Part One: Let's Re-identify Our TBR Pile!
You can’t get your TBR (To Be Read) Pile under control if you don’t know what you’re working with.
Pick which methods work best for you, and stick with them.
- Physical Lists
How did I get organized?
I mastered Goodreads. It took a lot of time, and I struggled to climb a mountain of books in the process, but I was victorious by the end.
And you will be too.
Step 1: Create New Shelves and Delete Your Old Ones
Goodread’s default “to read” shelf gives you no real way to organize anything beyond the basic (title, author, date added, etc.) methods. If you’re like me when you start your organization efforts, then you could have over 1000 books on there.
I won’t lie to you guys here, it took me the better part of three days to fix the mess that was my Goodreads shelves. But you know what? I’ve never been happier with my virtual shelves.
(a) Decide what shelves you need and create them.
- Exclusive: This is how you are going to get organized. Books can only be placed on one of these shelves.
((The library one is a new addition because I kept forgetting which books I had to request when it came time to get more books there. // New authors = new to me authors. // New book or series = written by an author I’ve read. // Ordered = basically the books I preordered go here because I kept forgetting which ones I ordered for sure. // Owned books = owned books. // Sequels = books/novellas in a series that I have started and want to read.))
- Sticky: This is where you are going to add you most used shelves for easy access.
((They are self explanatory: Books I want to own. // I organize my books now by year I read them which makes it easier when I go back searching things for posts. // And my lone challenge for 2015 that gets a shelf to keep track of all the ones I read for it.))
- Regular: These are the genre, age level, challenges, etc. shelves that you need to keep yourself organized and to have a record of the types of books you’ve read.
How do you do it?
Easy. You simply click the edit button on your My Books page to start the process.
Next, you just add your new shelves and select which type they will be.
(b) Leave your “To Read” shelf alone for now.
(c) Delete all old custom shelves that are no longer necessary. All you have to to delete a custom shelves is to click on the X beside them.The only shelves with books should be your “To Read” and “Read” shelves.
Step 2: Work Through Your "Read" Shelf
This is the point where you’re really going to start to hate me.
Work through your “Read” shelf and sort the books you’ve already read into their appropriate new shelves. If you can’t remember enough about the book, then just add it where you can. If you don’t remember a book at all, it won’t break anything if you leave it solely in the “Read” shelf.
Take the time to do a thorough job now. It is worth the time invested to have shelves that help you find the book(s) you wish to search for at a later date. If you rush the job now, chances are you will be less happy with the results at the end and might even feel pressured to fix things later on.
You can change the shelves a book belongs on individually: (Recommended if you forgot a single shelf for a single book. Otherwise, will take you a lot longer to work through each book.) Simply click edit and pick your shelves.
Or by batches: (Recommended if you have a lot of books) Select batch edit, select the books you want to work with, change the shelf to the one you wish to add them to, and click "add books to this shelf." Goodreads only lets you work with so many books at a time, and it can take longer for the site to process the more books you select.
Step 3: Add All The Books You Have Ordered/Preordered to the “Ordered” Shelf.
I am assuming here that you still want to read these books, if not, cancel those orders!
Step 4: Take a Break
Eat a cookie and drink a smoothie, because the next step will take forever. Seriously, if you need a bathroom break, now is the time.
Step 5: Work With Your Owned Books
Make sure your phone is charged and you have the Goodreads app downloaded, because you are going to take a look at your own personal Wall of Shame.
You are going to add every single book you own that you haven’t read to your custom new “Owned” shelf.
But you are not just going to scan the barcode and add them in that way, oh no, you are going to be doing several things that will take you a while for each book. Because if you’re not still in love with the plot, and wouldn't go out right this second and pay the full cover price for it, you are going to purge that book from your shelves.
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Realistically, if you haven’t read that book that you’ve owned since 2005, you probably are never going to read it. The idea of getting rid of books you spent money on and “might read someday” hurts.
Believe me, I get it.
At the time I’m writing this, about a week before the post will go live, I have removed 573 books from my TBR according to my 2016 Books spreadsheet. 231 of those books were physical books I collected since I became an avid reader about 2005.
Since January 2012, I have read 1119 books to date. That’s an average of 223.8 books a year. In an odd twist of fate, I currently have 231 books on my “Owned” to read shelf right now. If I didn’t purge those aforementioned 231 books, I’d have 462 owned to read books. Basically I’d have 2 years’ worth of reading material sitting around in piles in my room because shelf space for the 895 books I own is pushing it without adding 231 more books my Wall of Shame.
You’re starting to get why I call it my Wall of Shame now, aren’t you?
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My point is, take this seriously. This isn’t you saying a book isn’t good enough, and you’ll never even in your lifetime read it. This is you saying there are other books on your shelves that you would rather read. And it is okay for you to admit aloud.
So what do you need to do before adding a book to your “Owned” shelf?
- Read the blurb for every single book. No skimming, and no skipping after a paragraph. Read the whole thing.
- Try reading the first page if you’re unsure. You can get a feel for the author’s style be doing that. Do you read enough to judge the plot? No, not really. But I find sometimes we want to put books down because the style is simply not meant for us.
- Check the average rating. Keep in mind the number of people who have rated it affects the average rating. A book reviewed once may have 5 stars, but a year from now, it may have an average rating of 3 stars.
- Check your friend’s ratings. Unless you are just adding friends to add friends, you should know these people well enough to start to deciding whether or not your tastes run the same.
- Ask people. Poll twitter, contact your friends.
Step 6: Work With Your Unowned Books
That last step killed you, didn’t it?
Well, guess what?
Now you get to repeat those steps for every single book that still remains in your obsolete “To Read” shelf.
Only keep the books you would go out and spend your last $20 on. If you wouldn’t spend the money on it, then you don’t really still want to read it.
This step is easier, I promise. Going through digital shelves and purging hurts less than getting rid of books you’ve already spent money on. Your reading tastes change over the years, and it is okay to say that you don’t want to read a certain book anymore.
That was a lot of work, wasn’t it?
I am proud of you, my fellow book dragon. You did it.
Now take a good look at your sparkling new Goodreads shelves, because later on this week I am going to show you how to take those shelves and get further organized.
What do your shelves look like on Goodreads? Do you use the default “to read” shelf or have you customized your own?