TBR Thursday 69 – The TBR Book Tag

Confession time!


This tag has been doing the rounds recently – I first saw it here on Cleo’s blog – Cleopatra Loves Books. So I thought I’d share some of the arcane secrets of the TBR with you…

Part of the problem...
Part of the problem…

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?


I have a ridiculously complicated spreadsheet with different cross-referenced lists for the TBR, the GAN Quest, where I’ve posted reviews, lists of reviews by ratings (to aid in the FF Awards thingy), books from NetGalley, books that aren’t yet published that I want to acquire and my reading schedule for the next three months (which I almost never stick to, but have great fun rearranging)! Then there’s the list for a new feature I’m considering for next year. And a list to keep track of what reviews are doing well (and badly) on Amazon – UK and US. Oh, and a list of authors who got 5-stars for the last book I read, to remind me to read one of their other books as soon as I can fit them in. It’s a wonder I ever have any time to read, really…

Did I mention the colour coding? And the blame list of who made me add it?
Did I mention the colour coding? And the blame list of who made me add it?

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?


Mostly e-book, but I do like to read paper books as well, especially factual and classics, or illustrated books. E-books for crime fiction mostly, though.

Another part of the problem...
Another part of the problem…

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?


Sadly, for the last couple of years that’s been driven by my addiction to NetGalley, and trying to review as near publication date as possible, but I’m making a big effort to take far fewer review copies so that I can go back to choosing on the basis of mood. It’s actually beginning to work…

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?


Green for Danger by Christianna Brand. I only started having a TBR list when I started blogging and this was one of the first books I was tempted into by a blog review. It’s been on the TBR for nearly three years now… it would almost be a shame to read it!

green for danger

A book you recently added to your TBR?


The most recent addition is The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. There’s a reason for that… but I’m not telling you what it is yet. Crime aficionados might be able to guess though…

the wheel spins

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?


Nope – I do like covers but am never influenced by them alone, good or bad, though if they’re especially good, they might at least tempt me to look at the blurb. This one did, and it introduced me to an author who’s now a firm favourite…


A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?


Why would I do that? (Though Moby Dick does keep getting moved down… and it might be a while before I get around to The Narrow Road to the Deep North…)

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?


I Am No One by Patrick Flanery. Flanery has won my Book of the Year Award twice in four years for Absolution and Fallen Land. His new one is due out in February. And Peter May’s new one, Coffin Road, is being kept aside to read over Christmas. Publication due in January.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?


Hmm… not really. The closest that I can think of is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, although a few of the GAN Quest books have been read by most Americans, it seems, often at school. But they often haven’t been read by many Brits.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?


The aforesaid Moby Dick! Though I reckon they only recommend it ‘cos they like it when I hate a book…

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?


Pretty much all of them (except Moby Dick) or they wouldn’t be on there. But if I have to pick just one then I’m really keen to read Let the Great World Spin. And Gone with the Wind, Americanah, and Even the Dead. (You didn’t really think I could stick to one, did you?)

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?


None! I don’t use it – I only list books I’ve read or am reading on Goodreads. However, since both Cleo and MarinaSofia have ‘fessed up, I’d better too. I’ve spent most of this week reorganising my TBR (great fun!). Since most people seem to think of their TBR as books they actually possess, I took off most of the books I don’t own yet, and replaced them with all the books I do own that weren’t previously on it – the hidden list, you might call it. Then I added the removed ones that I don’t own yet to my Amazon wishlist. So here goes…

Books for review from NetGalley and publishers                                             28

Owned (mostly unread, but a few re-reads)                                                  126

Total TBR                                                                                                154

GAN Quest books owned but not yet on the TBR (complicated, isn’t it?)         12

On the wishlist (which I consider to be part of the TBR really, since
they don’t get on there unless I mean to read them)                                     195

Must reads being published in the next two months
that I haven’t managed to acquire yet                                                             4

Grand total                                                                                              365

Or roughly 3 years worth…!!!

* * * * * * *

So better get some reading done soon! Here are a few that are coming up…


* * * * * * *

I shall be making some booky New Year’s Resolutions soon – guess reducing the TBR might have to be Number 1…

83 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 69 – The TBR Book Tag

  1. Haha ! Kind of reminds me about Hercule in that old barn. The Labors of Hercule. As long as you stay in charge, I suppose it is okay. Right? Not all of them are as messy as that job. *whistling down the path*


  2. What an impressive spreadsheet, FictionFan! You have such a detailed and organised way of keeping track of your TBR! I’m not sure I’d use the word blame, though. After all, no-one forces you to read others’ blogs or listen to their recommendations… 😉
    Like you, I read a lot of e-books; it’s just a really convenient way to deny how big my TBR is store all of the books I’m planning to read. Oh, and I do recommend Green For Danger. It’s a really interesting mystery, actually.


    • 😆 No, no, I think ‘blame’ is the perfect word for it! And there are certain people who deserve far more blame than others…!!

      Yes, I’ve been hiding sixty or so on my Kindle for ages, but it’s all out in the open now. Until Santa delivers more…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow – complex! I just put the books on my shelf in the order I acquire them and read them in that order … except for piles of Debbie Macomber and Arnaldur Idriðasons and Three Investigators Mysteries and the little pile of Books In Series But I Need To Read Another Book I Haven’t Got Yet Before I Can Read That One. And books in Icelandic. And books on the Kindle. Oh.


    • Hahaha! And don’t forget your special section for Ken Livingstone memoirs!! See, I’m not organised enough to organise the actual books – they just lie around in heaps on every surface. So I organise them virtually on my spreadsheet, and then I can pretend to myself I’m on top of the situation… 😉


  4. *laughing lots* Look at that room and the spreadsheet! Hmm. Someone might be having book overload, you know. It’s seriously hilarious. Cool yellow walls, too.

    Now, I wouldn’t read Moby Dick if I were you. I’ve heard it’s horrible. But, like you said, your ripios are awesome. Gone with The Wind! Did not know that was on the TBR. You might be a bit like Scarlett now that I think on it.


    • *laughs shamefacedly* The worst thing is that pic’s a couple of years old – the piles are even higher now! Really must do something about it sometime. But isn’t my spreadsheet great? I’m so proud of it! To think it started out as just a simple list. I love my yellow walls! I pretend it’s sunshine…

      Oooh, I’d love to be like Scarlett! She’s so heroine-ish! Not to mention gorgeous – and those frocks! I’d love to have been a Southern belle – why was I born into an era where women dress in track suits bottoms and t-shirts? There’s no justice, I tell you!


      • You know, I should’ve known it wasn’t a new pic! After all, that camera must be so hard to use… *laughs and ducks* The spreadsheet is very cool! Such detail. Nice. It looks very cheery, I say.

        But, the book starts out saying she’s not that handsome! Doesn’t it? Well, t-shirts are sorta cooler, I think. Imagine trying to move about in a dress like that.


        • *throws it at him* I hate that camera – have I mentioned that? I’ve gone back to my old one. I should have showed the sheet with the Professor’s TBR on it…

          Does it? I don’t know – I haven’t read it! But she’s gorgeous in the film. It’s not so much the dress that’s the problem – it’s the corsets… *shudders*


            • Bet I do! But I’ve taken everything off it except the Austen books – Santa says you’ve to read them next year… or else! *laughs* I did try it out but I hated it – too complicated!

              *laughs lots* Under armo(u)r!! I like it… makes Scarlett sound like a great warrioress!


            • I did at one point, but it got so long it was using up all the memory on my computer. Well, he says you can choose between Austen and Dickens – isn’t that kind of him? He must think you’ve been a good boy… *raises both eyebrows in astonishment* Nah, I really didn’t think it took good pictures – maybe it would have underwater, but I didn’t feel like jumping in the river…

              *gasps* I shall not have Scarlett running about my blog in her corsets, sir!! This isn’t Barsoom, you know, you know!!!


            • Haha, likely story! Austen and Dickens? I’ll chose Austen, probably, maybe, I don’t know. Goodness. An underwater camera! You didn’t tell me that. Goodness. You should’ve tried it out. Jump in the river!

              No one knows what a corset is, they’re so outdated.


            • Ooh, OK! I’ve added five of them – I won’t make you re-read P&P because I’m so kind! You can start with… Sense & Sensibility… *waits*

              *laughs lots* You’re so sweet! What if I got attacked by the ducks? Or the seagulls mistook me for an oversize fish???

              I bet Mr Ratherquite wears a corset…


    • Haha! It’s only virtual organsisation though – and I do love a good spreadsheet! There’s nothing quite so satisfying as feeling everything’s all sorted, without actually sorting any of it…


    • Indeed, indeed! In fact, if you zoomed in on the spreadsheet, you would see that beside Let the Great World Spin it says “recommended by DD on TBR 54/GAN”. See how organised I am?? *preens* Of course, that was several months ago and I still haven’t read it – too busy with my spreadsheet…

      ( 😆 I wonder if I’ll ever read either of them…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • While it is an impressive spreadsheet *eyes it with great admiration*, you must bump it up on the list. Don’t make that your Moby Dick! (Although, I couldn’t handle it if you didn’t care for it… It can’t go through a FF rip! Anything but that! haha)


        • I’m doing well at clearing out all the fiction books I’ve agreed to review, so by February or March I shall be able to please myself almost totally – it will be high on the list! (Haha! I wish I could promise… 😉 )

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the spreadsheet! Mine is far simpler, though I aspire to color-coding. What does the red indicate (if you don’t mind my asking)?

    For my job I have an insanely detailed spreadsheet that I’ve been polishing for the last three months. There are some items past their due date and I can’t bring myself to use red (too urgent). I downgrade to maroon. Haha.

    Also, you should read Moby Dick! Americanah is on my shortlist too. I hope to pick it up after Atwood’s The Blind Assassin (which is going up first after the holiday–so far, it’s very good). I look forward to your review! 🙂


    • Mine started out simple, but it grows… The red is to indicate books I’ve taken for review from NetGalley or publishers that are close to or past their publication date. (A couple of them are about two years past…)

      Yeah, I worked with spreadsheets a lot and I’m saddened by my abiding love for them. There’s something so satisfying in making endless complicated cross-referenced lists! It always feels like an achievement!

      See? Everybody wants me to read Moby – you’re all mean!! Americanah hasn’t made the leap yet from TBR list to reading list… that’s the crucial point. Once it’s on the reading list, it’s nearly there. Look forward to hearing what you think of it!


  6. I am in awe and salute you! I’m terribly disorganized. I randomly scribble TBR lists on bits of paper (which I sometimes lose and sometimes throw away), usually focused on the coming month or which books I’ve promised myself I’d read in the year. But usually I don’t make it (to my shame). Books and movies send me spinning off on rabbit trails completely unrelated to my list. But I aspire to better things.


    • Hahaha! Never make the mistake though of thinking that an organised spreadsheet indicates an organised reading pattern! If it did, then I wouldn’t have the fun of reorganising it every few weeks… 😉 Yes, I used to follow paths too, but the concentration on review copies over the last couple of years has stopped that – which is why I’m not going to take as many new releases next year. They always end up getting priority, but aren’t always the thing I would actually choose next…


  7. What is it about readers that we love making lists of books to read so much? I am the same way – although your lists seem much more elaborate! Let the Great World Spin and Americanah are both terrific, by the way. (I also quite enjoyed Moby Dick but I know lots of people don’t.)


    • I think I enjoy the lists as much as the books in truth! Haha! My list started out quite simple but it seems to have grown… so much fun! I can’t wait to read both of them – that’s why I really must break the habit of reading so many new releases – anything I miss on release seems to get overlooked for ever. (Haha! See? Everybody tries to convince me it’s good… but I KNOW it’s going to be awful… 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are much more organized than I am. I just have a text file that I put books in that I need to read. I note with a letter where I got them from, n for Netgalley, e for edelweiss, a for author, and p for publisher. No letter means I own them or borrowed from the library. I put the dates of publication (or planned review date) next.
    As I read them they get erased, I don’t really keep track of reviews or even how many I have.


    • Haha! I’m not sure I’m more organised – just more obsessive! I started out with a simple list, but it’s gradually developed into a monster. I love playing with spreadsheets though – it makes me feel I’m achieving something, even when I’m not… 😉

      I sometimes wish I hadn’t got into the habit of watching my reviews on Amazon, but it’s actually quite interesting to see the different reactions to the same review on the UK site and the US one… well, interesting to me, anyway! 😆


  9. Oooh, a spreadsheet — now, I’m impressed! Yes, the mountain of TBR selections is impressive, too, but spreadsheets are especially fascinating. All those figures and such! You know, if I had to advise you, I’d place Gone With The Wind waaaay before Moby Dick. In my soul, I’m a Southerner, but fear of the water runs way back in my family tree! Besides, who wouldn’t prefer a nice Rhett Butler to an obsessive sea captain and a bothersome whale?!?


    • Haha! I love my spreadsheet – can you tell? There’s something intensely satisying about moving things around and sorting them and colour-coding them! If only I was as organised in real life…

      Yay! At last! Someone who isn’t trying to make me read Moby Dick – thank you! 😉 Yes, indeed, I can’t wait to read Gone with the Wind – apart from anything else, just think of all those lovely pics of Rhett which will appear on my blog…

      Liked by 1 person

      • No pressure from here to read the whale, even though I was an English major and had to! Why force somebody else to suffer like that? I mean, it’s kind of like trying to carry water in a sieve!!


        • Yes, totally agree. Even though I get passionate about certain books I try not to do the whole ‘you should read this’ thing – unless it’s with someone whose taste I know really well. Reading must be one of the most subjective experiences of all…

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I want to comment, but I just don’t know what to say. I am rendered speechless by your Spreadsheet and by having your reading set out for you until probably 2030! I love it – once again you have inspired me!!


    • Hahaha! Do I sense the teeniest bit of mockery in there somewhere? My spreadsheet is indeed something very special – I’m thinking of entering it for next year’s Turner Prize! And just think of what an incentive my TBR is for me to stay alive until 2030 (though if I pop off just before I get to Moby Dick that might not be so bad… 😉 )


      • I wasn’t mocking! I think it is a thing of beauty, which probably rules it out for The Turner Prize! I thin I might have to challenge myself next year to get my reading organised like yours! My scribbled out much crossed out list on a scrap of paper just isn’t cutting the mustard anymore!


        • Haha! It is beautiful, though I say so myself! And so wonderful for those times when you just want to procrastinate… You should do it! It’s so easy to add books too… 😉

    • Ooh, you should have! Then perhaps people would have mocked mine less! Hmm… I don’t have a tab for the count of the TBR. Yet. Hahaha! That’s just about the meanest thing ever!! I might force you to do a readalong…


  11. That is one formidable TBR infrastructure you have there! Now why have I never thought of making a TBR spreadsheet before? My immediate TBR is an actual tower of books on my side table that gets called ‘clutter’ (how rude!) and is complained about on a daily basis by my husband. The remaining tbrs are jotted down on scraps of paper. A spreadsheet though, now that would be living the dream! 🙂


    • It’s impressive, isn’t it? And gives the (totally false) impression that my TBR is under control. And you know, when I’ve spent two hours rearranging it, I can almost convince myself it’s just as good as actually trying to organise the books… Clutter, indeed! Divorce him! Then you could use his half of the wardrobe for bookshelves… 😉


  12. Your TBR list is truly impressive. I need to go back to having a TBR list. Having been disappointed by several book this year, I turned to the books I owned out of desperation for something good to read. Now I’m willing to open my heart again to books that are new to me.


    • I know – I’m very proud of it! I feel it’s like one of these pieces of modern art – beautiful, but no-one quite knows what it’s supposed to be…

      Yes, I find a constant diet of new releases leads to a lot of disappointment, as well as a lot of great reads, of course! But I’m seriously trying to get a better balance between new stuff and re-visiting old favourites – I miss re-reading.


  13. I am loving your spreadsheet but I mustn’t go there. I keep a very simple written
    book record in a small notebook (and duplicate it in a list on Word) but that’s as
    technical as I dare to go. I currently have a pile of 26 books on a chair which I loosely
    call a TBR pile. But I’m in charge. I can read them in any order—or not! I have a
    fickle nature and am easily drawn by a new review or a new “must read” list and
    leave the TBR pile in the lurch for sunnier pastures. My pile is more of a “someday
    maybe” pile . . .


    • Ah, that’s how I used to work too! It was being invited on to Amazon Vine that did for me – and then later NetGalley. Couldn’t resist all the shiny freebies and suddenly discovered I was reading to deadlines. I don’t mind most of the time, but sometimes I’d like to just read something on impulse. That’s the plan – get the number of review books down so I can decide what kind of book I’m in the mood for… I’ve still got a little way to go, but I’m nearly there. Of course, I could just ignore the deadlines – except I can’t!!


    • Oh, no, I plough all my organisational skills into virtual tidiness – it helps me to ignore the actual chaos that surrounds me! Don’t you have a spreadsheet for all your spices? You could have columns for Date Bought, Use By Date, Country of Origin, Location in Rack, Percentage Used (this would help you never to run out, though you might not have time to shop…) and then cross-reference them with all your spreadsheets for your recipes…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m not going to lie: there are so many better books you could read than Moby Dick. I think Melville is just terrible. If you want to read a door stopper, try some of Victorian lit books like Middlemarch, Vanity Fair, or Bleak House. If it has to be American, try Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison or Native Son by Richard Wright.

    Also, I super can’t wait for you to read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston was so ahead of her time! I’ve both read the book and enjoyed the audio version read by the late-great Ruby Dee.

    Finally, I’m glad someone else has a weird system of keeping track of books. I have an Excel sheet for books sent to me by authors/publishers, which I’m almost done with. I have a Word doc with a list of books that I’ve purchased but not read and could review either at Grab the Lapels or at The Next Best Book Club. These are mostly e-books, which I can forget about because they’re not piled around the apartment. On Goodreads I have several categories, like books for Grab the Lapels (even ones I don’t own), but I make sure I have a category titled the name of my library. If I can’t get it at the library, don’t own it, or aren’t willing to buy it, it shouldn’t be on my to-read list! Lately, all of my most recent grabs from the library have been recommendations I hear on NPR, usually the “Fresh Air” segment. I obviously have to stop listening to Terry Gross.


    • I hated Billy Budd when I was at Uni, hence my reluctance to read Moby Dick. But it’s part of my quest to find the Great American Novel. Thanks for the recs – yes, as a Brit, I’ve read lots of our classics, including those three – now I’m working my way through some of the US standards which I’ve rather neglected over the years. Some of them have been great, some of them… not so much! 😉

      It’s too easy to ‘hide’ books on the Kindle, isn’t it? I’ve gradually been trying to bring them all onto the TBR and make sure I actually read the books I buy. I’m less likely to ignore physical books. I’ve tried not to get into Goodreads shelves so much – I feel I already spend too much time on my spreadsheet! But especially since I started reviewing I do find it helpful to keep track of where the books and recommendations come from…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know you are British! That’s actually a cool part of WordPress: people are from ask over the place. I also read Billy Budd in college and hated it. Try some classics from the non-white guys. 😉


  15. No, can’t agree about Moby Dick. You must read Moby Dick—-and it’s
    so easy to read—each chapter is about 4 pages!! You feel accomplishment
    bit by easy bit– Keep a chart for the characters—you like charts . . . there
    are certainly worse books— I’m sticking up for Melville here.


  16. That spread sheet is a ripper! I love making lists (am slightly compulsive perhaps?) and have a massive paper list of books to be read that lives in my handbag. Now I am feeling spread sheet envy, and feel I have to improve on my tatty old list. Love the piles of books too, would get anxious without them.


  17. Love the idea of a spreadsheet but wouldn’t have the patience or commitment to sticking to any type of list. I read purely on what appeals when it’s time to pick up my next book or because it’s on my book club list. But I also don’t have such a large TBR list. Maybe if I did I’d be looking to steal your system!


    • Oh, but I don’t stick to it! I wouldn’t like anyone to get the impression that my massive lists and expenditure of time on spreadsheets actually means I’m organised! 😉 I’m afraid the new exciting books jump straight over the heads of the old faithfuls which just linger around the bottom of the list accusingly…

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Well, I shall admire your spreadsheet from afar, but have no desire to emulate it. Your method means you can’t escape from full acknowledgement of your bookie addiction. I prefer to operate by utilising subterfuge and denial. When I got my Kindle Voyage last year, and thought I’d organise the groaning downloads on the old keyboard a little, not only did I ruthless nix some of them completely off the Keyboard – books I had started and had an ‘I think not’ response to, but I set up all my wonderful multi folders in the cloud and PARKED everything there. So, all I have on my physical Voyage is a small handful of digital ARCs, carefully (so far) under control, and those books I bought since getting the Voyage. All else is out of sight, and I only carefully download one of the many sulking on the cloud TBR when I think……’I’m sure I have already bought that, maybe it’s time…’ And it also coincided, almost, with major decorating work last year. The entire flat went into storage, so all I have now (in a couple of obvious shamefully in view places) are the real books bought in the last year – mind you, there are a small pile on the floor, too, which is worrying – all the REST of the real TBRs have been put on the shelves in the organised system I was finally able to do when the boxes of well over 1000 books came back . Hidden, they are all hidden!! And so far, the system is working well, as I know, roughly where any book might be, so I won’t double – or even treble- buy books I already have a waiting to be read. My shame and unmanageable TBR doesn’t exist. It’s lovely being an ostrich.

    The only thing I did do, for the NetGalleys, coming out so far in advance of publication is to set each one up as a task in Outlook, so I will get jolly reminders that I really should start reading.

    I did start a spreadsheet for the dreaded Popsugar, but am not really a fan of them. I think I like disorganisation a bit too much. Though knowing who recommended a book would be useful, so thanks could be given, when the reading finally happens


    • Well, I’ve reached a point where it seems silly to keep acquiring more and more books without reading the ones I already own! I’ve already got rid of thirty or so from the Kindle that seemed like a good idea when they were on 99p offer, but which I subsequenlty realised I had no desire to actually read. Now, with the wishlist, I only buy books on offer that I’ve already decided I really want. Well, that’s the theory at least! The NetGalley ones do need to be kept track of when they come out so early, but I would also find things like the GAN Quest impossible to keep on top of if I didn’t have a list in some form or another! The secret is to keep changing the list – partly so I never feel obliged to read something (except review copies), and partly because playing with lists is so much fun! And yes, it does help me to remember who sent me off in a particular direction – to thank or curse, as appropriate…


      • And I forgot to mention my ALMOST TBR list – the Amazon basket ‘save for later’ – pages and pages of these, which occasionally get deleted when i can no longer remember why I thought I might want to read the whatever it was, and the even more TBR perhaps list, the book wishlists (private, so there’s no danger of anyone springing an unexpected and perhaps unwelcome surprise)


        • Ah, that’s about the only thing I don’t use – but I couldn’t live without the wishlists. And it’s a great way of spotting when a book you want is on special – must have saved about a zillion pounds over the years…


  19. I am a little worried about the number of physical books I have sitting here… best not to try and count them… 🙂 But I do have the NetGalley list down to about 12 but feel I am missing out on some good international reads, maybe. (And I need to update my A -Z of authors read on my blog…one day)


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