Our Reading Lives

Why I Deleted My Goodreads TBR (And Why You Probably Should, Too)

I’ve been using Goodreads to keep track of my annual reading challenge since 2016. I know a lot of people criticise the website but, to be fair, I rarely encountered the issues commonly mentioned, because my use of Goodreads has always been really basic: to keep track of the books I read each year, and to search for titles, blurbs, and publishing dates. I never spent much time on the app, and while I sometimes would scroll down to see what my friends were reading, I’ve used it mostly as a digital reading logbook.

For a couple of years now I’ve been planning on making the switch to StoryGraph; it has the appeal of not being owned by Amazon, and the extra appeal that the creators actually listen to the needs and feedback of their users. But if you’re a person of habit like me, you understand why I kept delaying the switch. I was so accustomed to the outlook and functionality of Goodreads, and I used it so little, that I couldn’t be bothered to try something new. Goodreads was working just fine for me.

But last year, after so many friends had taken the step of moving to StoryGraph, I decided it was time to finally do the same and start my reading challenge for 2022 there. I was ecstatic with finally getting to see all of the reading stats StoryGraph offers.

I started by using the export/import option to transfer everything from my Goodreads into this new account. That way, I would simply continue to use StoryGraph while maintaining all of the info I had been accumulating on Goodreads for the last years. Unfortunately, the merging didn’t go as planned.

For reasons I couldn’t be bothered to explore further, not all of my reads got brought into StoryGraph, which in itself wasn’t much of an issue, but I do like to compare how my reading has evolved since 2016, and those challenges also got altered.

Ultimately, rather than giving myself a headache – I am not a tech person at all – I decided to keep Goodreads merely as an archive of my previous yearly reads, and to start completely anew on StoryGraph, beginning with setting my reading challenge for 2022.

As I was looking at my brand-new StoryGraph account, and the old Goodreads one, comparing what was missing to decide if I could really just leave things as they were, my eyes rested upon my TBR shelf on Goodreads. I use my TBR not to take note of the books I own, but as a reminder of books I’d eventually like to purchase. And I had close to 200 books on that shelf.

Now, you’re probably asking: Carina, do you check that shelf regularly? Do you take a look at it when deciding which books to buy next? The answer to both these questions is “no.” This shelf is used more or less as the junk drawer of books: I see a book that piques my interest, I don’t really know how else to take note of it, I add it to my TBR shelf, and then I forget about it.

Because, you see, it has been years and years since I last ran out of books to read, or needed a reminder of what I should pick up next. I have too many books in my physical and digital TBR to actually need a digital note on books I stumbled upon and maybe, someday, will read.

If I see a book and I don’t immediately order it, it’s just not going to happen. I am already quite overwhelmed by all the books I actually own to come to the point in which I turn to Goodreads to choose which book to pick up next.

Seeing that TBR there, though, made me curious. So I still checked out which books I had stored there, realised I didn’t even remember why most of them were there anyway, or even what their stories were about. And yet, when reminded of that shelf, I scrolled down and I still worried: what if the book of my life is in this single shelf?

I went back to StoryGraph and saw the TBR shelf there. Clean, clear, immaculate. Not a single book waiting for me, not a single question of what I am missing. A blank slate.

So I went ahead and I pressed the delete all button on my Goodreads TBR shelf. I have no regrets.

Now, I know 200 isn’t a wild number to have on a shelf that can be approached with a sense of possibility, rather than doom. But I felt it was too much. So rather than starting to, once again, wish for books I don’t yet own, I decided to wipe it off and focus on those stories that are waiting for me on my bookshelf or in my ereader. And I won’t be adding any more books to that.

My current approach is simple: if I forget about a book I stumbled upon on social media, it’s because it wasn’t meant to be. Or the book will find its way to me one way or another.

Cleaning that digital space I wouldn’t have the time to sort through really offered me some relief, a sense of control, even. Which I lose once again when I think about the amount of books still to read I already own. But that’s a topic for another day.

If you worry about, and are perhaps overwhelmed with your Goodreads or StoryGraph TBR shelf, and you need someone to tell you that you won’t miss it, I am that someone. And you won’t miss it.

Go ahead and wipe it. And if you ever find yourself in the position of not knowing what to read, Book Riot has got you covered on all fronts. We got you, baby.


Here’s a couple more posts you might enjoy:

Learning To Let Go Of Reading Books At The Right Time

How To Thoughtfully Organize Your TBR

The 50 Most Common TBR Books

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