TBR lists, how to structure and build one + find inspiration

For those who don’t know, TBR stands for to be read. Within the book community you cannot go a day without seeing some sort of tbr content, weather it be a monthly tbr, a year tbr, a new releases tbr, they are absolutely everywhere. Even if I didn’t add to it at all over the year, my list includes more books than I could ever read, and I’m almost certain other people have the same problem if they read a lot. But, that doesn’t mean it is just a long list in a notebook, no, it is an organised, categorised list that makes it easy for me to refer back to and find my next read. My tbr used to be just a long list with the books on, but to be honest I never really found myself referring back to it, which quite literally destroys the whole point of a tbr! I just found there were so many books to choose from, I’d ignore most of them and just read my recently added ones, or the ones at the top of the list. So I decided to find a system that was simple and easy to use, but actually allowed me to get through books I’d been meaning to read since 2019. This post will help existing book fanatics organise their reading, and book newbies who want to start reading and building up a tbr list.

Why make a TBR?

But first- what is the point of having a tbr? Why don’t you just read what you want when you want?

  1. Remember recommendations and books you’ve heard about that you want to read. You can’t read every book you want at the same time and you aren’t going to remember every book you ever got recommended to you. So having a dedicated place for these books helps you remember to read that book your friend suggested you read months ago.
  2. Get out of a reading rut and keep you reading always! When you have no plan of what to read next, or even any potential ideas of what book to read next, it’s alot easier to just stop reading and leave it until you find a book. When you are struggling to get through a book and you are in a reading rut, having a tbr to refer back to can help you pick a book that excites you to help you pick up reading again.
  3. Planning ahead. This is less of a problem if you’re a kindle reader but if you are a strict paperback girl ( or boy) then you will need to plan ahead with your reading. Despite the fact Amazon can deliver you your next read in a day or so, I find it’s always best to have a book ready to go after you’ve finished one, especially if reading is part of your routine. If you have a tbr you can use it to order your next few reads so you have them ready to go whenever you need them.

how i structure my tbr

Mainly I use Notion. I’m not sure if you are familiar with notion but if you’re not you need to get on it right fucking now. Seriously. This could be seen as a slight over-exaggeration because I know some people just don’t gel with it but it is basically an online system to organise your whole life, completely customisable. If you haven’t used notion before you can just search up Notion set up on youtube and find lots of inspiration, I do particularly recommend UnJaded Jade and Ali Abdall for these videos as they are the ones I send my friends when they ask about notion. This sounds like a notion sponsorship( it isn’t) but I genuinely use it for everything.

When it comes to my tbr on notion I use the table feature. I have a whole page dedicated to this. I’ll upload a photo to show what it looks like but I use a toggle system to separate the types of book, eg fiction, non fiction, classics. Then in these toggles ( which are drop down menus) I have tables with three columns: the name of the book, the status ( done or waiting to read, you can filter so once you’ve clicked read it dissapears off the table), and my preference. The key here is my preference bit. The preference column is a multi select column, and in my system I have 3 options ( 1,2,3). Whenever I put a book in my tbr I use this coloumn to say how desperate I am to read it, with 1 being most desperate and 3 being least. I have sorted the table so 1st preferences are at the top.

I love this preference system. I think it’s so essential. I now find that when looking for reading inspiration from my tbr, I’m no longer staring at a long list of books that all seem the same, I can pick up a book from my number 1 section and start crossing those off, before starting to work my way down. I find I can pick my next read a lot easier and quicker.

This year I am also trying to do a quick summary and review of each book I read, and I do that through notion too. That will be a separate post though.

I have a habit, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, of adding 90% of the books I hear about to my tbr, even if I don’t really ever plan on reading them. Another benefit of this preference system is that when adding books, if you start to notice too many of them are a 3, you can consider if you actually want to read this book, or you are just adding for the sake of it. A tbr should be a collection of books that excite you and you have actual intentions of reading. The amount of books I don’t ever plan on reading on my tbr used to be lengthy!

What if I don’t want to use notion?

That’s fine! You don’t have to use notion to do this system- that’s just what I find personally easier, as I do organize my whole ( and I mean whole) life on notion so it seems right to have it on there. If you just want to do it on your notes app or even just in a notebook that can work. It doesn’t matter how you use this system, the aim is just to make it easier for you to put books into it, sort them, and pick your next read. I’ll include an example of using this system on notes and paper

How to find inspiration for your TBR

It’s one thing to have a tbr, but if you have no books on it it is pointless. If you’re just starting out with making one then here are some places to find inspiration for books! You aren’t going to find books your style in all these places but you’ve got to start somewhere.


Just search up #bookstagram on Instagram and you will find millions of daily posts with arty photos of books, and maybe you’ll find a few books you like the look of. I don’t think judging a book by it’s cover is really that bad, I do it myself, because sometimes you can judge the general vibe of the book by the aesthetics.


This is the word for the book community on youtube. For me it’s such good vibes, so comforting even if I’m not actually planning on reading the books being disucssed. There is something so comforting about people talking about books. I sound like such a nerd but if you watch some of these people I feel like you will agree with me. The best way to start with booktube is deciding on a genre, and simply typing up 5 best _____ ( genre) books. You can just play around with this and find different people you like and watch suggested videos from that. Surprisingly, the comments section can actually be quite a good place to find inspiration as well. I’ve discussed some of them before but the main ones I watch are Ciara Foster, Fictional Fates, Noelle Gallagher and a little writer em.


If you have tiktok you may be familiar with the different ‘sides’ of tiktok, and I do think Tiktok is a great place to find quick book recommendations if you are on said book side of it. If you don’t care enough to watch 30 minutes of waffle about books, then 15 second videos summing them up is probably for you. Just search up books and I’m sure loads of content will pop up for you. I have seen a few good videos where people show their top 5 pics of a certain theme in 60 seconds and I think that’s a great way to discover some new books.

So that was everything for today! Two book related posts in two days is quite intense but I’ll be back with a lifestyle post on Friday! I hope you enjoyed reading this.

Do you have any books you are dying to read at the moment? Do you have a virtual tbr or do you use a good old notebook? I’d love to know, comment down below!

Mia x

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