Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Great Bookshelf Caper

Every year, I set myself a reading challenge. Usually it’s along the lines of Read this many books, this percentage of which must be books I’ve never read before.

This year, my husband has issued the challenge. And thus I am embarking on . . .

The Great Bookshelf Caper!

These are my bookshelves.

You will probably notice two things. One, there are several of them. Two, they are very full. In fact, there are only four reasons why my bookshelves aren’t overflowing into piles on the floor:

  1. My Harry Potter collection lives on the mantle.
    This is so it can hold the place of honor in my household, but also so that the 40 books it contains don’t take up an entire bookshelf by themselves.
  2. All the books I’ve been given because I’m supposedly reading and reviewing them for a teen lit blog are separated on the top of the shelf so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  3. I’ve loaned out a lot of my books and have kind of lost track of where they are. [Side note: if I’ve loaned you a book or five, could you please let me know? I don’t need them back right away or anything, I’d just like to know where some of my titles have gotten to . . . ]
  4. My husband and I just bought yet another bookshelf. Because yesterday, my bookshelves were overflowing into piles on the floor.

I have a bit of problem. It’s not owning 614 books, by the way. I’m very proud of that collection, and I’d like to own more. No, my problem is that I find books that look interesting, buy or am given them, put them on my shelves, and never get around to reading them. I also have a slightly tendency to pack-rat behavior, which means I rarely get rid of anything.

Those 61409 books? That’s after a pretty major book purge I did 15 months ago, where I got rid of three boxes full of novels. It’s also after I removed 23 titles while reconfiguring my bookshelves today. This is what’s left.

So, the last time we moved, my husband issued me this challenge: Read all the books I own. Crazy concept, I know. But here we are.

A breakdown of those 614 book, so we know what we’re looking at:

120 are reference books (and I’m using the term reference to refer to books that aren’t meant to be read straight through in a single sitting -- theatre resources and textbooks, cookbooks, fairy tale collections, Scrabble dictionaries, geeky TV show companions, etc).

73 are scripts or script collections, and my unread scripts are a project I will tackle at another time because that requires an entirely different set of criteria.

7 are borrowed, either from friends or the library. I should definitely read those, and probably will, but they don’t directly contribute to the project.

That leaves us with 414 titles, mostly fiction, mostly contained on these four shelves. Of those 414, I have read 269. I have not read 98. Which I think is pretty good, actually.

The remaining 47 belong to my husband. And yes, I know, merging households should mean they’re our books, but we have vastly different reading tastes. The merging of the bookshelves at all is a pretty big step for me. Also, if I count them, my unread total jumps to 139! Give a girl a break!

Okay, yes, I do actually have a passing interest in reading more than a few of his 47, and I probably will over the next year or two. But on those books, the To Keep or Not To Keep determination doesn’t lie with me because if it did, Dragons of Autumn Twilight would not be sitting on the shelf right now.

So I have 98 books to read. Except that I’m making it more complicated than that. Because of course I am. But I want to do this Bookshelf Caper right. So it’s more than just reading the books I own but haven’t read -- it’s evaluating every book on myself and determining whether or not it stays in my collection. Some of the 269 titles that I have read, I haven’t read in years. Some I don’t particularly like, but have kept this long out of nostalgia or other weird reasons. So the guidelines I’m setting for myself are these:

  1. I will start at the top of my bookshelf and work my way through my collection in order. (Caveat: After each bookshelf read, I will read one of my teen lit blog titles because I have an obligation. So those will come out of order)
  2. I am only allowed to skip a book if I read it at least twice and know for sure that I want it in my collection. If I pick up a book I haven’t read or read once a long time ago and I’m “not in the mood” for it, it goes in the giveaway pile. (Caveat: Some of my unread books are titles chosen for my Middle School Book Group, so I will be reading those out of order as they come up at work)
  3. I am allowed to read outside my collection for my book discussion groups, for work, for new and highly anticipated releases (Ash and Quill, I need you NOW) and to keep reading fun for me. But I am not allowed to read outside the collection for more than two books in a row, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  4. I will write at least three reviews/pieces a month for the teen lit blog I contribute to. (Seriously, Cassie. You’re kind of a horrible contributor. Be better)
  5. I will keep track of my progress on my Tumblr and on my revived personal book blog. I will do this AS I read the books and I will not fall behind and frantically play catchup.
  6. I will update book numbers as they change (as I give books away or buy or accumulate new titles)
  7. I will do my hardest to limit book buying to books I have already read and know I want in my collection.
  8. I will read 120 books in 2017, and 80 of them must be from my collection.

Let the Great Bookshelf Caper begin!