Bookstr Team Talks: The Grueling Task of Choosing What to Read Next on Our TBR

The Bookstr team is spilling their secrets on the systems they use to choose the next book on their TBR lists!

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A young Black girl is sitting on a table reading a book with a red cover in one hand. Her other hand and arm are sitting on top of a stack of books. Behind her, three yellow squares with writing on them and hanging wallflowers against a yellow painted wall. There's a calm feel all through the scene.

What and how we choose what to read next after we’ve turned the last page of a book may halt us in our tracks. Some of us are still reeling from the damage done or swooning over that delicious HEA that made our hearts flutter.

Now here’s the grueling task: picking that next book on our TBR list to get into and hopefully feel those same emotions again. It’s a difficult choice, but somehow the Bookstr team did it. Read on to find out how we choose the next book to read on our TBR lists that works for us.

Overplanning For the Win!

Pieces of paper of varying sizes with writing and numbers on them. A couple of the papers are calendars; the others are more for planning. They are in light pink and beige colors, giving an upbeat feel.

Okay, so, I have a very strange and overly organized way of doing this. Since I have 3,000 books on my TBR, I like to increase my chances of getting a mix of books that were added to my list at various times (I’m also indecisive so this just works better).

At the start of the new year, I put my TBR shelf on “random” in Goodreads and then just pick the first 25 books that pop up. For individual months, I’ll split the 25 across 12 months. And then from there, I organize my TBR by how long a book is so I read the shortest one first and then the longest one last. I just think it helps get me into the swing of reading, especially since I’ve fallen a little behind in it lately.

Ashley Lewis, Editorial

Letting Fate Decide

A girl with red hair is lying on the floor with her head reading on a small stack of books. Another stack of books sits beside her with a cup sitting on top of them. Her feet are put up. A wall behind her has images posted to it. The wall and floor are various shades of light and dark pink.

I go about this in two ways: either I pick a random number or I let someone else pick a random number. I mix it up some more by making the numbers based on a certain shelf and/or a certain bookshelf. This gives a more random chance of picking from my pile of unread books. There are a couple of obstacles that I have thought of, such as if it was a second book in the series or if it’s a book I’ve already read. If it happens to be part of a series, I’ll simply read the first book. If I’ve read it already, then I choose a different number.

I have A LOT on my TBR (who doesn’t? Lol) so truthfully the chance that I pick a book I’ve read already is lower than 50%. Does it always work? Most of the time, but I’ve had some occasions where I avoid certain books based on people saying it could make you cry! I need some mental preparation for those!

Jaiden Cruz, Graphics

My Mood Decides for Me

A young girl is reading a book with a red cover. Her long, black hair flutters around her shoulders. There are sparkles and flowers in her hair. Behind her, three square boxes with words on them are set against a light orange wall. The image is in shades of violet and varying shades of orange.

After finishing a book, I like to see how I feel afterward. Sometimes, I will just choose at random but most of the time I feel like I choose based on my mood, I like to see what I feel like reading next. It also has to do with the time of the year or the season it is. For example, I read a ton of thrillers and spooky books in October during the spooky season. So I will just look at my bookshelf and see what mood I am in and pick the best book for me at that moment.

Elizabeth Hoyer, Graphics

Whatever Is at the Top of the Pile

A drawn image of books standing up in a row with the first couple books leaning against the straight standing books. A stack of books sits next to the leaning books, and there's a plant sitting on top of the stack of books. They are all sitting on a long brown table. The image is in muted shades of different pale colors.

I always have a stack of unread books piled next to my bed that seems to remain the same height no matter how many books I read. With so many options to choose from, I know I could spend hours agonizing over what to read next. So, to make it easy for myself, I just pick up whichever book is at the top of the pile and dive in!

This is a pretty good system for me because I don’t have to stress over what I want to read next. Plus, since the books are stacked randomly, I go from reading a mystery to a romance to an epic fantasy all in a matter of a few weeks, so it gives me a good variety. If you’re indecisive like me, leaving your next read up to fate is definitely the way to go!

Lauren Nee, Editorial

Mood and Genre Reader

A girl with long, black hair is walking while reading a book with a green cover. she's wearing a yellow sweater with gray bottoms. There's a red purse swinging from her shoulder. A low fence stands at her calves. The scene is in shades of browns and beiges and other muted colors.

I choose my next read based on my moods or something that has sparked my interest. If I’m feeling a bit down, depressed, or extra stressed, I’m going to pick up an old favorite comfort read like The Lost Continent Series by Catherine Asaro.

I’m an eclectic reader, so my mood or the recent news or something my kids are learning will influence what I want to read next. If I feel like fantasy fiction with a certain trope/character trait, I’ll end up reading several of those types of books until I’m sick of it or the next mood hits. Sometimes, I pick up several books at once because my attention can’t stay with just one, and the next thing I know, I’m reading a historical thriller, a dark fantasy, and a literary fiction.

Kristi Eskew, Editorial

My Mood or Whatever I’m Feeling, Unless It’s a Book I’ve Been Waiting For

There's a girl sitting at a table with a pen in one hand sitting on top of an open book. She rests her head against her other hand, her elbow propped up on the table. A cat sits on the table beside her. She's staring at the clock on the wall. A bookshelf is set against the wall, and there's a window on the adjacent wall. The whole scene is in various shades of blue.

I usually just let my mood decide. Honestly, I don’t have an actual TBR list. I sort of just look at my bookshelf and see the books I have yet to read and decide from there. Unless it’s a book I’ve been waiting a while on, like the new Percy Jackson book, I just pick up whatever sounds good at the moment. If it’s a book I’ve waited months for, I’ll read it before any other book on my TBR or bookshelf. I tend to read multiple books at a time, so it’s usually just where my mind takes me. It wavers with whatever I’m into at the moment. Sometimes I want to read a dark romance book, and sometimes I want to read fantasy. Other times, I’ll just reread my favorite comfort books.

Alexandra Mellott, Editorial

Trial and Error

A collection of images featuring different people reading in different places, from sitting on the beach and in a chair, to sitting at a table with a cup of coffee or reading on a balcony. The images are mostly in shades of browns, beiges, and whites.

I am indecisive to a fault, and sometimes the choice of what to read next is so overwhelming I give up altogether and reread an old favorite. Something that has helped me to overcome this choice overload is picking a few books from my shelf, and reading the first five pages or so to get a sense of it. Usually one of the books will stand out more to me at that time than the others, and the decision is made! This method has worked well for me recently and is really great for reading a wider array of genres and authors than I might have originally.

Austin Decker, Editorial

Not By Sight, but by Mood and Feel — And the Next Book Sitting on My Nightstand

A young Black girl is sitting on a table reading a book with a red cover in one hand. Her other hand and arm are sitting on top of a stack of books. Behind her, three yellow squares with writing on them and hanging wallflowers against a yellow painted wall. There's a calm feel all through the scene.

Choosing the next book to get into after I’m still reeling from leftover feels from the one I just finished sends my emotions into flux. But the solution is to go by the books I have on my nightstand. I go through my three towers of books and choose which three I know I want to read next, and then I put them on my nightstand. This way, I keep with the next-in-line book. Though, there are times when I must shuffle the book playlist, in case my mood changes.

For the most part, my system of placing the three books I plan to read next on my nightstand works, even when reading a book series. Even then, I place the next book in the series in the mix, while still keeping my TBR list in order.

Quiarah B/Vphan, Editorial

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