Book Talk: The Magic that is my TBR Jar

Lets Talk About the Magic that is my TBR Jar!

Posted October 18, 2019 by Amber in Bookish Things / 13 Comments


Over the last couple years, you guys may have heard me reference my TBR Jar once or twice.  Usually in a two part symphony about how much I love it, and also how much I wish it would pop up a book I want to read.  I thought for today, I’d talk a little bit about how I use my TBR Jar, and why I actually really do love it.

So this… is my TBR Jar.  It’s a giant glass vase that I repurposed, and to give you some sense of scale, it’s about 6″ in diameter, and about 6″ tall.  I really like that it’s open and easy to get my hand around in there so I can root around for the lucky star I want to pull out.

People who have TBR Jars use them in different ways.  My actual TBR of books I’ve never read and want to spans to almost 1000 and I can’t imagine making up a little star for each one of those books and once I fish it out… hunting for and possibly needing to buy that book to read it.  Not my cup of tea.  Rather, I started using a TBR Jar because I have an extensive personal library and I wanted to make sure I was reading the books I owned.

I don’t discuss it a lot, but I have a running challenge for myself on this blog called The Great Bookcase Crusade where I push myself to read (and re-read) the books I own to assess if they’ve truly earned a spot on my shelf.  Left to my own devices, I’m a mood reader.  I have read Harry Potter and the Dark Tower and the Hunger Games trilogy so many times, and I will keep pulling those old familiars off my shelf and leave the others to gather dust.  I didn’t want to be like that, so when I initiated The Great Bookcase Crusade, I took the time to sit down and jot down the titles of every book (or the first book in every series) I own and put it in the jar.

I really, really love the randomness of my TBR Jar.

I have never pulled a title out of my TBR Jar and then went “oh man, I don’t want to read this one”.  Well, okay, that’s almost true.  Once I pulled the title of a book I listened to the previous month, and I put it back in the jar because I wasn’t in the mood to re-read it again so quickly.  But generally speaking?  I love the randomness and it gets me excited.  It’s a surprise every time!

And the variety my TBR Jar allows me is really good.  For example, my most recent three draws:

  1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  2. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
  3. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

While all three of these are fantasy, they run the gamut in my personal library.  The Bone Season is adult fantasy, urban, and it’s a brand new book I picked up at BookCon.  Tuesdays at the Castle is a MG novel that’s a bit older but had been recommended highly, so I picked up secondhand last Christmas.  Eragon is a YA book I’ve read many times and I’ve had in my collection for … forever.  Each one of them was a surprising pull and I was delighted to get them.  It just adds some fun to this challenge for me!

Of course, TBR Jars are each to their own.  I chose to use my hardcopy library as a base, but it does mean every time I get a new book, I have to take the time to add a new lucky star before I put it away.  I add sequels when I finish the first book (assuming I own the sequel).  There is some habit to it. You have to decide how you want it to look, what you want it to hold, and you have to stick to it.

Once upon a time, I actually had FOUR TBR jars.  Mason jars, old candle jars, and vases made up the bulk of my TBR Jars, and it was getting out of control because the slips of paper I was using were just too big… so I switched to lucky stars.  As you can see in the above picture, I am not the best at folding them – this is actually one of my better ones.  Before I started with my TBR Jar, I couldn’t fold any origami to save my life, so only repeatedly watching YouTube videos and lots of practice has gotten me to a place where I can usually get them to pop correctly and hold their shape.  I’ll be honest – there are a couple in that jar that are… less than satisfactory that I didn’t feel like dealing with!

Folded squares work just fine for those who aren’t digging the origami.  I just needed to downsize how many jars I had, so I kept the largest one and redid all my titles into lucky stars.  It took an age, but I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

And, being just a bit shallow, I really like the way my TBR Jar looks.  I am all about bright color because they make me happy, and this is a jar or joyful stars with secret book titles tucked inside.  Honestly, it looks just as much decorative as it is functional.

So … that’s it!  That’s my TBR Jar and why I use it and how I use it. 🙂

send me your thoughts

Have you ever used a TBR Jar?

I’d love to hear about yours, if you use them, or why not if you don’t.

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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13 responses to “Lets Talk About the Magic that is my TBR Jar!

  1. I love your TBR jar! The origami stars are so pretty! I like the idea of keeping a TBR jar for my physical books, but it’s kind of a lot of work and I’m… lazy. I think I can benefit from it, though (I have way too many books gathering dust on my bookshelves), so maybe I really should try it ?

    ngoc @ readwithngoc recently posted: Book Haul #3 — October 2019
    • Amber

      Thank you so much. It really is a lot of work – I actually ended up doing most of it while I was watching our shared TV shows with my husband – I always need something to do with my hands! 🙂

  2. Your TBR jar is awesome! And don’t feel shallow for loving the way it looks! It is gorgeous and you should be proud!! I can’t do a TBR jar because I know it just wouldn’t work because of my reading style, but I love seeing everyone else’s! Thanks for sharing <3

    Brittany recently posted: Down The TBR Hole #13
    • Amber

      Aw, thank you! I think the jar only works for me because there’s still some aspect of mood reading available, since the jar is *only* for hardcopy I own. I get to mood read with audiobooks, and anything I get from the library PLUS anything that I’ve read in the last 2 years since starting the jar, so that helps a little. Doesn’t feel like cheating that way. XD

  3. Oh my god that TBR Jar is SO pretty and I ADORE these little stars, I must learn how to make them ahhh they look amazing. I never really tried making a TBR jar, I don’t have that physical or digital copies waiting for me to make a big enough TBR jar and… well in a way I guess that’s great because I manage my book TBR? In another way, I really want a beautiful jar after reading your post hahaha.

    • Amber

      OMG so many kudos for managing your TBR! I really would like to get mine down, but I feel like every time I finish a book, I add another to my To Read list that’s by the same author or has the same aesthetic! I really am trying to cut down on my physical copies, though, so I’m hoping in a few more years (HAHAHA) I can get rid of my Jar altogether. 🙂

      I recommend learning how to make lucky stars, though! They’re pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and it’s a great thing to do if you’re fidgety like me and always need something to do with your hands!

  4. I’m working on my jar right now! It’s a small (decorative) paint can that is sold at my place of work. It was smaller than I thought and doesn’t hold all of my books that well in it, but I think that once I find the best way to fold the paper that I have, or maybe a different container for it my jar will be great. I ordered some stickers to put around the jar for now to make the outside interesting and fun. I’m hoping to use it soon (so I can add more books to the jar as well haha)

    Monica Laurette recently posted: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
    • Amber

      !!! That’s so exciting, I hope you’re having fun with your jar! A decorative small paint can sounds like such an adorable idea! The way you fold the paper really makes a difference – like I mentioned in my post, I went from 4 jars to 1 jar when I switched to lucky stars from folded squares. But that does take some patience to do. 🙂 I hope you find what works best for you soon!

      • Monica Laurette

        I think the next day off that I have from work (I work at a party store and it’s Halloween so I never have time to relax anymore at the moment) I’ll look online for different paper folding videos and tutorials and find the best one for me to make the jar even more special!

    • Amber

      Thank you so much! I ended ordering lucky star paper on Amazon because it needs to be exactly 1/2″ x 10″ (I think?) and I got tired of cutting strips, lol! Depending on the color, some is thinner, so not all of them fold really well. *shrug* Overall, though, no regrets, it definitely makes the process a bit easier.

  5. Ah I love your TBR jar Amber, I also adore the lucky stars I think I tried once to make the origami stars and gave up because it was so awkward and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it haha. I love the idea of keeping a physical TBR jar for all the books you currently own, it’s really nice…but I don’t think I’d use it if i were to make one. I’d just stare at the pretty stars all day long haha. Lovely post!

    Clo @ Cuppa Clo recently posted: Plan With Me 2020 Personal Bujo February Set Up
    • Amber

      Thank you Clo, and thank you for stopping in! You know, I’ve seen a lot of people do smaller TBR jars for manageable TBRs (like “summer reads”) and I think that’s a great idea too! Folded paper works just fine if you don’t have 6 million books in the TBR! ??