The Pros and Cons of TBR Lists and How to Craft Your Own

By Ashley Rands, Marketing

In the vast ocean of available books, readers often find themselves overwhelmed by the decision of what to read next. To tackle this literary labyrinth, many turn to their beloved TBR lists or to be read. While it serves as a compass to guide readers through their reading adventures, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of TBR lists and maintaining them. It is also important to learn how to craft a TBR list that enhances rather than hinders the reading experience.

Pros of Having a TBR List:

pros of having a tbr list

For me, personally, the pros far outweigh the cons of a TBR list. There are a few things that stand out as the most important and positive aspects of such a list. 

  • Organization and Focus:
    • Pro: A TBR list helps organize reading goals and keeps readers focused on their preferred genres or themes.
    • Pro: It prevents the overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to read next.
  • Goal Setting and Accountability:
    • Pro: Setting reading goals becomes easier with a TBR list, encouraging readers to explore new genres or finish a specific number of books within a timeframe.
    • Pro: It instills a sense of accountability, motivating readers to make progress on their reading journey.
  • Memory Aid:
    • Pro: A TBR list acts as a memory aid, ensuring that enticing titles aren’t forgotten in the sea of available books.
    • Pro: It helps in keeping track of recommendations from friends, book clubs, or online communities.
  • Curated Reading Experience:
    • Pro: Crafting a TBR list allows readers to curate their reading experience, ensuring a diverse and balanced selection of books.
    • Pro: It enables readers to prioritize books they’ve been eagerly anticipating.

Cons of Having a TBR List:

cons of having a tbr list
  • Pressure and Stress:
    • Con: A long TBR list might create pressure, turning the joy of reading into a stressful experience.
    • Con: It can lead to feelings of guilt when not keeping up with the set reading goals.
  • Limiting Spontaneity:
    • Con: A rigid TBR list may stifle the joy of spontaneous book choices, limiting the freedom to explore unexpected gems.
    • Con: It might deter readers from picking up books outside their planned list, potentially missing out on enriching experiences.
  • Changing Tastes:
    • Con: Readers’ tastes evolve, and what seemed appealing when creating the TBR list may no longer resonate.
    • Con: It may lead to the feeling of being stuck with a list that no longer aligns with current interests.
  • Incomplete Reading:
    • Con: Having an extensive TBR list may result in incomplete readings, as readers might feel compelled to rush through books to check them off the list.
    • Con: It may lead to a sense of dissatisfaction if books are chosen for the sake of completion rather than genuine interest.

You might have more pros and cons to add to both of these lists. It is always important when creating your TBR list to periodically review such a list. As mentioned in the cons, your tastes can change and if you find books stuck for a long time on your list it might be time to consider removing them. During the summer we shared a blog about the reasons books remain on your TBR list. Be sure to consider those things when weighing the pros and cons of a TBR lists.

How to Craft an Effective TBR List:

How to craft an effective tbr list

There can be multiple ways to create a to be read list. Here are just a few suggestions we came up with if you have never created a TBR list or if you already have one but are looking to utilize your list better.

  • Consider Your Reading Goals:
    • Reflect on your reading goals, whether they involve exploring new genres, completing a series, or focusing on diverse voices.
  • Balance and Variety:
    • Ensure a balance of genres and themes to create a well-rounded TBR list that caters to different moods and interests.
  • Be Flexible:
    • Allow for flexibility by leaving room for spontaneous additions to your TBR list. This helps embrace new releases, recommendations, or sudden literary cravings.
  • Regularly Update and Reflect:
    • Periodically review and update your TBR list to reflect changes in your reading preferences and goals.
  • Prioritize Enjoyment:
    • Remember that the primary purpose of a TBR list is to enhance your reading experience. Prioritize enjoyment over completion. (You don’t need to share your TBR list so go ahead and put on a few guilty pleasures)

A TBR list can be a valuable tool, guiding readers through the vast expanse of books. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and approach it with flexibility, allowing for the joy of spontaneous reads. Crafting an effective TBR list involves understanding personal reading goals, maintaining variety, and regularly reflecting on evolving preferences. By doing so, readers can navigate the literary seas with both purpose and pleasure.

The Pros and Cons of TBR Lists