When it comes to my shelves, I’ve always taken the minimalistic approach. I’ve only added books that I’ve read since joining Goodreads in late 2013, because that was when I started formally recording what I was reading and what I thought about it. It seemed too time-consuming and overwhelming to try to backtrack and add past reads, despite the fact that there would be some advantages in doing so. If nothing else, it would make shelf comparisons with potential friends more accurate and relevant. I’m not likely to change my ways on this, however, because my somewhat all-or-nothing nature rebels every time I start thinking about where I would draw the line.
On the other hand, I have recently changed my mind about one of the other decisions I made back then. I had originally decided not to add my TBR (To-Be-Read) list to my shelves. I was downloading free books with wild abandon back in the early Kindle days, so I had a crazy mish-mash of TBR books that I wasn’t even sure reflected my interests. I was downloading things I didn’t know if I would like (they were free, after all!) because I thought it would be good to expand my horizons. I found some great books that I might never have tried otherwise, such as the Belisarius series, and I also found some pretty horrible ones like the recently-read Star Dragon.
Lately I’ve been very happy with the progress I’ve made on my backlog. I’ve gotten through a lot of it over the past few years, and I’ve also mercilessly deleted books that I now feel confident I wouldn’t enjoy based on my reaction to the other books I did try. I finally have a pretty clean list of books that accurately reflect what I’m interested in reading. This includes a lot of books I don’t own but have been wanting to read for a long time. I held off on reading many of those books because it made more sense to me to read the books I already owned first. Now that I’m happy with the status of my backlog, I’ve started mixing it up a little more – alternating between owned and unowned books.
So, what’s the point of this long post? I decided it’s time to start filling out my TBR shelves. During this week’s Following Frenzy, I’ve run many book comparisons with people who like the same genres I do and we usually have very few books in common. If I look at their shelves manually, on the other hand, they often have several books on their shelves that I intend to read but don’t have on my own shelves. I’d like to get some of my more definite TBR books on my shelves so that comparisons are more accurate. I don’t see any way to avoid the notices showing up on the feed when I add a book to my shelf, so you’re likely to see a lot of shelf additions being spewed from my blog. I apologize, because I know this might be pretty annoying when everybody's feeds are already probably more active than usual right now.
For anybody who’s curious, this is the method to my madness. My lists won’t be huge because, even though I could easily find thousands of books to add that I’d like to read some day, I don’t want to drown out the ones I’m most interested in. For books that are part of a series, I’m only adding the first book. I want to keep the clutter on my shelves to a minimum and I don’t see much point in adding every book in a series until I know if I even like the first book.
I’m going to break up my TBR shelves as follows:
TBR Soon This shelf will contain a handful of books that I want to read in the immediate future. Depending on my mood at the time I’m ready to start a new book, I might not always choose from this list, but these are the books I’m most likely to read next.
Planning to Read This is the default BookLikes shelf. It will consist of books I consider fair game to read at any time. They should slowly advance to the TBR Soon list.
TBR When Series Complete These are books I want to read, but I’m waiting until the series they’re part of is complete. I prefer to read a series all at once, because I think I get more out of it that way. I enjoy the nuances and minor pay-offs that might go over my head otherwise, and I don’t have the time to constantly re-read a series whenever a new book is published. My idea of an “incomplete series” is a little broad. If a book is part of a complete trilogy that stands on its own, but it’s also part of a larger over-all series that isn’t complete, I’ll consider it incomplete. I won’t say I’ll never read books while they’re still on this list, but they’re much lower in priority compared to the other things I want to read.
I’d love to see comments about what other people chose to do when they first started using sites like this one. Did you add every book you’d ever read? Did you draw a line somewhere, or did you just add whatever you could think of and move on with your life? How do you decide what books to add to your TBR shelves? I’ve seen people with thousands!