Why Monthly TBR’s Work For Me and How I Choose Mine

A bit ago I posted on stories a picture about setting up my monthly tbr on paper and mentioned how that helps me to gain more oversight on what I want and need to read. Saar from Walking Through the Pages asked me if could share my system in a post. And I decided to combine it with talking about why monthly TBR’s tend to work for me.

Now I won’t sit here and pretend that monthly TBR’s are the holy grail. They are not. They work for some people and not for others. It depends on a lot of different things as to why they will or will not work for you. Personality, mood, lifestyle, reader type and so on. I also can’t say that I always a 100% read what I have on my TBR. I never know what the month will bring me. Even so TBR’s do help me get through quite a bit of books and help me gain oversight.


Structured and Overview

TBR’s make my reading structured between library books, review copies, buddy reads, readalongs and own books. That is something I personally need. Especially with my depression I find it easy to know what book is next on my list. On bad days I can see my tbr and know what has priority over the other. I don’t have to worry about books that aren’t on that list. In addition to that it obviously creates a great oversight. I know what needs to get done.

Smaller Selection to Choose From

It also makes the selection to choose from quite a bit smaller. Without TBR’s I would aimlessly stare at my shelves sometimes. It would take too much time to make a decision. With a TBR the selection is smaller and the choice is easier.

Sense of accomplisment

Sense of accomplishment is another big one for me. I can strike of books that I put on my tbr and it makes me feel like I am making headway in my goals for that month. That I am striking books of my tbr. Or am busy with that in any case.

My System on Choosing a TBR


This year I really started with making things visually representative for myself like my reading goals. I printed out the books I wanted to read this year and the series I wanted to finish or catch up on and created bingo cards for them. These hang up on the door to our storage room. I pass this a lot of times a day. It shows great progress. Or not when I’m not making any haha.

It is a starting point towards choosing my TBR. For every month I create a piece of paper where on I make three columns. These three are for own books, review copies and library books.

Library books I write down as soon as I have picked them up. Obviously I estimate reading time for a book. If I pick a book up at the end of July, likely it will be added onto the next month. Though it can also depend on the length. I limit myself to about 3 books at a time (unless they are comics) and I usually reserve them through the app. So I rarely have a big stack of them. That helps.

With review copies I try and read them the month before release. However sometimes i request later or I get approved later so that is always a bit of a shifting around thing. I don’t write them down in the order of that they need to be read. I generally know what order they are being released in.

When it comes to own books this depends on if I am participating in anything like read-a-thon’s, readalongs or buddy reads. Or all at the same time. It happens. But often enough I don’t have any of those either. After that I see how many books I have on my list and how realistic that amount is and if I can add more books. Then I look at my own mood or goals. Are there certain books I’ve had my eye on for a while to read. Or is there something from my goals that has been catching me eye?

Knowing the Amount You Read

I have also noticed that the more that I do these TBR’s the more I know what I can read in a month. That way I don’t make TBR’s that are too overwhelming for myself. This also comes with experience over the years though I think and can go up and down. I know now that I am not reading as much as I did at the start of the year so I know not to put too much on my lists. Having some wiggle room for last minute buddy reads or needs in reading and such is nice to have too.

26 thoughts on “Why Monthly TBR’s Work For Me and How I Choose Mine

  1. Wow! This sounds like an amazing system! I can imagine it really works for you! At the moment I don’t have review copies (yet?) and I don’t go the library. Therefore I have special shelves with my physical TBR. I normally read an average of 15 books a month and I just pick from the physical TBR. I should however write down when books are released. Especially if Fairyloot or Bookboxclub include early releases or ARC’s. I usually forget about those now, which is a pity. So, maybe I’m gonna steal that part from your system!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a whole book case with phsyical books from my tbr so just picking from there doesn’t help me. Too overwhelming haha. Totally steal it. πŸ˜€


  2. This is such a brilliant system, I will definitely have to input some of it into my life. I find that having visual representations of goals physically right up on my wall also helps me too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a fab post and I love your system. Over the last year I have gone back and forth between having monthly tbrs and not. More recently I’ve found it much easier to have a tbr so I think moving forward I may make mini tbrs and then also have some freedom to pick up other books too. Looking at my very full shelves can sometimes make picking my next read too overwhelming!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a neat system! I may have to adapt this, if I don’t end up getting caught up on ARCs. I’m intrigued if it would help me stay on track more or if I’ll still fall behind (though I am back to my normal schedule now, so I think I’ll be able to read much more often and stay on top of things)!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go right ahead. πŸ˜€ For arcs I also have a seperate full list with all the months they release in so I know when to add them to the tbr and which is first. I am currently still scrambling to stay on top of mine too though.You never know what will happen in life in the end. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have them listed in my calender of when ARCs are published, so I can try to stay on top of them, but I definitely am still playing catch up. I’m hoping to get caught up here soon, though, and then try to do a better balance between ARCs and then other books I want to read, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess I have a monthly tbr in loose concept because I have ARCs, buddy reads, and monthly theme reading. I am not really “following” it though because the only reason I don’t read anything else is because there is no time. πŸ˜‚

    I love your decorative lists! 🎨

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this system! It’s a fantastic idea and definitely helps when it comes to making sure you read all the books you’ve promised to in a month… I always run out of time and end up binge-reading them haha. I don’t really do a monthly TBR but I always get side-tracked by books that I randomly get sent throughout the month- I should really try though!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, this is really neat and so … organized. I think this would probably kill me. My life is a mix between fine-tuned chaos and oh, look, the world is on fire. xD I always admire people who plan and make pretty lists and such. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha it is. I never used to need this but since being a mom I forget things more easily (seriously mom brain lasts forever it seems) so I just really need more reminders and such.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ugh, mom brain, for real. I did try something like this once. But then I ended up just reading whatever the heck I wanted to read in whatever order I chose anyway, so it seemed not quite so effective for my particular brand of madness. xD Maybe I’ll try it again. It *looks* great, and I can see why it would be useful lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Annemieke,

    I’ve tried a lot to plan my reading a bit, because like you say I’m just staring at my shelves asking myself which book to pick up next. It’s indeed not that easy to make a well fit plan for reading, because the reading pace depends also on your mood, your time to read,…

    I’m trying to find out what works best for me and I’m going to implement your tips and tricks into my system, or at least I’m willing to try it. πŸ™‚ My biggest problem is choosing an amount of books for my monthly TBR that is not too overwhelming. I’m always more enthousiastic when I’m planning than when we’re at the end of the month and I’ve only read four books out of ten, but I’m trying not to let it affect my reading mood. πŸ™‚


    PS: you have a really nice blog and you’re writing style reads fluently. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is always tricky, finding the right amount. Sometimes it is also good to see the tbr as something to pick from and not as you have to read them all for sure. And then as time passes you’ll find the right amount for you. Or that is how it worked for me at the start.

      Thank you ❀


  9. Ik vind het echt leuk om te zien hoe jij voor jezelf een systeem hebt bedacht dat goed voor je werkt. Zelf kies ik doorgaans op het moment zelf waar ik zin in heb. Al heb ik dit jaar ook wel eens aan het begin van de maand een stapel boeken uit de kast gehaald om het aanbod wat kleiner en overzichtelijker te maken. Aan bibliotheekboeken ben ik dit jaar nog maar amper toegekomen. Maar indien dit wel het geval is krijgen die door de uitleentermijn vaak voorrang. Hetzelfde telt ook voor recensieboeken maar dat aantal ligt dit jaar opmerkelijk lager vermits ik graag mijn tbr wat wilde laten zakken. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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