This is a chatty post about a particular reading goal of mine this year: the state of my bookshelves. I am sure I am not alone when I make this confession. Are you ready for it?
I owe quite a few unread books.
I know I know, nothing earth shattering in that confession. I used to want to keep a substantial library around me at all times. I used to want to keep all the books I loved around me physically: 5 stars, high 4 stars basically those that I could not get out of of my mind. Even if I first enjoyed the book as an audiobook, I would at some point purchase the book as a physical book to put on my shelf too. I know that does not make much sense, but I grew up in a household that did not havemuch money and books were a treasured item because I did not have access to them until I started working in libraries in high school. But I digress...
I turned the big 4-0 in December (!!!!!) and if anything I have realized at this point in my life, I have realized that I do not need or really want to keep every book I have loved in my household any longer. I truly love books--that is obvious. I do not need my house to reflect this--it does not need to be an outward reflection of this. My daughter is in high school at this point (equally !!!!!) and I am starting to contemplate the changes it will bring to our life once she graduates. I want to downsize and move closer to the ocean. Where that will be, I have no idea. Once the pandemic is under control (please let that happen this year), hopefully we can start exploring and considering where this might mean. Books are heavy and I do not want to move 1,000+ books again--seriously.
The other factor in my life: we LOVE to travel. I still 100% love to read a physical book. I also always have an audiobook selected too. When we are traveling, I always have my e-reader with me--at this point in my life it is usually my Kindle Paperwhite. I do use my iPad to read on too, with the Nook and Kindle apps, as well as Overdrive, Hoopla, and Cloud Library through my libraries. Some eBooks just do not work as well on a Paperwhite--cookbooks, graphic novels, and some nonfiction/textbooks for instance. I usually pack a physical book but I am not at the point where I pack several (five) physical books when I go on vacation any longer.
One of my big goals in mind this year is to get my physical books under control this year. I have been fortunate and blessed to participate in professional committees multiple times in the last several years. I have holdouts from them. I pick up books from my local bookstores, local sales, and when my daughter's schools do book fairs. Then, of course, there are the various subscription boxes I have participated in over the years. I still have books from those I am still needing to read. With all of those instances, I am really striving to work on culling my collection to keeping the ones that are important, that I want to read again, or that I legitimately want to read again.
Knowing this was going to be a big goal of mine this year, I started working in December by going through my bookcases and GoodReads To Be Read shelf. I went through and removed books on GoodReads I really did not have interest in reading any longer--it was out of control. I also went through and pulled books off my bookcase that did not seem to hold much interest initially any longer. I looked over them, read the synopsis and did a couple page check on some of them. If my interest was peaked, I kept it, if not, I filtered it into two piles: one to take to work if it was in good condition. I will either put the book into my school's collection or I will put it into my box to hold until I put them out on tables for students to take from during School Library Month in April. The other set will go to my local used bookstore to see if they will take any for store credit.
With all of this laid out in front of you, I am implementing three different initiatives this year to help me this year:
- Unread Shelf Project--You may have seen this over on Instagram and it is also available at her website. I will be participating in this challenge this year. I picked my Top 10 books I want to finish this year for this challenge. I also have the 24 challenge prompts: 12 Reading Challenge Prompts then the 12 Bonus Challenge Prompts. I will update you monthly on my progress. You can also see how I am doing on Unread Shelf Project 2021 Reading Challenge tracking page as well.
- 21 Books in 2021: These Books Will Shelf Destruct--A play on words of course, but I have picked out 21 books that if I have owned on my bookcase for a minimum of three years now. If I do not make an effort to read them this year, then they are obviously not a priority and they should be in the hands of someone else. I have a separate post going up that will list every book, plus a few bonus books I am eyeing for substitutions. I will be looking for feedback on books that are not worth my time.
- 21 Series in 2021: These are series I want to make progress on or begin. Some of these are ones that have been living on my shelf for years (again, an ongoing theme) or are ones that I want to make progress with this year. I have a habit of not continuing with series. I have one that I need to start over with because I read the first book over seven years ago. I will post about them and I will be curious about your feedback on those.
Those are the three ways I am working on gaining control of my bookcases this year. Of course I will still have books coming into my house--I participate in Book of the Month and another subscription service My Book Box, but I may be stopping it soon. With being a school librarian, I bring home books fairly often from my school library and when I can visit my public library I do that too. Needless to say, I always have books around but I do really want to work on culling my backlist of titles.
I am starting 2021 with 372 unread books on my bookcases. I have my reading bullet journal--it is not anything fancy, but I have a spread in it that I will be keeping track of that number over the course of the year. My ultimate goal is the hope with these three initiatives is that by the end of the year--even with taking in new books this year--that my unread books at the end of the year is lower than 371. And if I could dare to say it...it be under 300 but that would be aggressive. Over the next few days, I will go into each of these three initiatives more specifically, but I wanted to give you my plans, to put it out there, so I can make myself accountable.