My to-be-read (TBR for short) list may be scattered (I have no less than 5 places I keep lists), but here’s why I’m not fussing that it’s a hot mess express.
It’s not about the list, but the act of reading that’s important to me.
Each January, I find myself in the whirlwind of the newest app, strategy, and ads for e-readers… and I get a bit overwhelmed. I think it was February when I realized that while I want a fancy graph to show me what I read in the last year, I mostly just want to have read good books that pushed me to grow, challenged my thinking, made me fall in love with characters, or helped me learn a new skill or two.
I’m moving away from the pressures of reading to show off my list or the number of books I can read in a year, but instead working to redefine what it means to have a successful reading life. More on that later.
While I have a list (but not really a compiled list), here are the three things that I’ve found to be necessary to my to-be-reading list:
Keeping a physical TBR stash
I’ve been keeping a stack of books on my nightstand for years and my husband teases that it looks like I’m running a used book shop. But, this stack keeps me from scrolling before bedtime. I even have a designated spot for my most current book, so I can grab it and my water bottle as I head downstairs in the morning. This ensures I have my latest read handy for the few minutes between soccer games or errands and school pick up. The vast majority of the books on my nightstand are ones that I’ve thrifted and that fit the genre categories I’m exploring that year.
Keep a few books on library hold
These are either books on Libby or physical copies, but I can’t think of anything more caring that Past Elicia loving on Future Elicia when I see a hold for me waiting. Like many of you, I mostly spend my time at the library helping the kiddos look for their books or cajoling them from the computers. It feels like Christmas when I walk over to the holds and see that book waiting for me.
Here’s a peek at some of the titles that are waiting for me.
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Alice Austen Lives Here by Alex Gino
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Social Media Success For Every Brand by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers by (Finished!) The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Finished!)
Editing my list to reflect what I value:
Book Lover Elicia loves to save book titles, screenshot Instagram Stories clips or snap pictures of covers at the library. Book Lover Elicia is like an enthusiastic kid in a candy store whose eyes are darting back and forth with her heart set on having everything. She saves books she’ll never read and the trendy titles that everyone says she must read.
And so, with the energy of a Mom decluttering I regularly go through my lists titles out. I ask myself:
Are you really interested in reading this book?
Does this book fit one of your focused genre themes for the year?
Is this book still relevant or is there another title that includes more up-to-date information?
Is this a book you think the kids will be interested in?
Is this a book you want to gift? (If it is, I refile it under “gifts”–again, very descriptive.)
And for the titles that have been on my list for years – yes, years – I ask myself:
Is this the season of life to read this book?
Keeping a TBR and regularly editing it allows me to acknowledge the season of life I’m in and own the needs of this season. And sometimes after months of waiting and a library hold is ready, I may decide that I don’t have space in my heart for a heavy dive into oppressive systems, because life is heavy enough. Or, my brain is tackling an issue in therapy that I want to stay focused on, so the beach read isn’t a priority. It doesn’t mean I’ll never read the book again, but just that it didn’t meet the need at the present time. And it’s okay to return the book and put it back on your TBR for another season. Or to keep it on the list for years.
Many of you, I suspect, love reading as I do and that’s maybe one of the reasons you’re here. I want to tell you, and me, that the length of our TBR doesn’t really mean anything. It’s committing to the act of reading that’s really important. If you love reading, then read, don’t collect the mental clutter of a TBR and allow it to distract you from what matters.
Simply read more.
In this with you,
P.S. Leave me a comment & tell me what’s on your TBR or how you manage your reads.