A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

How to hack through a zombie horde (or tackle your TBR) by Kat Ellis

Like every author, blogger, and reader I know, I have a To-Be-Read pile that’s currently threatening to create an avalanche in my study. My TBR faces me as I sit writing this, and I generally spend quite a lot of time staring at it, wondering how on earth I’m ever going to read so many books.

I sometimes imagine books like a horde of zombies jostling to get in through my window: I’m mostly concerned with the ones that are persistent enough to push through and sink their teeth into me, so the ones at the back of the crowd, though still zombie-ish enough for me to keep an eye on, become a less immediate concern. But they’re still there, waiting to get me.


So how do I forge through the zombie horde… uh, I mean, my TBR? The answer, as with most daunting tasks, is to break it down into manageable chunks. 

Some books need to be read quickly; for example, books I’ve been asked to blurb, or books by authors I’m going to be talking on a panel with. I’m a stickler for deadlines, so these get pushed right to the top of the list. Everything else, I try to fit into a monthly ‘theme’.

For example, if I know I’ll be working on edits for a sci-fi novel in May, I might decide to make April a month where I read lots of sci-fi. Like a mental warm-up to get me into a science fictiony frame of mind, you could say. Or if I’m planning on participating in NaNoWriMo, I may decide to use the month beforehand to plough through books on writing craft.

I try to make a rough plan of what I’ll read 6 months ahead – here’s a post I wrote back in January breaking down my TBR for the first half of 2016. I didn’t stick to it rigidly, but it gave me a signpost to work from when I started languishing under the judgemental gaze of my bookshelf. But now we’re into the second half of 2016, these are the monthly themes I’ll be sticking to, and some of the books I’ll probably read each month:

July – As YALC is on later this month, I want to catch up on books I own by some of the authors appearing there. This will include BZRK and FRONT LINES by Michael Grant (I’m a huge fan of his), THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater, BREATHE by Sarah Crossan, and AM I NORMAL YET? by Holly Bourne.

August – Despite my claims in my January post, UKYA month was not in April this year. It is in fact in August, and I have tons of books by UK authors still sitting on my shelf to get me through. Top of my list are NOUGHTS& CROSSES by Malorie Blackman, THE LIE TREE by Frances Hardinge (I know, I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet either), ALEX AS WELL by Alyssa Brugman, and IN ANOTHER LIFE by Laura Jarratt.

September – In prep for my sci-fi panel with Lauren James and S. F. Said at YAShot in October where I’ll be talking about my new YA sci-fi, PURGE, I’ll be reading Lauren & S. F.’s books, and any other sci-fi books I have left in my TBR pile by then! At the moment this looks like SLATED by Teri Terry, iBOY by Kevin Brooks, and WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang.

October – The month of Halloween requires some spooky, creepy reading, yes? So this month I will be reading BEWARE THE WILD by Natalie C Parker, SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce, LEGEND by Marie Lu, BAD BONES by Graham Marks, THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE by Sarah Harian, and THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN by Holly Black. And maybe for a dose of weird I’ll read GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith.

November – With the nights drawing in and the weather generally pretty miserable, I usually like to binge on contemps and romance at this time of year. I have THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z by Natalie Blitt, Jeff Zentner’s THESERPENT KING, GOLDEN BOY by Abigail Tarttelin, LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI by Melina Marchetta, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven, and TORN by Cat Clarke. I also plan on having Jaye Robin Brown’s GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDENFRUIT by then, as I’ve heard it’s amazing.

December – This is the perfect time to read wintry, snowy books, and for me this will look like AFTER THE SNOW by S. D. Crockett, DASH & LILY’S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’SHOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.

That should leave me with hardly any books left on my TBR shelf. (This is a lie. There will always be more books on my TBR shelf. ALWAYS.)

So those are the themes that will help me plough through my TBR. However
you smash your way through the horde, I hope you have fun! 


Kat Ellis is a YA author from North Wales. Breaker, her latest release,
has been praised as a ‘A standout thriller with a splash of romance’ (School Library Journal), and ‘Spine-chilling and splendidly gory, with a genre-perfect stormy night denouement’ (Kirkus Reviews). Her debut, Blackfin Sky, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a YALSA Popular Paperbacks pick for Murder, Mysteries and Mayhem. Her third novel, Purge, will release in September 2016.

Connect with Kat:

Blog  |  Website  |   Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

One comment on “How to hack through a zombie horde (or tackle your TBR) by Kat Ellis

  1. Pingback: RockMyTBR Update |

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2016 by .

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