Welcome folks, on this rather late evening, to another discussion post. Today, I’ve been (once again) poring over my remaining challenge prompts for an annual reading challenge, the reading prompts I want to cover in an upcoming readathon, and the TBR I set for myself back at the start of December. Trying to juggle all these things whilst also maintaining the motivation to actually read has led me to think… how do you see TBR lists? Do you treat them as rules or, as Captain Barbossa says, “more what you call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules”?
I know fellow readers who love a TBR. Those who relish the challenge. Those who love to stand in front of their bookshelves at the start of a new month and withdraw some books and place them proudly on their nightstand, ready to read throughout the month. Those who go to their local library, scribbled-down TBR list in hand, hunting for their next reads on the shelves and coming proudly home with their haul. Those who love to use challenges and readathons to help construct their monthly (and maybe even weekly) TBR lists. Those who love the satisfaction of being able to tick off/cross out a book from the same list once they’ve turned that last page.
Then, I know other readers – those who find TBRs nothing but restriction. Those who are well and truly mood readers and, when they wake up in a morning, don’t know at all what they’ll end up reading. Those who go into each month without their heads spinning with the particulars of this readathon or that book club reading list. Those who shudder away from making TBR lists because they feel like a teacher assigning you a book at school. And you may very well have wanted to read that particular book, but once someone has told you that you must, you lose all desire to do so because it has now become a chore. Those who may even go so far as to optimistically (/hopefully) construct a TBR list, only to find themselves completely ignoring it after they’ve finished writing it in their reading journal or on their blog.
I think I sit somewhere in the middle – I prefer to think of TBRs as guidelines. Even when I’m feeling at my most completionist, I very rarely set a TBR list and find myself completing every single book on there. I get bored. Or I lose motivation. Or I lost interest. Or I read a really great book that reminds me that I really want to read that other book with a similar theme, even if it wasn’t on the TBR I set mere days before. Even when it comes to short, week-long readathons, when I let myself construct a strict TBR in mind because of the short timeframe of the challenge, I often find myself deviating from my initial ideas, looking for alternatives that might be twisted to fit the challenge requirements.
I’m not posing this as a discussion point because I think either way (or anything in-between the two extremes) is the ‘right way’ to read. I’m just curious, because I see many a monthly TBR, but I don’t actually know everyone’s views on them to begin with. So, I’m asking you now: TBRs, do you treat them like rules or merely (vague) guidelines?