Do You Pre-Plan Your TBRs For Each Month?

I’m just going to come right out and say it…I have a problem. It’s called “way too obsessive” disorder and causes me to over-think and over-organize pretty much everything in my life.

I mean…I’m 22 years old and I own a file cabinet. That says something.

Organized Reading

Now that, in the past year or so, I’ve become more and more interested in reading lots and lots of books, I’ve tried to become super organized in how I go about doing so. For example, I have yearly goals, monthly goals, a comprehensive list of ARCs that I need to read, and I have pretty much all of my Tempest Books posts scheduled to post at least a month in advance.

But there’s one aspect of my super-organization that I’m not sure if I’m so crazy about, and I’d like your opinion on the subject…

I plan out what and how many books I’m going to read (and when) months in advance. Currently, I’ve got all of my books picked out up until July. Is that crazy??


Basically, I started doing this because I heard of other people doing it and I wanted to try it out. And then I realized how incredibly useful it was. Some books I need or want to read in a certain month (like new releases, books that I already own that I need to read, book club books, etc.). Now I can just place a book in a certain’s month’s slot and I don’t have to worry about it again. I’ll read that book at the scheduled time and it’ll work out perfectly.

Doing it this way keeps me from forgetting to read certain books, and gives me the motivation to actually read them. And I do better at achieving reading goals I’ve set for myself, since all I have to do is read the books on my list for each month.

But there’s also a downside to this…


The biggest problem I have with this system is that I don’t really have (or, I guess, give myself) the freedom to read things randomly. If I find a book that I want to read immediately that I hadn’t planned for, I either have to try to squeeze it in (and then end up potentially screwing up months of TBR if I can’t finish my originally scheduled amount of books, plus one more, in that month) or add it in line, months later.

Another downside is that occasionally I don’t get as excited about what I’m going to be reading in a certain month, since I’ve already had it planned out for so long. I don’t want reading to feel like I’m just crossing a book off my to-do list.

I also have trouble anticipating how much I’m going to read in the future. Sometimes I want to read a ton, and other times not so much. This means I’m constantly shifting my schedule around, trying to plan ahead and adjust appropriately.

And what if I suddenly decide that I don’t want to read what I’ve picked out for myself? Obviously it’s my choice to read whatever I want, but I like to be structured and organized. That’s who I am. Do I give that up when I’m no longer excited about a book I picked out for myself months ago, or do I struggle along in order to maintain the schedule?

Please weigh in! Do you schedule your TBRs or go with the flow? Am I just WAY too organized for my own good?

29 responses to “Do You Pre-Plan Your TBRs For Each Month?

  1. I also plan my TBRs! I do a post at the begining of each month called What’s on my Plate that acts as a reminder of what review books/blog tours I’ve promised to read. I like doing it because then I don’t forget anything. But I agree, sometimes I feel like a prisoner forced to read those books, even if I can’t wait to read them. I really envy bloggers who don’t read review books from publishers, because they can read whatever they want. I’m going to try to read less review books next year and try and catch up on stuff I WANT to read. Yeah, good luck with that Tammy!

    • Haha. I try to make sure that I have a good balance between review books and personal books, in order to keep myself from going crazy. Like, this month I think my goal is to read 16 books, with 6 of those being review books.

  2. I never plan my TBR’s for the month. I just read what I feel in the mood for. I should however at least have a list somewhere of what is TBR because a lot slips through the cracks and I forget about all together.

  3. I don’t actually schedule what I’m going to read, because my life is so crazy busy that I never know what I’ll have time for. But I do have a list of upcoming reads in a Word doc! I put dates behind my review copies so I know when I need to read them by, and do a tentative order so I know what to read next. The order changes a lot, though! I am a very moody reader, so sometimes I don’t feel like reading certain things I’d planned to read. I still try to follow what I feel like reading, despite the pre-planned order, but usually I’m able to pretty much stick to it 🙂

    • That’s a good idea! I use iCal on my computer a lot, so I just will put in there when I need to read certain books by and stuff. I know a lot of people don’t like using calendar applications, but it really works for me. That’s how I schedule all of my blog posts, too.

  4. I’m not a planner. I kind of wish I was sometimes because I get a little anxious sometimes when I have to pick out a book. Like sometimes I’ll pick something up and then be like: Is this the right book for me right now? Am I missing out on something? Am I forgetting something?

    So If I had it planned out I wouldn’t have those indecisive moments. I would like to make more lists of books that I want to read in the future. That sounds like a great idea! I could never completely lock myself down though because I don’t want to be forced to buy books if I don’t have a lot of money. And I don’t like owning books before I know if I like them…. I use the library most of the time. And getting a book at the exact time I need it would be hard for me.

    Cool Post!!!!

    • Wow, thanks for the great comment! I love your blog 🙂 Yeah I really like how it lets me remember when I want to read certain books. I’m pretty luckily that my state’s library system is so good. I do have books I own that I haven’t read yet, but I usually also get a few from the library each month, too. And I can just go online and order them, and as long as I order them at the beginning of the month, I know they’ll be ready for me within a few days to maybe two weeks.

  5. I could never ever plan my TBR for each month! Mostly because I’m a complete mood reader, so if I don’t want to read something, I just won’t -even if it’s a review book that I’m supposed to have reviewed two months ago lol (although I do feel slightly guilty about that hehe).

    I suppose I also come across a lot of new books on Goodreads or when I go to the library, so even if I did have a planned TBR, to be honest, I’d probably ignore it in favour of whatever book looks shiniest at the time 😛

    • Haha yeah that’s one of the hard things about having a pre-planned TBR. I never get to read those awesome new books right when I want to! But I don’t know…it just kind of works for me. I guess I could always “break the rules” if I really wanted to!

  6. Okay, now I think I really need a filing cabinet haha. Thanks a lot. I’m pretty OCD too but that part of me struggles with my lazy side! I try to plan my TBR but I usually get distracted or find another book I would rather read more 🙂

    • Haha my filing cabinet is a life-saver. I just bought a house at the beginning of the year, and I’ve since accumulated an unbelievable amount of documents, bills, warrantees, etc. I love being able to just file it all away into one safe and organized spot, in case I ever need something again.

  7. Can I have your skills please? :D?
    Seriously though, I’ll LOVE to have a month’s worth of posts scheduled in advance. Go you!
    I tried making a TBR list at the beginning of the month for that month, but it failed. Like, epic failed. I only read 3 out of the 12 books I decided to read that month. -facepalms-
    But yeah, I hate when I don’t get excited to read a certain book because I’ve already planned to read it on a particular month a LONGGG time ago. Sadly, I don’t have a solution to that problem unless it’s whatever, I’m going to read it NOW.

  8. Hahaha! You sound a lot like me, Miranda! I have a draft on my blog called 2013 Reading Plan and in it I plan out all the books I’m going to read for each month (and update it accordingly, as I read and change my mind or add things that weren’t on the plan). With so many books in my TBR pile, those I’ve gotten from NetGalley, TWO book clubs, several reading goals, etc. there’s a LOT to keep track of and this definitely helps me keep everything in mind.

    It’s definitely been useful, and I know that without it I would have been kind of lost. I also plan and post a monthly TBR so I can keep myself on track, and update my to-read list to the proper order on Goodreads, so I can see what’s coming at a glance.

    The only thing that I’d say is a negative about this approach is that I don’t have as much flexibility as others do. But really, it’s not like I MAKE myself stick to the list, and if I feel like changing things up, I do. My advice for that is to just use your plan as a GUIDE but don’t be too rigid about it. If you’re not excited about the next book on your list and can’t get into it, just switch things around. I’ve definitely done this, and sometimes I’ll throw a book in the mix that wasn’t in my plan just because I got it and I wanted to read it immediately, lol.

    • Love this comment! I guess I do it sort of similarly, except I have separate drafts for each month…because then I just convert them in to my monthly TBR posts that I do at the beginning of each month. That’s so interesting that you actually update your TBR list on Goodreads, too. I never thought to do that! I might copy you 😉

      The flexibility is definitely a negative of this approach, although I do think that there are a lot more positives…but I try not to be too rigid about it, like you said. Actually this month I decided to change one of the books I’d been planning on reading, because I forgot that it was the first book in a series and didn’t want to start another series (a whole other problem! lol). So I like that I can sort of change things up if I want to. And I usually end up reading at least one book each month that I didn’t plan on reading, too.

      • Oh gosh, I have to keep a yearly draft for my reading plan, because it lets me see everything at once, and then I can more easily bump something down to another month if I need to. My To-Read list on Goodreads is similar. I basically have everything on there that I actually have physical copies of sitting around in my house waiting for me to read. And then the top 10 items are what is in my immediate TBR pile (including novellas or whatever). I recommend it, for those of us who are anal about this sort of thing. 😉

        Now that you mention it, I usually end up reading one book per month that wasn’t on my plan, too! Sometimes those are ebooks/galleys, and often they’re audiobooks (I usually don’t post those on my official TBR, just because I’m not too rigid about those, really).

  9. Wow! I can’t imagine myself ever doing this! I’m an extreme mood reader, so if I pick up a book that I’m not all that into, I almost pick up another and read that instead before going back to the other one. If my mood varies day to day, then I alternate between books. Since I started book blogging, I’ve reduced the alternating but I still pick my next book to read based on my mood. The furthest I’ve gone is rank the top 25 books or so I want to read on my GR TBR shelf. When I’m up for some productive TBR-clearing books, I glance at those top few.

    Either way, I am amazed at your massive organisation skills!

    • Haha, thank you! Yeah I’m not really a mood reader, I guess. That’s basically what I used to do before I had a blog, but I like this way a lot better. It just suits my ultra Type-A personality, haha. I’m definitely an organizer. But I think that both ways have their merits. And it’s really interesting to hear from other people who pick stuff based on their mood, or who can just flip back-and-forth between books all willy-nilly. I think it’s cool how different people have different reading styles like that.

  10. I’ve been moving towards being more scheduled because I’ve started accepting more books for review. I feel a certain obligation to review these by the release date, since otherwise I could have just bought the book instead of accepting a free copy to get the book early. I do try to leave myself some free space in my schedule though, so that I can pick something up on a whim. January is the most booked I’ve ever been and I’m not sure I like it! Because I’m not sure exactly how much I’ll be reading at a given time, I think I’ll be more careful not to overdo it in the future to avoid stressing myself out.

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  12. I personally try to keep my review queue to 10 books or less. I’m not reading as much as I’d like to these days (damn life getting in the way) so I’m mainly reading review requests. But I’m finally down to 3 review requests books, which excites me. Then I’ll be able to read whatever I want from my massive TBR pile.

    If you’re system works for you, that’s great! Maybe throw in some random books that you already have in your TBR pile in between the review books?

    • Wow only 10 books?? That’s crazy! I hope to be that good one day. But I can’t just read review books…it would drive me crazy! Most of the books I read are from my TBR pile. I only really plan out those personal books, because for review books I just read them in the order that I have to get them done by, so there’s really a lot of planning involved. I try to read 5 review books each month, and then the rest are (mostly) from my TBR pile, with a couple library books thrown in too.

      • Yeah, but that’s only books I request for review. Any more than 10 and I get all twitchy. LOL I love how you’re able to fit in so many of your own books into your reading schedule! I want to do that more this year.

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  16. I do exactly what you do! …except, without the filing cabinet, but it’s on my to-do list to get one! In September I took a hiatus due to school, and in December (with all my holiday time off!) I came back strong. I had reviews scheduled a month in advance as well, up until we moved. Now I’m just a few weeks ahead.

    I co-blog with someone else and have my own blog, so we had to devise a way to divvy up the reads we received, keep track and give review dates. It started to become overwhelming, and that’s why I started a Reading Schedule. I have it saved in a nice Word document, all fancified, with the source of the book (for blog tours, mostly) and the post date (bolded if set in stone or scheduled). I rearrange this list according to the needed post date. If I sign up for a blog tour, I insert it according to the date, which does put my reading behind. I had it scheduled all the way to mid-July at the beginning of March. If I do have to add in a blog tour or select to review a book for it’s publication date, I go back and re-do the projected review dates. I traditionally publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I try to keep to that (except for the Monthly Chit Chat, Sunday Post and blog tours). I let authors know the tentative time frame that I’ll review their book, and the closer it comes to the date, I update them.

    Recently I started doing a Monthly Chit Chat session, at the beginning of reach month. I share all things book bloggish, what I’ve been doing, upcoming tours, the monthly reading group book, review queue info, and I share what I’ve already read for the month, what I’m currently reading, and what’s next, which is my goal for the month. Since I’ve been quite a bit more tours in the last couple months, I have not met my self-set goal for these months, but I still feel accomplished. I know it’s because of the extra tour books thrown in (and our recent move). I’m also starting the Sunday Post that Kimba started at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a recap of the week, very similar to what I do with the Monthly Chit Chat. Like Kelly, I used to keep a reading list on my blog, visible to viewers, of my committed reading list, and I would update it frequently. I found that it became too much of a hassle, since I keep my Reading List on the Word doc, I wasn’t updating it enough, and that nobody was actually utilizing it! I had agents emailing me days after sending me a book for review asking for the review. I decided that if nobody was utilizing it, I wasn’t going to waste my time on it.

    I also decided to stop taking reviews at the end of April because I have fallen victim to the big con of TBR lists: they are all for review – I have not had any time to read the shelf and a half of books on my personal TBR list of physical books, nor any of the thousands of books I’ve downloaded on my Kindle. I feel very pressured to review books, now that I’ve gotten into this groove, and crank them out, putting my personal reading on the back burner, and I don’t like that fact. So this summer I am cleaning out my Kindle of all the books I’ve downloaded in the last year and a half, and reading all the books in my bookcase that make up my TBR pile.

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  18. I can totally relate to this! I plan what books I’m going to read, and when, down to the freaking page number! However, I soon realised that the lack of being free to read whatever, whenever was a bit too much like a noose around my neck – and life is way too hectic for me to plan through everything – so I ended up dumping my ‘reading plan’ and consequently read a lot more books in a month then I have ever since I’d started tracking what I read!

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