10 TBR Problems You’ll Understand if You’re a Bookworm

TBR /to be read/

1. A list of books that you plan, at some point, to read
2. Every bookworm’s nightmare

The TBR. The word that sends an unappealing shiver down every bookworm’s spine.

Some people won’t understand why something as simple as a list can provoke such intense fear.  These people probably have one or two books they haven’t read. Maybe these books are piled artfully on their coffee table, ready to be picked up as and when.


Bookish people, however, will understand the fear we have for the TBR. There may be some that are in control of their pile, in which case – how have you managed this act of brilliance? And can you please make a book about how to get in control of your TBR that I will put on my own TBR and read in around 3 years?

The other sort of bookworm (the majority, I hope) have a pile – OK, a mountain – of books that they will, at some point, read.



In an ideal world.

And these ten problems relate to that pile (mountain).

1. it never ends

Forget the Neverending story, this is a never-ending list. I can’t remember the last time my TBR was manageable (I think I may have been around 10 years old). There comes a time when you don’t even bother saying ‘TBR pile’ – it’s not a pile when it’s taller than you.

2. storage is a slight issue

When I moved into my flat, I had one floor to ceiling bookshelf; plenty of space for all my books, right?!

Within two months, I had another bookshelf in my bedroom. This was meant to be my TBR ‘pile’.

Now I have at least three stacks of books piled up around my bed and another pile on my windowsill that I’d realistically ‘count’ as my TBR pile (that’s about 15 books). The books on the shelves must sit forevermore in darkness and pray for the day they might hold a bookmark between their pages.

3. it grows and grows and grows

Seriously, where do all these books come from? I’m certain my TBR has a doubling charm on it. Touch one and it multiplies… FOREVER!

My TBR grows at a faster rate than I can get through them. And this isn’t always my fault – OK, it’s around 60% my fault. The other 30% is the fault of publishing friends that keep giving me proofs of things I never asked for but still want to read (to those friends: don’t ever stop supplying books). The last 10% is down to more bookish friends lending me their favourite reads.

I don’t even have to buy books myself for the TBR pile to grow.

4. deciding what to read next is impossible

Do you know what you’re reading next? I don’t. I have no idea. I try my best NOT to think about my next read.


Because looking directly at the TBR induces an extreme amount of happiness, panic, and fear. Conversations with myself go like:

“There’s the book I want to… ooh wait, I was told this one was really … but I have to finish the series of that…But this one is so pretty… Ooh I forgot about that…”

Within a minute I have yet another stack of books. These are just the contenders for the next read. Generally, I’ll have to take the finalists to the closest sane person around and ask them to pick one for me. It’ll take around four attempts before we get to a choice that I’m happy with.

Life as a bookworm is hard.

5. re-reading books is a betrayal

I am quite good at culling books – once I’ve read them, that is. I won’t keep a book I won’t re-read. But the idea of re-reading something in the same vicinity as your TBR pile is akin to leaving a sad puppy uncuddled.

It just can’t be done.

If you want to re-read something, you have to create a ‘TBR-free’ space (pretty impossible given that there is a bookshelf in every room!), where you can re-read your favourites in relative peace.

6. you are ludicrously protective over it

I can despair of my stacks of books. I can grumble about the difficulty of cleaning around them. I can even consider the need to have so many books unread books.

You cannot.

Tell me I should cull books I have not yet read and suddenly, you’ll be faced with a terrible dragon, one who hoards books instead of gold.

7. was it ever a TBR ‘pile’?

My TBR stopped being a ‘pile’ a decade ago; it can’t even really be considered a list – a list should not be pages and pages long. Like the moon, my TBR is fast developing its own gradational pull.

This is a book mountain.

A sea of books.

Mount Doom.

An example of unachievable ambitions.

8. it doesn’t stop you buying books

Given the fact that I have so many books to read at home, you’d think I wouldn’t need to buy any more? In fact, I’d be really rather good at book-buying bans because I have so much to read already?


To keep me walking past a bookshop without ‘checking it out’ requires a mix of Thor’s superhuman strength, Sherlock Holmes’s genius, and The Rock’s raised eyebrow.

I just love books, alright??

9. it is ALL you talk about

Though you might avoid talking about what you’ll be reading next, it doesn’t stop you talking constantly about what you’ll be reading in the near future.

I own so many books, I normally always have at least one a bookish (or even non-bookish) friend is talking about. It’s a great conversation opener – even if you haven’t read it! Whats more, you can make them feel great about their recommendation when you say “I’ll bump it up my TBR”…

…They just don’t have to know you’ve moved it from the ‘I’ll read it in 3 years’ shelf to the ‘I’ll read it in 6 months’ pile.

10. secretly, you love it and would despair without it

Think having too much to read is a problem? Imagine having NOTHING to read??

I know. Even thinking it makes me want to cross myself, throw salt over my left shoulder, burn incense and carry protective charms.

As someone who carries a book, an audiobook and an eBook around with her all the times, it’s safe to say that, actually, I quite like having books to read.

Yes, I may have quite a lot of books on my TBR (I passed the 100 mark a while back!), but that’s because I have good intentions, am much too optimistic and – most importantly – I love books.

So here’s to the dreaded, and much loved TBR mountain. We love to hate you.

16 thoughts on “10 TBR Problems You’ll Understand if You’re a Bookworm

  1. literarylad says:

    Why is it that the things we love the most give us the most heartache? I wish I had a TBR list, but I daren’t. I’m lucky if I get to read two books a year. All my potential reading time goes on writing, and my giving that up is as likely as you giving up reading. I’ve just finished my second novel, and am looking for a publisher for it. So, if I can get it published, would you like another book for your TBR…?

    • parastoukhiaban88 says:

      According to Lewis Buzbee, if we read one book a week from the age of 5, and live to be 80 – we’ll only have read 1/10 of 1% of all the books in print. I think we were always fighting a losing battle here 😉

  2. Megan @ Ginger Mom says:

    Oh my gosh, absolutely! And then you add in Kindles and the TBR pile has ceased to be in the same vicinity as the word “pile”. My Kindle has 2000+ books on it. I don’t think I will ever get through every book on there unless I stop buying right now. And I can’t. Nope. Just can’t. Great post 🙂 Really enjoyed this!

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