Consequences and Chaos: My TBR Jar

Credit: Curiosity Quills


If you have been checking into Land of 1000 Wonders lately, you probably know I have a TBR mountain. Indeed, it is named Mt. Kilamanchaos. My review requests have been closed for two years at this point, and I don’t foresee them opening back up again, in all honesty.

I still have books I have not reviewed from my first year of blogging. I had every intention of reading these books, and then life and blogging and Mt. Kilamanchaos happened. All I can say is, “Look! I’ve read Scott Cramer’s Night of the Purple Moon!” That was the first book I had to bail on.

And then came NetGalley. There should be a required training course before you are allowed to access NetGalley. They need to tamp down the MUST GET ALL ZE BOOKS! mentality. There needs to be a chastity belt so NetGalley safeguards their galleys for just the right folks, or else they’ll end up with people. People like me.

Yes, I went hog wild when I was approved for NetGalley. I remember two summers ago sitting on the floor of my bedroom, hiding in the corner like Allie Brosh, being 200 pages in and still going strong requesting books. It’s like self-hating addiction: I know it’s bad for me to eat this cake (ahem, request from NetGalley), but I just can’t stop myself. Perhaps in my head I am beginning to believe that only my books love me and I must have all the love. Anyway, that’s my story of how I landed 500+ NetGalley books.

I also have quite a number of audibooks I’ve been selecting from SYNC’s summer program. You get two free audiobooks each week during summer! I’ve very slowly been making my way through them, but this summer is fast approaching and I need clean shelves for the new titles.

And let’s not even talk about Amazon freebies.

To sum it up, my Kindle is a black hole of books.

I am no longer in denial. I have accepted it. Now the question is, what do I do? I have all these NetGalley books, all these free Amazon books, two shelves jam packed of books I’ve bought or been gifted over the last three-ish years, and a handful of books from The Story Plant. I’m like an ostrich with my head in the sand! I love them and want to read them all…I just don’t know how.

So I finally made myself do it. I concocted my own TBR Jar. I originally got the idea from Kelley and Oh, The Books!, and realized I really needed to start cleaning house…or rather, my Kindle and shelves. I used Kelley’s TBR Jar as a model to create my own.

The Materials

I kept it simple. As pretty as the TBR Jars are out there, I needed to keep it simple and do my own. I needed to own it. I also needed to own my hoarding.


I started with the most basic of supplies: one tie-dyed cardstock scrap-booking set of paper (on clearance for $4), a nice sized glass jar, a cutter with 8 different line forms, my ever-faithful Flair pens, and Washi tape.

The Organizing

I have books to read from NetGalley. I have books to read from Amazon. I have books to read from authors. I have books to read from The Story Plant. I have books to read that I bought for myself or have been given.

When I started thinking about my TBR Jar, I knew I had to coordinate this. I am a very Type-A, organized person. Things must be color-coordinated.

I picked out a color for each category of books I need to read. It was pretty random in the assigning of color, and the colors didn’t really matter anyway. I suppose I could have coordinated NetGalley with green since that is one of their primary colors.

  • Blue – NetGalley books
  • Green – Amazon ebooks
  • Yellow/Orange – Review books
  • Purple – Audiobooks
  • Pink – Physical books
  • Red – Series I NEED to Finish

I started with one 12″ cardstock page of each color. I then cut the pages into strips and cut each strip in half to make two smaller strips. Each page ended up totaling somewhere around 30 strips each. For the categories with 30+ books, I used every strip for a title and dropped into the jar.

Of course, I didn’t use ALL of those strips. I still had some yellow, red, and purple left over after I put the titled slips in the jar.

left over strips

 The Honesty Rules

What is the point of a TBR Jar if you aren’t honest and faithful? I have to be committed! … So. There are rules. And they must be followed.

  1. You picked it, you read it! There are no take backs.
  2. I can select a certain color (category) when drawing. (Ahem, NetGalley!)
  3. If I draw a book in a series, I must read the next two books in the series.*
  4. If I am on a reviewing deadline, I can prioritize those books and read first instead of drawing.

*If I own the books. If I do not own the next book in the series, I will scrimp to find a copy. If I do not agree on the price and cannot obtain one otherwise, I can move on to a new pick. BUT I must create a strip for the jar on the book I passed up. That’s a fair deal.

Adding Books

At some point I will replenish my jar with more book titles. My objective this year was to focus on my NetGalley books, which I have been doing a spectacular job of ignoring. I also want to honor all those commitments I made previously to authors and get their books off my plate (and the guilty noose tucked neatly away).


Do you have a TBR Jar? Have you ever thought of making one? Tell me about yours – or mine – in the comments!

38 thoughts on “Consequences and Chaos: My TBR Jar

  1. TBR jars are really popular right now, but a.) I don’t have a TBR list and b.) I’m too much of a mood reader for this to ever work 🙂 But if it will help you navigate through your books then it’s definitely worth a try!

  2. I love the idea of a TBR jar and I love how you did it! I know what you mean about the NetGalley addiction! I’m trying to read all the books that are published for the month of March but I have a few empty reading slots and SOOOO many older NetGalley books or just books on my own shelves. This looks like a fun way to tackle them.

  3. I somehow dont consider the galleys and Amazon freebies as part of my TBR. dunno it’s weird that I only think of my physical books as a TBR and the rest as there just in case 😛 Loved how your jar turned out. Hope it will settle some of your chaos. Happy reading!

  4. I loved your comments about Netgalley. I was the same way when I started blogging. I really had no idea of what kind of mess I was getting myself into. I could have used one of those chastity belts. I don’t have quite as many as you–I’m not quite to 300 yet–but I have more than I can reasonably read. One problem is that most of them are in series, and I’d have to read sometimes up to 15 other books before getting to the one on Netgalley or Edelweiss. I too have a lot of books from when I first started that I haven’t gotten to yet. The ones that really bother me are the ones I told authors I would do because I didn’t know how to say “no” at first.

    I’m so jealous of your organization and your beautiful TBR jar. Mine is so sad, slips of paper in plastic bags 😦

    • That is exactly how I was! I thought if I said “no” the opportunities would dry up and wither away. I actually had an author contact me in December about her book, asking if I was going to review it. I have it as a placeholder on my review list as another reminder, and it is still in my Kindle Carousel since the day I received it.

      I decided if I was going to do this, I had to do it my kind of right way, or else I wouldn’t really take it seriously. We’ll see how it goes!

  5. This is HILARIOUS! And I feel you. Mt. Kilamanchaos had me laughing, but by the time you got to the Netgalley chastity belt, I was DYING! BWHAHHA. Do you really have 500!? Is your ratio like, 2%? I seriously cannot, this is too much! 😀

    Let me tell you my TBR jar story. It wasn’t cute like yours. I had two, and neither were jars. One was a tupperware container, and one was a cheap trinket from Morocco that only fit a couple piece of paper. ANYWAY, it was supposed to be one for physical, one for ebooks. (I had my chastity belt firmly in place at this point- i.e., I was scared of rejection from NG and EW.) I wrote out ALLLLL the names of the books, would pick the paper… and immediately put it back, because NOPE, not that book. So yeah, I failed. I failed hard.

    NOW I need the chastity belt, and spend 100% of my time reading review books and drowning in them. OH! And I pretend that Kindle freebies never even existed, because goodness, I would be overwhelmed 😉 LOVE this post, and good luck on the jar!

    • Yay! I still have some of my old spark. 🙂

      Uhhhh…yeah, I really do have 500…it’s bad. Before I knew how NG worked, I archived books so they’re no longer on my shelf. I’m sure it’s somewhere around 700 in reality with all those I made disappear. And for your information, my ratio is actually 5%, thank you very much! 😛

      See why I need the jar? I HAVE to follow the rules or I’m screwed.

  6. I hope this works for you!! I love the tie-dye colors you used… so cute!! I don’t think I could do a TBR jar bc I definitely have to be in the mood for certain books. But maybe I could?? I’m definitely going to think about it because I have a lot of books I’ve committed to reading that I’m SO FAR BEHIND ON.

  7. I love the idea of color coding! I have been using my TBR jar for a long time, but it’s without doubt not as pretty or organized as yours. I should really update it some time soon… I use slightly different rules as well; I let myself draw two papers and read the one that speaks to me most. I normally don’t read it straight away, but always make sure to finish it within the month… That way I know I will never cheat. 😉

    I can totally relate to the phrase ‘my kindle is a black hole of books’ by the way; it’s a miracle mine hasn’t exploded yet with all those unread books on it haha (I think I have close to 300 unread titles). I hope your TBR jar will work for you! You definitely inspired me to improve mine. 😀

  8. I love how you’ve structure your TBR jar, with the color-coding and all. I love your name for your book pile, virtual and physical. I love the idea that your Kindle is a black hole for books — omigosh, mine too. Eep. I’ve been resisting the TBR jar idea because I need more flexibility in choosing books, but I may end up trying to adapt it to suit my own needs anyway. Right now I’m using a combination of a spreadsheet and Goodreads to keep track of what I want to read and those must-read ARCs, but it doesn’t always work.

  9. I like how you’re color-coding your jar. I don’t have one – what I do is take ten (or more) books and search my library’s catalog for them. If they’re in the library, I ignore them, but if someone has them out, I put in a hold request. And then I go through them as they come in, and then start the process all over again. I’d probably get through them easier if I could hold myself to those ten books instead of adding more and more.

  10. This is an awesome post! Hilarious! I’m totally in the “All is lost” category with you, mostly because of Kindle freebies. You did make me feel better about NetGalley. I only have 10 I haven’t yet read! So thanks for that! 🙂 Thanks for being a part of the Booknificent Thursday reading community this week!

    • I am here all day, errr day! … Except on school days, exhaustion days, holidays, Richard weekends, and family obligation days…Glad I could make you feel better about NetGalley. I’ve got some serious work ahead of me. And those freebies! They just sneak up on you and kidnap that one-click button.

  11. TBR jars sound so cute and fun, and I love that you’re even color coding! But I’m a mood reader, so I could never do a TBR jar. I’d end up miserable trying to follow your rules, and instead I’d just keep picking papers until I found something I wanted lol. Is a great idea for people who aren’t as mood-readers as me though! Good luck getting through your books 🙂

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