The towering stack of books is staring at your from the corner, filled with titles you can't wait to read, yet you don't know where to start and it's starting to make you want to just watch Netflix until the end of time. Having a to-be-read pile that's threatening to overwhelm you is a common theme in every reader's life. So how can we prioritize, organize, and get back to reading so we actually FINISH that pile?
Be Realistic: Take stock of about how many pages you read per day or per week. Be super honest with yourself about this! Once you have a baseline for how much you can accomplish in a week, you can keep your stack at a reasonable level that you can actually work through. Try to keep your TBR set up in chunks, maybe just books you want to read this month, that way you're setting realistic goals. If you know you read 50 pages per day, and you want to set a goal for a month, you know you can read five 300 page novels in that time frame. So pick up the five that you are most itching to read, and start there. The other four hundred books on your list can wait until next month's cycle.
Plan With the Library: If you're like me, the library is your best friend, but my spot on the holds shelf can get alarmingly full really quickly. To combat feeling overwhelmed, I keep a list online in my library account of books "for later", and with books I have on hold I make judicious use of the "pause hold" feature until I'm really ready for a book to come in. Remember you can ALWAYS request a book a second time if you return it, you can usually renew a title to buy yourself some more time with it, and you can always, always, always go back for more if you finish too quickly! The library is such a versatile, amazing tool, especially with all the e-books and online account features they have now. I also make it a point to trade off between getting books from the library and reading what I have on my shelves (more on not hoarding books here).
Put it Down: Sometimes I check out a book I think I really want to read, but for one reason or another, I decide I don't want to go through with it. Maybe I read the first 50 pages and decide it's not for me, or the hype kills it, or I'm just not in the mood for it in this season, or what have you. Being realistic about when something needs to drop off your TBR is crucial. Sometimes I stare at my stack, take a good hard look through it, and pluck out a few to be returned to the library or donated. Suddenly my 9 book stack is 5 books and I feel in control again. Plus, that curation gets me excited to read the survivors all over again!
Don't Get Overwhelmed: Managing flow of your books is central to not feeling totally drowned in all the things you want to read. There are millions and millions of books in the world and it's important to remember you can't read them all, and to carefully choose what you spend your time on. That probably means not reading every overhyped release and ignoring books that people seem to LOVE but just aren't for you personally. Life is too short to read bad books! If you don't like it or it doesn't sound like it's for you, just let it go and don't feel guilty for a minute. Reading is a fun hobby, not something you should be feeling pressure from!
Have Some Heft and Fluff: If you have a serious book that requires a lot of attention, and you need to be in the right headspace in order to read it, try having a lighter, fluffier novel you can read for times you can't do that. For me personally, this means my heavier books are read at night after my son is asleep, and I have a fluffy novel I crack open when he's watching a show or playing trains by himself. I firmly believe it's important for him to see me reading, but I can't always enjoy my heavier fiction in his presence, so that fluff book is crucial. Plus this means I can work through my TBR in a balanced way.
What strategies do you use to manage your TBR and keep from feeling overwhelmed? Let me know!