TBR solutions for an extreme mood reader

What Should I Read Next episode 337: Library strategies and more for extreme mood readers

a stack of hardcover books on a windowsill next to a white coffee mug

Readers, today’s guest makes heavy use of her library to deal with her most significant bookish challenge: anything that feels like a list of required reading!

Rebecca Freeman calls herself an extreme mood reader, and since turning to her library as her main source for books, she’s enjoyed letting library availability guide her reading life, instead of feeling restricted to a predetermined list of titles. But while this works pretty well for Rebecca, she’d like to have some gentle guidance to help her find the right books on her regular library trips, and feel confident that she’ll walk away with a selection she’ll find satisfying. And, she’s curious about exploring reading some series, without feeling pressured to then read the entire collection, in order, all at once.

I recommend a few titles Rebecca can keep an eye out for next time she swings by her local library, and shared some techniques to invite just enough structure into choosing what she’ll read next.

Listen to What Should I Read Next? on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or your preferred podcast app—or scroll down to press play and listen right in your web browser.

What Should I Read Next #337: TBR solutions for an extreme mood reader, with Rebecca Freeman

Catch up with Rebecca on Instagram.


REBECCA: I can definitely take like messy and flawed people. They do not need to be perfect. People can make mistakes. I think that when it kind of crosses the line into just complete unlikability, that's where a book will lose me. [ANNE CHUCKLES]

ANNE: Well, let me cross the book off my list I just added down that I thought you might like.


ANNE: Hey, readers, I'm Anne Bogel and this is What Should I Read Next? Episode 337.

Welcome to the show that's dedicated to answering the question that plagues every reader: What should I read next?

We don't get bossy on this show: What we WILL do here is give you the information you need to choose your next read. Every week we'll talk all things books and reading, and do a little literary matchmaking with one guest.



ANNE: Readers, we are just one month away from the release of my newest book, my book journal for eight to 12-year-old readers. It's called My Reading Adventures, and it's filled with inspiration for your young reader.

Now is the perfect time to pre-order if you haven't already before the journal drops on August 2nd. Pre-ordering tells the publisher you are interested in a kid's reading journal. And right now that tells them how to plan for future printings.

Ordering now is also a great way to make life better for your future self because when you preorder My Reading Adventures, you get extra goodies as a thank you: adorable and useful custom stickers that arrive in your actual mailbox, plus an exclusive digital reading list featuring my top picks for kids.

Plus, you get the journal in your mailbox right in the midst of back-to-school madness. You don't have to think about it then because you did it now.

Find out more about My Reading Adventures. Get your links to order, pre-order your copy at modernmrsdarcy.com/kidsjournal. That's modernmrsdarcy.com/kidsjournal.

Readers, our guest today is Chicago area reader, Rebecca Freeman, who calls herself an extreme mood reader and shies away from anything that feels remotely like a prescriptive reading list. Since turning to her library as her main source for books, she's found a satisfying serendipity of letting her next read find her instead of picking it from a long list she's keeping.

But Rebecca doesn't want to embrace total book anarchy. So she's looking for gentle guidance to help her make the most of her visits to the library and help her walk away with a title or two she'll feel confident about enjoying. She'd also like to dip her toes into reading series, without feeling the inherent pressure that comes with them for someone who doesn't want a TBR.

I had a great time talking with Rebecca about her readerly woes and triumphs and recommending titles to keep an eye out for, and maybe even, if you can believe it, making a loose plan to read next for the next time she swings by her local library. We also discuss techniques to invite just a little more structure into choosing her next read.

It's a fun one. Let's get to it.

Rebecca, welcome to the show.


REBECCA: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

ANNE: Rebecca, tell me a little bit about who you are and where you are in the world.

REBECCA: I live in a suburb of Chicago. I have three kids. Their ages are 12, 9, and 2. I have a corporate job. It was in the office before the pandemic but it went remote and is staying remote, which I think is great. But that all keeps me pretty busy.

My kids are at two really different age groups, so I'm kind of dealing with the really physical work of having a toddler plus, you know, just the emotional bonding and work of having older children. So I definitely sometimes feel like I'm being pulled in a few different directions between having kids of such disparate ages plus my job.

ANNE: Tell me about the best part of your job.

REBECCA: So the best part of my job is that it's a global role. That means that I work with people from all over the world on a consistent basis. I will talk to people from all sorts of countries in one day. And it makes it a little bit challenging because I have many meetings at like 6 a.m., 7 a.m., which can make childcare a little bit tough because no daycare is open that early. But the reason for having the meetings then is to connect multiple time zones. But at the same time, I don't think I'd change it. I really love that aspect of my job.

ANNE: This reminds me of the time I got up at 5 a.m. to record a podcast interview with a guest from Australia.

REBECCA: I was thinking about that because I realized you had a lot of guests. And I was like, "Wow, that must be..." I didn't realize it so much until we're putting together this. And you and I are only one hour apart. But all of a sudden I thought, "Yeah, when you have a guest from another country, that must be another logistical challenge."


ANNE: I recorded at five in the morning and nine at night but not terribly frequently. Because it's tough, but you know, it's worth it. So Rebecca, tell me about your reading life.

REBECCA: So I am an extreme mood reader. So actually getting reading into my life no matter how busy I am is not a challenge. Like I don't even remember... Like my earliest memories reading-wise, as soon as I learned how to do it, I did it all the time.

Actually, when my older children were small, I stayed at home for a couple of years. And right before I actually found my current job and went back sort of into the corporate workforce, I had a really small book blog that I updated like once a month. But I think the about page, which was like really melodramatic, did say that like no matter what was happening in my life I never stopped reading.

So actually getting the reading time in is something that's never been an issue for me. I don't know how it happens, but it just does. And I really like choice. Like I said, I'm an extreme mood reader. And I think that a lot of my life, and even just the way my brain works, tends to be really structured and planned and scheduled.

And reading is like where I just want freedom. It's really funny to be on a podcast called What Should I Read Next? because I just want to choose. [ANNE LAUGHS] I love making the choice. And I really don't like anything that feels like some kind of a prescribed list, so this is where I get stressed out by book buying.

If I'm not going to read the book right away, and it sits there, I know that there are so many readers where that is great to have or it doesn't bother them, and like those books will sit there feeling like checkboxes that need to be ticked, which is just not what I want from my reading life.

So I think that's why I'm trying to transition to being even more of a library user. Like I've always been a pretty heavy library user, but to do even more of that, because that really allows me that like reading freedom that I really want.


ANNE: That makes so much sense to me that you want to be a mood reader, and so you want to use your library more, but connect the dots for those to whom it's not as immediately obvious. What's so great about the library in this context?

REBECCA: Oh, so the library just allows you to check the books out without having made that monetary commitment. I used to get kind of down on myself if I would buy a book and read 50 pages and then realize it's not for me in that moment. And I think to myself, "I need to do a better job of defining and sticking to what I like to read." Because I'm pretty good at defining what I like to read, but then, I don't know, sometimes my whims take me somewhere else.

It might be something that I've heard about. It might be a TV show that I'm watching that gets me excited about a specific genre. I mean, it could be the way the sun is shining. And I just want to try something else.

And then if I go and buy the book and read 50 pages of it, I feel really bad monetarily if I've spent that money. I really don't feel bad about the time. Like if I've read 50 pages, but it kind of captured an excitement, and that excitement didn't carry through the whole book but it carried me through, you know, a couple of pleasant evenings, I'm completely fine with that. It's not a time thing; it really is more of the money thing.

So the library is just such a great way to say, "Yeah, I may read 50 pages of this book, and then I'll return it and it can go to somebody else who would like to read this book." Or, you know, "I don't know totally what I'm in the mood for, but let me get like five things, sample them and then return what I'm not going to read."

I will kind of fall off library use and then go back to it. And that's part of the reason I'm just trying to return to it. And then be a little bit more crafted and thoughtful about what I buy. Like I also love my indie bookstores. There's two in particular around me that I just adore. But to try to focus in more on buying things that I've read and liked and want to own rather than using that as my experimenting time.


ANNE: I'm thinking of several What Should I Read Next? past guests right now. First, there was [Anna? 00:08:26] who came on and said, "If you buy a book at the bookstore and never even crack it open, look what you're doing for the world you want to live in. Like you're voting with your pocket book, you're supporting authors in bookstores. You are a patron of the arts."

And then I'm thinking of Melody Warnick, who said that when she's wanting to find a good read, she likes to take a whole stack of library books home with her and sit down and read the first sentence of every one and just see what grabs her. And I love how your library lets you do that.

Okay, we are going to talk more about using the library and how we're going to make your using the library more dreams come true. But first, Rebecca, I'm really interested in knowing, have you always known to describe yourself as a mood reader?

REBECCA: I think I always have been a mood reader. Knowing to describe myself that way has probably happened more in the past few years as I've just sort of paid more attention to the book world, listen to podcasts like this, you know, more involved in Bookstagram things. I think that's a way to describe it that I probably didn't have the vocabulary for before. But I think that's always been true of my reading life. Like even when I look back as a kid, I've read a lot of different things. I've always read pretty widely.

ANNE: So have you intuitively known not to prescribe yourself a list or have you had experiments that perhaps ended badly? [REBECCA LAUGHS]


REBECCA: Actually, five or six years ago, I don't know exactly what triggered it, I decided I was going to be a sci-fi fantasy reader. And that was it. Sci-fi and fantasy is part of my reading spectrum for sure, but that was what I was going to read.

And for about a year, that was all I read. I really got to the end of it and kind of just disliked my reading life so much. It felt so claustrophobic to me, even though I don't look back and really regret some of the books I read. I'd say I read some really interesting books that probably I wouldn't gravitate to normally. Like I read some really hard sci-fi and like really classic sci-fi, and that's probably not necessarily me.

And so I don't regret it. I think it was interesting, and I discovered a lot. And also I got to the end of that. I think it was a reread of A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I don't know... I got to book three of that. And I was like, "I cannot do this anymore." And I opened it up to whatever suit in my fancy. I think that was another time I went to the library lot.

I just said, "I am just going to read whatever. It is book anarchy." And it was great. And I felt so free. And I think that was the first time that I was like, "Oh, wow, I really cannot do this. I cannot have a plan or even just overly define what it is that I want to read."

ANNE: Rebecca, I know you want to use the library more as you, you know, read at whim and explore lots of different kinds of books you could be reading next. Do you have strategies in place? Are you still thinking on how to approach this goal? Goal sounds like something you're going to achieve? [REBECCA CHUCKLES] I mean, how to approach this like slight change in the fabric of your reading life really?


REBECCA: No. So I live really close to the library. It's on the way to a lot of things. It's a really short walk from my house. So I really like going. And I think that's one of the appeals of bookstores to me too is I just love going. So I think I'm trying to not do as many hold requests. Actually getting to physically go. Because I really enjoy that process and to get to like look around.

So I think sometimes, though, when I'm a little too scattered in my reading life, all of a sudden, it'll hit me like, "I went to the library three days in a row. Like that doesn't seem healthy." So I think I've tried to get into some like once a week rhythm around it. [CHUCKLES]

ANNE: Okay, hang on, hang on. It doesn't seem healthy? Like, let's talk more about that.

REBECCA: [CHUCKLING] Okay. No, it's just like... Maybe that's a little compulsive. Maybe I should just not go every day.

ANNE: I mean, if that doesn't make you happy, it's fine. But when my kids were young—you talked about having a two-year-old—I think I went to the library every single day because it was my human contact during the short period of time when I didn't work. Like I get to see an adult and get a new book and have a conversation that wasn't with a toddler all at the same time. It was maybe compulsive, but also the best thing ever.

REBECCA: It is wonderful. And I love taking my toddler to the library. And actually, that's been really fun. So again, my kids have an age gap. So when my older ones were little, that was something we did quite a bit of go to the library.

You know, there's a little kid section with Legos and, you know, pick out some books for the kids. And then I would kind of drag them into the adult section and do a little lap myself. And I still go with them, but not quite as often.

ANNE: So I was picturing this very clearly in my mind, but it's probably worth saying that at that point in my life, I lived next door to the library. Like it literally took two minutes to walk from my back door to the library entrance, which was so easy.

But also I'm wondering if maybe you go three days in a row, not just because you love the library, which we know you do, but also maybe because if you didn't get what you were looking for.


REBECCA: It's usually that. So, again, with the mood reader, like I may walk out with three books and be like, "Oh, this is great. Now I'm set." And then I'll kind of flip through them going, "Uh, I don't know." Until then I'll be back the next day in the middle of like kind of picking your next read just trying to figure out exactly where I am and what I'd like to read.

And again I think you're right. I don't know if that actually is a problem. Because I don't mind necessarily. Like I think, you know, I usually end up with a book that I really do want to stick with. And I kind of like that process of sampling.

ANNE: I just wanted to point out there's no right or wrong there. There's only what you want your reading life to look like. Rebecca, we're talking about library collections, how you enjoy going in and browsing the physical books. I'm wondering if library digital collections play a role in your reading life and your browsing and your reading at a whim.

REBECCA: It goes up and down. So I think because I work at a computer, I just don't love reading on my Kindle. Like there's definitely been seasons in my life where the Kindle has been great. And so I do use the Libby App then. One of the books that I selected for today was a book that I have a... Well, not a super fond memory of the reason for it, but that it kind of got me through a tough time.

So we had to go last summer to the hospital a couple of times and had a couple stays in the PICU. But I was too amped up to sleep. So I'm sitting there on the Libby App, like, "What should I read? What should I read?" And in my head I was thinking, "I want to read a book by Liane Moriarty. Like that was just what I felt like reading, and there was nothing available that I hadn't fairly recently read.

So then I looked up Sally Hepworth because I was like, "Well, I liked The Mother-in-Law. So maybe The Good Sister is available. Well, it was pretty new and it was not available. But The Family Next Door was. And I picked it, downloaded it right there, read it, you know, on my Kindle in those moments in the hospital where I just needed something to like adequately distract my brain. That book fit. It was perfect. It was exactly what I needed.

You know, I will go to the Kindle in moments when it just seems to be the easiest thing. And I always heavily use the Kindle after I have a kid. That like six months baby period I always read a lot of my Kindle.

And then I do some audiobooks on Libby as well. But I would say I am mostly a paper reader. There is something about the... I think because so much of my life is digital, I do really like that feeling of having a paper book.

ANNE: I really relate to that.


REBECCA: If you asked me five years ago, I never read audiobooks at all. You know, I am not a heavy, heavy audiobook reader now in the way that I think some people are, but it is definitely much more of my repertoire. And I appreciate it as a format so much. I've started to really realize that a good narrator just adds to that whole experience and makes it something better.

ANNE: So audiobooks and eBooks are in your toolkit, even if they're not your most natural default choice.


ANNE: Okay, Rebecca, we need to hear more about that Sally Hepworth book immediately. So you know how this works. You're going to tell me three books you love, one book you don't, and what you've been reading lately. And we will try to recommend what to read next to a serious extreme mood reader who doesn't wanna TBR.

So that'll be interesting for me. [REBECCA LAUGHS] I look forward to it, but not really sure how that conversation is going to go. But let's talk about your books. So let's start with The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth, that book that you really loved.

REBECCA: When I picked my three books, I knew that I wasn't being a mood reader. I couldn't pick three books that completely represented my reading life. It was way too hard to pick three books that I thought were my absolute favorites of all time. So I picked three books that I read in 2021 that I thought were pretty representative of a lot of what I like to read.

So with The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth, I like the spectrum of either domestic dramas that have a strong sense of mystery and suspense or thrillers that have a lot of domestic detail and really deal with real people's lives.


ANNE: So that is extremely specific. How long did it take you to drill down on that being something that you know really works for you consistently?

REBECCA: I think it's by thinking that I liked thrillers and then having put some thrillers back.

ANNE: Ooh!

REBECCA: There was another book I read that somebody had described as having like lots of little domestic details. And I realized, like, "Oh, I really like that." Like that's just add something to a plot-heavy book that appeals to me.

ANNE: I love that you pointed that out because sometimes I'll hear readers say, like, "What use is my reading time if it's not at least four stars?" I wanna be like so much use, so much use for exactly reasons like that. So tell me more about The Family Next Door.

REBECCA: Okay. So it's set in a small community in Melbourne. It's told from multiple points of view of a few women that live in that neighborhood, and all of their families have secrets that their neighbors don't know. And a new woman moves into the neighborhood and everybody really wonders what her deal is because she is not the typical person that would live there.

She's in her 30s. She's single. She doesn't have kids. This is really a place that you move to when you're raising a family. You know, everybody there has kids. It's really strange to see somebody who doesn't.

So sure enough she does have an ulterior motive for being there. All the secrets start to come out in the course of this one heatwave. So it's really, you know, very plotty. Every chapter ends on a mini cliffhanger. But I also really liked that I thought I could relate to the characters, and I found them people that I wanted to spend time with and that I cared about. And that's something that I think Sally Hepworth does pretty well.


ANNE: Is that indicative of a lot of your reading taste, or just a sliver of what you enjoy sometimes?

REBECCA: I've realized that character is really important to me. I can definitely take like messy and flawed people. They do not need to be perfect. People can make mistakes. I think that when it kind of crosses the line into just complete unlikability, that's where a book will lose me. [ANNE CHUCKLES]

ANNE: Well, let me cross the book off my list I just added down that I thought you might like. That's very helpful. Rebecca, tell me about the next book you loved.

REBECCA: Okay, so this book is actually really different. It's Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, and I would describe it as introspective literary fiction. It's set in West Texas in 1976 in an oil community or a community that's based around the oil industry.

It starts out right after the rape of a 14-year-old Mexican-American Girl by one of the men who's in town for oil purposes. That happens before the book begins. It's off the page.

But the rest of the book really is a look at the interior lives of about five or six different women and girls who live in the town over the next six to eight months. It's told from multiple points of view. It is not a plotty book. There's like a very loose crescendo around the trial of the rapist, but really it's introspective. It's a character study. It also explores themes of race, class, and gender in the community.

I reread this book very recently, and this might actually be an all-time favorite for me. It has a strong sense of place. Like the setting itself feels like a character. It has just beautiful, evocative fluid writing. Like I would just get sucked in just because of the writing alone because it really does not have a lot of plot to it.

It has a structure that I realize appeals to me. It's a little bit more cohesive than just interlocking short stories, but it does sort of have that feeling. Each chapter kind of stands on its own, and has a completeness to it.

And to the point about the characters, this was one where people were really messy and flawed and were just going through a lot, but I found myself really caring about them. You know, I thought it was really interesting how the women, a lot of them, were just trying to figure out who they were and kind of finding their voice in this place that just didn't want them to have that.

It is a sad book, but I thought there were enough moments of connection and grace and empathy that kept it from going over the line into overly bleak and dark. So that's another place where I think, for me, there needs to be that balance. I can read some pretty heavy stuff, but there needs to be that sense of hope within it.


ANNE: That's a beautiful description. Rebecca, what did you choose to complete your favorites list?

REBECCA: Okay, so this is Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi. He is probably best known for having been a Top Chef contestant a few years ago. And he's become fairly influential in the food industry. He is often a guest judge on Top Chef. And this is his memoir.

Memoir is... if I had to pick a favorite genre, this is probably it. I love memoirs of all kinds. And I love food and restaurant memoirs. This takes you from his early childhood through his time in culinary school on Top Chef, and goes through the failure of his first restaurant, and just shows, you know, his struggles and his triumphs, and also how he figures out who he is, how to tell his story through food. Foods always had a really important place in his family, and he really figures out kind of what that means for him.

There's an interesting point in the book where he's going through a really hard time. There's a scene where he just has this compulsion to go to the grocery store and to make a chicken curry and to feed it to people. And he really describes that moment as like coming back to himself.

It also gets into the later chapters that are more about his culinary career. It explores some of the dynamics of power and hierarchy and racism in the fine dining industry. And it has sort of that mixed blessing of a food memoir, which is that the food descriptions are fantastic, and also will make you hungry. [ANNE LAUGHS]


ANNE: You sounded really excited to talk about that one.

REBECCA: I actually reread all three of these just to prepare, which was hard for me because it felt like a TBR but was instructive because it did remind me that rereading is great. And it just got me excited about the books again.

ANNE: Okay, tell me about it being hard for you because it felt like a TBR.

REBECCA: It felt like, okay, I have this like checklist of books instead of, you know, I think I got through two of them. I was like, "But I just really want to pick whatever I want right now." Even though I liked the third book I read, you know, it was not... Like I was choosing books that I was making myself read for a school assignment. I think I like having that sense of freedom.

ANNE: Now, Rebecca, tell me a book that wasn't right for you.

REBECCA: Okay, so the book I chose was, Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews. I read this recently on vacation because I bought it in an airport. I completely get what people like about it. It was definitely page-turnery. I wanted to know what happens next, and I read the whole thing. But it was a book where I thought that the main character was just too unlikable, and there was nobody else that was likable. Like it wasn't balanced out by anything.

So I kind of got to the end and it was like, "This was fine, but I really prefer to care about people a little bit more or to have some kind of a redemption arc." There has to be something that draws me into the character as a person.

ANNE: So stories of people behaving badly and then getting their richly deserved comeuppance still not for you?

REBECCA: Probably not. Also, I didn't feel like the main character got any comeuppance? I don't know.

ANNE: Okay, grace, and redemption all the way.

REBECCA: A little bit. Again, people do not have to be perfect.

ANNE: Maybe an indication that they'd be open to trying? [CHUCKLES]

REBECCA: Yes, I think that's it. This is one I haven't read in many, many years. But I remember reading The Secret History and being like, "I don't like anybody. Everyone's awful in this." And I read the whole thing because everybody was like raving about it. And that was another one that was like, "I don't know this is for me."


ANNE: Okay, that's really interesting. Rebecca, what have you been reading lately?

REBECCA: I am probably halfway through Greenwich Park.

ANNE: Oh, I've seen this one around.

REBECCA: Yes. And honestly, I didn't know anything about it. I literally just pulled it off the library shelf. I like it. You know, it definitely is like a fast-paced thriller that you want to know what happens and I think has enough of that, like, I don't know, life detail to draw me in. Like I'm definitely finishing it.

And I am listening to Book Lovers by Emily Henry on audio. I don't read that much romance, but I have for the past three summers listened to an Emily Henry book read by Julia Whelan, who is my absolute favorite audiobook narrator and I think just does such a wonderful job with these books.

ANNE: It's interesting to hear that that's one of your like filters. When you're thinking about what you want to read, Julie Whelan is something that you're looking for.

REBECCA: Yes. I'm a little bit better with a TBR on audio because I'm so specific of like what works for me on audio and what doesn't.

ANNE: Oh, interesting.


REBECCA: Yeah. So I actually do have like a little mini... It's not a TBR because I will definitely veer from it, you know. But I think I'm able to have that a little bit more because I don't have that sort of sense of like, "I want to pick whatever it is that I'm going to choose," because what I enjoy in audio is just a little bit more limited.

ANNE: How would you define that?

REBECCA: Again, I didn't really listen to audiobooks years ago. And I would say that my entry point was probably thrillers, something ploty. But something I realized is that I'm not typically a romance reader. But I do like contemporary romance or romance adjacent on audio.

I think that like dialogue and banter, which is not always really a thing that is important for me on the page, works really well in audio for me. So I think I discovered that a few years ago. So it was summer 2020 and my youngest was a baby, and I would just take her on these really long walks. And that was the year that I started exploring audiobooks.

And it was The Flatshare and the Beach Read that kind of sucked, and I was like, "Oh, this is a type of book that I liked on audio." Which is not necessarily the type of book that I pick up a lot.

ANNE: Okay, that's really interesting. And I'm glad that you happen to discover that.

REBECCA: Yeah, it was fun, because it opened up another genre for me.


ANNE: Rebecca, what do you want to be different in your reading life right now?

REBECCA: Besides using the library, which I think I've already kind of established, and I am starting to go to the library more, I think there's two things. One is I don't want to TBR, but I would like to figure out a way to have a list of books that piqued my interest that kind of I don't start to have that claustrophobic feeling about.

And the real reason is because, you know, I don't know, I'm 42, I have kids, and a job, and my brain can't keep track of everything. So sometimes I do go to the library and feel a little bit overwhelmed. It's almost like my mind will go blank and I don't remember anything that I had in mind. And it would be helpful to then have a list I could consult and not have to stick to. Just consult.

So I'm thinking of like strategies around how to do that. Feel like my Notes app or... Goodreads I wish allowed you to categorize a little bit more because I think it might help to have some like base level like framework around the categories above. But I would like to be able to do that a little bit more without being stressed about it. So that's more I think just turning my own brain into being like, this list is not a to-do list. It's just here for support.

And then the second thing is I am kind of intimidated by series, even though I think I might like them. You know, what people describe liking about the series tends to hit some of my sweet spots with characters. You know, people say that they love just returning to their favorite characters, but I get really intimidated by something that has a lot of books because I definitely cannot just go one after the other of the same series genre. I do need like variety.

And then I start to get stressed about, well, what if I pick up book three and I don't remember what happened in book two? You know, how much will that frustrate me? That kind of thing. So I'm probably overthinking this. [ANNE CHUCKLES] But if there was just some sort of pathway to get into some series, that might be helpful.

ANNE: Okay, to your credit, I don't think you're overthinking this, because I can see how those two things you want seem to be at odds and you're looking for a solution. That makes sense to me. We talked about how overthinking is giving something the amount of thought you want to. I feel like maybe you've given it the amount of thought you want to and you haven't come to a solution yet. So let's see what we can do.


ANNE: I'm excited to do this. Let's try some things.

REBECCA: I'm really curious.


ANNE: The books you loved were The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth, Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, and Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi Kwame. Not for you: Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews. You want a little more grace and redemption than you found in the pages of that book. And lately you've been reading Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner, and Book Lovers by Emily Henry.

And you have these two requests you're looking for help with. Okay, let's talk about these and then let's talk about the books that maybe you'll implement them for.

So you don't want to TBR but you do want a way to keep track of books that pique your interest. So Goodreads, not so much. You've thought about the Notes app. Have you tried the Notes app?

REBECCA: A little bit. I sometimes will go and put a bunch of books on there and then I delete them, which I probably should stop doing. But I am willing to give that another try.

ANNE: Okay, I have an idea. This isn't a strategy I've seen elsewhere but I think it could work for you because clearly like you use your phone, you use apps. I'm wondering if you could create a designated photo album of books you're interested in reading.

And here's what I like about this for you. So I know that you're a Bookstagram user, you're intrigued by that, and you're used to scanning photos with an attitude of possibility and not, "This is what I have to do." If you do this on your phone, you can screenshot any book. Like if you don't have a picture of it, you can just hop on bookshop and screenshot the publisher's book listing. You can take photos at your library. You can take photos of the books at your house.

So when you're thinking of what to read next, instead of browsing your physical shelves, because if you didn't just get it from the library, you don't have it because you don't like to buy books that you're not going to read. So you don't take a chance on unread books in that way. It seems not very often at least. So I'm wondering if this could be your way of just perusing what your next read could be. I don't know anyone who's actually tried this. I'm just making it up. But how does that sound to you?

REBECCA: That actually sounds really fun. And I think also gives it that like visual element, right? So you're looking at pictures. It's kind of like looking at a bookshelf. I actually liked that idea. I'm gonna give that a try.

ANNE: Yeah. And I wondered if it might feel less like a to-do list if it's not even in writing?

REBECCA: No, I think that's really fun. Maybe that's what I didn't love about the Notes app. There's a sense that you have to do something with that. That like you cross it off, or you put a check next to it. But if it's just kind of sitting in a photo album, I don't feel the need to do anything with my photos now. So I don't think it's going to provoke that same sensation. Oh, I'm gonna try that. That sounds fun.


ANNE: Well, please report back. I'd love to hear how that goes. Now, if you were more of an eBook reader or a digital reader, this would work for audio too, especially since you love to use your library so much. I would recommend getting acquainted with the library wish list you can use in the Libby app.

Listeners, if this appeals to you, Google it. You can use the wish list in your library's digital collection to save titles that maybe you don't have room for now in your holds. This is a big thing for me because several people in my family use my Libby account. And we can only have five borrows and five holds.

But you can save titles that you think you may want to borrow later, including those that haven't even been released yet. So it's super simple. Just google how to do this and Libby will show you on their app. But if you don't read regularly on Libby, then that's not going to be the answer to most of your problems.

Now, for series, I hear what you're saying. One of the virtues of series for many readers is you have a default what you should read next. I can see how those two things are at odds, and I think I have a recommendation for you.

There are some series that have been going on for so long that readers feel like they know the characters so well, and they can't wait to spend time with them again. But like you don't want to jump in in the middle of a 17-book series. So we don't want those books.

There is a series I think has some of the elements that you've said you've really enjoyed that it's only two books strong. There will be at least one more on the way. I don't believe it's even been written yet.

So the series I'm thinking of is Highway 59 Series by Attica Locke. The first book in the series is called Bluebird, Bluebird. This is set in small town East Texas. The protagonist is Darren Matthews. He's a Black Texas Ranger. And as such, he has an intricate understanding of racial tensions in his community in East Texas.

And he's proud of his roots, and he's proud of his family. And we'll get to his identity as where he comes from and he wouldn't change it. But then his loyalty lands him in trouble. And he agrees to get out of town and investigate a crime for a friend. So he drives up Highway 59 to another small town where a recent murder has stirred up some ugly history and like a legacy of hatred in the community.

A Black man who's come down from Chicago, and the local white woman killed just a couple of days apart. And everybody's thinking it has to be related. But the law enforcement doesn't want to investigate too much or connect the crimes for reasons that you are going to find out about. But then this Black Texas Ranger rolls in from out of town to conduct a more thorough investigation. Things don't go well for him but they get really interesting for the reader.

What I like about this series for you is there are just two books. And there is one more on the way that hasn't been written yet. This is a very laid back series as far as the bossy factor goes for like, you know, "Rebecca, come read me next. Come on, I'm waiting for you. [REBECCA LAUGHS] There's only one more book."

So Attica Locke is also a screenwriter, so her books have a cinematic feel to them. She really focuses on the details so that you feel like you are there. And I don't think that would be bad for you because you'd like the details. You especially like the domestic details. Some of the details that are most vivid in my mind are at the local hangout spots. So there's food and people and conversation, even if it's not a homey kind of domesticity.

The reason that this third book isn't written yet is that Attica Locke adopted her sister Tembi Locke's memoir From Scratch for the... Oh gosh, is it big screen or small screen? I don't remember. I just remember I was excited to hear that it was going to get a film portrayal. So Attica Locke is assisting in that. She's showrunner for that series.

I actually think you might enjoy From Scratch, which is about Tembi Locke. I mean, this is a memoir. She's a Black woman who falls in love with a chef from Sicily while she's studying abroad in Florence. They get married and fall in love and build a life together in Los Angeles. And then he dies and she is left grieving. This is a memoir of love, of grief, of family, so much food. And I know that you enjoy at least three of those four things.

So I hope that those feel like pleasant possibilities and not bossy. You must read this now suggestions, but especially Bluebird, Bluebird. I'm wondering how that sounds to you as a series.


REBECCA: They both sound great. And the idea that there's two books in this series is really helpful because that is where I've had the most success in like series or trilogies is when I kind of discovered them early and then just kind of keep up with them. And both of the books sound really interesting and like something I would enjoy.

ANNE: I'm so glad to hear it. As we move on, I'm thinking of what you said about your very favorite kinds of books, which are domestic dramas that have a thread of mystery or thrillers with lots of domestic details. There were several books that came to mind and I crossed two of them off my list because I think they're a little too grim. You said that you want some characters whose lives you want to be present in. And that's just death and destruction. We're not going to go there.

But I think you might be the right reader for The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh. Do you know it?

REBECCA: No, I don't think so. That sounds vaguely familiar or at least Rosie Walsh sounds familiar. But no, I don't think I've heard of it, or I don't know anything about it.

ANNE: She wrote Ghosted, I think it was called, that made a big splash that I never actually read. This is her second book. And I hadn't really intended to read it, and then a bookseller friend said, "This is worth a look." And so I picked it up.

It came out in February. This is about Emma and Leo. They've been happily married for 10 years. They have really interesting jobs, which made this fun to read. So Emma is a renowned marine biologist, and she studies one specific organism. I cannot remember which, but it gets a lot of time. And I just really enjoyed the little details of her job.

Leo is an obituary writer whose job it is to pull the important threads of someone's life that matter to the public and to the person and share them in a really meaningful way. One of his assignments often for his job and his publication is to write the advance obits that like listeners, we all have read about how they do this for like really famous people. Should anything happen to them, they're ready to go with a well-written obituary. And that's part of his job.

So Emma is well known enough as a marine biologist that like at this point in her life she ranks and advance open. And Leo takes it upon himself for reasons that like get explained in the story. He begins researching his wife's life to put one together.

But when he does, he quickly, like almost instantly discovers the truth of his wife's life doesn't match the story that he has been told by her. It's hardly veiled at all. Like he comes upon this immediately. But of course, he thinks, "Okay, my wife does not even go by the name that she was born with. She never told me anything differently. She never said a word about any of this. What in the world?"

So this story unfolds in multiple points of view, which really works well in the story. You get to hear the wife's perspective, what she's hiding and why, and the husband's perspective is he's trying to figure out what is going on. And as the reader, when you know what's going on in both these couples' minds, and you see them interact and not knowing, it makes her a really... a nice amount of tension in the story.

So I like really wanted to find out what was happening in this story and how they come together and what in the world. And I have taken some advice from the mystery and thriller writers I know, which is, don't try to guess the ending. Like you'll just be happier as a reader if you don't. But I think even if I was really trying, I would not have known.

Just a quick note. Like details would spoil the plot here but sensitive readers may want to research this book's content warnings before diving in lest you be blindsided by something you don't want to read about right now. Because there's some hard stuff in our past. That's why she wanted to cover it up. But this was a really interesting domestic mystery that is along the lines of authors that you've said you really enjoyed like Liane Moriarty and Sally Hepworth. How does that sound?

REBECCA: Well, that sounds great.


ANNE: And then how do you feel about an audiobook suggestion?

REBECCA: Oh, I'll take an audiobook suggestion. Sure.

ANNE: So you mentioned that you loved The Flatshare and Emily Henry, you like romance audiobooks, even though that's not the genre you read in print because you think you like the kind of banter that is so fun when you get to listen to it.

And that made me think of author Abby Jimenez. There's not a bad book by her that maybe wouldn't [CHUCKLES] tick the right boxes for you, but I really loved her new one. And I think that could be a lot of fun. I mean, she does the banter really, really well. So truly, I don't think you could go wrong.

But her new book is called Part of Your World. And it came out I think in April. It's so much fun on audio. Like when I think back to listening to this book, I think about just having a big smile on my face. It's just fun.

So in this story, we have Alexis and Daniel. Alexis is a big city doctor whose family are really important people in her Minnesota hospital. And she has this whole weight of family and cultural expectations on who she is in her family, who she is in the hospital, who she is in the community. Like people are expecting big things from her, and she, by golly, is going to step into those shoes and get it done.

And when she attends a funeral, it takes her to this tiny small town that probably really exists, because something Abby Jimenez really likes to do in her books is inject real places and even real businesses in her books.

But Alexis ends up with a flat tire on the side of the road in a tiny small town and she gets rescued by a kind man who stops and changes her tire and gets her going again. And when they connect later at the local watering hole, they really like hit it off. And she finds out he's really funny and he thinks she's fun to spend time with.

And so they have a very out of character for both of them night together, and Alexis is thinking, "I'm going back to live my life. Goodbye, Daniel. I'll never see you again." But of course, it's an Abby Jimenez novel, so they do.

And she set this up brilliantly to have these like text conversations unfold with witty repartee for much of the book until they're brought together again in very unexpected circumstances, and things start getting really, really weird because of course in any romance novel things get a lot more awkward and weird before they get a lot better.


REBECCA: I've gone in and out on like this 20-year journey of Grey's Anatomy and anything that kind of hints at it like, "Here's a hospital and here's some soapy drama and romance," I'm always like, "Oh, that sounds good." So that sounds interesting. I will probably check it out.

ANNE: Hospital, soppy drama, surgeons behaving badly. Yes, it has all that. Another thing I can't believe I didn't tell you earlier about Part of Your World is that it's narrated by Julia Whalen.

REBECCA: No! Is it really?

ANNE: She voices Alexis, Zachary Weber, voices Daniel. We know that you are part of the Julia Whalen fan. I think you've said you and your sister are the Julia Whalen fan club, for better or worse, like a lot more members want their way in. But I think that'll be a perk for you as you're thinking about when you might want to pick up this book.

REBECCA: Okay, definitely.

ANNE: I do want readers to know that this book also has some hard themes. Like she's exploring intimate partner violence and what that can look like physically and emotionally. And that is present in the book.

Okay, Rebecca, the titles we talked about today were Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh, and Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez. And I'm not going to ask you what you're reading next, but I am interested in what you might be doing next for your reading life.


REBECCA: So I think I am going to try to do that photo thing. That sounds really intriguing and I'm really excited about it. And then I'm not going to make any promises, but all these books sound really good. So I'm hoping to get to at least one of them this summer, and you know, see how that works.

ANNE: I'm so glad to hear it. I can't wait to hear how it goes for you and what you think. So please report back.

Rebecca, this has been a delight. Thank you so much for talking books with me today.

REBECCA: Thank you so much for having me. It's been really fun.


ANNE: Hey, readers, I hope you enjoyed my discussion with Rebecca. See the full list of titles we talked about today at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/337. And leave a comment there to let Rebecca know what you think she should read next.

Also, if you have strategies for employing a very loose to-be-read list for a mood reader—maybe that's you also—please tell us there: whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/337.

Check out our 2022 collection of reading gear including our stylish t-shirt, sturdy book bag, and smart book darts over at modernmrsdarcy.com/store. Connect with us on Instagram @whatshouldireadnext, where we share peeks behind the scenes and favorite moments from each week's episodes.

And follow me there too. I'm @annebogel. Sign up for our weekly newsletter at whatshouldireadnextpodcast.com/newsletter to make sure you never miss an update or an episode.

Make sure you're following in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, wherever you like to get your podcasts. Tune in next week when I'll be having an overdue conversation with two fellow reading podcasters.

Thanks to the people who make this show happen! What Should I Read Next is produced by Brenna Frederick, with sound design by Kellen Pechacek.

Readers, that's it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening.

And as Rainer Maria Rilke said, "Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading." Happy reading, everyone.

Books mentioned:

• A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (#1: A Game of Thrones)
• Liane Moriarty (try What Alice Forgot)
The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
From Scratch by Tembi Locke
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan
The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez (audio edition)

Also Mentioned:

WSIRN Episode 170: Fascinating fiction for the relentlessly practical reader with Anna LeBaron
WSIRN Episode 39: Judging a book by its first sentence with Melanie Warnick
WSIRN Episode 61: When the plot comes full circle… with Will Bogel
WSIRN Episode 214: Deconstructing your best reading year yet with Will Bogel


Leave A Comment
  1. Beth Roireau says:

    Although Rebecca doesn’t keep a TBR, perhaps The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield will strike a mood on her next library visit. I found it to be a difficult, funny, heartfelt novel about a small Montana community of very flawed people. The vibes I got were Beartown meets League of their Own.

    • Jen says:

      I have shelves on Goodreads called TBR-Adult Fiction, TBR-Classics, etc. and I was able to set them so that those shelves are exclusive like Read and Currently Reading, so that might be a way to tweak Goodreads if the pictures don’t work!

      • Gaye says:

        This episode was delightful! I felt “seen” and I loved the passing on of Library-love. One recommendation I do have for the Attica Locke series is to try it on audio!! JD Jackson is the narrator and his voice is like liquid gold! I am from East Texas and I swear it was like I was home. The details are beautiful with his narration and the sense of place that Attica Locke creates is a character all it’s own. Happy Reading!

  2. Jennifer Bell says:

    I loved that you mentioned keeping an album of books to be read (when the mood strikes) on your phone. You said you hadn’t seen this strategy used before, but according to my phone’s time stamp, I’ve been doing it since December 2018! I currently have 206 books in my album, and I feel zero pressure to read them on some arbitrary schedule. I take pictures of book covers in the library and in airports, and I take screen shots of MMD recommendations along with BookBub offerings. Sometimes, I will notice that the same book has warranted a picture more than once (in different settings). That’s when I know it’s probably time to pick it up!

  3. Barbara says:

    I started using the tag feature in the Libby app to tag recommended books by genre about a year ago. So now I have a list of books to consider when I’m in the mood for a good mystery or a long family saga or a funny memoir, etc. I have a dozen or so categories. It is working really well & almost guarantees I will find an available book at the library that I’m in the mood for.

  4. Sandlynn says:

    I have a pretty huge TBR pile and often found it hard to pick the next book to read. Now, I do reading challenges which help me to narrow down the possibilities while leaving things open enough to suit my mood. It doesn’t always work, but if you pick a big challenge with multiple prompts, you can always switch to a different prompt that appeals at that moment.
    I’m also a big romance reader, and I don’t know if Rebecca is aware but Julia Whelan wrote a pretty good book that is women’s fiction/romance called My Oxford Year, and later this summer, she’s coming out with a new book in which the main character is an audio book narrator called, Thank You For Listening. So, that sounds like a blast considering that that’s what she actually does herself.

  5. Denise P says:

    This sounds more like a mental challenge. Try giving your list a different name, like “Possibilities.”
    I am very much a mood reader, too. I keep lots of different lists on my library website. When I’m ready for a new book, I scroll through to see what strikes me. With some sort of list at least you know that something about the book appealed to you.
    I feel as Rebecca does about series; I cannot read the books one after the other. However, I find that there’s not a lot that’s necessary to remember from one book to the next beyond the main characters. If there’s anything else you need to know the author usually gives a reminder. I keep a list of the series I’m reading so I can come back to them from time to time. Trilogies are the exception since the complete story is told throughout the 3 books.

  6. Haya Finan Mckinley says:

    It sounds like Rebecca could be a Rebel according to Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Framework (https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/four-tendencies-quiz/)
    Rebels tend to not prefer “to do” lists, so she created a “could do” list to keep options open.
    It’s not a to be read list but a could read list! so you keep track of things that sound good to you when you find out about them and you can reference it to see what you are in the mood for.
    I LOVE the idea of a photo album for books! i want to try that myself.

    • Stacey says:

      It’s just book-focused accounts on Instagram – it’s not separate or anything, just a way to refer to the community of bookish people on IG (see also: BookTube and BookTok on the relevant platforms).

  7. Christine says:

    My library account has a “for later” shelf. I try to add books to this shelf as I come across reviews and mentions by friends etc. It even had a field for tags of my choosing and another field for notes. I can make it visible to other library patrons or keep it private. When I’m looking for a book to read I can scroll this list and pick a few to put on hold for my next library visit as I, unfortunately, do not live in walking distance so I can’t stop in every day! Every so often I delete books that I’m no longer interested in. I feel no pressure to read these, it’s just a handy way to keep a list of books that have caught my interest. I can refer to it in a bookstore also.

  8. Deirdre says:

    I’m also a mood reader, but sometimes I need a little help or I get overwhelmed or stuck in a bubble or a rut. I like to loosely follow open guides like the Popsugar Reading Challenge to make sure I’m reading a well balanced selection and also to help me narrow down my choices when it I feel overwhelmed. I don’t stick to the challenge and don’t care if I finish it. I just pick it up a few times a year when I need it to see what I can check off and whether there’s an unfinished category that looks interesting at the moment. i like how most categories are so open ended that it still feels like my choice. Last year’s challenge included “a 90’s bestseller,” and my selection turned out to be an all-time favorite (Julia Alvarez’ In the Time of the Butterflies). I also have a few categories of my own that I like to dip into every year: a classic, something in translation, and a biography or history that has the potential to change my perspective

    Also, I wanted to suggest maybe using Pinterest for your book cover screenshots to make it easier to categorize them.

  9. Claire Long says:

    I also screen shot covers of books I may be interested in reading… Although I am not an especially visually-oriented person I frequently find it more useful than my written TBR, as covers do tell a story, and I can take a better guess at the kind of book it will turn out to be, and/or whether I feel like reading it, than from my written list. From time to time I send these to a folder on my computer, and from time to time I edit the folder as well 🙂

  10. Susie says:

    I actually use the photo album of books idea quite often! I love watching YouTube videos about books, reading goodreads and story graph recommendations, and of course listening to book podcast. All of these activities, combined, with my unhealthy book browsing online and in store, add up to sooooooo many books I want to read or look more into that I can never seem to remember so, I take photos. I screenshot videos, online descriptions, book covers in store everything, and put them in my “Books” album. It helps me to go back and re-spark interest in different genres when I get in a rut, or, just remind myself of old books I am interested in that are not in the public eye right then. It also helps me when I REALLY wanna buy a book but just can’t right then to take a photo, in some small way it feels like I have it if that makes any sense ☺️.

  11. Cameron says:

    I nodded my head throughout Rebecca’s explanation of her reading habits! Things resonated with me that I had never articulated to myself. Another commenter already mentioned the “For Later Shelf” function on their library’s website. That’s what I use, too. It makes it really easy to place holds on things, and I’ve created tags to use to help me find books that will scratch an itch. Honestly, I don’t refer to it that often, but keeping a list of the books that have piqued my interest gives me a sense of security, and when I’m able to go into the library, it does help direct my wandering. I also check out lots of books. It’s not at all unusual for me to have 20-30 books checked out of the library at any one time. That way I can browse with out leaving the house. Such a fun listen! Thanks, Rebecca and Anne.

  12. Terri says:

    I’m also a member of the Julia Whelan fan club (!) and would recommend for Rebecca’s TMR (to maybe read) list THANK YOU FOR LISTENING on audio, written by and read by Julia Whelan. Not standard romcom, although there are love stories. Author’s note at the end of the audio has a fascinating look at Whelan’s own connection to her novels.

  13. BarbZ says:

    If you are looking for more suggestions for audio – I recently listened to Love of my Life on audio and really enjoyed it. It was narrated by my fave suspense narrator – Imogene Church. She does a fantastic job of setting the mood and building suspense.

  14. Victoria says:

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear about another reader whose reading habits are almost identical to mine!! Every word out of Rebecca’s mouth makes me think “that’s me… that’s me… yep that is me too!”

  15. Brenda says:

    I related to this reader on many levels! Keep an eye open for Miriam Toews at your library, specifically A Complicated Kindness about a teen girl in a Mennonite community in Manitoba who is dealing with her mother’s absence. Heartbreaking yet funny.

  16. Erin says:

    Rebecca, you may want to try downloading samples of books that sound interesting on your iBooks app on your phone. Just like snapping a pic, you can do it in the moment, then have a selection of covers to look at when you’re considering. You can then read a small portion to see how it’s striking you, then go get that book from the library! I do this all the time when someone recommends a book or I hear about it on WSIRN. And I feel no pressure to read the books because they’re just “samples.”

  17. Ellen W says:

    Rebecca, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework, but listening to your episode I kept thinking “She’s a Rebel”. Basically it means you want freedom to do things your own way :).

  18. Barb Lederer says:

    Taking pictures of books, in airports or bookstores or even in another reader’s hands WORKS GREAT! I have gone on a field trip with a reading friend through a bookstore discussing books as we see them, and if it interests me I take a photo! looking at the photos later reminds me of who recommended them and gives me a boost when I need it, with no pressure 🙂
    I think I am Rebecca’s book twin. The books read, dislikes and recommended on this episode really sang to me.

  19. Whenever I am browsing books, I always keep my phone out – so if a book looks interesting, I can take a photo. I was surprised to hear Anne mention it as an option – but of course it is – and I’ve been doing it for years. I even have a folder on my phone for all those books. And it’s a great place to look if I don’t have anything in mind or “on deck” for my next read. Sometimes I find that I have taken more than 1 photo of the same book – which tells me that maybe I should pick it up sooner than later!

  20. Emily says:

    I know I am late to the party, but I just listened to this episode, and here are a few suggestions for Rebecca’s TBR not TBR list:

    1) When you hear about or see a book that looks interesting to you, put it on a note card or cut out the magazine listing and throw it into a shoebox or whatever container makes you happy. Then when looking for something to read, pull out the shoe box and grab-bag style your next read!
    2) Goodreads allows you to create shelves that don’t act like a TBR. I have 20 shelves because I am a mood reader as well. So I have like summer, Christmas, thriller, YA, good on audio, no audio, waiting for the next one, food-travel-garden,etc etc… I also have favorites, like, liked a lot, meh, and DNF shelves so I can keep track of those if I want to re-read something.
    By arranging my books like this, I don’t feel the pressure of a TBR list, and I peruse my good reads shelves as I would if I was in a library or bookstore when looking for my next read.

    Hope that helps!

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