Let’s Discuss – Why Culling My TBR List is an Impossible Task!

Posted December 19, 2014 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 53 Comments


I tried. I really did. But in the end, I epically failed. I have determined that there is absolutely no way to get my TBR list down to a reasonable number of books. No way.

I know you all think I’m being dramatic (and I am, of course), but this is a real problem that plagues me. I MUST get my TBR under control!! Right now (after my failed attempt at culling the list), I have over 1100 books on my Goodreads TBR. Even though I read A LOT (I just passed my 200 book goal for 2014 yesterday), it would still take me six years to read all of those books. And that’s assuming that, in the next six years, I find no new books that I want to read. Um, yeah, that obviously isn’t going to happen.

Oh, and did I mention that 99% of those books have been added to my TBR in the two years I’ve been blogging? So, let’s see, if I keep going at this rate, I should have all of the books read … never. Obviously.

So, I did what any self-respecting Goodreads user would do. I decided that I needed to cut the list down to size – only keep the books that I really want to read. But, my problem is, I can’t bring myself to just remove books willy-nilly just because I don’t remember the title or the cover at a quick glance. Oh, no, that would be way too easy. What if one of those books was recommended by another blogger I respect and trust? What if it’s a true hidden gem, just waiting for me to discover it? What if the book gods are angered by my irresponsible book removal techniques and choose to curse me with a never-ending book slump!? There’s way too much at stake!

The Gods are Angry! (Credit - raggacupcakes)
The Gods are Angry!
(Credit – raggacupcakes)

Still, I thought I could do it. I started out just going through the books randomly, reading the descriptions and checking out reviews that were written by friends. But this was taking a really long time, and I found that I wasn’t getting rid of many books. I’d read the description and think, “Well, that book sounds pretty good. I can see why I added it to my TBR.” Or I’d see a friend or two really loved it and … well, you get the idea.

But then I was inspired with a perfect idea. I shouldn’t go through the books randomly (or even in order of when I added them to my TBR), but I should start with an obvious criteria – rating. I figured that if I sorted my books by rating, I could easily just cut the ones that fell below a certain level and be done with it. Problem is, my TBR list is mostly filled with good books. Darn you all for giving me so many awesome recommendations!! And even out of those lower rated ones, I found books that I didn’t want to cut for one reason or another – I actually own the book, so I don’t want to give up on it just yet. I’ve read other books in the series and I’m not quite ready to let the series go. I’ve enjoyed other books by the author, and I still want to give the book a shot. See what I mean? There are reasons for keeping these books. I’m not just neurotic … I’m not.

So, in the end I removed around 350 books and then I just became overwhelmed and gave up. Oh, and I got really frustrated because I was trying to do a batch edit and realized that instead of removing all of those books from my account completely, Goodreads was moving them to my Read list. In case any of you out there are thinking about this, let me give you a little advice – don’t simply choose To-read from the shelves dropdown, click on the checkmarks next to the books you want to remove and then click on Remove Selected (which is what I did – it makes sense, right?). NO! You need to click on the checkmarks next to the books you want to remove and then click on Remove Books (which you can see very faintly off to the right when you’re in batch edit mode). Even though you’ve selected the books you want to remove, apparently choosing Remove Selected just moves the books to your Read list, forcing you to then go and delete them all again. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Maybe I’ll try again someday, but it feels like a hopeless task, so I’m not sure. How about you? Have you successfully shaved down your TBR list? What was your process? Any tips?



53 responses to “Let’s Discuss – Why Culling My TBR List is an Impossible Task!

  1. Haha, don’t feel too bad. My Goodreads TBR pile is just about as long as yours. Like you, I’ve tried to remove books that I might not ever get to, but it takes SO long to go through all of them. Besides, I kinda like seeing that high number of books. It makes me feel… well read. XD

    Something you might want to consider is a To-Read jar, where you put the titles of book you’d like to get to, and randomly pull one out every now and then. I did that and it seems to be helping SOME.

    Anyway, don’t fret! Having a massive pile is better than no pile at all!


    Brittany recently posted: Review - Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton
    • I usually participate in a monthly meme called Random Reads where it randomly chooses a book from my list, but I haven’t read as much in the last couple of months and haven’t been participating. I love the meme, though!

  2. Oh man, 1100 books?? And I thought mine was bad with 300! Of course, most of those have also been added in the past year. D’oh! I actually cut back my TBR a while back. On Amazon, you can read a sample of all their books. I did that and if the first three pages or so wasn’t enough to keep my interest, I cut it. That helped.

    Cynthia recently posted: Friday Finds
  3. I have tried and failed numerous times as well and after years (yes years) of trying I have finally made peace with it..sort of. It still bothers me that there are so many series I haven’t tried yet and that I even own the books to try them but…hey, at least I have a ton of books to read if the power ever goes out or I am bored silly and need something to do right? And I always have a list of hundreds I can choose from so….yeah, that is a good thing right? 😛

    kindlemom1 recently posted: Review: Marked by Sarah Fine
  4. I actually don’t feel the need to cull my TBR. Haha. I view the TBR as something like a list of books I am interested in but there’s no guarantee I will actually read them. Right now, looking at it, it’s full of stuff from classics to ongoing books to manga. If ever I’m going to cull it, I guess I’ll start with the stuff I marked as TBR first, because my tastes them are definitely different now!

    • I always did see it as a list of books I’m interested in, but then I started wondering if they were even all books I’m interested in. I guess based on my inability to cut the list, they are!

  5. I’ve not gotten to the point where I need to slim down my TBR list. It’s not yet that developed. Plus, I find that I’m constantly changing up the books. A book that I might have really wanted to read when I discovered it, may have lost it’s luster. My 2015 goal is to really play around with and adjust my TBR list so that I can actually accomplish it.

    • Yes – I definitely find that the older books have lost their luster, which is why I thought I’d be able to easily cut a lot of them. But once I started really looking at them … sigh. 🙂

  6. I SHOULD remove books from my TBR list… but it always sounds like too much work! I have 63 physical books on my TBR shelf at home, and somewhere between 500-700+ on my Kindle. And the thought of having to go into Amazon, look up the book by title, check the ratings and summary to see if I still want to read it… There’s so many more fun things I could be doing with my time!

    I pare down occasionally, usually when I’m trying to decide what book to read next. If none of my physical books appeal, I’ll then go through the ones on my Kindle and read the summaries on Amazon until one pops out and says “read me!”

    And since I’m there and doing it anyway, some of the books get removed from my Kindle because I have “what was I thinking? Why do I have this book??” moments. But it doesn’t happen very often. Usually I just let them sit there until the next time I get to that title and then either read or remove it.

    • Now, luckily I will say that all 1100 books aren’t books that I actually own – just ones that I’m interested in reading. I suddenly feel a little better about my list. 🙂

  7. I can’t remove books. I just can’t! LOL My TBR list on GoodReads is about as long as yours and that doesn’t even include the stacks, shelves, and cluttered nightstand full of books I still have to read as well. My husband is constantly begging me to get rid of some of them but if I haven’t read them yet, or at least made an attempt to read them, I CANNOT get rid of them. (I think I should add here that my family has a long history of hoarders. It may be psychological.)

    I do think I will be trying that trick someone mentioned about sampling books on Amazon. I think that would help me weed out books. Maybe.

  8. Joycedale

    I have 1300 on my tbr and have the same problem. I found out that doing alphabet and pick it for me challenges in my goodread groups is a good way to get to some, but I have the time to do them.

  9. I tried recently and felt a familiar pain, I managed to cut it from over 1000 down to 6000 books i’d added a long time ago or ones I really didn’t want to read right now but I know with my obsession that it will only continue to grow. Don’t fret, your not alone.

  10. Sometimes I just think it’s an impossible task, I mean it’s pretty obvious we can never read all the books we want to. Because that’s just impossible or you eventually end up with no more books you want to read, which to be honest sounds even worse then having too much choice. So maybe it’s okay to have a large TBR list, even though it’s not ideal. I sometimes remove a book from my to-read list, when I lose interest, but mostly they are just there and I hope I can read them one day.

    Lola recently posted: Coyer Winter: goal post
    • Oh, good point – I never thought about that. Now you’ve put it all into perspective. It would be WAY worse to not have any more books that I wanted to read!

  11. Yeah…I’m slightly terrified to even look at my Goodreads TBR. It’s a messy disaster. Last I checked there were around 2500 books sitting there, staring me down. I thought this past year it would be great for me to do the same thing and par it down, but it just felt too overwhelming from the beginning just thinking about it. If I were to do it, I’d follow your method and go by rating. Anything below three would get the boot.

  12. Bwahah. This is golden. I have done this. This EXACT process. With basically less successful results. I had somehow narrowed it from about 800 to like, 680. So 120 books, not bad, right? Well that was in October or so, and I now somehow have 1032 books on my stupid TBR. And like you, I have to look at EACH ONE. Why? I know there are books on there I am simply not ever going to read, but I want to keep them… just in case. I tried the rating thing too, but apparently I have already gotten rid of everything rated low. It’s just a big old fail. I wonder when Goodreads actually just tells you to give up, because your TBR is longer than your projected life span? That should be a thing.

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: That’s a Wrap! 2014 End of the Year Book Survey
  13. This post is so me. According to Goodreads, I have over 1300 books. And I continue adding more books everyday, I just can’t stop myself. There’s no way I can read all of those. But I have joined many reading challenges in 2015 which will help me cut down, or atleast make a dent in my TBR. So yay!
    A new follower 🙂
    Your blog is awesome!

  14. My to read list is somewhere around 750 books. I read around 50 books a year so that would take me 15 years, hahaha… My friends think it’s crazy and I tried narrowing it down, but I just can’t. Sure there are some books that I’m less excited about to read than others, but I added them for a reason…

    Bregje recently posted: Birthday book haul
    • I didn’t mind it at first, but 1400 books just seemed out of control. Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to do some marathon reading sessions! 🙂

  15. I’m sitting here giggling as I read this post because I see myself so clearly in it! I’m shocked that you even managed to cut down 350 – I know I’d never have that stamina. Oh well, look at it this way: it’s better to have too many books than not enough, right? At least you’re safe in the knowledge that you’ll never run out of them! 😉

    Topaz recently posted: Friday Poetry: “Canvas”
  16. Aww, I’m a bit like you. my TBR used to have 1,00+ books added, and honestly it was not cutting down -only increasing. I decided to create a separate to read list. I listed it as (future to read list if I have time) which I added over 900 books to using batch edit – It look time and sorting and viewing the books but it’s worth it. In the goodreads actual good reads list, I have less than a 100 now 😀 Whichever book I REALLY am going to read next from the future to read list, I move it to the shorter good reads list. Hope that helps you out better x Great post <3

    benish khan recently posted: Only The Good Die Young ♥ Review
  17. Oh no, it’s not a hopeless task. I didn’t have all that many, around 500 at one point and read around the same amount or a little less than you do per year and managed to cull mine down to just over 200 and over half of those I already own. I’ve still got a wide variety, but it’s so much more manageable now. I figure the books I added 2 years ago, I’m not going to read them if I haven’t already and ditched most of them. It took a few weeks doing 10 minutes here and there, but it’s so worth it.

    Good luck <3

  18. So, funny story – I did the same thing you did RE: removing books from my shelves using batch edit and wow, was that frustrating. Zero points for Goodreads lol. But I ended up removing a few books myself! Every so often I go through my TBR shelves and just delete books that I’ve lost interest in. I actually like doing it; makes me feel less overwhelmed lol. Sometimes you just have to let go, you know?

    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year
  19. I understand the dilemma. My TBR has about 1300 books on it, although I do use Shelfari. Lately I have been buying the oldest books on my TBR so I will be reading them soon, but my problem is I end up reading a lot of books that aren’t on the list as well!

    I think it is impossible. Too many good books and not enough time 🙁 But at least you will never run out of options! Even if you do keep adding one everyday.

    Olivia recently posted: Christmas Haul!
  20. I have the same problem! I tried to cull my TBR list on Goodreads awhile back and ended up just getting frustrated Same goes for all the books on my Kindle. I am scared to delete some of the free or discounted books I’ve gotten because what if they are a gem? I just have so many that I haven’t read, and I’m not sure if I will ever read them. It’s tempting to want to start with a clean slate.

    E.C. recently posted: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

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