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How To Keep Your TBR Pile Fresh

    Like all committed writers – I LOVE to read! Here’s my current TBR pile (of so-called ‘real’ paperback books, anyway):


    Obviously, I have a stack more too … Not only the ones I buy from supermarkets and book stores, but also charity shops and those I swap on Facebook groups too.

    In addition to  all THAT, I also get sent ARCs (advanced review copies) from publishers, indie authors and by my fellow book bloggers. Here’s my current TBR shelf (below) – I have a deal with my husband in that I mustn’t buy any more than these two shelves can handle. Oops!

    (Remember, I have a gazillion more on my Kindle too. In short I. AM. ADDICTED!!! Sorry … not sorry!!! I just can’t help myself, basically).


    It’s probably no wonder I love reading so much and it’s just as well, since my day job is SCRIPT READING! In other words, I read all day … and then at night? I READ SOME MORE! It’s what I love to do, when I’m not writing (or y’know, living and eating and stuff).

    Book bloggers sometimes complain about losing their ‘reading mojo’, but I can honestly say this doesn’t really happen to me. I think this is because I never let my TBR pile take me over or dictate to me on what I SHOULD read. So, here are my tips for keeping your TBR pile fresh and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm you:

    1) Theme/categorise your books

    You can do this any way you want. I find I go through phases when I only want to read one ‘kind’ of book and if that’s the case, then I’ll theme a bunch of books in that genre or of that type.

    I did this for Dystopian November in 2016. I looked up loads of dystopian books that had been recommended to me over the years, but somehow missed (like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale), as well as new ones, like Defender by GX Todd. I also re-read a couple, as well as watching their movie adaptations like Divergent and The Maze Runner.

    I didn’t get all the dystopian books I’d put aside read in that month, but I got a huge chunk of them done. I felt ready for a break at the end of the four weeks, but felt I had a new appreciation for the subgenre.

    Other themes/categories I’ve themed my TBR pile around have included (but aren’t limited to):

    • Detectives/police procedurals
    • Male leads
    • Female leads
    • Female authors
    • Books that have adaptations I want to watch/have watched
    • Books that SHOULD be adapted for screen
    • Books from certain publishers
    • Marriage noir
    • Abducted children
    • Unusual characters we don’t often see
    • Books with neon covers!

    Basically, I’ll read my chosen theme or category until I get bored of it. Then I’ll shake up my TBR again, finding paperbacks and putting ebooks into various folders on my Kindle.

    2) Avoid PROMISING reviews by certain dates

    I never promise a review, not even to my own publisher. If I can get an ARC read in time for a blog tour or similar then I will, but I’m careful to keep my book reviewing as a ‘side order’ to the main content on my blog, which is made up of  interviews, articles, reading recommendations and so on.

    In turn, I do all I can to recommend and share reviews and books I like ‘off blog’, especially on social media. I’ll stage Q&As with authors on my Facebook page; chat in groups, Twitter or instagram; or RT tweets about books I’ve read, adding I’ve read and enjoyed them. Sometimes I’ll do the same for books I haven’t read, but instead will say I can’t wait to read them because I really like the sound of them.

    Now, this tip won’t appeal to ALL book bloggers, some of whom ONLY want to review on their blogs … But for those who want to ensure they enjoy reading and make sure book piles don’t start kicking their arses, then this really works in my experience.

    3) Try and be aware of your various biases

    I love female writers. So this year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to read more male authors as well. In addition, I’m going to read more books with male protagonists / POVs in.

    Publishing is very white-centric. Though I have previously made a good job of being inclusive of authors and characters who identify as say, LGBT and disabled, I have done a poor job recently of reading books by writers of colour. So this year, I will ensure I read more books by BAME authors.

    This is not to be ‘politically correct’ – it’s because this way my TBR pile stays FRESH as I will be reading stories and viewpoints that I am not ‘used’ to.


    In keeping your TBR pile fresh, make sure you mix up themes and categories for your books – these can be as straightforward or as crazy as you like. Secondly, try and avoid promising views to others by certain dates, since this may make your reading feel like a chore. Lastly, be aware of your biases – so you can find other viewpoints and stories that challenge them, or bring new ways of looking at the world to you.


    2 thoughts on “How To Keep Your TBR Pile Fresh”

    1. I love having a wide variety of books (taking up a number of shelves) that I am yet to read… that’s the point of a home library!! Finishing one book and then getting to peruse the shelves for my next read… happiness!

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