Eight-Up, AKA, a TBR pile management solution

The TBR pile. The never-ending source of love/hate for an avid reader.

I’ve written before about feeling overwhelmed by the TBR pile, and how feeling behind makes me not love one of my favorite things to do.

Here’s another thing about me: When faced with too many choices, I shut down. My mom would tell you that when I was a little kid, this would manifest itself into an answer of “no” when I was presented with a dichotomous choice such as “Do you want grapes or carrots?”

I realized, I needed to self-limit my choices into a number I felt like I could manage. Then, I could have fun with it.

eightsidedAbout a month ago, I created Eight-Up and took it for a test drive before going public with this part of Word Nerds. Here’s how it works:

I created a list of eight titles at that time, things that were legitimately on the TBR list, books I either owned, had borrowed from friends or checked out from the library.

To determine what I’d read next, I used the one of the following three methods: random.org, Wizards of the Coast online dice roller, Twitter (asking for a random number between 1-8.) Whichever title was in that slot, that was the next one up.

After a book is selected, the list can get reshuffled once, for whatever it’s worth, moving a title into a different rank order slot and/or removing one title. The empty slot is filled with a new title (because really, the TBR pile is always longer than 8 books).

The Eight-Up list shall always contain one book in each of the following genres: YA, Thriller, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy. The other three slots won’t be so prescriptive.

The Exceptions:

1. Book club books. Because they have deadlines

2. Really brand new stuff where I won’t be able to renew the book (Ex., the latest from authors like Jim Butcher or Michael Connelly).

I will admit, I’ve cheated in this process. I asked a friend for a number and whatever she picked was the historical fiction title, which I just wasn’t in the mood for. I went to random.org and kept refreshing until I got the one I wanted. It’s a flawed system, but it’s fun, and that’s the point.


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