Monthly TBRs- To Be or Not To Be…

thoughts orangutan

Wayyy back in January, I made the mistake of saying in my resolutions that I wanted to try having a monthly TBR this year. It’s not been going so well. At the beginning of March, I came across a TBR I wrote for the month before and realised that while I read 12 in February, I’d actually only read 2 off of the list. “Nevermind,” I thought, “I’ll just write add all of these books to my TBR for March”- have I read any of the books? Nope. Admittedly, I keep falling into a slump, but it’s really not promising. So I decided to think about why it is I don’t tend to stick to these TBRs and what I could potentially do about it.

Why I don’t like having a monthly TBR

mood reader2I am a MASSIVE mood reader– which means if a book doesn’t take my fancy in that exact moment, it won’t get picked up. And honestly, I consider it a disservice to a book to read it at the wrong time, because if I do try to read when I’m not feeling it, my rating can drop by 1-2 bananas. So yeah, unless I’m powering through a slump, I don’t like to force myself to read things I don’t feel like reading.

distracted2I get distracted by library books and ARCs AND ALL THE BEAUTIFUL BOOKS. Okay this makes me sound like I have the attention span of a cat but I have the attention span of a cat guys! I do have a general rule that library books and anything with a deadline will take precedence in my reading (unless it massively contradicts my mood and I know that if I read it, I won’t enjoy it). So a lot of the time, I’ll write a TBR with the best intentions and then some other book will come along *through no fault of my own* I’ll end up reading something else (seriously, how does one walk into a library to return books without walking out with several new ones?)

I do what I wantI don’t like to be dictated to– even by my own list. Yeahhh this is not something I’m totally proud of, yet if a sign says “ENTER”, a part of my brain goes “no thanks!” While I can basically force myself to follow lists for *life’s most mundane tasks*, reading’s supposed to be fun and I associate lists with chores etc. Weirdly enough, if I stick a book close to my bedside or put it in my bag, I’m likely to get seduced by mere proximity (unless I get distracted- see above) BUT if I write it on a list, it’s probably going to get ignored. And I’ll probably get annoyed at myself for putting it on my list in the first place and ergo making my reading less fun, which leads me onto…

under pressureIt puts the pressure on– and honestly, I’ve been trying to make my reading more relaxing this year, which is the whole reason I made a resolution avoid doing a goodreads challenge… which makes me wonder why I put “try and keep to a tbr” on there too…

 

It reminds me how crazy big my general TBR is and *hello pressure* again. So *WHY* am I even worrying about this?! Okay I better answer that question…

Why I’m trying to have one:

organised mary poppins.gif
If only it was this easy…

I do want to be more organised. Sometimes I see books that I was supposed to read piling up and that doesn’t feel good to be honest. A lot of my reading is so all over the place that I worry about not ever getting to certain books (especially books that were given as gifts and I’m starting to feel guilty that the *exact right* mood hasn’t struck and I still haven’t read them, but gah I still want to and this is getting silly!­)

slumps suckSLUMPS SUCK– I definitely feel like the massive downside of being a mood reader is my propensity to fall into slumps. I do get good patches where I can whizz through loads of books at once buuut I also have low points where I go ages without wanting to read at all and that’s no good. Which inevitably means…

mountain of booksMy general TBR piles up– and I just end up staring at it guiltily and because I’ve decided that mood reading is the way to go I think that even tackling one little book will be a bad idea and hmph I’m overcomplicating all this aren’t I? 

 

So what to do?

Writing this post has made me think- there are clearly upsides and downsides to having a TBR– at least for me- which is why I’ve decided to compromise! I reckon if I thought it through, I could probably identify a couple of books a month that I should really read and *not go crazy* adding ten books that I know it’s unlikely I’ll pick up. If I can have the wherewithal to stick a couple of books I plan to read close to hand, then I don’t see much difference in putting it on a list (here’s hoping 😉 )

So what do you think? Should I try to have a mini TBR? Or is sporadic reading the way to go? What kinds of TBR do you keep and what works best for you? Let me know in the comments! 

133 thoughts on “Monthly TBRs- To Be or Not To Be…

  1. The struggle is real! I go through the same thing with a tbr list but some months I seem to do it and others not. I have written a list for April but only put 5 books on it that I want to read…..I figure I can do those 5! 😂

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  2. It is TOO CRAZY hard trying to have an ongoing TBR. I’ve discovered that since joining Goodreads. While I love that GR helps you keep track of inticing to-be reads, it does indeed create more pressure. And, indeed, when you feel like you “failed” on a goal, it can be soul-destroying. FOR NO REASON! You’re so right, those of us who read for fun (not for uni or work) need to be ENJOYING it!!

    I did join the GR challenge, but I set the bar incredibly low. And just today, I was double checking my TBR and realized there are still several *in the house* *that we own* *that I have not read yet* in favor of going to the library *again*. Yes, libraries are awesome, and I totally recommend using them to everybody. But making priorities and sticking to them is important, too. When I have nearly 10 books still on my list that White Fang and I are buddy reading, and he’s finished them and I haven’t… Yeah, time to change my notion of “what comes first.” 😛

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    1. Yeah I really get that. And it definitely does that fr sure. ABSOLUTELY!!

      That makes a lot of sense- I did that last year, but ended up ratcheting up the number every so often, which just kept adding pressure. Ahh I relate to that as well. And that makes sense!! hehe I so get that! I’m trying to get fewer books out the library right now for the same reason 😉

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  3. Oh god this is totally me. I am such a mood reader and a bit of a rebel who doesn’t like to be told what to read but I do try to do a TBR list every so often. Monthly is a little too frequent so I go for seasonal lists with as much variety as possible on them. I also keep them low number wise so I can read outwith if I’m just not in the right mood.

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  4. I felt like I was reading something I would have written myself a while ago. So I feel your pain.

    The whole mood thing and the “pressure”, man, it seemed like you’d reached into my brain 😀

    For me, having a very big tbr to work through on a long term plan is what worked. Nothing month by month, as that brings the whole “pressure” thing into play. But having about 25 “series”, whether actual series or just common authors, or something else, allows me to work through a large set of books. I think of it as a cycle instead of a tbr. That has helped tremendously.

    The whole mood thing, well, I’ve just pushed that aside. THAT took a long time to work through though. And a lot of experimenting to see what number of “series” would work best.

    Anyway, this was a great post to read! Keep them coming…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. hehe thank you!!

      Yeah it’s such a tough one to manoeuvre 😉

      I think that makes a lot of sense- I do think it would help if I tried to organise my general TBR a bit better, because then I could see what I had on it more clearly. And gosh a cycle sounds like a brilliant way to think about that- that’s pretty genius.

      hehe yes, the mood thing is the most difficult part, because I’ll have a book I “need” to read and then start it and not feel in the mood (the other week I actually picked up a book and thought “nope this is too good for right now” and put it off) I need to figure out a way round that.

      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got rid rid of some of the “mood” thing by getting rid of the whole “need” and “have to” reading. Hence very few to no ARC’s for me. It really is amazing how having that looming before you destroys any enjoyment.

        But each person has to find exactly what works for them. My system simply isn’t going to work for the majority of book bloggers because I’m a year or two behind, on purpose, for even my “new” books.

        So I hope you can start figuring out what is going to work for you, even if it is just what you already have in place 😀

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        1. That makes a lot of sense- honestly I usually only request one every so often for that reason. It may sound funny, but I often get more under pressure by a looming physical TBR (especially library books and gifts) than the very few ARCs I get.

          Yeah that does make a lot of sense.

          Thank you very much!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Sporadic reading all the way! I pick up something to read that reflects my mood, and enjoy it considerably more because of that. You hit the nail on the head when you said you feel it’s a disservice to book to read them when you’re not in the the right mood which might make you rate them lower – I feel exactly the same.
    I say, shun the TBR lists. Rules were made to be broken.
    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mood reader totally! I do have a TBR but it’s only general like ‘read this whenever you might feel like it and in case there’s no other book lying around (which is very unlikely btw 😉). And yes, how could anybody bring books back to the library and not come out carrying at least the same amount or more! 😂

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  7. I completely agree. I started my monthly challenge wrap ups with ridiculous TBRs because they were all the books I owned that I wanted to read (and fit into a challenge prompt) but I think I am going to take the same approach as you for April, just list like one or two that I definitely really want to get into.

    I also have a really hard time with TBRs, because like you stated, LIBRARY BOOKS are just so readily available. It is SO HARD to stare at all these beautiful new books and not take some of them home. And like you said, they HAVE to take precedence because of the time crunch to get them read in….I am super moody though and sometimes, even my library books get returned unread…or I keep them for a month (with renewal after renewal of course)…so I feel your pain about trying to plan out next month’s reading while also being like “I DO WHAT I WANT.”

    Power to yah! I’m sending you good vibes for your slump!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you agree!! And yeah I really get that- I often put tons of books I own on there or want to read and it just gets out of hand fast.

      Ahh so true!!! And yeah I’m the *exact* same- I end up renewing books so much because I just won’t feel like them- I’m trying to get better at leaving books in the library that I *know* I probably won’t feel like reading right away.

      Aww thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. TBRs are more my time to browse through what I already have, quenching (slightly) the urge to buy more books. I rarely stick to my TBRs…but they are so pretty and then I want to do it again. Like you said, attention span of a cat 🙂 Or Dug.

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  9. Yeah.. I honestly don’t even know why I joined the Goodreads challenge. I’m 3 books behind and falling. There’s just so much going on. For example, I’ve been doing a Marvel movie marathon for the past two weekends try to remember everything that went on in the universe the last 10 years before Infinity War in a couple weeks. I literally have no interest in reading. I do get sucked into Goodreads though because I’ve added a couple titles here and there to my TBR and everytime I’m ready to go read, I do browse the to be read list in order to figure out what fits my mood at that moment so I definitely hear you on the mood thing. I’ll stare at it and be like, “hmm do I feel like fantasy, or historical, etc” or I’ll just pick one based off the cover which can be a good or bad thing, haha. I think a mini TBR would be okay but I also don’t see a problem in you reading in your own way TBR or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ahh I do relate to that! I felt so much pressure with it last year and I just didn’t want to feel like that this year (good thing too, cos I’d have been too busy) That sounds so fun!! Oh goodreads is great for that- I love going through lists and things 😉 hehehe I totally get that! Yeah I think it should work. Thank you! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I started the monthly TBRs this year and it’s working for me. It helps me keep track of what I have to read for reviews. But I make sure to add less than I know I can read so there’s always space for something new and shiny or old and comfy 😉

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  11. This post literally speaks to me. I am such a mood reader and because of this, I’ve never really set myself TBR goals. I just go with the flow and whatever I feel like reading, I read. I’ve considered trying TBR goals, and I possibly (more than likely) will since I started a blog, but I have a strong intuition that I won’t be able to live up to them fully. So probably what I might do is list one or two books that I pretty much know I want to read or will read that month and put that on my monthly TBR. But as far as trying to plan out my entire reading month, I just don’t want to feel like I’m being held down or limited in my reading. And that’s how a big list of monthly TBR books makes me feel. This was a fantastic post!!

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  12. I’m all for sporadic reading so I’m very biased towards this type of reading! With regards to reading slumps I’m a massive mood reader and prone to slumps too and I actually find that, for myself, having books I feel like I should be reading actually makes me fall more into the slump, I would rather just read what I want, when I want. Saying that I sometimes do make mini plans like atm I know that I want to read the Percy Jackson series sometime ‘during summer’ but I haven’t set a specific date or time frame or whatever, so if you want to stick with some sort of tbr maybe try making it a little broader in terms of timing, like maybe a three month projection or even six months, rather than monthly?

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    1. Ah I’m glad I’m not the only one with this!! And yes I do find i’m really prone to slumps too, unfortunately. And that makes a lot of sense- I do similar things to be fair. And that’s a great point- thank you for the tip!! I think that’s actually a more helpful way to look at it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I am also a truly mood reader and that’s why I have never even tried to make a tbr list! In fact every single you mention in this post rings a bell! (In a fictional novel we’d be cloned personalities or sth, lol). It will be interesting to see how this mini tbr goes. Myself haven’t even decided on the next one (having finished current read yesterday).

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  14. I’m the same, I’m really bad with TBRs! I like to have a general one of “books I’d like to get to soon” so I don’t forget about them. But I also hate feeling like I have to read a book and if it’s on my TBR, it feels like I *have* to read it so I resent reading it lol. I found having a priority TBR is useful because then when I’m in the mood for a specific type of book, I can look at my priority TBR and see what’s on there that would be good

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  15. This is SO relatable! I’m a mood reader as well, so something has to strike my fancy at that exact moment. I also don’t want to pressure myself, which is why I steer clear of most reading challenges (save the GoodReads one).

    I did do a short “books I’m looking forward to reading this year” bit at the end of my Resolutions post where I named a few titles, but I also noted that I might not even read them. Maybe that might help? A post where you name some books you’re looking forward to read, which might give you less pressure?

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  16. I’m no good with monthly TBR’s either, I can never manage to read any of the books I put on the lists. I’ve always preferred seasonal TBR’s because there’s less pressure to read all the books, especially when my mood changes!

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  17. Oh wow, I could never do a monthly TBR. Especially after discovering that I’m more of a mood reader myself. Plus, I’m not that organized! 😂 I just keep adding books and get to them when I can. I do envy readers who can do this, but what works for me is minimal restrictions. I think sporadic reading is fine. 💖 Great post!

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  18. I’ve always sort of ‘winged it’ while trying to balance blog tour commitments and impending pub dates. That hasn’t worked so well for me. My review TBR is now SO long (183 titles) that it is impossible for me to meet pub date requirements. For that reason I decided just yesterday to START a monthly TBR (and post it for all the world to see). Also I am going to try and curtail my NetGalley requesting at least until the summer. I only read 8 or 9 books a month so I’ve decided to read one I really want to read, any tour commitments I have for the month, and also the four titles that have been on my NetGalley and Edelweiss lists the longest. We’ll see how it goes…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah gosh wow that makes a lot of sense. I don’t request that many and I’ve still managed to get behind, so I definitely think it makes sense to curtail requesting until it’s more under control- it sounds like you have a really good plan!

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  19. Oh goodness. I have a TBR for my POPSUGAR challenge and I am suffering. I chose the books but I like reading what I want to read when I want. I am finding it very hard to stick to it lol. There are books I am in the mood to read right now but I can’t because of the reading challenge. It’s annoying. I think having a general idea of what you want to read is a good idea. As long as it’s kept short so that guilt doesn’t creep in. I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about the monthly TBR question lately too.

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  20. I don’t do a monthly TBR way too much of a mood reader. But I have been weirdly seasonal recently. I went through and pulled all the ones that seemed like they should be read in winter. I have a separate pile for spring books now, etc. 🙂 You should do whatever works best for you!

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  21. You make valid points and it was why my monthly TBR’s are all my “required” reading. However, I don’t think it hurts to tackle your personal TBR list. There is a reason you have a list. So I don’t discourage myself, I started low, like one a month. As I mention in a post I wrote earlier today about my own TBR update, this month I actually ran out of library books and was able to get a second TBR in. However, I ended up buying more books so I’m back to square one. LOL

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  22. So, you know my laissez-faire attitude to reading (my whole “my resolution is to not make any resolutions! Let’s all be happy doing what we want when we want!”) Well, it turns out that without rules I fail at life. So I have a monthly TBR which corresponds to a monthly review plan and ties in with any deadlines (ARCs, library books, reading challenges) that I have on my reading calendar. Otherwise I start to magpie my way through the hundreds of books on my TBR, reading the first few chapters before getting distracted by the pretty shiny of something else. I often have to move a book through several TBR cycles before I finish it (so sometimes I just write chapters 1 – 15 of xxx) then I don’t end up with either 25 books to review at once or 25 books that I’m half way through with nothing to review.

    Who would have thought that I could fail my own plans to stop worrying about failing plans? I’m a rare breed ☺

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    1. hahaha oh gosh I so relate to everything you’ve just said- I’m being pretty chill this year with my reading… but that also means I’m failing with library books/ARCs… whoops!! So yeah, I’m going to need to make sure I prioritise certain books like you. Ahh that’s so easy to do! hahaha!!! 😂😂😂

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  23. I can relate. I never read what’s on my TBR. I hate being dictated to too and am a huge mood reader, but I do love creating lists, which is why I keep making TBRs.
    But yea, I think you should try a mini TBR. I shorter one might work better.

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  24. Yup. I relate to all of your points. There is nothing that guarantees that I will avoid a book as much as the obligation to read it. What works for me is to have big tbr pile that is varied enough to appeal to different moods and very few restrictions on when I will read from it or when I will finish that pile.
    Good luck with your quest.

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  25. Gosh i so relate to this post! I did a TBR for March because i was participating in a challenge and it worked really well. I did switch books out and had unexpected library books thrown in but I did cross off several too. So I was thinking maybe again in April?! But I also know of months where I had a loose, not published list and didn’t stick to it AT ALL… So moody! And I agree if you aren’t in the mindset for a book I feel more like dnfing and that does no service to the book. ❤

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  26. Hello!
    I love this discussion topic. This has definitely been on my mind as well! I usually do monthly TBRs when I choose 5-6 books that I want to read in the near future. However since I am a mood reader as well, I tend to (at best) read only half of the books I initially wanted to read because other books have caught my eye. I don’t mind this though. I like that having a monthly TBR gives me a vague goal to strive towards, though I still have the freedom to drop or pick up books as I feel like.
    I think the key is to not beat ourselves up about it 🙂 Reading is supposed to be fun after all, right?

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  27. I can totally relate to this. And I had never thought about it but I guess that I am a mood reader as well and that’s why some books stay on my tbr list what seems like forever. I really want to read them, that’s why they make it into the list but somehow other books or simply life always get in between. So I don’t really think of my tbr list as a guideline of what to read next. It is just a list of what I want to read at some point, without any timeframe constraints. Hope you find your way out of your monthly tbr list nightmares 🙂

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  28. I can really relate with this! I have piles of books by my bed that are on my TBR, but as I’m a mood reader if I don’t fancy reading a certain book at the time I’ll just leave them for later. I also hate being dictated to! One of the worst things I do is go to the library and take out ten books, when I know my TBR is already heaving. I think for avid readers we are always going to have a crazy amount of books we want to read.

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  29. Honestly the first reason I avoid doing TBRs or Wrap up posts because I read too darn much that it would be way too much work to draft up the post. But I can relate to being more of a mood reader and saying I’m going to read such and such on this date two or three weeks ahead of time is going to fail miserably for me too. I try to stick with publishing dates for ARCs so one could theorize that I could just list the next so many of those as my TBR but then I would be picking up more or skipping to ones I don’t want to wait on and blowing that list up too. LOL Let’s just go back to the old saying…. you do you, if you don’t stick to TBRs then don’t force yourself to make them. 🙂

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    1. Ahh that makes so much sense- you read loads- it’s really impressive! 😀 And that makes a lot of sense- I do try to stick to release dates for ARCs- it doesn’t always work, especially if I get approved for the ARC late (it can take a bit to get to tbh, aside from my mood, cos I might be reading something else). hehe thank you!! 😀

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      1. I know what you mean, I have some that are already out but they will wait for me to keep up with those I had way in advance. Just today I was approved for one out tomorrow, and while I could read it tonight that would put my others behind so I’ll squeeze it in later too.

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        1. Yeah I get that. In terms of ARCs I’m on track except for two received after publication. One I’ve read now, but it takes me a while to get to review and I plan when I’m going to post things in general… so it’s still not done.

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          1. Completely understand, I think the ones that we get that are last second or already published might expect to be squeezed in later since you really can’t plan for something you didn’t know you would have.

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  30. I try to set myself monthly TBRs each month! That way I can plan out what I have to reread for an upcoming release or maybe if I have to read a sequel when the third book is coming out. It’s just my methodical way of doing things so that I don’t get too overwhelmed by my TBR ahaha. Other than that, I’m not too strict with myself. I don’t plan out my whole month, so there’s always space for mood reads 🙂

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  31. Great post! I have a tbr in my goodreads, but I see it more as a list of suggestions for when I don’t know what to read than an actual goal. Like you, I am a terrible mood reader. (But hey, isn’t it most important that reading is fun?)

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  32. Literally agree with all of these points!!! I’m a contrarian and a huge mood reader, so I find even my own TBR lists pretty hostile at times. Therefore, I just dump a bunch of books on my Goodreads TBR, and if a book from that list happens to pop up in my head, I read it then and there. (A.k.a., the TBR serves very little purpose to me lol) Awesome post! 😀

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  33. Yess to all of these! I’m easily distracted too and sometimes read books depending on my mood. I just don’t sometimes what to do with my TBR. It just keeps on piling up and I buy books but haven’t still got the time to read them.😀

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  34. I feel like, since the issue you’re trying to solve is the one of organization, you should definitely go with a mini TBR! It’s what I did, and I’m a massive mood reader as well 🤷 worked for me!
    I entirely relate to your struggle though… good luck! 🌻💛🙈

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  35. I am right there with you. I have been on a reading slump lately. I pick up a book but when it comes to finishing them it just does not want to click right. It really does not help that I am going through a depressive patch right now.

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  36. The mini TBR strategy works for me! I tend to put four or five books on my monthly TBR, then that leaves me wiggle room for picking up whatever I’m in the mood for! But I get not wanting to be dictated by a list – even your own. And I DEFINITELY get stress over the growing the pile! 😬

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  37. Ughhhh TBR are such a struggle. I am a mood reader as well and don’t like to plan out my reading, because I like to do whatever the heck I want, but… I also want to be organized in a way, and making a TBR could help?! It is SUCH a struggle haha. For now, I’m still not doing TBRs because I am a free elf, but maybe someday I’ll cave haha. Lovely post! 🙂 x

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  38. I’m a mood reader as well, and I do have a general TBR list, but it only contains the books I currently have on my shelf. When I think about my TBR I almost always have a book or two that pop immediately to mind. I use this as an indication that perhaps one of those should be my next reads. However, sometimes when I get to the shelf I completely change my mind. It’s a willy nilly system at best, but I try not to think too much about it because then it can get stressful and we don’t want that. Good luck!

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  39. I tried doing monthly TBRs a little while back, when I thought they’d make me more organised (and pretty much for the reasons you mentioned in the second half of your post) but they didn’t end well for me simply because I’m a massive mood reader. it got really hard to stick to a TBR list I’d set at the start of the month when a week into the month I’d already wanted to read something different not on my monthly TBR list.
    See as a mood reader when I try and read something I don’t want to that’s when I fall into a slump. I’ve found if I pick up the books I want to rather than sticking to ones I set for myself to read I can avoid slumps quite well (it’s worked so far, so here’s hoping it continues to work).
    Great post, and I hope your TBR list goals works for you too. 🙂 ❤

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  40. The struggle is real, I related to your post a lot!! I have period of times when I do monthly TBRs, it works for four months or so… Then it goes downhill and I pick whatever I want to read and I don’t want to hear about monthly TBRs anymore. At the same time, if I don’t have a monthly TBR, I sometimes can’t pick up a book, because I have NO IDEA what I want to read. I stare at my TBR for the longest time, but nope, my mind goes blank… The mini-TBR idea is a great one, though, I’ve been trying to do this, especially for ARCs or library books and it tends to work with me. 🙂

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  41. Monthly TBR piles don’t work for me. I’ve tried many times, but I always end up putting the books aside to read something else.

    However, I do have a weird TBR system (or maybe it isn’t that weird … I hope it isn’t weird =P): I pick my readings by colour. I mean, every month I try to pick a different cover colour – these last two months I decided to go with bluish/greenish – and then every time I finish a book, I can choose any book I want as long as its cover has the right colour.

    This system does give me some freedom and helps decreasing my TBR pile (I ran out of blueish/greenish covers before March ended), but most importantly it helps me control my TBR pile as well as saving money (I don’t spend much on books as I did before).

    I hope you can fulfil your TBR list goals.

    Happy readings! 😉
    Tânia @MyLovelySecret

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