Monthly TBRs: Why and how they work for me

Monthly Reading Lists

I’ve been putting together monthly TBRs for the longest time. I can’t even remember how long it’s been since I started doing it, it’s just what I’ve always been doing.
I often see people say they can’t do it because they are mood readers, but I say you can anyway! I’m a mood reader too and sometimes I start a book from my list, stop reading it after only 10 pages and grab a different one that wasn’t even on the list. I make monthly TBR lists even though I am  a mood reader and they most often work for me.

Why I make monthly TBRs

I love making lists

I’m obsessed with making lists. I write lists for basically everything, so of course I take the chance to write a list of books every single month. I would probably do it too even if I didn’t have time to read a single book. And because I love crossing things off of lists even more, I write down a book that I spontaneously read, just so I can cross it off right after.

It keeps book buying in check

Putting together a monthly TBR makes me realize that I could easily plan out my reading for the next 3 months, I have THAT many books I always feel like reading at a time. I would be really excited about those reading plans without buying a single books for ages, which is obviously not going to happen but it helps. Putting together a monthly TBR is hard because I’m always in the mood for at least twice as many as I’ll have time for but at least it makes me think “I really don’t need to buy any books this month” because it would make it even harder.

Too many options

I’m overwhelmed by the all the books that are sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. If I didn’t have a list of at least a few titles that I’m going to read next, I would waste precious time every single time I finished a book and had to choose a new one. Putting together a monthly TBR is not easy, but it’s a lot easier than choosing just one book to read next. Now, when I finish a book, I just pick one from a very short list.

I don’t forget about UNREAD books I own

Yes, sometimes I do forget that I own certain books, especially those I only have as an ebook. That happens even for books I’m sure I would love and was really excited about when I got them. They just go down in the masses of books that make my (owned) TBR. When I make my monthly TBRs, I go through all the books on my GR shelf and see what I’m in the mood for hence not forgetting any books that might have been forgotten otherwise.
(I would be too lazy to do that every time after I finished a book, if I just wanted to choose my next read from all the books I own)

How I make them work

Leave time open for SPONTANEOUS reads

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a completely different book, sometimes I get a book I wasn’t expecting, other times I buy a book on a whim just right after I discovered it. There are many reasons that all of a sudden I don’t want to stick to my TBR anymore. And it works, because I expect it to happen and try to plan my monthly TBRs accordingly. I know roughly how many pages I can read each month and try to make a list that only covers about 3/4 of that.
(I mostly fail at this one. My lists are often long enough to cover two whole months)

a little of each

I try to have a variety of books on my list, not just different genres, but also different formats. I can’t read too many ebooks in a row for example, I just need a physical book every now and then. As for genres, even if I’m currently in a mood to read ALL the fantasy and know that won’t change anytime soon, I put a few titles from other genres on the list anyway, just in case.  

MORE WHAT YOU’D CALL “GUIDELINES” THAN ACTUAL RULES

Probably the main reason why monthly TBRs work for me is that I don’t really care if I end up reading according to my list or not. If I suddenly don’t feel like reading a single book from my list anymore, I just make a new one. It’s not like I’m setting myself any rules, that I have to read these books (even if it’s ARCs that I should read), I just don’t stress myself like that. My monthly TBRs are more like guidelines.

Do you put together monthly TBRs? If so, why? Or do they just not work for you?

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  • I’ve never made a monthly TBR, but sometimes I think I need to, for the reasons you’ve listed above. Sometimes I say I’ll read something soon, and then it doesn’t happen until months (or even years…) later. Maybe I’ll try it out! :)

  • I LOVE making monthly TBRs! I never used to stick to my lists but now that I receive ARCs I tend to read the books as they have to be read by a certain date. :D Great post! :)

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      I always made lists for myself, but ARCs are definitely why I started to actually stick to them (even thought I still don’t always do haha)

  • It makes me happy that we both love lists so much! I don’t have an official TBR, but I do have a list (or 5) in the notes application on my phone/computer where I write down which books I’m hoping to read and with whom. I would never keep it all straight otherwise! I’ve never thought about looking at the number of pages I can read a month, though. I guess it would be easy enough because of your spreadsheet, except it’s harder to figure out with audiobooks, since I don’t listen to them all at the same speed. The reason I don’t make an official TBR and take a picture is that what I read each month is dependent on when a book becomes available at the library and how long I can have it. I might plan to read it, only to realize that it’s due back. I completely agree with what you said in the last paragraph. Nice PotC reference, by the way. :D

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      You’re better at this then I am because I always forget to add the books we plan to buddy read (like The Archived this month).
      I don’t include audiobooks in that page count, I don’t really include those in my plans, because it’s so hard to say how much time I’ll have for those.

      • The note app on my phone syncs with my computer, which makes it easy. And I love lists. XD

        Do you just enter number of hours in your spreadsheet, then? I have page numbers for all of mine, so if I look at average pages per month, it would be way more than I can actually *read* and would give me an inaccurate estimate of how much I could plan to read.

        • Crini • April 12th, 2016

          No, I put in pages numbers in the spreadsheet for audiobooks as well. I didn’t get the sum I work with from the spreadsheet, I just know how much I can usually manage = how many hours I can make for reading each day.

  • I wish I could do monthly TBR lists, but every time I set out to read specific books I really struggle. I am terrible at it. I am such a mood reader that I struggle to read anything when it doesn’t fit my mood. I mean, I sometimes think I should stop requesting ARCs for the fact I have to force myself to read them at times (and then I never enjoy them as much).

    I do think you’re right that they help you clear your TBR pile and they give you structure. I think I’d probably buy a lot less books if I could just stop myself wanting to buy everything at anyone time. If I knew what books I was planning to read each month I wouldn’t feel the need to look for what my next book will be.

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      Well, I definitely don’t read books I’m not in the mood for either. I just put those book on the list I’m in the mood for at the time I make the list, and if my mood changes, I just make a new list.

  • Ich bin auch immer überrascht, was für Stress manche Leser sich mit ihren monthly TBRs machen. Mir macht’s auch Spaß solche Listen zusammenzustellen, aber ich verzweifel nicht, wenn ich mich doch nicht an sie halte oder nur die Hälfte schaffe. Bei mir taucht auch immer das Problem auf, dass meine Liste locker für 2 Monate reichen würde ;D Für diesen Monat hab ich noch gar keine, aber nach deinem Post hab ich richtig Lust noch eine zu schreiben x)

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      Ja, mich wunderst auch immer was für einen Stress sich manche mit dem Bloggen machen. Würde mir so gar keinen Spaß mehr machen.

  • This is exactly how I feel! I’ve been terrible about following TBRs, but recently came up with a few ways to improve them and make them actually work for me. (I always made them anyways because I love writing lists also!) I’m a mood reader too so I always found myself ignoring the TBR. It definitely doesn’t have to be this way if you add enough variety. I’ve also found that having a TBR has slowly trained me to be a little less of a mood reader, oddly enough. I’m much more likely to just grab a book and start reading it .

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      Oh, that’s interesting, that it changed you slightly!
      Glad I’m not alone with just having fun writing lists, no matter if we stick to them! :D

  • I’ve tried making a monthly TBR twice, but both times I ended up not following it at all. The moment I started reading the first book in my TBR, I felt like reading something else instead. And because I am (extremely) stubborn, I did. Then the next thing I knew, I forgot to follow my TBR for that month entirely. >.<

    In the end, I just decided not to make monthly TBRs and just pick up a book I feel like reading at the time when I'm finished with another book. Monthly TBRs just really don't work for me. :(

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      Everyone should do it the way it works best for them, if monthly TBRs don’t work for you, then keep picking your books one by one! I sometimes wish it would work for me that way, but I’m just too overwhelmed by the choices :D

  • I recently started doing monthly TBR lists and they are working very well for me! I have so many ARCs and so many books I bought on my TBR that it helps to organize them all. Like you said, I can get a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. But I have been known to change the order of my list mid-month a bit to account for a different mood. I am flexible, but the monthly TBR list definitely give me a good place to start.

    • Crini • April 11th, 2016

      Yess, it definitely help to have more control over what you have and read that first!
      So your monthly TBR already has an order in which you plan to read the books? That’s interesting! I never thought of that! I just pick one out of all the ones on the list.

  • I love the IDEA of monthly TBRs, but I feel like the structure of it makes me feel stressed- like another “to-do” item at work. I usually have a loose idea of what I’m going to read (such as what I’m reading with a book buddy, upcoming ARCs, etc) and it generally works for me. However, sometimes after I finish reading a book I may skip several days before I pick another one out again, because I’m not sure what to read next, so I’m sure a monthly TBR would help narrow my focus. Great post!

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