What Makes You Take A Book Off Your TBR?

August 20, 2014 Discussion 74

If you are like me, you have hundreds of books in your TBR. Especially if you are using Goodreads because how easy is it to hit that little Want to Read button? Too easy. But if you are also like me, you somewhat like organization. And achievable goals. You get this idea in your head. This idea that you can maybe…


So you go to Goodreads or whatever you use to
keep track of your books-to-be-read and…


realize that this spur of the moment
READ ALL THE BOOKS mindset might not be the easiest task.

oh noes,
As you can tell by this very subtle and professional looking graphic, my TBR, while not extremely out of control, isn’t exactly manageable. And 773 books is after I’ve whittled it down from 1500 awhile ago. I don’t even add sequels to the list, I just add the first book. So if you took that into account, the number doubles and maybe even triples.

You become discouraged. You even think the unthinkable:

I may not be able to read all these books in my lifetime.

But let’s not get into those depressing thoughts. I want to know how you clean out your TBRs. What makes you go through and pick which books to take off and leave on? Or do you clean them out at all?

I kind of have a system for taking books off, using the batch edit feature on Goodreads. It’s so easy to go through and delete large quantities at one time that way. I basically just do two main things:

    1 .Glance through the main page of my to-read shelf. Any books that I was iffy about to begin with get taken off if they have ratings lower than 3.3 or know I don’t want to read anymore for whatever reason.

    2. Look at individual books one by one. It’s a terrible way to judge, but I look at the cover. Unprofessional or extremely unappealing covers usually get taken out, especially if it’s by an author or publisher I have never heard of and the ratings are iffy. Re-read synopsis to make sure the story still interests me. If it passes all that and I still don’t know whether to keep it on, I check out what my friends said. Mediocre reviews or worse, it gets taken off.

What about you guys?


74 Responses to “What Makes You Take A Book Off Your TBR?”

  1. Tanja

    As I posses some weird magic my TBR pile counts only 109 books and it has never been over 120 :D I have no idea how I do that but I really add only books I have seen others enjoy and well those that really seem appealing to me. It works for now, but yeah once I break that 120 books-level I’ll probably be going places. Amazing gifs! :)
    Tanja recently posted…Cover Reveal: Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell

    • Alise

      Wow, that’s pretty good! And manageable, haha. Yeah, because that’s what I do too xD And then I realize how much they have really added up. Thanks :)

  2. Andrea @ Bookish

    Well, I wish I could add to your system, but that is precisely what I do. The one other thing I do is I look at the date in which I added it. Book has been on here since 2010? If I haven’t read it in 4 years, probably not going to in the next 4. Sorry not sorry book.

    I also have four “to read” shelves – “to read own,” “to read wish list,” “to review” (books from publishers), and the basic “to read.” All four shelves are exclusive so it helps keep the clutter down too. The “to read” shelf is usually the one that gets hit the hardest when it comes to removing books. And seeing as how between the four shelves I only have 200 books, the system works for me :)
    Andrea @ Bookish recently posted…Blog Tour: Bianca’s Vineyard by Teresa Neumann (Review | Giveaway)

    • Alise

      Ooh, that’s actually a really good tip. I have some that old as well and you make a great point, I’ll probably never get to them. Yeah that’s a good idea too. I think the idea of going through them all and organizing intimidates me though, haha.

  3. Monique@Something To Browse

    I basically do what you do. Sometimes I’m shocked by the things in my TBR pile. It’s funny how one day you want to read a book and 1 year down the line, you want to vomit at the thought of it. I have my TBR pile down to 80 books now (I’m pretty sure it’ll go up again, but I’m proud of myself for getting it down to that small number) I want my TBR pile to be manageable….even if I’m told that’s impossible. Haha! :) It’s because they keep making more books that I want to read.
    Monique@Something To Browse recently posted…Blogging Hiatus: On Vacation

    • Alise

      Exactly, me too! I think I found a textbook on my TBR one time and I can’t remember why I added at all, ha. Yeah, that is nice! Everyone with smaller numbers makes me want to really cut mine down again :P

  4. Terri M.

    Basically this is what I do as well. I have a few different to-read shelves so it makes it a bit easier to know what to focus on removing. I have a to-read-giveaways shelf and usually if a book doesn’t appeal to me after I’ve enter a giveaway and didn’t win, I’ll delete it. I have a wishlist for books I want to buy. And then I have a check-the-library shelf too.
    Terri M. recently posted…Back to School Challenge Day 05: Dedicated to the Ones I Love

    • Alise

      I definitely need to get some multiple shelves going, that seems like a really good idea. Yeah, the giveaway books too, should really go through those, haha. Love the idea of a library to read shelf.

  5. Miranda @ Tempest Books

    I’ve actually never gone through my to-read shelf with the specific intention of deleting books off of there (trust me, I want to…it’s just so daunting haha), but occasionally I’ll come across one that I realize I just don’t want to read anymore and get rid of it. But I really need to go through and do a massive overhaul. I have 1491 books on my to read list!! And that’s not even counting my TBR books that I already own…which is 588 more. I think I might pass out haha…that’s SO MANY BOOKS!
    Miranda @ Tempest Books recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up (#47)

    • Alise

      I know what you mean! The very first time I went through it took me hours. That’s usually what I’ll do too, just stumble upon a book I see I added and realize I don’t want to read it anymore. Dang! It’s hard to even imagine that many books!

  6. Lola

    Usually once in a while I go through my to-read list and remove some books I don’t want to read anymore. i don’t really have a system for this, it’s ore like I take a look at a book and wodner why did I want to read this? Then I take a look at some of the reviews from my friends and if those don’t change my opinion I’ll remove it from my to-read list. If I read the first book and enjoyed it, i’ll likely add all the sequels to my to-read list as well.
    Lola recently posted…Review: Ante Up by Amanda Carlson

    • Alise

      Yeah! Funny how things change and we aren’t interested in certain books anymore. I wonder how big my TBR would be if I added all the series books instead of just the first book :O

  7. Finley Jayne

    Earlier this year I decided to go in a different direction and I deleted my TBR list and also my goodreads account. Now there’s no pressure of having all those lists taunting me :) I just chose books based on what looks good when I go to the library and I really love this new system!
    Finley Jayne recently posted…Bout of Books 11 {Friday’s Updates}

    • Alise

      I wish I had the guts to do that! Plus I also like keeping track of all the books I’ve read so I don’t think I could get rid of my account. Definitely would love no lists though.

  8. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    Yeah! Alise has returned from the dead! :D Welcome back! <3

    This is the only moment in blogging history when I feel like I might be the envy of every blogger: I only have like 30 books on my TBR shelf. The thing is, I only put books on my TBR shelf that have not released yet (if a book I want to read has already released, I automatically just put a hold on it at my library). Then I continually file it down by looking at reviews, etc. Thanks for sharing this advice Alise! <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…The Body in the Woods

    • Alise

      Thank you :3 I’m slowly coming back, haha. Still not entirely sure of what I want to do.

      Wow, yeah, definitely envious. I wish I had done something like that from the very beginning to avoid mine from getting so big.

    • Alise

      Yeah I’ve done that a few times as well! Aha, yep, same with the giveaways/competitions. I wish we could just read ALL THE BOOKS.

  9. Anna

    I don’t have as many on you on my TBR list yet, but they’re quickly stacking up! I often stray from my TBR list as well hehe XD I’ve lately started going through my TBR list and adding the ones I want to read most to a new shelf (and hopefully that shelf won’t get too big haha)! There’s soooo many books I want to read and just not enough time! :(
    Anna recently posted…Review: Dark Light by S.L. Jennings

    • Alise

      Same xD I don’t even use it to pick books, just keep track of what I want to read because my memory is terrible. I’ll usually pick up a book that’s not even on the list, making the problem even worse haha. Ah, I know :/

  10. Laura Plus Books

    Honestly, I don’t even bother with adding books to my Goodreads TBR anymore. Sometimes I do just because I can but I never even look at it. :3 I know I’ll never get to any of them anyway. Which is actually really sad now that I think about it. :'(

    For me, I just move books up and down my mental TBR. I always have an idea of what I want to read next. Then there’s those books that I’ll have on my radar. If there’s ever an opportunity for me to read it, I’ll go for it. :D
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #43: Fall Belzhar

    • Alise

      I know, right? I just pick based on my shelves at home or a whim, I almost never look at the list xD Yeah, it is kind of depressing.

      I wish I was like that, haha. I have a terrible time choosing what to read next :P (I guess the looking at the list would be beneficial then xD )

  11. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Hi Alise! Welcome back :)

    Love this discussion topic! ^^ Of course, I’m also one of those that wants to read AND add ALL THE BOOKS! I think we all have a touch (or a lot more)of that in us xD BUT, like you, I do need some level of organization…not to mention I shudder to think that I wouldn’t be able to read ALL the books I NEED to read before I die O.O So sometimes I go through my GR to-read shelf and start making cuts. Usually I go by the rating: if I was excited about a book but now it’s rated quite low, I’ll likely delete it UNLESS I still think I could enjoy it despite that for whatever reason. Also, if I can’t really remember anything about the book or why I added it and the blurb doesn’t scream out READ ME, I might cut it that way too. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…ARC Review: Heir of Fire

    • Alise

      Thank you!! :)

      Same here, it’s so sad to think of all the must-reads that I might never get to! That’s a pretty good system that I should take up, I don’t pay enough enough to the average rating. Haha, yes!

  12. Andreea

    Great topic, Alise.

    I don’T have as many Goodreads TBR books as you do, but I did have a lot more than I have now a while ago. So every once in a while, I go to Goodreads, browse through my TBR list and delete books that I feel I wouldn’t really enjoy. I read the summary again, ask myself over and over again if I REALLY want to read it, and then I press delete. It’s not easy to do it, but I still do it from time to time, because otherwise I would end up with a TBR like yours (I’m not judging, just comparing :) ) and I would also end up buying books that I probably would just find ‘okay’.

    Like you said, it’s very easy to press that Goodreads button ‘to read’, but it’s hard to press ‘delete’.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    P.S. Maybe you don’t know, but I have a new blog on WordPress now.

    Andreea recently posted…Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

    • Alise

      Thank you!

      I really should learn to do that and become a bit more picky. I’m terrible at getting rid of things in real life too, I’m the same way with clothes, even if I know I’ll probably never wear them, ha.

      Yep, exactly!


      Awesome, I’ll check it out :)

    • Alise

      Ahaha, nothing wrong with that. I did that until I saw the number and had a mini freak-out. I’ve seen people with over 10,000 books on their TBR though so you still should be okay ;) Thank you :D

    • Alise

      I’m a bit more tolerant (3.4) but only with books I’m really interested in. Like once I read a 3.1 book and was shocked because it became one of my all time favorites and don’t know why people didn’t like it. Yeah, at least it’s manageable :P

  13. Sarah P.

    I honestly have no idea how many books are on my TBR so I just went to Goodreads to have a look and ohmygosh, I have 1286 books. 1286! *hyperventilates* I’m planning to weed some books out but…sigh. Sometimes, I do read the blurbs again and when a certain book don’t interest me anymore and it has less than 4 stars I tend to remove it.
    Sarah P. recently posted…Review: Words and their Meanings by Kate Bassett

  14. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    If I scroll through the list and I have a ‘mweh, I’m not sure I want to read it anytime soon’ feeling, I take it off. Also, if I see a lot of negative review/buzz around a book, I put it on the not-interested list, because I don’t have the time for such books.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Bout of books Updates.

    • Alise

      I should start doing that! As of right now I kind of think “Eh, I’ll read it eventually” and keep it on, which probably isn’t the best idea, ha.

  15. Kirsty-Marie

    Yikes, I haven’t cleaned mine out for a while and currently stands at 1596, hahahaha… I go by ratings and reviews mainly. I’ll read ones I’m interested above 3.5, but any below that rating, nope. I used that when I could only buy a few books a month. That’s changed now though, I still take the ratings but if I’ve read an authors previous and wasn’t that impressed, I’d take off them. But series, I should definitely do that! I always add all the books, aha! That’ll lower it down a bit. :)
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Day 21 (The 100 #2)

    • Alise

      I think that’s higher than my actual Read shelf :P But mine would definitely be that way if I wasn’t so obsessed about going through them, haha. Yeah it definitely will! :)

  16. A Canadian Girl

    Welcome back, Alise. Hope you had a great blogging break.

    You’re way more organized than me because I hardly ever delete books off my TBR pile on Goodreads. I do remove them off my mental TBR pile though :) Basically, any books that most bloggers have given unfavourable reviews to or books that are rated 3 stars or lower by bloggers I have similar tastes with are books that I don’t have much interest in reading.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

    • Alise

      Thank you!

      I don’t know if organized if the right word xD I tend to just get in these moods where I think I can accomplish large tasks very quickly but soon find out it’s near impossible, haha. I tend to do that too, especially if the general opinion of a book is negative.

  17. Rashika

    It’s even worse for me, Alise. I have like 150 books on my ‘to be published’ list and like 790 on my tbr. AND SOME ON MY MIGHT READ (but let’s not even go into that). Plus like you, I don’t usually add sequels and stuff and if I read book 1, I only add book 2 and not books 3, 4 and 5 (well in some cases but that’s another story :P).

    I do occasionally clean up and have moved some books off but I still need to do an intense cleaning session because there are books on there I am not all that excited about reading. I mean I added them but when I come across them, I always go eh. I seriously need to get my shit together, don’t I?? :P

    Fantastic post, Alise!!!
    Rashika recently posted…Random Things in Motion #8: Why I’m OK with Major Characters Dying

    • Alise

      *thinks about making a Might Read list* haha
      That’s my system for series EXACTLY! High five!

      I know what you mean, I have a lot on there I’m indifferent about. Aha, eh, it’s not that important :P

      Thank you!

    • Alise

      “I don’t own it and don’t plan on acquiring it from anywhere” I realllly need to follow this. So many books I have on my list I can’t get from anywhere, and yet I’m still convinced that the library will magically have it someday.

  18. Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

    Ever since I started my Goodreads account, I have never ever taken a book off my TBR shelf. Even those books which would turn out later to be written by as****e authors. I know but the idea of going through my TBR pile and removing books one by one are already making me dizzy. I do not even bother keeping track of the number of books I’ve managed to add in it since I don’t want to be overwhelmed. And I am not really big on organizing things. I am too lazy for that although I know that it will save me a lot of time in the long run and would help me more in achieving my reading goals.

    Right now, so as to minimize my TBR pile, I usually screen the book first before shelving it to my TBR shelf. If the rating is 3.8 and below, there’s no way I’m going to add it.

    Kudos to you, Alise. I just checked my TBR shelf and I only have 230 books. Hahaha. It might be small compared to yours but it’s already too big for me.

    Lovely post, Alise!
    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted…Book Review: Shatter Me

    • Alise

      Wow! I can’t imagine never taking a single book off, I wonder what my number would be… *stares off into the distance, mystified* haha

      I think in my head I recognize that even 230 would be hard to get through and yet I can’t stop myself from getting into the 1000s, haha.


  19. Ima Vee

    773? wow! that’s a LOT. Now that i read this, I should check out my TBR at goodreads. I usually forget about my goodreads TBR because offline, I still have books to read.. I’ll try to use your way of filtering and minimizing my TBR.
    Ima Vee recently posted…Book Review: Monster by Anke Napp

  20. Ebony @ Daring Damsels

    Goodreads is literally the worst thing ever when it comes to the health of your TBR list. I’ve gone through my entire Goodreads TBR twice so far, and it now stands at 400-something books which, I feel, is a lot better than 1000-something. I only add the first books in a series as well, and when I read the first book, I generally add the second. As for getting rid of books of my TBR, I usually take books off if their rating is below 3.5 unless I know that the synopsis really appeals to me. I’ll also take books off that I’m unsure about unless someone who I trust and have similar taste to books in has rated it over a 3.5. I generally also take books off that have tacky covers, unless the synopsis really appeals to me.
    Ebony @ Daring Damsels recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #18 – Books I REALLY Want To Read, But Don’t Own Yet

    • Alise

      It really is, haha. That is pretty much my system as well! I think I’m just really not picky when it comes to leaving stuff on, I really need to decide what I REALLY want to read. Haha, I’m the same with covers.

  21. Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    Okay, just two months ago, I removed around 200+ books from my TBR. And I’ve added around 100 more since that time, so nothing really happened. T_T I’m too lazy to go through all of the 900+ books in my to-read shelf. I would skim the shelf, take out books that make me wonder why I added them in the first place. And if it’s a book I’m a bit iffy about, I would re-read the synopsis and if it’s no longer interesting to me, I’d take it off.

    Awesome post, Alise!
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Mini Review: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

    • Alise

      Sigh, I know what you mean. I’m in exactly the same boat. Plus there’s always new books coming out D:

      Thank you!

  22. Kat Stark @ NotYetRead

    Amazing question!! I actually look through my TBR maybe once every few months. I try to keep this mentality: I keep my TBR number of books less than or equal to the amount I have read already. I feel like that’s a good way to start off.

    I look through my TRUSTED friends’ reviews, the blurb, and sometimes the cover (but I actually don’t judge too much on that). It’s really reviewer focused on the people who have the same taste as me. It literally took me 5 hours to delete a little over 100 books. Now, I’m just SUPER reluctant to add any that aren’t short of amazeballs.
    Kat Stark @ NotYetRead recently posted…Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

    • Alise

      Thank you! Haha, I kind of have a thing for that too, it seems strange to me to have a To Read larger than your Read.

      I try so hard not to judge covers but sometimes I just can’t help it. Oh, tell me about it. It takes hours to weed through my list too :/

  23. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t add a lot to my Goodreads, but I do like to add things here and there to my Amazon wish list. i’ll go through and take off books if they’ve been on there for awhile and I find I’m no longer interested. I think that would be the main thing. I guess if I saw a lot of negative reviews, I might re-think keeping the book on my list too.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Graphic Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

  24. Wendy Darling

    Low ratings are part of why I’d take a book off my TBR pile, too, although that doesn’t happen, too–sometimes you end up being the white sheep, you know? Just depends on how bothered I am by the criticisms if they are ones that are recurring across the board.

    I will sometimes also take a book off my TBR list if I see an author attacking a reviewer. I don’t do this too often and weigh the circumstances carefully, but I’m not interested in supporting anyone who behaves in a blatantly unprofessional manner. It’s the same as going into a restaurant and having the owner be rude to a friend of mine, or reading about Justin Bieber being nasty to one of his fans or something. It’s just inappropriate.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: review

    • Alise

      Oh, definitely. I think Dark of the Moon has a 3.2 average but it’s one of my favorite books. Yeah, and for what reasons as well. There was one book that had a high rating but dealt with animal abuse so I took it off because the topic is so hard for me to read about.

      Yes! That, and the sock puppet incidents, where the author will just spam you or create fake people to spam you. Instant removal.

  25. Ashtyn @ Wonderland's Reader

    Ugh, I have so much trouble with this, too. I tend to just not even take books off my TBR list. There’s so many that I add and end up almost instantly losing interest in that it just gets too unorganized. I really want to go through my Goodreads piles and put that in some sort of oder though. I organized them a little while ago but they just got out of control again.

    Awesome post!
    Ashtyn @ Wonderland’s Reader recently posted…Review: Salt & Storm

    • Alise

      That’s how I feel too! I know there needs to be some sort of organization but I’m too lazy and intimidated by all the work I know that will take, haha.

  26. Teddyree

    bahaha as my TBR pile sits at 1024 I don’t think I’m the person to ask ;) If I do take a book off my stack it’s usually because I’ve seen a bloggy friend’s recent review that’s inspired me to pick it up. I have good intentions when I first add them and then I get sidetracked by the next “pretty thing” lol
    Teddyree recently posted…Audiobook Review: The Escape Artist by Diane Chamberlain

    • Alise

      Haha, same here! It doesn’t help there are always interesting books coming out, it’s almost impossible to keep up and not get dragged down by a large number.

  27. Romi Foster

    Loved this post, Alise, and it seems you and I have a similar way of clearing our goodreads tbr lists! I semi-regularly (probably up to 3 times a year) go through mine, reading the synopsis’ of each book I’m not 100% sure about and then I cut whatever doesn’t wholly interest me anymore. I love having so many books lined up to read and knowing about all these different stories just waiting to be read, but I also love organisation and keeping lists reasonably tidy!
    Romi Foster recently posted…The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen…

    • Alise

      Thank you! That’s probably about how often I go through mine as well, particularly because it takes so long. Yes, exactly!

  28. Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl

    I’m almost ashamed to say I have over 4,000 books on my TBR! Eep! *hides under the covers* I’d say I have a problem, lol. The only thing so far that’s made me take a book of my TBR is bad author behavior. Negative reviews don’t really affect whether I want to read a book or not – sometimes they make me want to read a book more, lol! I actually want to go through my TBR now and organize it and shell out books I know I’ll never get to. Sometimes I feel panicky when I look at my TBR, my bookshelves at home, the number of books I have for review, and the number of books on my Kindle. If I read every single minute for the rest of my life (say I live to 90), I probably still couldn’t get through them all. Which is a depressing thought but also realistic. :p
    Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl recently posted…Review ~ Tell Me When I’m Dead by Steven Ramirez

    • Alise

      Nothing wrong with that! :) I’ll definitely take a book off for bad author behavior as well, I don’t really want to support a person like that. Aha, yeah, sometimes a negative review will do that to me too! I don’t even want to think about the math xD Like you said, too depressing! :P

  29. Chiara@ Books for a Delicate Eternity

    I generally do #2. As bad as it sounds, if their is a really crappy cover that looks like it was made in MS Paint, it might get taken off purely for that. I feel kind of evil saying that but hey. I only have a limited time on this planet and therefore a limited time to read all the books I want to, and if there’s not enough effort put into a book cover .. well *shrugs*

    And I also re-read synopses. Sometimes I re-read a synopsis and I sit there like WTF? When the hell did I ever add this to the TBR? Is is NOTHING I would read. This has happened too many times to count and now I swear there is a Goodreads ghost haunting my account because I legitimately never would have been interested in those books >.>

    There is that awful spiral of never being able to read all the books I want to, and I really do need to do a TBR clean out (mine is well into the 1000s), because I need to weed out the ones that I am not interested in any more,or that I 80% know that I will not read again.

    It’s always sad to take a book off the TBR but like I said: limited time. D:
    Chiara@ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

    • Alise

      Baha, glad to see I’m not the only one to do that. I do believe in not judging from appearances but surely book covers can be the exception sometimes :P

      Yes! I have no idea how that happens but it happens to be a lot too. Ghost add O.O xD

      Yep, completely agree. I hesitate so much taking a book off but I really need to start getting realistic.

  30. manda | elfswood.blogspot.com

    I’m having this exact problem right now, although luckily my TBR pile is nowhere near as high as yours! I’m a bit of a detail-freak though so I like to shift through all the books in my list on goodreads and read the few top reviews. Most of the time they tip me off anything that I might have issues with, so I just drop the book.
    manda | elfswood.blogspot.com recently posted…Masks

    • Alise

      I tend to do that as well. Usually the top reviews have one negative and one positive top review so I like to read both and compare the two. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. My TBR Jar and I are Frenemies | Readers In Wonderland

    […] I put in ALL the books that were on my Goodreads TBR, which, if you’ve read my post about how my Goodreads TBR is outrageous, you’d know that was a lofty and highly unattainable goal. Once I realized that was hopeless […]

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