How to Tackle Your TBR Pile

How to Tackle Your TBR Pile


In our latest Bookish newsletter poll, we asked readers to tell us what their literary goals were for 2016. Some wanted to reread old favorites, and others wanted to diversify their shelves. But most admitted that they wanted to tackle their TBR (to be read) shelves. Well, we are here to help. Inspired by our readers’ resolutions, here are eight ways to tackle your unread books in 2016.

Keep your TBR together
I have books scattered everywhere. There are some in the office, tons at home, a few in my car, two in my gym bag, and at least two in my purse. This can be convenient, but also can be a headache when attempting to figure out exactly how many books are on my TBR list. To make things easier, I bought new bookshelves and started stacking my unread books there. This is a great way to really visualize the goal of reading through those books.

Organize by length
This is one of the best things I’ve done, because it lets me walk over to my TBR bookcase and decide if I’m in the mood to pull a title from the bottom shelf (aka: where the thickest tomes reside) or pick up a light and quick read from the top. If I know I’m behind on my Goodreads reading challenge, I’ll pull from the top. If I have time to spare or want to get deep into a new tale, I go for the middle or bottom.

Organize by genre
Not a fan of organizing by length? Genre is another great way to go. I did this last year and realized that if I tried, I could easily read through all of the mystery and thriller novels on my TBR if I dedicated a month to them. Meanwhile my YA fantasy stack just grows and grows…

Return to sender
I have a friend who is moving out of state in July, and I want to make sure that I give back the books I’ve borrowed from her. The problem is I haven’t read most of them. Making a pile of the books that people have loaned me is helping me to reach for those first so that I can safely return them, because no one likes the person who borrows their favorite book and disappears forever.

Start a book club
Already in a book club? Start a second one. Reading with a friend is a win win situation: You’re encouraged to read more, you get to spend time with someone you love, often there is wine, and you get an excuse to talk books/push your reading preferences onto an unsuspecting soul. There are online book clubs (like Emma Watson’s), but you can also easily start one with a friend. This year, my best friend and I decided to reread the Harry Potter series together. We’re tackling one book a month and it’s the best resolution I’ve made.

Just give this term a quick Google and you’ll find one that suits you. The challenge is to read as many books as you can within a set time frame. Bloggers, YouTubers, and writers host these all of the time and joining in is a great way to be active in the book community and get some of your reading done.

Give yourself a challenge
Personally, I love challenges–they invigorate me. Book Riot has an excellent Read Harder Challenge every year where they list types of books readers should pick up. And we’ve thrown together our own challenge list that is designed to help you with your goal of making room for even more books on your TBR shelves.

Make time for reading
Stop making excuses for why you still haven’t read Gone Girl. We even wrote an article on great time swaps to ensure that even the busiest bee can squeeze in the time to read.

Kelly Gallucci
Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of, where she oversees Bookish's editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors like Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, and Sabaa Tahir. She's just coming off of moderating an author panel at New York Comic Con. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and binging Netflix with her pitbull. She is a Gryffindor.


  1. I keep my TBR paper editions separate from my read books and both my ebooks loaded with books to read in my bedroom for those nights I can’t sleep but don’t want to put on the bedroom ceiling light. I try to read something daily even if it is just a chapter (you know how hard it is to stop at one chapter). My problem if you call it one, is finding new homes for my books where they aren’t trashed but read. I plan to only keep certain authors’s books that I have with signed editions

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