Culling the TBR – Let’s Discuss

Posted January 29, 2016 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 62 Comments


At the end of 2014, I wrote a post about the impossible task of culling my TBR. At the time, my Goodreads TBR had gotten out of control at over 1100 books. I managed to remove about 340 books and got overwhelmed and gave up.

Well, my TBR has done nothing but grow since then.

I was recently inspired by a post over at The Library Huntress about how she decided to just delete her entire TBR, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. Still, it was obvious to me that I needed to do some major pruning. Since we’re at the start of a new year, I decided a fresh look at that TBR is just what I needed! I wasn’t surprised when I saw that the list had grown to over 1400 books!!

My strategy:

  • Remove any books that I had no idea what they were – There were a crazy number of these! You’d think I’d at least remember the books that I, at one point, deemed worthy of reading, but that’s not the case. And I actually still left SOME of these IF I owned the book – I’ll get to further culling of that list in a minute.
  • Remove books that I remember vaguely but don’t have any intention of actually reading – Again, this is a big list. Sure, that book sounded good. But do I actually intend to read it? Probably not? Delete it!
  • Remove books in a series that I haven’t started yet – Okay, maybe I someday want to read the Throne of Glass series (I know, I know, you all think I should have done this already), but do I REALLY need all of the books from the series on my TBR? It’s not like I’m going to read the first one and then forget that there are others! I tried hard to ONLY keep the first (or next) book in the series on my TBR and delete all those pesky extra books.
  • Go through my list of owned books – For now, I left on ALL of the books I own in physical form, but there were a bunch of books that I have on my Kindle that I got for free at one point or another and I’d been keeping those on my TBR. But am I really going to read all of those? Probably not. I started out by deleting any of them that had a low overall Goodreads rating (like 3.6 or lower) – but I’ll probably be paring those books down even more.
  • Consider books with low ratings. I looked at the overall Goodreads ratings for the books on my list and decided to cull some that were just downright dismal. But I noticed a dangerous trend here – there were some books that I know got a lot of positive buzz when they first came out and I know some of my friends (who I trust) really enjoyed them, but over time Goodreads ratings just seem to get lower and lower. So there were some books that got relatively low ratings that I kept because I want to give them a try anyway!

Those were my main strategies. I’m actually still going through my list more, but I’ve already got it down to 798, which I’m pretty happy about, considering where I started. I still have a LONG way to go, but I’m getting there. (UPDATE: I worked on this a bit more and got the list down to 661!) Now, if I can just keep myself from adding thirty new books a week …

Have any of you tried to pare down your TBR list (without deleting it completely)? What were your strategies? Do you automatically remove books from your TBR if the overall Goodreads rating is below a certain point? I want to know!


This post has been linked up to the January Discussion Challenge link-up!


62 responses to “Culling the TBR – Let’s Discuss

  1. Wow 1400, holy crap that is a lot of books. My TBR is at 143 right now, and I feel like that is overwhelming. Those are books I actually intend to read, I already own them either in physical or ebook format them. I made a wishlist on GR for books I want but don’t own yet. That is only at 83 books right now, but considering it was at 3 at the beginning of 2015, it is starting to get away from me. I need to go back through my TBr and remove any I have changed my mind about reading. Thanks for reminding me.

    Karen Blue recently posted: Review: THE WINTER GIRL by Matt Marinovich
    • That’s amazing – less than 300 books that you even want to read! I had over 100 on my Kindle_own list because I used to download freebies a lot back when I first got my Kindle and when I first started blogging. A good portion of those got taken off the list. Now I just have to actually delete them from my Kindle!

  2. Well, I did actually delete my entire TBR list this past December, and it feels really good now to not have it hanging over my head 🙂 I can’t even wrap my brain around 1,400+ books-it would take me 14 years to get through that, assuming no more books were added lol. Good luck!!

  3. My TBR list on Goodreads is more of a wish list, like my Amazon wish list, so it’s things I WANT to read but don’t already own. I do try and delete things here and there if I look back and think “Yeah, I’m not going to read this one…” but honestly, my list isn’t that long. I think your tips would be great for those that DO have a really long TBR though.


    ShootingStarsMag recently posted: Shooting Thoughts: Bridge the Gap With Me
  4. Nicole I did ALL of those things when I overhauled my GR tbr shelf and it worked amazingly! It took more than a day, but I just scrolled through them all and deleted any book I didn’t remember, or had a vague clue but figured I wouldn’t be getting to it soon, or ones with a really low rating,or books from a series I haven’t started – or started but I’m at book 2 and I had books 3, 4, 5, 6….added on there too. It REALLY helped. Since then though, I’ve resisted the urge to add any promising looking books straight away when someone features them on a WoW or something like that. I ONLY add books after the reviews have started rolling in from trusted bloggers who have similar tastes to mine. I really wanted to avoid ending up right back where I started by just adding like crazy. Good for you for implementing all these too^^ Keep it up ♥

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: Winter
  5. Ahh, the TBR list. The one that will never, ever be under control, no matter what. I have tried to remove a few from my TBR before and I succeeded, I did remove ones where I had NO CLUE what they were about or why I added them. I also looked at the ones that had been on the list the longest. I had to ask myself honestly whether I would ever read those books. Some of them got removed, but some of them stayed because I really wanted to get to them eventually. I may need to cull my list a bit again, now that I have added so many new releases to it. Damn new releases. They get me every time. Good luck with culling yours!

    Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books recently posted: BOOK REVIEW: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
    • When I went through my TBR a bit over a year ago, I made the mistake of trying to read all of the synopses of the books I was considering removing – then I’d start to waver and think, “Oh, but this one sounds good.” This time I was much more picky and deleted books I didn’t recognize without taking the time to read through their blurbs. Made a big difference.

  6. The problem is that its so easy to add books in Goodreads -just one click and its done. I have no idea how many I have in my ‘to read’ list but I don’t call it a TBR. I reserve that term just for books I actually own whether in real format or electronic. Right now I have 183 on that list but am gradually working my way through it

  7. I am constantly culling my TBR, so thankfully I don’t have a super long list (I’d say it’s less than 75 books). But you know me, I’m super picky, so I research books before I add or will delete when necessary. As for backlist books, if they’re below a 3.8ish, I usually won’t give them a try. :/

    Good luck on your culling! 🙂

  8. I’m going to follow these tips, because I tried to go and delete some books on Goodreads a few days ago and just go so overwhelmed. I tried doing it by star rating (anything close to 2 stars and under), but only ONE book was a 2 star book?? so that didn’t really help me xD But you’ve got some seriously great tips here 😀 Awesome post!

  9. I’ve just recently had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t ever going to read some of the books I own and get rid of them. I’ve gotten to where I find it very easy to get rid of all but my very favorite books that I’ve read, but it’s still hard for me to admit I’m not going to read something!

    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted: Nonfiction Friday
  10. Ooh. The organizer in me loves this idea. And the hoarder in me simultaneously hates it. HAH. No, really. I need to cut my TBR down too. I have book titles written down in notebooks and I look at them occasionally, but I probably don’t need to keep them. (I think I’m still in denial that I’ll be able to read all these books.) I do need to clean up my Kindle though and get rid of the freebies I used to mass one click. I may start there with this idea!

    Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros recently posted: Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
  11. My Goodreads TBR is out of control! I have over 1600 books. x(
    In a ideal world I would like to read them all, but your posts and everyone discussing has inspired me to take it down. It leaves room for books I haven’t discovered yet that I may like more than the ones already there and it gives me more focus when deciding what to read next. That’s what I hope happens anyway. I will be using these tips to try and reduce it. I feel bad for the books that go, but I need to be strong. haha

  12. WHOA you more than halved it!! I am impressed! I read your post and said to myself “wow, this is inspirational, I am going to do the same thing!” And like, 30 minutes later I have deleted zero books. So there’s that. I was going to do the whole “sequels for series I haven’t started thing”, because that IS a good idea. UGH. WHOO I deleted one! Hahahah I also agonize over every single book. I should really just leave them all there, who even cares? 😉 Great tips, and fabulous post as always!

    • See, that’s how I was the last time I tried to bring my TBR down. I sat and read blurbs for all the ones I was thinking of cutting, but then I’d second-guess myself. Or I’d see that so-and-so wrote a glowing review and I’d think, “Oh, I should definitely read this one!” So this time I was completely cut-throat about it. If I didn’t recognize the book at a glance, it was gone. If I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn’t feel the urge to rush out and pick it up sooner rather than later – bye-bye (cause, let’s face it, that urge hits me quite often). I don’t think I’ll regret it one bit!

      Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye - Bookish Backdrop, Review Preview & Giveaway
  13. I actually have two separate shelves on Goodreads so that I won’t get overwhelmed like this, Nicole. I have one that I call ‘TBR’ on which there are only books I own, have on pre-order, or by authors that I always read. Then, I have another one called ‘might read one day’ with many more books. All the books that caught my interest because I read a review that intrigued me, or that look good, but that I haven’t actually bought. That way, I won’t forget about those books, and if one day I decide to buy more books, I have several thousand to choose from on that one shelf 🙂
    I think it’s good to prune every now and then, though, and I may go through the freebies I one-clicked at one point, just to get my actual TBR down a little bit.
    Great post!

  14. TBRs are such a headache! The way I “tackled” this problem for me on Goodreads, so as to not become tooooo overwhelmed, was that on my TBR (want to read) shelf there are ONLY books that I own on my shelf.

    Then I created a “sound good” shelf where I put as many books as I want as a reference point for the books I intend on buying or borrowing in future. My most accurate list of books that I intend on reading is probably then my Book Depository Wishlist because those are the books I made the extra effort on to watch their prices. Whew.

    I also have a separate shelf for ebooks because I’m always less inclined to read those and a lot of them were free, so by keeping them off my main TBR everything feels a lot more manageable.

  15. Interesting post. I go through my TBR list every few months and delete the books that no longer interest me. I think my list has 135 books on it right now. I only add books that I’m 100% interested in reading, and I never buy a book right after I hear about it. I put it on the list and let it sit there for a few months. If I’m still interested in the book months after I first hear about it, I buy it. That’s the best way I’ve come up with to control myself.

    Aj @ Read All The Things! recently posted: January Currently . . .
      • Jen

        I know, it’s so weird and I’m probably the only person who does this lol. So the method to my madness is at the end of year I look at a few things. New releases coming out the next year I want, books by favorite authors I haven’t gotten to yet, and other books I haven’t read yet but I definitely want to read soon. Then I make sure the books in those three categories appear in the first 100 books in my to-read list on Goodreads through editing the book’s “position” number, and I have my to-read list sort automatically by “position” number.
        Throughout the year I find/acquire new books through bloggers/friends/giveaways/presents so I’ll change their number, after adding them to Goodreads, so they appear in my top 100 therefore shoving out some of the books I originally put in that spot. Even though it’s a little strange, it works really well for me. Are you staring at me funny yet haha? 😉

  16. I’ve been trying to make my to-read list smaller forever! I managed to get it from 1200+ books to 700, and then down to around 420…and then I saw all of the beautiful 2016 releases that I just HAD to read and now it’s back at 571 and growing quickly. I’ll have to go through it again in a couple of months. I’ve gotten rid of the most books by considering how many chances I’ve had to read it already. If a book is at the library every single time I’ve gone for the past year and I haven’t read it yet, I’m probably not going to.

    Clara @ Lost in My Library recently posted: Thoughts on Required Reading
  17. I’ve gotten a lot more selective about the books that I add to my TBR, but I still have to go back and remove ones that I know I’m never going to read. A lot of those are still there from when I first joined Goodreads and I added just about every book GR recommended to me, lol. My reading tastes have shifted quite a bit since then, and I know that I need to take some time one of these days and do a thorough TBR culling.

  18. I guess I just don’t really feel the need to cull my TBR. It doesn’t bother me that it’s out of control lol because it’s never been a strict thing for me anyway. It’s more just a way to not lose potential books. Even if they’re scattered among hundreds, there’s comfort in knowing whatever random specific book I saw once and decided I wanted to read is still in there somewhere. And if I get in one of those moods in which I just don’t know what I feel like, I can scroll through for inspiration. Though 1400 might be a tad bit much 😛 If you made it down to 661, I’d say you’re doing fantastic with your goal!

  19. My TBR could use a culling too, when I did cullings in the apst I mostly used some of the same techniques as you. Remove those books I don’t remember or don’t want to read anymore. I try to only add the next book in a series, so if I read the first book I only add book 2, but not the rest. I also don’t add most freebies, which is nice. I might still reads them, but at least they don’t count against me. I only add freebies I am really exicted about. I do look at goodreads ratings, but don’t automaticaly remove them if they are below a certain number. I usually do read soem reviews, especially from my friends. Great post!

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #163
  20. Oh, yeah, this is a good point – culling the tbr shelf is definitely something I need to do from time to time. I recently removed all the books I didn’t recognize and all sequels in series, just like you said. My list isn’t as long as yours (I’m at about 200) but I haven’t been blogging for as long as you have! 🙂 I’m trying to be more selective with adding stuff to the list but it’s an ongoing battle.

  21. I’m not going to be any help here because I deleted my entire TBR list at Goodreads two years ago. What I did was look at each book, and if I was still interested, I put it in a private wishlist at Amazon. Then I deleted everything at Goodreads and didn’t go back (but this is so, as an author, I’m not assaulted by bad reviews of my books). I check my TBR on my Amazon wishlist a few times per week, sort by price, and buy anything on sale. Then I just peruse my Kindle when I want to read something. Lol. It’s not very efficient!

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: Sunday Update – January 31, 2016
  22. Most of my TBR is actually added to a mental list rather than some concrete thing like Goodreads. So I do tend to forget what I TBR’d unless it’s a super hyped title I see several times a week in the community My biggest problem (probably) is unhauling the physical books I bought on a whim or were just super cheap that I doubt I’ll ever read. But it’s that nagging “what if?” that stops me from actually culling haha.

    Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts recently posted: [Book Haul] Jan 2016 — Boxing Day & A New Year
  23. oh your post makes me feel so sane! LOL

    During my decluttering I tried some of your strategies with some funny results…
    •Remove any books that I had no idea what they were DANGER! My brain is pretty.. let’s say… challenged! so I realized I didn’t remember very good books I wanted to read! Gone with the wind, they were little padawan
    •Remove books that I remember vaguely but don’t have any intention of actually reading As dangerous as the one above 🙂
    •Remove books in a series that I haven’t started yet same situation with Throne of Glass series 🙂
    •Go through my list of owned books – yup this is how my problem started with all the freebies.
    •Consider books with low ratings. I’m too chicken for this. I like good books 🙂
    Glad you accomplish this 🙂

  24. I’ve done a mini culling myself with romance that i knew I’d never get to. I mainly leave it alone though – unless I read an author and find out I hate their style, then will remove their books. I like having tons and tons of books so I never feel like I don’t have something I’m in the mood to read =)

  25. This is something I intend to do this year, Nicole. I have over 3000 books on my tbr – that I started adding back in 2009. I know there are books on there that I’m never going to read. And I know it needs to be pared down but it’s such an undertaking. I stare at it…then go do something else. 😉 While I’m paring down my list, I also want to organize all my books better. Again, a major undertaking. I’m going to have to set aside a day (or two) specifically for getting this done. I appreciate you sharing how you’ve gone about it. Your tips/ideas will help when I get started on the project. 🙂

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: Release Day Review ~ Troublemaker ~ Melissa Pearl
  26. I just removed 150 books from my goodreads TBR, but I kind of cheated because a lot of them I own physical/kindle copies so I won’t forget that I want to read them. I was just getting stressed out seeing the number so high. I also got rid of a bunch of books that have bad reviews from reviewers I trust or books that I have absolutely no interest in reading and have no idea why they were on my TBR. Sometimes I add a book without even reading the synopsis and go back months later and take it off.

  27. Awesome job! I seriously need to cull my TBR but the task seems nearly impossible and daunting! I often add books that I see someone else reading on GR and then don’t even always do a proper job of reading the book’s description! I do more research before I buy a book including looking at ratings, especially of my friends on GR, and thoroughly reading the description but I need to be better about my TBR!!

    Eva @ All Books Considered recently posted: Top Ten OTPs

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