A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my friends, trying to convince her to add a bunch of books to her TBR list, as well as follow a whole bunch of bookish Twitter accounts. She made a comment on how if she did that, her TBR list would be way too long because she would just add everything.
I follow hundreds of websites and bookish people, so my Twitter and Tumblr are always brimming with book recommendations. It could be overwhelming if I just added every book rec I saw to my TBR (to be read) list. (Just for clarification, my TBR list is not a stack of books next to my bed, but a Word document where I write any books that I might be interested in reading. I know some people have a literal, physical TBR.)
Over the years I've learned it's better not to just add every book I see anywhere to my list, because it would be super long and I wouldn't even end up reading most of the books on it. I've come up with a few rules for myself, and I thought I'd share them with you and hopefully it'll help if you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of book recs you come across. I know it doesn't really matter since a TBR list is basically just a way to record recommendations you've seen, but I feel like the pickier you are about the books on your TBR list, the more likely it is that you'll end up enjoying the books that you do end up buying, or borrowing from the library.
ALYSSA'S TBR LIST TIPS
1. Read summaries, and only add books if they sound interesting to YOU. It does not matter how many places you have seen the book, or if it's been on X or Y or Z bestseller list, if it doesn't sound like something you'd read, just skip over it. I get way more excited about borrowing the books on my TBR list if they already sound interesting to me. I know sometimes it's really hard not to get drawn in by hype, but everyone's reading tastes are different, and if a book isn't catching your attention, just let it go.
2. Add diverse books! Make sure your TBR list is not just full of books about white, able-bodied, etc characters that live in the same country as you. It's important to read about characters who live different experiences than you. If you have trouble finding diverse books, there are a TON of resources out there. You can start with We Need Diverse Books, Disability in Kidlit, Rich in Color, and DiversifYA. I'd also suggest following them Twitter or Tumblr, because it's an easy way to be constantly seeing diverse recs in your feed. If you're looking for books about specific people, Goodreads listopia is a great way to find diverse recs. Also check out the #weneeddiversebooks and #diversereads hashtags.
3. Cull your TBR list. If you've had a book on your list for years and years, maybe it's time to take it off and admit you will probably never read that book. I have books on my TBR list from years and years ago, and since then my tastes have changed quite a bit. There's no point in keeping books on there I know I'm never going to read. This goes for people who have physical book stacks for their TBR too. If you know you're not going to read a certain book, give it away or trade it with someone.
4. I've also just recently started putting a one word explanation for why I added the book to my list. Often I go back to my list months later before I'm going to the library and I completely forget what the books are about, since I only write down the title and the author. It's kind of annoying to have to go look them all up on Goodreads again, so now I just give myself a reminder of why I added certain books to my list.
5. Be open to new things. While it's important to create a TBR list geared to your interests (it is YOUR list, after all), it is also important to keep an open mind about the kinds of books you read. Read outside your genre, maybe try a book that's been hyped up that you don't think you'd like, read a book that a close friend recommended you that is WAY out of your reading comfort zone. Sometimes when you read out of your comfort zone, you end up being pleasantly surprised!
How do you create your TBR list?