Ways to Kill Your TBR

*TBR = To Be Read, i.e the teetering pile next to your bed of books you intend to read.

Since I became a bookseller, my TBR pile has gotten a little out of control.

Ok.  A lot out of control.  Here's the evidence.

Buying and receiving books is wonderful, and going about it the right way supports the industry I see myself as a part of.  By paying for books, rather than illegally downloading them, I am doing my part towards ensuring that it remains economically viable to continue publishing books at all, and making sure that authors I love actually make a little money for the books they write.  But as a bookseller and a reviewer, I also receive what are known as ARCs, or Advanced Reading Copies, which are unproofed, bound copies of books used for marketing purposes.  And while I tried to keep up with reading all of these in time for the releases of the books they related to, two years on it's become pretty clear that I cannot.

I'm not the kind of person who can stand to read fifty pages of a book and discard it, regardless of quality.  If a story hooks me, or if there are questions I want answered, I'll read to the end.  There have been very few books that I have ever left unfinished, and the only example that springs to mind is The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (I'm sorry, don't kill me).  But when I think of all the books that I have struggled with at first and then ended up loving, I realise that my way of reading suits me just fine.  I would have missed out on books like The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which I told myself I would give up on by page 50 if it didn't start to grab me (luckily it did), and therefore never have been inspired to challenge myself to write with more courage about the prisoner of war camps in my own book length project.

But one of my new year's resolutions this year is to reduce clutter.  I recently listened to a lecture given by Clive James after it was recommended to me on the Facebook page for this blog (thank you SS), and in it, Clive James jokes about the number of books in his apartment, and about how one of these days he will add the volume that will send his apartment crashing through the six apartments below.  I don't live in an apartment, thank goodness, but one of these days I will move out of home, and I'll be faced with the task of choosing which books to take with me.  So I've started a challenge: to kill my TBR, and here are a few ways I am going to go about it.

1. Use the library.  Not useful for new books, as the public library system in Western Australia takes forever to get new books into the system and even then you have to wait.  But immensely useful for classics, older books etc.

2. Try to get through the books I have been sent for review FIRST, as well as books which have been leant to me.

3. Aim to read ten books every month.

4. Read every day, even if it's just for ten minutes.

5. Curb the amount of time I spend on social media waiting for something to happen.  (I would add watch less TV to this category but I actually don't tend to watch a lot.)

6. Participate in a book club with my friends.

7. Be ruthless... if I REALLY don't like a book, or if a bookselling proof is old and I haven't gotten to it yet, give it away.  But try to read any book I've paid for.

I plan to keep this blog updated with how I'm going.  I sat down and did a shuffle of those books in the retaining wall at the end of my bed two nights ago and I managed to root out about seven that I would never read.

As far as reading ten books in January goes, I'm half way there, and if I read small books I might just make it.  Better get back to the one I'm reading now though!

Have you got a lot of books in your TBR?  I want to hear about it.  You can send me pictures of your TBR on Twitter or Instagram too: I'm @BatgirlElimy on Twitter, and @incredibleramblingelimy on Instagram.

Bye for now!


  1. I'm in the middle of the same issues. According to my Good Reads account, I have over 50 books to knuckle down and get read (nothing compared to your pile mind you), of which I've made a list to mark off one-by-one. As much as I've told myself not to read anything else until these are done, three books have already squeezed ahead of this list. Eventually I'll compress it down to nothing, but I wish you luck with your own piles :)

  2. Good luck with that Elimy, my TBR list is similar :)

  3. Wow! You could start your own library. I love your guidelines, and using a lending library is a terrific idea. Same with abandoning books. I think I only started doing that once I became a mum, and my reading time became more limited so I didn't want to waste it on a book I've not gotten into. I do give it a fair go—it's rare for me to abandon a book until I've read at least 1/3 of it. (One notable exception springs to mind ...) Anyway, good luck with your self-imposed reading challenge! Looking forward to hearing how it goes ...

  4. I feel your pain & understand completely - I'm a bookseller too & can match you unread pile for unread pile!
    I've also gotten ruthless with abandoning books I'm not enjoyng or in the mood for, esp if I haven't paid for them & I've gotten very good at returning ARC's to the pile we keep at work (transferring the problem to someone else?!) until I can read them.

    SM is also a time waster for me that I'm trying to kerb and I spend way too much time pottering around my blog to no apparent purpose.
    Perhaps we can help each other maintain our resolves :-)

    1. Hi Brona Joy, I'd love to be your reading buddy! Let's keep each other on track.

      I love that you transfer your books back to the ARC pile at work. Unfortunately, I work in a tiny bookstore where there are only three booksellers and the other two are currently in the middle of really big university research projects and only work about one day each. They're not usually interested in reading extra books and I don't blame them. I do tend to farm out my reading as much as I can though.


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