So how did I go with that stupid TBR stack?


Around this time last year I mentioned my stupid TBR stack and the fact that I was embarking on a book-buying-ban.

Don’t want to toot my own horn but I did very, very well on the ban and I’m pleased to report that I will finish the year with fewer books in the TBR stack than I started with. Success.

Although I don’t know the exact number, my TBR stack on January 1st 2016 was somewhere around 420 books. There was a jump between the reported 394 in November and January 1st simply because I had a little Netgalley frenzy and a buying binge.

The current magic number is 365. Hooray!

Accountants will look at the number of books I’ve read so far this year (85) and note the discrepancy. It doesn’t add up, but along the way I’ve borrowed quite a few books (something I wanted to avoid because it wouldn’t help reduce the TBR pile but was necessary for fulfilling book group obligations and reading shortlists). I also *may* have overstepped my planned-twelve-only ARC requests (it was more like 16 ARCs in the end).

I’ll be continuing my effort next year with some slightly modified rules –

  • I can buy six new books in 2017. It may be that I blow the entire six on the 2017 Stella Prize short list (because I would like to take part in the Stella Prize book group again next year).
  • I can accept 16 ARCs.
  • And in order to support the publishing industry (and in addition to the six books I can buy without restraint), I’m taking Lizzy’s approach to book buying, where my purchase allowance = (books read + books culled) / 5. It’s genius.

My aim is to finish 2017 with under 300 books in the TBR stack.







28 responses

  1. But…. but … but…
    I’ve got about 800 books on my TBR. If I read nothing else but, at about 200 books per year, I would have nothing left in 4 years. If I slowed down to 100 books p.a. then I’d be ok for 8 years.
    And what would happen then if mean and penny-pinching governments closed our libraries and publishers stopped publishing in print?
    Ok, I’m catastrophising, but those TBR books are my insurance against having nothing to read.

  2. Love the picture…. I feel,so much better now with my own TBR which has just passed the 200 mark, up from the beginning of the year sadly despite best efforts, my downfall was I discovered a second hand bookshop near me …

    • Honestly, I didn’t feel deprived, I think because I did allow a few purchases. The interesting thing was that once I got a few months in I was able to tune-out of the ‘noise’ that surrounds new releases etc and choose books based entirely on what I felt like reading (as opposed to feeling like I had to read particular books st a particular time).

  3. Must confess, it went a bit awry in the second half of the year, and so I must cull about 200 books before 31.12 to balance the books (so to speak). Doubt I’ll be able to do it because I don’t have the time between now and then. Still I think the approach has tamed my worst excesses. I shall try again in 2017.

    • It may not be a perfect system but it’s the best I’ve come across – any approach that makes you just a bit more mindful/ careful is a start (similarly, I curbed my Kindle impulse buys by getting samples first… Of course, then I had an insane number of samples, hence my ‘Sample Saturday’ posts where I try to actually read those samples – because I need more books, obvs!).

  4. So impressed that you managed to keep the ARCs down to a reasonable number – they’re always my downfall. Sadly my TBR has increased again this year but by less than the last few years – so that’s progress, right? 😉 Here’s to next year…!

    • I think the ARCs were my downfall in previous years as well. I still have so many unread from previous years (making my Netgalley % not flash…) but am certainly trying to keep my requests to a manageable number next year as well.

  5. For the last few years I’ve been trying to get my TBRs below 300 and as soon as I approach that a whole load of books jump up shouting get me, get me and the numbers soar again. I’ve tried various methods, but none work – I tried the sampling and like you I have loads of samples cluttering up my Kindle – sorting things all takes up valuable reading time. One thing I am going to do is to try to be realistic and ask myself are you ever going to read this book and if the answer is no to cull it – drastic I know – and if yes then read it asap, before another book tempts me away.

    Good luck next year!

    • I think having a cull is probably a good idea – I haven’t done that yet but will next year (maybe a good way to get below 300!). Although culling hard copies is easy, culling e-books will be the key for me because although they don’t take up space, they do add to the TBR stack.

  6. Man, I don’t even want to count how many books I own, although I have been very good at getting rid of some I know I’ll never read recently. And getting rid of them after I read them when I know I won’t ever read it a second time. I’ve been less good about ARCs than I hoped to be but I’ve kept up with them for the most part so could be worse. Better luck in 2017 for both of us it seems. 🙂

  7. Pingback: A year of Sample Saturdays | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  8. Pingback: 2016: What I Read | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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