off my bedside table and when there are five new books released in one day that I want to read), but most of the time I’m happy that it’s huge and unwieldy, and there are a few reasons for that.


Having a towering TBR gives me motivation to read more books and read slightly faster, so I can get to other novels I want to pick up. I’m a medium-to-slow reader so having lots of book on a waiting list gives me the drive to get through a book that bit faster (without rushing), so I can move on to the next. If I only had one or two books on my TBR I know I’d be less motivated to pick them up because my goals would be smaller and therefore more easy to achieve. Having a bigger TBR reminds me that there are several libraries’ worth of books I want to read and that I need to get going.

Diversifying my reading

Part of the reason my TBR is so big is that I’m trying to read more diverse and own voices books. Reading the same types of novels with straight, white main characters, written by straight, white (and often male) authors gets boring and repetitive after a while. I want to read about characters from different cultures, religions, and countries. I want to read about characters with different sexual orientations. Characters who identify as non-binary or genderfluid. Characters with disabilities. Characters with mental health problems. I want to read stories that represent the vibrancy and diversity of our global population. So, as more diverse books continue to be published, I’ll continue adding them to my TBR, making it even bigger in the best way.

Reminders for the future

My TBR acts as a reminder of all the books I want to get to. I use my Goodreads TBR as a digital list of all the books I want to pick up in the next few years, and my physical TBR as the books I plan to read in the coming weeks. Having a big list on Goodreads is useful when I’m browsing bookstores with the intention of buying a books, but can’t remember exactly what I want to read next, as I can just look through my TBR and choose something I fancy.

Avoiding reading slumps

I find that having a lot of books I want to pick up helps me avoid falling into a reading slump. If a book leaves me feeling a bit ‘suspended’ in its world after I finish it, then I have a huge list of others that I can dive into. Likewise, if I’m halfway through a book and I’m not loving it, I can pick up another and read them simultaneously until I finish the sub-par one. And if there’s a lot of books on my TBR, then I can do this as many times as I need to and there’s plenty of choices from which to pick.

Despite my complaints that ‘I have too many books to get to’, I do enjoy having a big TBR. It helps me stay motivated to keep picking up new, diverse books as much as I can. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me, and I’ll happily keep adding more books to it as I find out about new releases.

Do you prefer a small or a big TBR? Do you have a method for organising your TBR and do you find this helps you stay on top of your reading goals?

Until next time

14 thoughts on “Literary Discussions // Why I like having an unwieldy TBR

  1. I don’t think I could cope with a smaller TBR – I have 266 books (either physically or on Kindle) that I need to read! My Goodreads TBR is more ‘hm, I might pick that up someday’ than actually ‘TBR’… I love being able to choose and having all this variety right there!

  2. I am scared to see my TBR number… I think it’s well over 400. But I, like you, really don’t mind it at all. Occasionally I’ll go through it and take things off that I no longer have interest in due to reviews I read or simply changing my mind, but it doesn’t bother me at all.

  3. I have a huge TBR too. *check my Goodreads account* OMG I have 306 on my TBR list (and that doesn’t even include my Chinese books). How did that even happen? I know I’d probably never get to all of those books because I read quite slowly. But it’s good to keep most of the books I’m interested in in one place so that I can refer to it anytime. Lucky that I have the self-control not to sign up on Netgalley XD.

  4. When you mention TBR. If it’s a physical, or e-books TBRs that I have immediately at hand and ready to read, well… I’m not okay with it being over 10 books, actually 😂 I am not a fan of having unread books and always make a point of reading a lot of them before getting new books, it’s just…. a thing I do 😂
    When talking about the goodreads TBR, I probably have over 300 books there and you’re so right that, in a way,it is motivating to see so many books that we can read, so many possibilities and I also use this, just like you, as a reminder for all the books I want to read – because there are, well, A LOT of these 😂😂😂
    Wonderful post! 😀

  5. I totally agree with the motivation aspect! Before I had a lot of books of my own I didn’t read much because I didn’t want to make 99 trips to the library and didn’t do much research to find new interesting books. But now that I have a decent sized library in my home I feel like I have endless possibilities and feel more motivated to pick something up and read more!

  6. I totally feel you and I’m with you! My goodreads TBR has recently gotten a bit out of hand with ummm…… overfivehundredbooksnobigdealitsallcool. My owned TBR (mostly kindle, only around 5 of them are physical) is much smaller with probably around 200 titles (but a lot of those were kindle freebies or ARCs I still didn’t get to because I’m Bad). I’m such a mood reader that I just can’t imagine not having a wide range of books to choose from.
    Awesome post, Kate 💞

  7. This was a great read. I like having a not huge but decent stack of books to go to next, especially like you say if a book has left me ‘suspended in that world’, my non-physical TBR is way bigger but I wish I could find a way of organising/recording it that I liked.

  8. I totally relate to this post! Although I realize my TBR is a bit out of hand (definitely the physical one), I just like having all the options. Also love how I know I’ll always have something to read (at least for the first year to come) without having to buy more books should my budget not allow it. Gives me a sense of reading security – which is important if you get most of your self-care from your reading time. 🙂

    Love this post!

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