The TBR List: Tool or Tyrant?

TBR List GraphicAh, yes. The often-useful but just-as-often intimidating “To Be Read” list.

Most booklovers feel obliged to keep one.

(And we’re not talking here about our TBR pile – that’s another dilemma for another day’s reflections.)

Personally (and, considering the amount of time I devote to reading, surprisingly), I didn’t begin a TBR list until a few years ago. I didn’t seem to need one, there always seeming to be so many different books I was in the middle of, and because the current pile seemed to get effortlessly replenished before I finished reading all of the not-quite-finished-yet stash. Of course, not everyone has, like I did, the good fortune to work in a library for three decades, when there was always something new catching my eye.

Still, the exponential growth of my only-recently-created TBR list has gotten alarming.

After discovering, at Book Riot, Rebecca Joines’ essay entitled “Throw Away Your TBR List: A Radical Reading (un)Plan,”  I realized that I’d created – and intend to maintain – my own TBR list mostly as a memory aid than as the guilt-based motivator that some booklovers’ TBR lists apparently maintain. Before I started my TBR list, I realized I had long forgotten numerous book titles that at some point I’d been intrigued by, so creating a TBR list was an improvement in that frustrating pattern, a useful too.

As my memory isn’t getting any better (alas, quite the contrary), I think my TBR list is here to stay. On the other hand, the thoughts in Rebecca’s essay reinforce my hunch that, from time to time, it would behoove me to purge the list of (now-not-forgotten) titles that – for whatever reason – no longer intrigue me. (Life being so short, etc.)

Read Rebecca’s essay, and don’t forget to scan through the readers’ comments:  as often with Internet-based essays, you’ll find some interesting booklovers’ perspectives there as well.


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