Cora’s TBR Challenge

Everyone has one. It’s nothing to be ashamed of…no matter how big it is. And mine is pretty huge.

It’s the TBR pile.

And I’m not talking about the books you merely want to read, I’m talking about the books you’ve already bought. The ones sitting in piles and bins and on shelves in your house. The ones in the TBR collection on your e-reader. The ones that have been sitting there for months.

How big is your pile?

Photo Credit: Jorge Royan
Photo Credit: Jorge Royan

Yes, I’m a writer. And someday before I die, I’d like to be a published writer. But I’m also a reader–not because reading will help to improve my writing (though it will), or so I can brag about how many books I’ve read in my life (a lot).

I read because I love reading.

I love reading so much I browse Amazon and B&N and the library looking for new books, even though I have so many in my possession already. So apparently I need a little structure–and a little support–in tackling the monstrous collection of books I haven’t yet read.

A blog I follow hosts a TBR Pile Challenge every year, complete with prizes for reviews and posts. But I missed the sign-up window, so I can’t participate.

Instead, I thought I’d have my own informal challenge, and see if anyone wanted to join me. These are the “rules” I’m going to use:

1. Choose the number of books from your TBR pile that you intend to read this year. I’m going with 12, not because my store of books is so small, but because I’m participating in a couple of Goodreads challenges, too, and I want to have time to write. Plus, some of the books on my shelves are big.

2. Books must owned by you for at least six months. This is the point of this challenge–to actually read the books that have been hanging around your shelves, bins, and e-readers waiting for you to notice them again.

3. I’ll check in with a post once a month to share how I’m doing. Anyone is welcome to comment and share their progress as well, whether you start with me now or pick up the cause in June or November. I’ve also created a Goodreads shelf to help keep track of my progress. Then all my challenges will be in one place–work smarter, not harder, right? 🙂

So who’s with me? Who’s going to finally go through those books at the bottom of the pile? Or the research books that went straight to the shelf? Or the e-books on your reader you bought with your gift cards last holiday season and forgot about?

Leave a comment here or on the TBR Challenge page with your commitment: how many books will you read from your TBR pile this year?

20 thoughts on “Cora’s TBR Challenge”

  1. Cora, I’m with you. Gotta start whittling that pile of books down. I’ll commit to 12 from the tbr pile. I like your idea of the goodreads shelf, and think I’ll do the same.


    1. Wonderful! I liked 12 because it meant on book per month from the TBR pile. That gives me time to read books for other challenges, or for research, or for fun. And it gives me time to write, too 🙂

      Good luck!


  2. Cora, this hits a nerve. I’ve got around 60 books in my non-fiction TBR piles (plural) and about 40 in the fiction pile (this does include a couple of journals…). I’m going to go for 30 – I just finished off a novel today and I’m about to gallop headlong into ‘England in the Later Middle Ages’ by M H Keen. So yeah, I’m up for the challenge – I get a lot of reading done at work in tea breaks & and at lunchtime. You can laugh when I crash and burn at the 20 mark in December!


  3. Cora…my TBR pile is years old. And hundreds of titles deep. At least a couple hundred hard and paperback books (nonfiction and fiction) and twice that number on my kindle (pretty much all fiction). I thought I’d read them in retirement. lol. Truthfully, i have been hitting one or two here and there. 🙂 Twelve for the year is definitely do-able.


    1. Yikes! Mine’s not quite that bad, but not by much–I thought I was going to read all mine during my “summers off”. You’ll have plenty of new books to choose from by the time you retire!


  4. Cora, this is a great idea. According to Goodreads, I have 246 books in total to read and some have been on my TBR shelf for over two years. I’m going to read 12 of the books that have been languishing for two years or more by the end of December. I’m adopting your idea of creating a special shelf on Goodreads to keep a track of my selected books.


  5. OK, I am really afraid now. I really can’t even count my TBR! I would like to commit to 2 a month from the old TBR, so 24 all together. I hope it is more, but the new books are piling on, too!


    1. I get distracted by new books, too, Sharlene–that’s probably how my TBR got to be as big as it is (that, and the library used book sales!). Good luck with your 24! 😀


      1. Well, I have some old series books with new books out, so I can read the old & new together! I also have some single titles by authors I love, but haven’t read because they are chick lit & longer than the average romance novel. And I know about those library used book sales, believe me! Also, have you tried You can get rid of books you might not want any more (it could happen – LOL!) and get some different books.


  6. My Kindle, Nora, has over 3000 books and not even 10% of them have been read. My new years resolution this year was to read 100 books and of those 100 25 of them should come from newbie authors.

    So I’ll accept your challenge. Of my 100 books, I’ll read 20 that have been on my shelf for over a year. There are so many books out there and it seems that we need to go back and read the older ones anyway. I’ll go for the special shelf idea that both you and Carol spoke of. That way I won’t cheat myself.


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