Tackling the TBR update: Jenny's attempt at wearing the pants

We're entering our TBR (To Be Read) vaults in search of lost souls. Some books have been sitting in the catacombs so long we don't even remember putting them there (let alone one-clicking them). Join us as we rescue forgotten titles and finally attempt to make a dent in the never-ending beast known as the TBR list. We're looking to not only shorten our lists but also develop healthier reading habits. Want help tackling your TBR? Be a part of our support system and lighten your e-reader one book at a time.

Jenny's update:

I accomplished something a few weeks ago that I didn’t think I was capable of doing: I cleaned up my TBR list. I didn’t just dust the shelves, I went all pregnant-lady-nesting on that thing. I was not initially confident I would be able to find a way to convince my lazy behind to actually do this. I didn’t just have one TBR list to clean out but a slew of shelves on Goodreads masquerading as something far more benign than a daunting TBR list. I had shelves that narrowed down my TBR list. I had shelves that attempted to prioritize my TBR list. I had shelves that did nothing but make me feel like I was succeeding at wearing the pants in my relationship with my TBR list. These shelves served no legitimate purpose.

The urge hit me one day to dive into this project and not come up for air until I was done. I tore through my Goodreads shelves like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s factory. I felt victorious when I finally came up for air. I went from a total of 1280 books across all shelves to 892. Okay, great, but where did the cuts happen? The primary cuts occurred on the to-read shelf. I deleted any book I couldn’t recall or wasn’t interested in anymore. That took my to-read shelf from 543 down to 214. This reduction made me feel proud and I felt motivated to continue. I deleted unnecessary shelves, shelves that are merely reiterating things. I still have a few of those left but I’m sure I’ll feel motivated to attack them later. The on-deck shelf was merely a way of ranking priority of books hibernating on my TBR list. The same can be said for shelves like trusted-recommendation (because almost every book I shelve was recommended by someone I trust), trusted-author, waiting-to-be-released (I already have an anxiously-awaiting shelf), and a few more.

The one shelf I have yet to tackle is the waiting-on-kindle shelf. These are books I’ve paid for or downloaded for free and are waiting to be read. Don’t judge me by my number. My goal is to go through that beast and get rid of any book that downloaded for free just because it was free, as well as any paid books I don’t think I’ll ever read. There are 233 books sitting on that shelf waiting in limbo. I will never read all of them and don’t want to. Combine that number with the TBR shelf and I'm looking at 447 books vying for my attention.

I have managed to reign my one-clicking habits in since I cleaned house. I don’t buy a book unless I know I’m going to read it soon. I have also tried to pre-order less. Pre-orders were killing my numbers and I often forgot about them until they popped up on my Kindle. I occasionally found myself wondering why I bothered ordering it in the first place.

My goal is to continue limiting my purchases and strengthening my resolve. I need to work harder on saying no to those 99 cents sales. I will also narrow down the waiting-on-kindle shelf. Overall, I eliminated 388 unnecessary books from my TBR list. It’s a great start but now I need to finish the job.


  1. Love the Tackling the TBR series!! Great article Jenny!

    1. Thank you, Julie! That really means a lot! ~Jenny

  2. Woot Woot!! I did this about a month ago. I called it my Goodreads cleanse. I felt so much better after I did it. I still would like to go through my shelves and categorize things, though.

  3. Re-categorizing the shelves was the hardest part but sooo worth it! I feel such a sense of relief when dealing with them now. ~Jenny