Are TBR Lists Good or Bad?


So, I don’t have a TBR list as such, I have a bunch of books on my shelf and Kindle that I want to read at some point, as well as a very long Amazon wish list, but I don’t plan my reading ahead of time. I am a mood reader, so a TBR list just wouldn’t work for me. The only thing I do stick to is reading my subscription service book right after I finish whatever book I am reading when it arrives.

I do however really enjoy watching TBR videos on BookTube, and I love it when people use an actual TBR jar, basically because I think they look cute. While watching these videos however it has become apparent that a lot of people find having a TBR list really stressful. So why do they do it?For the “bigger names” in the online book community it seems that some of them at least feel a lot of pressure to get through either specific books, or a set number of books each month. Why you ask? ARCs. Most people in the book community are nice people and when they are sent ARCs they feel obligated to read them, because they want to be helpful and provide a review. Most publishers want book reviews near the release date so it isn’t just a case of “get to it when you can”, so when someone gets a lot of ARCs the pressure and stress increases. There is some community pressure too I think. If everyone is reading a certain book, others feel that they need to too, which is (partly) why all the big names mention a lot of the same books on their channels.

Quite a few BookTubers seem to be breaking away from a strict monthly TBR lately. Instead they do something more general, like a seasonal TBR, stating the stress caused by monthly ones as the reason. While many of them treat BookTube as a sort of job, unless reading really is your job I don’t think there should be any pressure associated with reading. Even if it is your job there shouldn’t be pressure but that’s not really the way jobs work for most people.

Are there any good sides to having a TBR list, other than meaning fun videos for people like me to watch? If you are someone that needs motivation to read then I suppose they can be a good thing but if you need motivation then maybe reading isn’t really for you? Reading should be a fun thing, you shouldn’t need to force yourself to do it, if you are constantly forcing yourself you need to ask yourself why. Some see a TBR list as a good thing as getting through it gives them a sense of achievement. In that case, great, go for it.

I read purely for pleasure (unless it is a textbook/journal), so I am unlikely to make a TBR list beyond something very general like “I want to read that new thriller at some point”. What do you guys do, TBR or no TBR, and what are your reasons?


10 thoughts on “Are TBR Lists Good or Bad?

  1. Cool post, I’m a mood reader, regardless of ARC’s or not. ARC’s are always such a big subject of debate in the book blogging community, for good or bad. If I’m interested in the book and get it in plenty of time, I’ll try my best to read it before release but if you only receive it a couple of days before the release then, reading it before can’t be done. I’m lucky enough to be on mailing lists and I’ve been told it doesn’t matter when you read the books and if you’re just sent a book you haven’t requested then you’re under no obligation at all to even read it.

    For example, I like Norse Mythology and hadn’t read any Neil Gaiman before, I saw plenty of ARC’s on blogs and requested a copy months before it’s actual release in February, never heard anything back and saw lots of reviews, day before release I got an email from the publisher telling me they’d happily send me a copy, couple of days after release a proper hardback finished copy arrived. Can’t read ARC’s before release if you don’t get them then.😀

    A few publishers in the UK also don’t seem to send books out until they’ve been released, Titan occasionally send a press release weeks before a book is out but I’ve had far more press releases from them a couple of weeks after the books been released so I’m not sure what I’d class them as.

    I need to read what I want else I don’t really enjoy the book and struggle to get through it, only managing a few pages a day and finding other stuff to do whereas, if it’s a book I want to read then it’ll be what I do, read instead of other stuff, obviously adulting, etc gets in the way.😂

    I agree with you about hyped books completely, luckily, I’m a fantasy fan and while fantasy fans look forward to books being released, the new one in a series, new series by an author they live, etc I wouldn’t say they are ‘hyped’ books but for some other genres particularly Y-A you see so many people reading the latest hyped book that it must put pressure on some fans to read the book to.

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  2. I have had a couple of ARCs from NetGalley way after the release date and with those I just think I will get to them when I can. With others I do feel pressure to read them before the release date though.

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  3. I’m a little bit of both, a TBR list reader and a mood reader. I have a list of things I’d like to eventually read and I have my NetGalley/review crew/blog tour lists. But, if something comes out that I’ve been excitedly awaiting, that will jump to the front of the line. If life is super stressful for some reason, I will fall back on re-reading things so there are no surprises.

    Now, some of my review crew/blog tour books come with a deadline, so I either work those in so I get them done by the deadline, or I email the person in charge, explain what’s going on and ask for an extension. NetGalley books, I try to get to them as soon as I can, but I also try not to beat myself up about it if it takes me a while to get them done. I just do the best I can and rejoice when I get one finished. 🙂

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  4. I’m not a tbr girl myself other than keeping track of the number of unread books I own (like 700+ lmao). I sometimes will pick a genre for a month or make a priority stack but even have trouble keeping to that. I do read what I want, when I want! Lol. Tbr jars are totally cute though.

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  5. I never read or watch TBR lists, I find them really pointless. Especially cause most of the time people don’t stick to their TBR anyway, so you get excited about them reading something and then they don’t. 😅


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