The Pros and Cons of Mood Reading and Setting Monthly TBRs (and Which One am I More Successful At??)

I’m a mess, and usually, organizing things helps me out.

But I’ve always thought I’ve been a mood reader, never needing or wanting a monthly TBR to “dictate” what I read that month. I read things based on what I was in the mood to read in, what I was interested, what was currently available to me.

BUT NOW I’M QUESTIONING EVERYTHING????

My Pride month TBR was SUCH a success for me, a person who had never really done well at TBRs, and I questioned everything I ever knew about myself (as a reader). This was also when I was slumping, and having a TBR for the month actually got me to read.

But then last month, I tried doing a TBR, and it half failed. And this month, I have another TBR, but I’m moving really slowly through books that I’m not in the mood for and flying through books I AM in the mood for.

SO??? I’m just very confused???

But that’s why today I wanted to discuss the pros and cons of mood reading vs. setting a monthly TBR, and talk about which one I’m more successful at! This has always been something I’ve wanted to discuss and now, after I’m spiraling into a crisis, I’ve decided to finally do it!!!

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MOOD READING

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  • You can read what you want when you want. Mood reading is reading what you’re in the mood to read; essentially, what you WANT to read. And you can do it WHEN you want too! (Instead of like, forcing yourself to wait a month to read other books.) And I know that often books on monthly TBRs ARE books you want to read, but just not at the moment. So timing is really important and mood reading gives you a lot of freedom!
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  • You’re more likely to enjoy the book! I mean… you get to read what you want when you want?? You’re definitely at least 2x more likely to like that book than something you’re not in the mood for that’s on your monthly TBR.
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  • You can kind of easily get out of slumps? Maybe this is just my opinion, but if you’re in a slump, you can get out of it by picking up a book you’re in the mood for. Example: In May, I really wasn’t feeling in the mood for any book in general, so I decided to reread the PJO series (which I’d been wanting to reread for a long time) and voila. Out of the slump.

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  • ARCs will be hard to read. I’m facing this problem right now: I have a whole bunch of ARCs to read but I just… don’t want to read them at the moment?? Two books were available at my library that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and I had to check them back in because I have to read THESE STUPID ARCS. (And often, enjoyment of those ARCs goes down when you’re not in the mood for it.)
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  • If you’re not in the mood for it, you’ll probably end up disliking the book. This kind of goes with the above point, but just with books in general. If, for whatever reason, whether it be for something like reviewing or school, you have to read a book that you’re not in the mood for, your enjoyment of it will go down considerably, ESPECIALLY if you’re used to mood reading.
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  • You can slump easily. I mean. This con is just the direct opposite of the last pro, but it’s true!! You can get in and out of slumps easily with mood reading, or at least in my opinion. If you read a few books in a row that you’re totally not in the mood for: You’re done. It’ll turn into a slump.

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SETTING MONTHLY TBRS

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  • Books you HAVE to read… get read. This is good! Especially with things like ARCs that you have to read and review before the release date—putting them on your TBR for the month and following that TBR often means that you will read them and be able to get that review up in time.
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  • You can plan out buddy reads! Whenever I want to buddy read with a friend, I have to know when (and what) I’m reading. Monthly TBRs definitely help out with that*, especially if you plan on BRing more than one book! I know some superhuman people like Melanie @ Mel to the Any have a whole monthly TBR set with people to buddy read all the books with. WHICH IS SO COOL.
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  • Sometimes you can end up motivating yourself to read more? I don’t know if this is a me thing, but sometimes with TBRs, if I’m successful at following them, I can plan on reading a lot of books and ACHIEVE that. And as someone who always wants to read more, I really like that. (Of course, this depends on a whole lot of factors but it’s still a nice pro??)

*There are times where two mood readers might be in the mood to read the same book and be able to buddy read that book, though! It’s definitely happened to me.

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  • You don’t get to read the books you want to. Okay, I know that most of the books on your monthly TBR are probably books that you theoretically want to read. But they might not be ones you want to read NOW. Or maybe you want to read other books more. And you don’t get to read those other books (unless you want to ignore TBR. which is cool too).
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  • Sometimes you… end up FORCING yourself to read books. This pretty much goes hand in hand with the first con, but a lot of the time, there are books on monthly TBRs that you HAVE to read by a specific date (like ARCs). Again, they may not be books you want to read at the moment. But you end up forcing yourself to read those books by the deadline, and I mean, forcing yourself to do anything is painful.
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  • It can be really pressuring. I’m all for reading for the pleasure, not the pressure*, and while TBRs can be pressuring in a good way (like the Goodreads reading challenge is for me), sometimes, IT’S TOO MUCH. Just earlier this month I was starting to really panic about all the ARCs I had to read and had to take a lot of deep breaths to calm myself.

*I THOUGHT THIS SOUNDED SO CLEVER IN MY HEAD but now that I write it out it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

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WHICH IS BETTER FOR ME?

Honestly? I have no idea. After my Pride TBR being such a success for me*, I know I’m not a complete mood reader anymore. But going through what I am right now with the issue of not being in the mood to read the ARCs I need to and really struggling to read them, I know I’m not someone who can completely rely on monthly TBRs.

So I guess this means I get the best of both worlds, but I also get twice the cons as well!!!! ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,cAmazing!!!

I think my style of reading is more like… “read books on a monthly TBR but must be in the mood for those books otherwise the TBR crashes and burns and there is no chance of it succeeding the way it’s supposed to”. God, is that better or worse????

Even though I’m not certain what I work well with, I think that it’s important to figure it out, if you want to read as many books as you can! (And I do want that.) Knowing if you’re a mood reader, or a person who works well with monthly TBRs, or someone who needs a mix of both—that can really help you decide how to approach reading and get the most out of it.**

(Or maybe you’re someone who does better with neither mood reading nor monthly TBRs?? HOW DOES THAT WORK.)

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And another thing to make this all even more complicated is that I think almost all readers (or at least bloggers) have to do a bit of both? I mean, if you have a 10-book TBR for the month full of books you’re not in the mood to read at all, that’s going to either be a 1 and 2-star reading month, or just completely flop.

And if you check out books from the library or have ARCs to read, you have to make sure you read them before your deadline, so they’re at least on a mini TBR for the week or month?

Obviously, you’re going to have one thing that’s better for you than the other. But I think we all have a LITTLE bit of both in us.

(I’M JUST MAKING THINGS MORE COMPLICATED I’LL SHUT UP NOW.)

*The books on my Pride TBR WERE books that I’d been really excited to read for months, though, so maybe that excitement influenced something??? I DON’T KNOW. This is giving me a headache.
**I… literally sound like I’m an annoying salesperson trying to sell you reading. What the heck.


shall we chat

what about you? are you a mood reader or do you do better with monthly TBRs? or are you like me and need a mix of both? (OR MAYBE YOU DON’T DO EITHER, IN WHICH CASE PLEASE TELL ME HOW)

p.s. for some reason I had A LOT of fun writing this post? I mean I usually have fun writing all my posts but this one was like. an overload of fun. should I find more things to do pros and cons about + a discussion, and if so, what topics would you like??

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30 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Mood Reading and Setting Monthly TBRs (and Which One am I More Successful At??)

  1. since i’ve read most of my netgalley and books sent to me for review, i am able to have freedom where most of the books i can read in the month depending on my mood and then i have maybe 1 book that should be read before the month is over because it’s being released. before that, i made myself tbrs based on the books i needed to read for review because i had loads and… i was slumping and not enjoying reading at all. so i think it’s good to have an idea of what you want to read during the next month but not necessarily have the full tbr planned out?? (and first comment!!!!)

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  2. My only superpower is… loving youuuuu! But seriously, I love this post and discussion. Obviously, I’m more of a “set TBR person” but 2018 has been the summer of me throwing up romance mood reads 24/7 and it’s increased my reading like… double. I honestly think the perfect mixture is a both of them combined! 💖xx

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  3. I feel like in general I am more of a mood reader, but I do find that it gets me into slumps fairly easily because sometimes I just don’t know what I’m in the mood for. I’ve been doing better this month because of ARC August, and that has been encouraging me to read more ARCs. Mood reading is definitely terrible for keeping up with ARCs, because I’m never in the mood for the ARC at the right time. This post has made me think maybe I should try sticking to the monthly TBRs I always set for myself and never complete. Maybe I’ll have better luck keeping up and also staying out of slumpland.

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  4. I am definitely a mood reader. I will read some things because they have deadlines, such as the few ARCs I get, but setting an overall reading schedule for the month kind of makes me nervous. I also agree that I’m more likely to like books if I read them when the mood strikes.

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  5. I am definitely a mood reader which comes to be such a problem when I set readathon tbrs because I will always end up changing at least half the books on there. With my ARCs I usually can make myself read them but I find that the monthly tbrs that work for me are the ones like a pride month tbr. It’s probably because there aren’t set challenges that might be hard to find books for, the only “requirement” is that it’s lgbtq+ for example.

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  6. This was so interesting! I also generally don’t make TBRs for myself, but instead just read to fit my mood. I’ve personally found that making myself read a book I’ve been meaning to read even when it doesn’t fit my “mood” can actually help get me out of a reading slump, though, when I can’t really figure out what book “mood” I’m even in! So maybe that’s a pro and a con, making things even more confusing for you haha. 🙂 Anyways, thanks for the cool post!

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  7. I don’t think I have ever stuck to a TBR, so I just stopped making them a while back. I am a COMPLETE mood reader, but I do still get a lot of slumps because I often just don’t know what type of mood I am in (only which mood’s I’m not in). Your post does inspire me to give a set TBR another try. I might just set one and challenge myself to stick to it, to see if that makes me read more.

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  8. I didn’t set a TBR for this month because they haven’t been working for me ever since I started blogging. I like having a TBR just to be organized or whatever but I’ve realized that I’m much more of a mood reader. It sucks with ARCs though being a mood reader because I should be prioritizing them but I just can’t get in mindset to read them.

    Then I get into reading slumps because I can’t figure out what I should read next so sometimes I just don’t read for a while because of how overwhelmed I get. But I also get overwhelmed that I’m not reading anything. UGH lol.

    I guess I’m just still trying to figure it all. I enjoyed reading this post! 🙂

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  9. I personally love reading challenges because they’re kind of a mix of the two. I have a set list of prompts I need to pick books for, but can still pick which specific books to read for the prompt, and maybe change my mind halfway and pick something else. Done that many times before.

    Great post 😀

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  10. I need TBRs, challenges, buddy reads and arcs to kick my ass and read, otherwise my “I’ll read it later~” never comes. I mood read when I’m in need of romance or fantasy or something specifically in my life hahaha! (like, after reading a depressing book, I crave for something happy or less serious) but yeah, as you said, we need a little bit of both 😛

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  11. I’m a mood reader myself and it can be very hard for me sometimes because whenever I feel like reading a book, and if I don’t have it, I buy it but by the time it arrives I just don’t feel like reading it(???) Also I feel that maybe the Pride TBR worked for you because….it was pRIDE!! Idk maybe because you must have been very excited because it was finally pride!!

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  12. I’m SUCH a mood reader, but if I have a deadline (usually with library books), I either try to mood read within the books that have a deadline (does that make sense?) (It also often involves a lot of renewals on the library books…)

    Or if I can’t renew/am just not getting in the mood, I try to go back and forth. I read a book I need to read, then I reward myself with a mood read. (Or three, because I have no self control).

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  13. So like, I’ve never done a monthly TBR but I don’t think I count as a mood reader either because I genuinely just read whichever book I can get my hands on first (aka that is available at the library, or that I own, or can borrow) does that make me neither? I DON’T KNOW. I’ve never really had the problem of not being in the mood to read books because I read them on the subway and pretty much any book is better than sitting on the subway avoiding eye contact from strangers…

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  14. I totally love how you worded this! I almost always make a TBR but it’s very mood based. As in, here’s a contemporary, a fantasy, a sad read, a happy read, non-fiction read. And then I just pick whatever from my list that fits my mood. It’s also helpful that most of the time I can check out books from the library for a month, and have them in a giant stack by my bed. Seriously, it’s typically around 15 books. And I just grab the one that GRABs me.
    Now, I don’t actually ever read them ALL? Sometimes, I take back 1, or 3 or 5 that just didn’t work. :-\ But at least I read something, right?

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  15. The first thought that came to my head after finishing this was just, put a whole bunch of books on your tbr for any circumstance, but that is just soo much pressure, isn’t it???

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  16. This is such an interesting post, I loved it! I think I’m a both a mood reader and TBR reader, to be honest. 😉 TBRs are great because I can set attainable goals, which my Type A personality works well with, but mood reading works out better during the school year for me because I don’t have much time to read. When I do read, it’s something I really love, not something that I told myself to read, if that makes any sense?
    Great post, May! I really loved this pro con style too, and thought it was really fun to read, so I would definitely enjoy it if you did more like it.💓

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  17. This post was everything I didn’t realize I needed until now! I’m in a situation opposite from you (from TBR Reader to a bit of a mood reader lately), but still similar and you talking about the pros and cons was really interesting and relatable to read! 💕

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  18. I actually tried setting TBR lists each month as part of my monthly recap a little while back, but I always failed epically at them because for better or worse I’m a mood reader. I definitely identified with the cons (of mood reading and setting TBR lists in general) in your post, and I felt like when I set a TBR list and didn’t manage to cross off all the books it made me feel like I was failing in some way, and that kind of sent me into mini slumps where I thought ‘well what’s the point’.
    In the end I feel like as long as I’m reading books I enjoy at the end of the day that’s the main thing, and I suppose the people I talk to on WordPress have gotten used to me meaning something completely different when I say things like ‘it’s in my TBR list so I’ll get to it soon’! 😀
    Great post May. 🙂 ❤️

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  19. Oh this is such a struggle. I find that I tend to do some combination of both tbrs and mood reading—I usually just have a loose tbr in my head with arcs and library books and then I fill in the rest with books that I’m in the mood for. It’s hard to find a balance though, especially with arc releases and library due dates!

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  20. I think I’m a mix of both. I make a TBR in general and it changes from time to time. For example, my TBR was supposed to be series to finish but now it’s interweaved with books from the library and challenges to fill. Things like that. But I think I lean toward the monthly TBR slot.

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  21. Ha – love this post!
    Important note: I host monthly challenges on my blog, so that definitely influences the way I create my TBR’s.

    First: I set myself monthly TBR’s but in my own way. Sometimes I go with a fixed TBR, especially if I have a ton of ARC’s to get through and I need some way to pressure myself. [It happens, we all know it does..] Other times, I simply focus on the monthly challenge and squeeze ALL the books that fit into a post. September equals sequels, so I made a post with all the unread sequels I own and the core message of “Going to try and read as many as I can but we’ll see!”

    Then there are the TBR’s where I can freely pick what to read – OWNtober will be one of those since it’s simply about reading the books I own – and then I make a list of the books I’d like to read at that exact moment. That exact moment can last a day, a week or the entire month. God knows. If I end up reading entirely different books? So be it. :’)

    Let’s just conclude I mix and match the way it suits me. I’ve never really felt pressured or annoyed by my failing of sticking to a TBR and that’s the most important thing, I guess. 🙂

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  22. This is a really interesting discussion post. Personally I can’t imagine my life with a TBR, it keeps me focused and directed so I know which books I want to pick up next, and I usually have a bit of variety on there so I can choose based on mood to some extent. Plus if I really want to read a certain book in the middle of the month I just pick it up, I view the TBR as more of a suggested list for if I don’t know what to read than a rule.

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  23. I always set a monthly TBR- at the beginning of the month I choose a selection of books I think I’m in the mood for. I am a terrible decision maker so setting a TBR helps me narrow my choices and stops me procrastinating so much on my reading. That said I don’t stay rigid on it! If I’m suddenly not feeling any of my TBR choices I will either take a break, or pick up a different book I’m in the mood for. So I guess I cant make a decision, as usual haha!

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