The Struggles of Having a Big TBR

I wanted to discuss something that many of us in the book community have to deal with and that’s a TBR list. Now TBR lists can be used in a variety of ways. Maybe you have a TBR list of all the books you own, or perhaps you have a monthly TBR. For this post, I want to talk about my owned TBR and how, though it is great to look at my own personal collection of books, it can be quite overwhelming to see all the unread books on my shelves.

So being overwhelmed by books? Well, that’s something I’ve been dealing with for the last 5 years or so now. I became the reader I am now back in Spring 2014 and my TBR has honestly not stopped growing since. I do have a big owned TBR list and there is absolutely no way I can deny that. I have about 250 books on my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads and I am constantly in the process of trying to bring it down to 200 books.  I’ll be honest, it’s not going too well but I am trying and I do feel like I am more motivated than any other year to decrease the number of books on my TBR.

Now as I said earlier, having a big TBR can be great at times because I’m never stuck for books to read but it can also be overwhelming because I do have so many books on my shelves staring at me, asking for me to pick them. Well believe me, if I could read all of them at the same time, I absolutely would and sometimes I just get this urge to try but of course, there’s no way I can keep track of 250 books at a time. Although of course, I’d leave one or two spare! Despite this positive of always having books on hand to read, I do feel the pressure to read them. There’s so many hyped books especially that are on my shelves to read that I just haven’t yet because I was reading something else when it was released or I wasn’t in the mood. I’ve even developed this habit of buying special or signed editions of books that are in a series I own but haven’t read yet because there are only limited copies available. It’s a serious problem.

Sometimes I really do wonder how I ever let myself buy this many books. Having a lot of books to read isn’t exactly the worst situation to be in, but I do sometimes just feel guilty for going on such a book buying splurge when I started reading again in 2014 because there are so many books from those early years that I haven’t even got to yet.

How will I ever get through them all? Will I ever get through them all? I want to read them all but I just don’t think I can.

So attempting to read the 250 books on my shelves and the pressure that comes with that? I’ll be the first to admit that I am a slow reader and that really does hold me back from getting through my TBR, not to mention all the new releases contributing to that. I just wish I was one of those people that could read over 100 books a year. I know, I know, I shouldn’t compare myself to others at all because we all read at different speeds and that’s great but while some people are reading 100+ books a year, I’m struggling to even get to 60 books read in a year. If I was able to read even 100 books a year, I’d be able to get my TBR down to almost nil in 2/2.5 years.

I’ll be honest my TBR does feel never ending and some days I really do feel like I am being drowned in books.

I do have plans to try and combat my TBR which includes finishing any series I’ve already started as so many of the books on my TBR come from series. For example, one of the biggest series on my TBR are the Shadowhunters books. If I read all of the books I own from that world (not including the three that I’ve already read), that would knock 11 books off my TBR alone which is quite a considerable amount. It looks like I’ll be looking to get that series read over the next year for sure!

Of course, having a big TBR isn’t always bad. I love knowing that once I’ve finished my current read, I have plenty of reading material to suit my mood. There’s also the added benefit that I can never be bored and that I have so much choice, I can literally dive into whatever world I feel like. I also love having a large owned TBR because it is my personal library collection and so it’s unique to me.

There’s just so much to read and so little time!


I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on having a big TBR. How many books do you have on yours? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your TBR list? Are you desperately trying to bring your TBR list down? Do you like having a big TBR with plenty of books to look forward to?

35 thoughts on “The Struggles of Having a Big TBR

  1. I’ve had the weirdest year in regards to my TBR. I’ve managed to get it down from 100 to around 50 already. And all I can say is, DNF frequently if you’re not feeling something (something I still struggle with) and make sure reading stays fun. I’ve made the year into a challenge. I’ve rarely bought any books and I’m reading from my lowest rated up to my highest. It at least keeps it exciting and I’m reading books that are veterans on my shelf!


  2. I think all book lovers have large TBR piles, it comes with loving books. Lists can help and if you blog regularly, giving yourself posting dates in advance, might help.


  3. I have a big TBR and absolutely hate it. I own almost 200 books which I haven’t read and last year I had a further hundred which I just gave away to charity shops purely because I knew that I was never going to read them now. I feel really guilty having such a huge amount of books that I own and haven’t read – it feels like wasted money in a way. But also, I never used too. When I was younger I would only buy books after I read the ones I had and I loved the experience of finishing a book and then going to a bookshop and buying the next few books that I planned to read. Mainly because I knew I would get to them quickly and they wouldn’t be left unread.

    My goal for the future is to read as many books as I possibly can and get my owned TBR pile down to less than 50 and to start using my local library more again!


    1. It is so overwhelming at times to have such a big TBR! Yeah, I get you. I feel bad getting rid of them because what if I enjoy the books that I’ve thrown away? 😆 yeah, when I was younger I wouldn’t buy that many as my parents were getting them for me – I’d reread a lot too!

      That’s a good goal! I want to get mine down to 50, as I know that special editions and pre-orders will happen!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with ReelBazaar here. Trimmed down our TBR pile purely by facing facts, that if a book isn’t going to grip us within two chapters it’s not worth flogging that dead horse through the rest. So we ended up doing a massive cull / donation of a lot of stuff, mentioned it in rollups rather than proper boxed-out reviews and crossed it off the list. Tougher when you’re writing for a huge age range from board books right up to YA / Adult, but that’s about to change radically too.

    Good luck all with the TBR pile. Remember, you are under no pressure to write about anything you got sent – and if publishers pressure you for a review, don’t buckle to that pressure. It’s your blog, your time, your thoughts.


    1. Thank you! I really struggle to DNF books, a topic that I have drafted a post for actually! I just can’t bring myself to do it, for some reason 😆😂

      You’re very right, I think being a blogger can lead you to feel pressured to read books but like you said, our blogs are our own and we can post what we want!


  5. I have 382 books on my Goodreads TBR. It doesn’t feel all that overwhelming for me since it’s online and I get them periodically from the library or online. It gives me a lot of freedom to choose books I like and I mostly use it to keep track of books I want to read or that are coming out.


  6. It’s definitely overwhelming; it’s a victory when you finish a book but then deciding which to pick next among all the unread ones on the shelves is a struggle, it’s a vicious cycle. But then I see people with 1000, 2000+ books or even more than that on their Goodreads tbr and suddenly I don’t feel so bad about having 500+ on mine. But yes I would love to get that number down, I bet half the books on the list I’m not even interested in anymore.


    1. It definitely is a victory but then I end up adding books to my TBR again and up it goes 😂 that’s true! I use my Goodreads to-read shelf to solely track my owned TBR and it is useful to see what I’ve actually got to read! ahh, sounds like an unhaul is on the cards!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally agree with all your feelings about drowning in books! I let mine get up to 580 this year and I’m currently battling it down, as it just creates so much pressure – I know I want to read all of these, but *having* to read them all definitely feels like it curtails the freedom to mood read… I wonder if there even is a solution!


  8. My TBR is a monster potting my doom. I love having a bunch of owned books at the ready for me to pick them, but the problem I have is there are new books being published every day… so if I keep buying new books I will never reach nil. I read about 100 or so books a year but even then, I won’t ever read them all. And that gives me a lot of anxiety honestly.

    “I’ve even developed this habit of buying special or signed editions of books that are in a series I own but haven’t read yet because there are only limited copies available. It’s a serious problem.”

    Glad to know that I’m not the only one with this problem!
    This is a fun post and good luck with getting your TBR down! I am on an arc ban for the rest of the year to hopefully fix the huge hole I dug for myself.


    1. 100 books read in a year is so amazing! I totally understand the anxiety with it, it really stresses me out sometimes knowing there are so many that I own that I have yet to read. It would be a little better if I actually had read the majority of them but I haven’t!

      Thank you and good luck too – you’ve got this!


  9. I understand how you feel. I think my big issue is that now that I get ARCs I rarely have time to read back list titles and I have all of these unfinished series that are SCREAMING at me to finish them. I want more time for backlist titles!!


  10. At this point there’s countess of books in my TBR but I haven’t actually counted them, so it doesn’t really bother me. I have a blasé approach to reading & it’s “I’ll read it when I feel like” . I don’t see the point in adding unnecessary pressure to something I’m supposed to be doing for fun.


    1. That’s fair enough! I think the pressure for me comes with being able to just see the books on my shelf sometimes. I don’t always feel it as I’m looking forward to reading all the books but I definitely do find the number of books to read a bit overwhelming at times!


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