What Does TBR Mean?

TBR is an acronym that stands for “to be read.” It is commonly used to refer to a list of books that someone plans to read in the future. The term is often used on reading-related apps, forums, and websites, such as BookTok, Bookstagram, and Goodreads.


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To be read

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What Does T. B. R. Mean?

Take a peek at popular bookworm forums like Goodreads or BookTube and you'll likely encounter the acronym “TBR” frequently in discussions about reading. But what exactly does TBR stand for, and why has it become engrained in the vocabulary of dedicated readers worldwide?

This comprehensive guide will delve into the origins, usage, and management of the TBR list – a key component of planning any book lover's future reading.

Coining of “To Be Read” in Early Literature Clubs and Libraries

TBR is an acronym that stands for “To Be Read,” referencing a list of books that someone intends to read in the future. The term first emerged in the 1920s within English literature clubs and libraries.

Members would curate a forthcoming roster of books and plays the group planned to read together. Early magazines like Wilson Library Bulletin referenced these primitive pooled “to be read” listings for clubs and libraries.

Usage of the acronym “TBR” became more widespread in the 1950s and 60s. As the terminology expanded beyond shared club readings into individual readers' queues, “TBR” gained broader familiarity.

Transition From Physical Tracking to Digital TBR Lists

In past eras, book lovers maintained handwritten logs of titles they heard about and aimed to read someday. This evolved into typed-up computer documents, printouts, or notebooks dedicated to listing one's personal TBR.

The rise of social platforms for book fans accelerated adoption of “TBR” even further. On Goodreads, users can peruse friends' TBRs for recommendations and add books to their own digital want-to-read catalogue with a single click.

Online reading communities helped normalize TBR as a central component of organizing and discussing future reading plans. According to Goodreads statistics, over 1.3 billion books were added to member TBR lists in 2022 alone!

How Modern Readers Use and Manage Their TBR

For today's bookworm, the TBR often plays an integral role in mapping out a future reading schedule. Here are some of the main ways it is utilized:

  • As a planning list for forthcoming titles based on awards, reviews, recommendations, and books that catch your interest across sources.
  • discovery tool for finding new-to-you authors within your favorite genres by browsing friends' or influencers' TBRs for hidden gems.
  • motivational guide for setting reading challenges to tackle a target number of your pre-selected TBR books per month or year.
  • method to categorize your future reading queue by factors like genre, book length, release date, and priority.
  • verb – “TBRing” a book means adding it to your list, while “TBR'd” means you've already put it on your roster.

When it comes to managing a TBR list, common tips include:

  • Only allowing yourself to add a certain # of books per month so your options don't become overwhelming.
  • Routinely scanning your TBR to remove any titles that have lost their appeal to you.
  • Ranking books by interest level or urgency so you know which ones to prioritize.
  • Breaking your master list into sublists – like “Sci-Fi TBR,” “TBR Under 400 Pages,” etc.

The Benefits of Tracking Your Future Reading

Using a TBR system offers many advantages for bookworms seeking to broaden their literary horizons:

  • Aids your memory by preserving books you may have heard about months earlier before you get a chance to read them.
  • Provides options so you always have a tailored mix of future reads – short or long, thriller or romance, classic or contemporary.
  • Helps you discover new voices through awards, reviews and recommendations that introduce authors and perspectives you may not come across otherwise.
  • Gives motivation with your lineup of options so you feel inspired to complete reading goals.
  • Allows anticipation to build as excitements percolates for the stories you have lined up.

Common TBR Challenges and Goals

For those who want to get more strategic with their reading list, TBR-centered challenges abound:

  • A “TBR Only” commitment where you limit your reading solely to books already on your list for a set timeframe – like a month or season.
  • Reading a target number of TBR books per month or year based on your average rate – such as aiming for 12 TBR titles annually.
  • Only allowing yourself to add a certain # of books to your list monthly so your options don't spiral out of control.
  • hosts TBR challenges like the “You Read How Many Books TBR Challenge” which motivates you to tackle towering TBR piles.

Evolution of TBR-Related Terminology Within Bookish Circles

Certain slang terms and analogies related to the TBR concept have emerged in bookworm circles:

  • Mt. TBR – A visual metaphor for an extremely towering, mountainous TBR pile with hundreds of books listed.
  • TBR Jar – A physical jar containing strips of paper with each book from your list. Randomly draw one to choose your next read.
  • TBRead – A freshly coined verb meaning you have completed reading a book that had been awaiting you on your TBR list.

These demonstrate the creativity of reader lingo as TBR lists have become ubiquitous in literary life.

Key Takeaways on the Pervasive Reading Acronym

  • Originally used in 1920s literature clubs, TBR stands for “To Be Read” and refers to planned future reading.
  • Digital platforms led to TBR's widespread adoption for tracking and discovering forthcoming books.
  • A well-organized TBR enriches reading life by providing choices tailored to your mood and goals.
  • Related terms like “TBR jar” and “TBRead” showcase TBR's firm place in bookworm vocabulary.

TBR lists help transform the act of reading into a journey of exploration guided by your interests. Next time you see TBR references, you'll understand this reading ritual shaping many book lover experiences.

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