If there is one problem common to bibliophiles, it’s the unending number of books they plan to read… eventually. These unread books make up the TBR pile, short for “to be read”. It’s no wonder then that one of my most popular posts this year was A Basic Guide to Managing TBR Piles.
With this advanced guide, I want to give ideas on how to make good use of the exclusive shelves on Goodreads for managing TBR piles. When I first started using Goodreads, I completely dismissed their utility value. Only when I set up a wishlist, did I fully realize the possibilities. Now it’s impossible for me to overlook how much easier exclusive shelves make managing TBR piles.
Default Exclusive Shelves
Every time a Goodreads user shelves a book, it has to go onto an exclusive shelf. At the same time, it can be shelved on as many non-exclusive shelves as a user pleases. Goodreads automatically sets three exclusive shelves for all users: read, currently reading, to read. This means in the very least, shelved books need to be marked as one of these. These three shelves denote basic reading status.
Adding Exclusive Shelves
Why You Might Want to Add Exclusive Shelves
While the default exclusive shelves might seem to cover all bases for managing TBR piles, there’s so much more that can be done with them. For example, you could add an exclusive shelf for your wishlist. You could also add a shelf for books you didn’t finish. Since Goodreads doesn’t have a DNF option, the question often is if a book shouldn’t be simply marked as read. Personally, I don’t think so. That’s why I added an exclusive DNF shelf.
How to Add Exclusive Shelves
In order to add exclusive shelves, all you need to do is to edit your bookshelves. Under the editing option, there;s the option to add a checkmark under the exclusive column. Subsequently, adding books to any one of these shelves makes them mutually exclusive to other bookshelf. This is very helpful when managing TBR piles.
The Usefulness of Exclusive Shelves
Exclusive shelves help in distinguishing books. For example, when I’m at the library, I refer to my shelf “library to borrow” and can easily find the titles I want to borrow. If I check “own and to read” I know which books I can choose from for my next read. Then at bookstores, I can easily check “to buy” without looking through “to read” where a lot of yet to be published books reside.
My Exclusive Shelves
Altogether I have 22 exclusive shelves (including the 3 default shelves). Now, I realize that that is a huge number of shelves and not everyone will need that many. Still, this system helps me greatly with managing my TBR pile. Here’s the list of my exclusive shelves with a short explanation on their purpose:
- Read — Of course, books I read.
- Currently reading — By default, books I’m currently reading. For me that’s rarely less than three. Sometimes I hit the double digits, so I use this to maintain an overview.
- To read — This is where I park all the books I want to read. My subsequent shelves are very specific. Once I’ve decided if I will buy or borrow a book and in what format, I move it to a more concrete shelf. Yet to be published books also remain here until publication.
- Amazon Unlimited — Yes, I subscribed. It’s cheaper to acquire audiobooks via Kindle audiobook add-on than with an Audible subscription.
- ARC to read — If I have any ARCs, I specially mark them, so I remember to read them sooner than other books.
- Baking reference — I don’t read reference books cover to cover. I don’t know anyone who does. But I want to know which ones are good and which ones I might potentially look to in future.
- Did not finish — Books I abandoned.
- Library to read — Library books I have on loan.
- Not interested — In case anyone ever refers to my Goodreads account for gift ideas, they will know not to buy any of these books for me.
- Onleihe access — Onleihe is a German ebooks library system. I note books that interest me here, so I know I can borrow them to read when the time comes. This shelf also shows me books that I can save money on.
- Ordered online — I nearly bought a book in a bookstore once because I forgot that I had already ordered it. Most of the time I order books in the wee hours of the morning. Naturally, I’m not always sure if I dreamt my online book purchases.
- Overdrive access — Overdrive is an English ebooks library system. Same as with Onleihe, marking books that I have access to via Overdrive saves me from buying them when I don’t need to.
- Own and to read — Prevents acquisition of duplicates and allows me to browse the list before hunting down the book I want to read.
- Own and to read ebooks — I make it a point to differentiate between physical books I own and ebooks I own. That way I won’t go crazy looking for a physical book I don’t actually own because I have the ebook version.
- Photography reference — As with baking reference, just for photography.
- Recommended to read — Book recommendations I received and am intrigued by.
- Skimmed through — There’s reading and then there’s skimming. To be fair, I don’t mark books where I skipped every two to three lines as I read. It’s a sort of disclaimer to my ratings and reviews.
- To borrow from library — Books I intend to borrow from the library.
- To buy — Books I intend to purchase
- To buy ebook — Ebooks I intend to purchase
- To request from library — Some backlist titles aren’t readily available on the library shelves. Instead they’re tucked away in the repository used books collection and are only accessible after reserving them.
- Wishlist — I make sure I pick the right format and book cover of the edition that I want. I can be very picky when it comes to book format, size and cover design.
Managing TBR Piles
Setting up that many exclusive shelves for managing TBR piles is rather ambitious but it’s a highly efficient system once it’s in place. Prior to the current Goodreads account which I set up in January 2012, I had an older account from 2007. I didn’t bother creating order with the bookshelves back then. To make things easier, I deleted that account beginning of 2012 and started from scratch.
If you’re new to Goodreads, I recommend setting up a system of exclusive shelves that work well for you pronto. That way you won’t be faced with the daunting task of sorting a hundreds of books down the road.
If you’ve already established yourself on Goodreads, one way to reduce the time and effort to crete order, you could look into non-exclusive shelves that could very well be exclusive shelves. That way the books will be pulled from your “to read” shelf and thus make it a whole lot easier to manage that TBR pile.