The TBR Jar

When you love books as much as I do, you’re in the lucky position of never running out of new ones to read. If anything, your biggest problem is often deciding which one in the mountain (and yes, it would be the size of an actual mountain!) will be the next one. On Goodreads, I have several lists of books to-read: Some that I really want to read, some that I found interesting (potential reads) and some that I have to read. Meanwhile, several of the rooms in my home are dominated by bookshelves, my Kindle is ready to burst and hundreds of more books await on the computer.

It seems like a luxury problem, right? But when you want to read everything – in fact, you want to have already read all of the books! – it can sometimes lead to the opposite: such overwhelming choice that you instead end up not choosing at all…


Therefore, I made a TBR (to be read) jar – it’s really just an old jam jar that I cleaned, put a pretty ribbon around and filled with bits of paper. Fancy, huh? Wish I could claim that I had thought of that all on my own, but I got the idea from a fellow Danish book blogger Frk. Hyms.
The jar contains exactly 42 bits of paper with book titles on them and I add a new one whenever I draw one, so it will never be empty (if you’re wondering why 42, then my answer is that there is a big gap in your literary education, and I will assume that you will not be reading the rest of this post, as you go find a copy of a brilliant book written by Douglas Adams).

So now, every time I don’t know what to read, I shake the TBR jar and draw the next book from there (or ask my lovely assistant aka The Husband to draw for me). I recently decided to have the jar filled with mostly books that are physically on my shelves… Mostly to justify buying more books!


Is there a book that I absolutely have to read? The best book in all the history of time? Let me know! I might have read it already or plan to, but you might just help me discover my new favourite book and I would be forever in your debt.

10 thoughts on “The TBR Jar

  1. I love this idea! I’ve seen different versions of it around on other blogs, and it’s such a cool idea. I haven’t tried it myself, because I tend to like more control over what I read. I think having to read something that I randomly pick might stress me out too much. But I still love the idea and may try it soon!

    • Thanks Tammy!

      I know what you mean, and I’m quite controlling about my reads as well – and I’ll be honest with you, I have drawn a book, looked at it and put the paper back in the jar! I’m such a mood reader that I couldn’t read something because I “had” to. But it works really well for when I get so overwhelmed by all the wonderful books I want to read next, that I just have to pick one already and get to the reading part! 😀

  2. I love the idea of this. I have a TBR jar too but I’ve never actually got around to using it.. I’m always reading several books at the time and the need for picking another one at random just never pops up. Hopefully sometime soon though!

    Ps. Loved the reference to The Hitchhikers Guide…!

    • Thanks!
      I know what you mean – I often have so many books that I want to read, and I just as often end up just picking something from the shelves and reading that instead of using the jar. But sometimes I just get “stuck” and all the choices are too much for my addled brain to handle and that’s when the jar comes in handy 😉

      And P.S. Glad you liked it!

  3. Hvor er din version af den så famøse krukke bare utroligt fin! Sløjfen er prikken over i’et.

    Og åh. Jeg synes bestemt (og jeg tror, jeg har sagt det før :p), du skal skrive Brontës “Jane Eyre” på en af de små sedler. Med din kærlighed for gotik og velskrevne bøger, er jeg sikker på, du vil færdiglæse den på et splitsekund og elske den!

    • Tak Rikke, jeg er også selv ret glad for den 🙂

      Og ved du hvad? Der er allerede en seddel med “Jane Eyre” skrevet på i krukken! Jeg har jo den fine Clothbound udgave, så det er næsten kriminelt, at jeg ikke har læst den endnu…

  4. Love this idea, I might have to give it a try. Of course, more glass ornamenty things that clutter up my shelves are JUST what I need with an upwardly-mobile toddler in the house, but it’s pretty AND functional – it would be rude not to!

    • It would be rude! And your shelves can always do with another ornament – and just think of it as another mental challenge for him! It will be part of his development to get his hands on the pretty jar 😉

  5. This is so the cutest and coolest idea ever! I’m totally going to do this – though I’d have so many books to put in it I’d need to set a limit or the jar won’t close! haha

    • Thanks, Giselle!
      I really love the idea as well – but I’m completely with you! If I had to add all the books I want to read, I would have needed some kind of bathing tub with a lid! 😀

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