Spring Cleaning, TBR Edition: Paring Down Your TBR Shelf

Spring Cleaning, TBR Edition: Paring Down Your TBR Shelf


Is your TBR shelf more of a TBR library? Are you moving books straight from our previews and To Read Tuesday feature right onto your TBR list? We can’t say we blame you–there’s something so exciting about having a mountain of books to read. But if that mountain of books has turned into more of a personal Everest, then we’re here to help. Use these criteria to pare down your TBR shelf for a more streamlined and less intimidating reading experience.

Reading isn’t about guilt. Ditch the books you feel like you should read, but keep the books you want to read.


Don’t fear the DNF. Consider losing the books you’ve started but have been unable to finish. Life is too short!


Do you have multiple books on your TBR shelf from the same author? Prioritize just one. You can always move the others back onto your TBR if you like the first one.


Sure, we all have books on our TBR shelf that we’ve already read but want to reread. These are easy to remove, though—come back to them when inspiration strikes.


Admit it. There’s a book on your TBR list that a friend loaned you and insisted that you read. You’re not excited about it. Remove it! Your friend will understand.


Is there a SUPER long book on your TBR shelf that you’re intimidated by? Do you see a phonebook-sized novel in your nightmares? Forget it.


If you have audiobooks or ebooks that are duplicates of physical books on your TBR shelf, why not move the physical copies elsewhere? There’s no reason to double up.


What has been on your TBR list the longest? Are you even still interested in a book you picked out a decade ago? If not, ditch it.


Eek! Did you see the movie first? We forgive you. If you’re not longer interested in the book, we hereby give you permission to take it off your TBR shelf.


Are there cookbooks on your TBR shelf? Just because you want to try the recipes doesn’t mean you need to sit down and read it cover to cover. We suggest moving it closer to your kitchen for inspiration.

Elizabeth Rowe
Elizabeth is a graduate of Columbia University's MFA program in Nonfiction Writing. She is based in San Francisco and can frequently be found at Philz with her nose in a book. Her current obsession is the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and she thoroughly embarrassed herself when she met him shortly after the release of volume four (and she has the photos to prove it).


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