Monthly TBRs: Yay or Nay?

Monthly TBR - yay or nay_

As most of you will know, setting monthly TBRs (To Be Read) is a thing in the book blogging world. I love seeing what other people plan on reading that month, either on Instagram, their blogs or YouTube. It’s always fun to see people get enthusiastic about books they really want to read.

I rarely ever set monthly TBRs for myself, though. However, lately, my feelings on TBRs have changed a little.

I’ve always been a mood reader and before this year, I don’t think I’d ever set myself short term TBRs – except for readathons. I have a longterm TBR list, but that basically entails all of the books I ever want to read, maybe. It’s a long list. When I say “oh, that one’s on my TBR” it can mean anything from “I’ve heard people talking about that book and it seemed interesting so I might want to read it one day” to “I came across that book once, added it to my Goodreads TBR and then kind of forgot about it” to “that book’s been gathering dust on my shelves but I really want to read it and it’s eating away at me that I haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

But I’ve mostly stayed away from monthly TBRs. Like I said; I’m a mood reader and when it’s time to pick a new book to read, I like to be able to choose something I really feel like reading at that moment, and not be “forced” to read something because I put it on my list at the start of the month. That’s kind of always been the way I’ve looked at monthly TBRs: lists that force you to read something, even if you might not feel like reading that book at that moment. To me, it always seemed like a way to take the fun out of reading.

Now, though, I’m starting to become a little more mellow in my old age. I set a TBR for January, partly because the first prompt of the bookish challenge I was doing over on Instagram was “TBR” but also because I felt like giving it a try. And I didn’t hate it! I read much more than I usually would in a month. I don’t think I can put all of that down to me having a TBR, but it definitely helped to motivate me. At the start of the month, I didn’t think I’d finish six books by the end of it, but I thought “I’ll put it on the list, just in case.” And I finished all of them. Setting a TBR ended up being really fun and motivating – who would’ve thought!

jan 31 - january wrap up (1)

Despite that positive experience, I didn’t set a TBR for February because I didn’t like the stress of having to choose a bunch of books to read in advance. It’s too much pressure! So, I went back to my mood reading ways and only picked one book I wanted to read (or start reading) before the month was up, which was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.

That method worked really well for me. At the start of the month, I was suddenly in the mood for a sweet contemporary novel, so I picked up Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Then, when I finished that and had fulfilled my contemporary craving, I started Tenant, which I’d been looking forward to. I had a great time reading it (I’m actually going to finish it tonight).

So, I think that’s what I’m going to do from now on. It’s a kind of mini-TBR, I guess. I pick one book I want to read that month, but I don’t have to read it right away. In March, it’s going to be The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien, but I don’t anticipate picking it up any earlier than near the end of the month. This way, I get the fun of the anticipation (knowing I get to read Fellowship soon) as well as the fun of the whims (who knows what other books I’ll end up reading next month?).

Let’s chat!

Now, I’m curious! What kind of reader are you? Do you set a TBR, are you a mood reader or are you somewhere in between? Let me know in the comments because I’d love to chat!

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Hi! I'm Anne and I love reading, baking and writing about both of those things. Welcome!

36 thoughts on “Monthly TBRs: Yay or Nay?

  1. I’m more of a mood reader too. I actually had less success with having a TBR, because it only made me stress about reading. I wish it could be a motivator for me. Maybe I’ll try it again someday.

    1. Yes, that’s my trouble with TBRs, too, usually. I don’t want to stress about something I’m doing as a hobby! That’s why the 1 book a month seems to work quite well for me right now. But I love being a mood reader! There’s nothing wrong with that! 😊

      1. I do! I have a booktube channel so I share my TBR each month on there. But I will be honest and say sometimes I stray away from what I planned on reading as something else will come along etc. Haha!

  2. I’m a mood reader but still use veeery loose TBRs. It’s more a ‘these are my options and I’m going to read from this selection’ rather than have a strict list of titles I HAVE to get to.

  3. I like monthly TBRs but I’m trying to be a little more relaxed about them. Mostly mine contain ARCs for that month, books for book clubs, books I need to read for work, and then one or two others I’m interested in.

    1. I hadn’t even thought about ARCs and book clubs yet! Of course, in those cases a TBR is very useful. I don’t really read ACRs, though, and I’m not in any book clubs, so I can pick up whatever I want – which makes it harder sometimes. 😅

  4. A TBR list is good if you have to meet a goal, challenge, etc. Since I am in four book clubs, the TBR list keeps me organized so I don’t forget what I HAVE to read. I usually try to pick one or two books I WANT to read to throw in for whenever I have time.

    1. True! I’d definitely need a TBR too if I was in four book clubs! I’m not part of any book clubs, though, so I rarely have books I HAVE to read before a certain date. 🙂

      1. Yeah I totally understand your point. I don’t think I would keep a TBR list if I didn’t have so many books I had to read. There is more freedom to just read what you want. You could do a go TBR post where you could try to read a certain number of books or certain number in a specific genre. This way you can read what you want but still have a goal to reach

  5. I’m somewhere in between- I am a huge mood reader but I also love to make lists so the idea of monthly TBRs appeals to me haha. I tend to treat them as loose guidelines though. I try to include books I should try my best to get to (arcs, library books) and books I’ve been especially wanting to read for awhile, but if I don’t make it oh well. One thing that’s been really fun for me is doing the quarterly Bookish Bingo from PrettyDeadlyReviews. I like having categories (often fun ones) to choose from and try to fit my TBR around those so I can check off boxes. It’s very motivating! And I like that it’s a three month thing so it’s lower pressure. In the end, reading is supposed to be fun right? 🙂

    1. That’s a good and healthy approach, I think! 😀 I like lists, too, but sometimes they stress me out haha. Ooh, I’ll have to check out that Bookish Bingo – that sounds like fun!

  6. I’ve also always been a mood reader, and when I pick a set TBR I can never stick to it. However, in January I started doing monthly prompts and that really works for me. I choose 3 or 4 prompts from the Popsugar 2019 reading challenge through a random number generator every month. I always have a few books on my TBR/from the library that can fit the prompt. It guides my reading but doesn’t set it in stone. I’ve really been loving that!

    1. That sounds like so much fun! Perhaps I should give that a try some time, too. “It guides my reading but doesn’t set it in stone” <– I really like that!

  7. I know so many book bloggers who say they are “mood readers,” but I don’t get it. For one, the mood readers are always the folks who fall into book slumps and quit reading (at least in my observations). And then, how much of our lives can be dictated by mood? Are you in the mood to go to work? To make dinner? To brush your teeth? Now, I realize that the things I’ve listed are “must-do’s” and reading is not a a must-do. But as a deeply passionate reader, I DO feel like reading is just as important to me as making dinner and brushing my teeth. Thus, I create a TBR every month to make myself excited, not to feel chained down. I have four categories that I use: the oldest book I own on my TBR, the newest book I own on my TBR, a book from my quest to read novels starring happy fat women, and one random book (I guess this could be for mood or something that excites me randomly, like someone recommends a book and I want to read it now). Two categories leave me with choice, but the two with my TBR do not. I like that there are boundaries. I keep reading without pausing to stop and assess my mood at that particular moment. Maybe I’m interpreting the word “mood” differently than other readers, but doing things based on my emotional state at any given moment sounds scary and disorganized to me. Honestly, I’d love to know more about mood readers and how happy they are with how they choose books, how many they read, etc.!

    1. I’m a mood reader and I very rarely have book slumps and never quit reading 😉 I agree with you that reading is something that’s very important to me as well, but I’d hate to put it in the same category as working or making dinner. Reading is something that makes me very happy and I don’t want it to be dictated by a set of rules. For me, that does feel like being chained down. So yes, I do let my mood influence my reading. But I think that you maybe take “mood” a little too literally here. It’s not like “I’m sad now so I’m going to read a sad (or happy) book”. For me, it’s about what I feel like reading in the moment I get to choose a new book; what book gets me most excited when I’m standing in front of my shelves, ready to pick my next read. That can be influenced by a great many things besides my mood, and I don’t regularly analyse it. I just go with my gut. For me, it’s the most fun way to read. This way, I don’t “have” to pick up a book just because it’s on my TBR while I *actually* feel like reading a completely different book. I like your four categories, though – that still leaves you with quite a lot of options!

      1. Thanks for responding! Perhaps I do take mood reading too literally, which is where I make the connection to a slump–someone is not in the mood to read. But you’re talking more about being in the mood for a certain genre…something like that?

        1. Yes, exactly! Sometimes, after I’ve read a couple of books on heavier topics, I’m in the mood for a light-hearted contemporary. Sometimes I have the urge to read some epic fantasy… That kind of stuff! 🙂

  8. I do set a Tbr list. its easier to complete the number of books I have in mind but I don’t necessarily force myself to read in any order. I pick based on my mood among the ones I have decided 🙂

  9. I do TBR’s because it helps me focus and I don’t end up having to go over all those unread books to choose what I want to read. Like I already know a few books I want to read for May because of review copies and such. But you can do tbr’s anyway you want and however it suits you. Picking out just 1 or 2 is a great way as well.

  10. I pick a TBR list for the month but if there happens to be another book and I’m in the mood to read it, then I’m unable to concentrate on any on my list because it’s calling my name from the shelf. So I’m a bit of both I think. I love it when I manage to read all the books in the month I wanted to read them. X

    1. I’m like that, too! Sometimes you just HAVE to read a certain book 😀 The rare times I do set a TBR, I’m also very proud when I manage to read all of the books, so I know what you mean!

  11. Hello. I just started TBRs. I just started that adventure. I have not even wrote my first TBR(March) post yet. I am not a mood reader. I didn’t know people were mood readers. I just started my blog last Tuesday.

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