DIY: The Book Jar (aka TBR Jar)

The Book JarI have a huge problem. I buy way too many books than I know what to do with. And don’t even judge me about spending so much money on them, because I know I’m not the only one. I have a library of about 350 books and counting, and to my horror, I realized recently that I’ve only read about less than half of them.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that this is one of my biggest dilemmas: trying to figure out what book to read next. It’s either I buy a new book that everyone’s talking about and read it as soon as I’m out of the store, or I read a book that I’ve committed to reviewing. Or I’ve borrowed something from the library and don’t want to keep renewing or accrue any fines, so I prioritize it. But what about the books that I buy during a trip to the book store and buy solely because I’ve heard about it in passing, or because the cover caught my attention? It’s like.. “yeah I’ll buy you now because I know I’ll read you eventually.” But it happens way too often and the last book just gets pushed further and further onto the back burner. And now I’m stuck with (and I’m not exaggerating here) 183 books that I spent money on but never read.

These said books have been doomed into the abyss that’s known as the dreaded “TBR pile”. You know what I’m talking about. TBR, also known as ‘to be read’, also known as ‘books I’ll get to eventually’, also known as ‘books collecting dust’. Honestly, I have books in this category that have been purchased literally years ago. I knew something had to be done. Surely I can’t keep neglecting another one of my children like this?!

Luckily the Lord has blessed the internet with Pinterest, and one day the clouds opened up and this little DIY project shone down on me, and I knew my problems were solved.

Ladies and gents, the TBR Jar (which, for my own aesthetic purposes, am calling ‘The Book Jar’, because how pretty does that look? And rhymes make me uneasy). Ironically, I didn’t pin this project and couldn’t be bothered to backtrack or search for it again, so I had to wing making my own.

The materialsMATERIALS:

  • 1 jar (size depends on the amount of TBR books)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 1 sheet of card stock
  • String / cord
  • Computer paper (colour is up to you)
  • Your list of TBR titles


The most important thing, naturally, is your list of TBR books. I personally have an Excel workbook that I keep updated with all my books. So with some filtering, I pulled up all the books I haven’t read yet and after a bit of formatting, I printed off the titles. This step is all personal preference. I’ve seen people use different coloured paper depending on genre, write out all their book titles by hand, etc.

Cut them up into individual slips and fold them to your fancy.

To make the jar, I printed a little label on some card stock and cut it into the shape of a tag. You can design it however you’d like, or print off the one I’ve created using my superior Microsoft Word skills (click here).

Punch a hole at the end of the tag and run the cord through it.

Take your jar and wrap the cord around the rim a few times. Secure it by tying a bow, making sure the text is visible on the tag.

Fill up the jar with your slips of book titles, cap it off if you have a lid, and you’re all set.

Of course, feel free to add new titles as you acquire new books. I’ve seen some people use their jars for stuff like yearly or monthly challenges, or just for picking out of when they’re stuck on what new book to read. Give it a shake, take one out, and there you go. May the odds be ever in your favour.

The Book Jar in action. I didn’t even know I owned this book…


The Book Jar in its new permanent spot


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