Thursday, 29 January 2015

Thoughts on "The TBR Jar"

So, this is something I did while away from blogging.  I learnt about this idea quite a while ago, but never felt the urge to use it as I've always been pretty good at knowing (or at least choosing) what to read next.  It never occurred to me that I could use this method to force myself to read books that I've just not been getting to.  Until two days ago.
Everyone has their own individual rules or guidelines for their TBR Jar, and as expected, I do too:

- at least once a month, I will pick a book from the jar and read it
- the books in the jar are books that I intend to read
- they're books I'm excited for, but need an extra push to get to
- if I know I'm not in the mood for a book I pick, I will be allowed to replace the book and choose another
- if I replace the book more than once, I must remove the book from my TBR

When I first heard of the TBR Jar (you know, I'm already sick of typing that), I thought it was a wonderful idea, but as mentioned above, I didn't find that I personally had much use for it.  Of course, it's impractical to have the 700 books from my Goodreads to-read shelf in that jar, I doubt even the 100 books on my tbr-asap shelf would fit.  But, I've adapted the idea to suit me.  The point of my jar is to force myself to read books that I don't think I will pick up on my own accord.  For instance, I'm always saying that I want to read more classics, but I never do.  Why?  Because I am more inclined to pick up one of the many, many shiny new YA books that everyone is talking about.  Even older YA books that I would probably love get neglected because of this.  By using the jar, I can read at least one book a month that I would otherwise not push myself to read, which I think is great!  Some examples of novels I've put in there are Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Embrace by Jessica Shirvington and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

I should probably mention none of the books pictured are actually in the jar

By choosing a book each month, I get two extra advantages:
1.  I have something to look forward to every month when (tentatively, always tentatively) choosing a TBR.  There is just something inherently exciting about a lucky dip.
2. I have a deadline for finishing one book, which usually makes me read faster... or finish all of the book on the last possible day  (trust me, I never read school books until I absolutely had to, and once not even then).

Another thing that I like about the jar is that it is a physical object that is sitting on my desk.  A constant visual reminder that I need to be reading these books, and to stop being lazy!  I know it's bad to force yourself to read if you're not in the mood, but usually I am and I'm just doing something else because it's easier.  That's not the way that I want to go about life.  It also provides motivation to read the books, because can you imagine how satisfied I'm going to feel when that jar is empty (if it ever is)?  Every time a slip of paper is removed, I'm going to feel a small sense of achievement, I just know it.  I'm counting on this feeling to get me to read more books from the jar - perhaps even two a month.  Then again, that's all going to depend on how my year goes.  I have no idea how busy I'm going to be.

Despite all the good things about the jar, there are some problems.  It's possible (likely even, knowing me) that I'll soon get tired of picking from it and it will just end up sitting there - looking pretty, at least.  It's rare for me to stick with an idea for very long.  The most exciting part for me is coming up with the idea and planning it - going through with it is a challenge.  This goes for anything.  I'm honestly surprised I've stuck with this blog for so long!  The other main problem I foresee is my reliance on the library.  Every time I pick a book, I'm going to have to wait for it to come in from the library and that can take a very long time depending on the book!  I've also already discovered that one particular book I put in my jar isn't even owned by my library :(

Can you tell that purple is my favourite colour?
The next issue: what if I end up only reading one or two books a month?  Last month I only read two books.  If this happens more often, I'm going to be seriously restricted with book choice and I don't think I could handle that.

I realise that this post was much more of a ramble than a discussion!  I hope at least some of it made sense.

Have you ever considered using a TBR Jar?  If you have, did it work for you?


  1. I have a jar, but i only put series that i either need to finish, or want to read badly. Doesn't sound like a lot, but there are over 75 slips in the jar!

    I pick two and set up polls on my blog and goodreads and let my friends decided which to do, then i read them as soon as i can get my hands on them and then once i get halfway done with those books, i pick 2 more and create the polls again!

    I've only done 1 complete round so far and i just wrapped up the voting on round 2. i really like it because it allows me to get more reading done and it get my readers involved too :]

    1. Haha well that is quite a lot! I keep adding more to mine, and I just think that I'm never going to finish it.

      That sounds great! What an awesome idea.

    2. haha, i know right! Pretty sure none of us will every finish :] but that's the fun part!

  2. Very interesting! Your TBR jar is super pretty :) If I ever opted to have one, I think I'd just use a randomizer app LOL

    The reason I've never really liked TBR jars (or majority-vote Goodreads group books of the month) is I'm such a mood reader. Like, I will be anticipating a book for MONTHS and then not buy it until two months after it comes out (cough Snow Like Ashes), and not pick it up for a few more weeks (eheh, um, still Snow Like Ashes *blushes*) and all the while, I'll be reading random books I grabbed from the library xD
    I tend to read my books one after another, not more than two at once, so when I finish a book, I think for a moment which book I'm in the mood for next. It's a very random process that I can't seem to detect much of a pattern in, so I just go with my gut, haha. I feel like me being told by a slip of paper that I MUST read this book in this amount of time wouldn't work too well :P

    I'm glad the system works for you though! You've pointed out some pretty great benefits of having a jar (which, I must say again, is adorable. I love it.) Awesome post :)

    - Connie @ The YA Book Thief

    1. Thanks! Lol that is a good point; probably would have been easier. I like having something physical though - all the rest of my "book records" are online on Goodreads.
      Oh yeah? That's too bad about Snow Like Ashes xD I used to think I was a mood reader, but really I don't think I'm that fussy - it's more about the convenience of reading the book. Random picks from the library always end up being favourites for me for some reason - I'd love to just read like that all the time.
      I can see where you're coming from. The pressure of a time limit can be bad.
      Haha thanks Connie :)

  3. I've been using a TBR Jar for over a year and it's very useful. The only inconveniance is having to update it if I buy new books because I normally forget to add the new titles hehehe


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