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Bookish Spring Cleaning: Tackling the TBR

You may or may not know that it is officially springtime. Since here in New York we’ve gotten nothing but brief interludes of sunlight amid a merciless onslaught of inappropriate precipitation, I have forgiven myself for not cleaning out my apartment as I’m told folks are wont to do in this season. Instead, I cleaned out my TBR list. Much more arduous and necessary. 

If you, like me, added way too many books to your TBR list during this endless winter of not just the soul, here are a few tips for weeding and revitalizing your list.  

1. Prioritize

Think about your TBR list. Which titles come to mind immediately? These are likely the books you’re still excited to read, as opposed to titles that you were briefly intrigued by when you added them in the first place. Don’t feel bad about losing interest in a book you wanted to read at one point. You can only read so many books—wouldn’t you rather free up that space for books with a hook that captures your imagination for more than just a minute? 

2. Check for variety

I am definitely the kind of reader who gets really into one kind of book and then wants to read every similar title that exists. While I will allow myself occasional bouts of this kind of indulgence—I’ve had exceedingly long Viking and witch phases—I eventually feel that I’m missing out on a lot of other books. So if you’re trying to read more broadly, eliminate a few of the titles that lie comfortably in your wheelhouse and take a chance on something different. (BookRiot has a great reading challenge that can help you diversify your reading). 

3. Sell or donate

What about all those books that you already acquired for your physical TBR pile? You can’t just let them sit there and collect dust, can you? Surely, it would be better to give in to the immense guilt you feel at the sight of them and read them whether you want to or not. Maybe you’ve already grasped the obvious solution that took me a strangely long time to reach: selling them to a used bookstore or donating them to charity. (I like to donate my children’s and young adult books to the nearest Children’s Advocacy Center, but there are a lot of charities out there that need all kinds of new or gently used books). 

4. Browse the shelves

I realize that the point of spring cleaning isn’t really to replace all the stuff you threw out with new stuff ASAP. But as someone who constantly reads book news, I have a hard time not stumbling across new titles to add to my TBR. Most of these books I find online because of the buzz surrounding them—which is great, because this helps me keep up-to-date with the book world. But it also means I don’t often have a lot of backlist titles on my TBR. After you’ve eliminated some meh and redundant titles from your TBR, try browsing the shelves at a bookstore or library for old but good stories. 

Do you have your own TBR spring cleaning methods? Share in the comments!

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Val O.

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