Saturday, June 27, 2020

TBR Building for The Reading Rush 2020!

This July will be my third year participating in The Reading Rush - yay! This has become one of my favorite weeks of the year. Lots of laid back reading, creativity, and community. Last year, I got my husband in on it, so it's even a big event inside our own house. Ah, I'm so excited!

The organizers of this read-a-thon posted the challenges the other day, so I'm deep in TBR-picking and finding myself hung up on the third one.

The Reading Rush 2020 is coming - July 20th-26th! Here's how I build my TBR list for this and any other read-a-thon! | Reading & Writing Rych,

I'm getting ahead of myself, though, because I wanted to come chat about HOW I build my TBR every year and I'm wondering if perhaps it would be helpful for choosing read-a-thon books yourself? Well that, and I'm just such a nerdy-nerd about books that I will use any excuse to chat about them. :)

(If you don't care to read through my whole process, scroll down to tips & tricks for a simple list!)


SO, I start by writing out the challenges in a notebook - just so I have them handy and can pencil in little notes about which direction I'll go with them. Lots of them are open to interpretation, so some of them have some specifics to decide on ahead of time - like this year, I jotted down the color of my birthstone for challenge #1, and for #6 I wrote in which genre I wanted to work with.

I also make note (even just mentally) of which challenges could easily pair up with others without having to pick a book for it. This year that's numbers 4 & 5 - the first book I touch (very open to interpretation) and reading a book completely outdoors.


Next, I head to my bookshelves. I like to try and work with what I have on hand even for a normal year, but as I said, this year I'm extra limited. Bringing my list along, I look for some of the obvious things first - like cover or spine color and design challenges. I pull everything that fits into a pile.

I look through again for some of the titles that I know a little bit about that might work - so, specific topics or settings that might be part of challenges, also. Onto the pile they go!

From there, I pick the shortest books in the stack to enter the running, read over their summaries, and decide if they'd make good initial picks. I don't totally shy away from longer books for a read-a-thon, but it's good to build as much of my TBR as possible with quick reads to help me get closer to reading 7 books (an unofficial challenge of TRR that I find extra joy in completing).


I usually have a few books by this point, and then find myself stumped for a challenge or two, as well as at a loss for quick reads that won't take me days to get through. Now comes the research, and I'm not mad about it! For this, I first turn to Booktube. None of the Booktubers I follow closely have posted their TBR's yet, but these videos always spark book choice ideas for me, as does their creativity with some of the more flexible challenges. Keep your eyes peeled for these videos in the coming weeks (list below), but here are some of the earliest videos I found: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

And if you're curious, here's a quick list of channels I follow, including the Reading Rush creators:

Next, I turn to Google. I usually search for things like "books to read in a sitting/day", "novellas", "super short books" and things like that. You can obviously utilize this for other challenges, like books that were made into movies, or the geographical locations of their settings. Here's a helpful list of articles that you might find interesting:

Finally, it's time to gather what you still need and make notes on your choices so you can see what gaps you still need to fill. The challenges are out nearly a month in advance, so it's a good idea to place any orders asap to make sure you have things in time. (I once had a book I needed show up in the middle of the week and had to rush to fit it in!) If your library is functioning, this includes placing holds on your choices.

As I pick books (even just as options, not set-in-stone choices) I write their titles down in my notebook and in parenthesis, I note which challenges they could complete. It's just a super simple visualization of which numbers are present and which aren't so you know which challenges still need a plan. (If you scroll back up to the first picture you can see my process there.)

And here's the truth: I'm ridiculous, and I will carry this list around for weeks and probably edit it 5 or 6 times before I'm like "yep, that's the one."


    Sneak peek of the first 3 books on my Reading Rush 2020 list!
  • This is allowed and encouraged - combine challenges! My rule for picking books is that each one should cover 2-3 challenges each, with no more than one book that doesn't multi-task.

  • Make at least 3 of your books super-duper short. Like 50-150 pages, short. Not only does it make 7 books in 7 days more feasible, having something quick between novels and longer books is a nice breather when you're reading for hours and hours.

  • Utilize Booktube! Even if you're not a booktuber yourself, their videos are super helpful, and The Reading Rush was born on YouTube! They know what they're doing. ;)

  • YA and Middle Grade books tend to be super short and/or fast paced, so even if you pick one that's got 300 or so pages, it'll still be a fast read. They're great genres to utilize for quick and easy (but still entertaining!) reads.

  • Keep track of your lists and make notes as you go. The Reading Rush even has their own journal this year (I ordered mine Friday, yay!) which I'm sure will be super helpful, but I'm keeping my brainstorming in a separate notebook so my journal will be all pretty and keepsakey. #Virgo

  • Come up with your own TRR traditions to make it extra fun. I have two to share: by total accident, I've read Fredrik Backman the last two years, and now it won't feel like a Reading Rush without one of his books. I'm hoping to read something by him every year! And the other is that my husband and I had a romantic reading date during the week last year and we are for sure going to repeat it this year. Try one like mine or maybe something else - like designate a Reading Rush lap blanket, or come up with a signature Reading Rush drink for the week. Let me know what you come up with!

  • Have fun with the community! Pretty soon, you'll be able to sign up for/login to your personal account directly on The Reading Rush Website where you'll be able to track pages and books you've read and earn badges for the challenges you complete. Also be sure to follow TRR on YouTube, Instagram & Twitter. They have so many fun challenges and reading sprints (where we all read together as a group) and even Virtual Read-Ins, and it's the best part of the whole experience! I also like to track my progress on my book Instagram, @JennsBookshelf if you want to follow along, reach out, or even buddy read! I'd love to have you!

So yeah - despite what it might sound like, I'm not at all affiliated with The Reading Rush - haha. I'm not involved in what they do in any way - just an avid participant whose summers have been made better by their efforts!

I hope this helps you build your own TBR - I can't wait to finish mine and share it with you soon!

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