What The F$!# is A TBR List and other Bookish Jargon

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Welcome to the Bookish Community all you new bibliophiles! The kindest community on the internet, but full of terminology and jargon that makes a person feel slightly intimidated when first introduced to this online love letter to all things bookish. 

Or was that just me?

Today, I’d like to *virtually* sit down and discuss some of the most confusing jargon that intimated me when I first joined bookstagram (see, jargon already!) and book blogging.  The most important, in my opinion, is the TBR list and once you fully understand the nuances (and implement them), you are going jump to bibliophile level 100.

What is Jargon

Okay, y’all.  We are going to start really basic here.

Jargon is shared language by a group that is easily understood by members of that group.  These groups can be a professional such as doctors or lawyers (hello confusing medical terminology), or social groups such as online communities or even your own friend group.  Or maybe I was the only one that tried to create their own friendship language in middle school….

The problem is with jargon is that it tends to bring members of the group together and ostracizes people on the outside looking in.  The Bookish Community is truly the nicest online community and my goal is that by understanding the jargon, you feel like a real member of Bibliophiles United.  

Common Bookish Jargon

  • TBR list
  • bibliophile
  • bookstagram, bookstagrammer
  • ARC, eARC
  • OTP
  • YA
  • BOTM
  • trope
  • ship

Further Reading: The 20 Best Books in 2020

What Is A TBR List

TBR List literally stands for To-Be-Read List. Some people take it to signify the list of books you are immediately going to be reading (ie next week) and some people take it to encompass every book they ever plan on reading.   I like to keep two fluid lists: the books I plan on reading this month and the books I would like to read this year.


Using a TBR list Has Been Game-Changing For My Reading

I previously talked about the ten steps that I personally use to make reading a priority in my life and #6, “keeping a TBR list” is the most crucial improvement I have made over the year.
Without having some type of plan in place, my reading dumbs down to re-reading my favorite fantasy and romance novels.  When I used to walk into a library or bookshop, I would stare at the pretty covers without a plan in place about which books to pick up and would frequently leave disappointed. 
The TBR list allows all of those fantastic recommendations from friends, blogs, bookstagram, to finally be recorded and remembered.  I gather those recommendations and roughly organize them into a fluid reading plan each month. 
The number of NEW books I read compared to re-reads has skyrocketed over the past year of consistently completely this one step.

How to Organize Your TBR List

When bibliophiles talk about using a TBR List, the options include:

  • The Physical TBR- A bookshelf or book cart that houses all of your physical copies of your unread books. As your unread book collection grows and grows, you can designate one spot for your higher priority books to read.
  • The Journal TBR- A hastily written note pad or a well-designed journal that rivals an artistic omage to your books.  See Instagram for some serious bullet journal envy.
  • The Spreadsheet- Can be as complicated as your heart desires to track not just your TBR lists but your book rankings, genres read, diversity of authors..etc. My type B heart needed something a little simpler and I designed a TBR list to use on my phone when I’m on the go and my computer.  Grab it free here!
Mid Year Goal: Read My TBR List
My New TBR Book Cart

How Strictly Do You Hold Yourself To Your TBR List?

My TBR list is fluid and ever-changing.  While I do make a rough plan each month of what I would like to read and purchase, I am, at heart, a moody reader who picks up whichever book calls to me. 
Last weekend instead of reading the two Pulitzer prize novels I own, I read the 5 rom-coms that are on my list because my work-stressed brain couldn’t handle a serious novel.  May have overdosed a little bit on the cheese factor looking back.
I occasionally post a picture of my TBR to bookstagram with a post a couple of weeks later “oops didn’t read anything I planned too but..” and you know what, it’s okay! 
As long as I’m enjoying what I’m reading, learning, and thriving, that is all that matters! 
Ultimately, reading is my favorite hobby and should never feel like “work”.

Other Common Jargon


Book lover!  Or the three of us and all of you wonderful readers 😀


Bookstagram stands for the bookish community that lives on Instagram.  Gorgeous aesthetic photos are crucial, but it is such a welcoming community anyone can join!  Learn more on how to set up a bookstagram account from the UncorkedLibrarian.com. 


Advanced Reader Copy or Electronic Advanced Reader Copy.  The holy grail of book blogging is receiving free physical copies of ARCs to review and keeping your budget for book buying as low as possible.  


One True Pairing.  Your soul mate or in the case of books, the character’s soul mate.  Frequently seen in YA and Romance Novels.



Harry Potter, A Court of Throne and Roses, Throne of Glass.  Making abbreviations for popular books is my least favorite jargon the bookish community creates. Especially when the books aren’t well known outside of the bookstagram community.   


Young Adult.  As compared to “Adult” Fiction.  Typically less complex books with themes that appeal to younger readers with minimal or no graphic sexual overtones.  They tend to be my “guilty” pleasure books when I can’t handle another serious literary fiction novel.


Book Of The Month. Can refer to your favorite book of the month or the ultra-popular Book of the Month Club.  My favorite book subscription as I can get 3 hardcover books for $36 and many of them pre-releases!  Always delivered in a iconic blue box.
Book of the Month Club Picks for January
My January Book of the Month Club Picks!


A common recognizable plot point such as all elves have pointy ears.  Frequently seen in literature, common romance tropes are friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lover, a courtesan with a heart-of-gold, and etc.



When you want a romantic relationship to happen SO BAD between two characters.  Derived from the word relationship because we must shorten everything.

My plan is to continue updating this list of jargon to keep all you new bibliophiles up-to-date with the lingo of the bookish community.

What bookish jargon was the most game-changing for you to learn?  


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