Oh books. I do love you so. And yet, I don’t spend nearly as much time with you as I should…

When I was thinking about my word Open for 2018, one of the things I thought about was opening myself up to new things. Now obviously my love of reading is not a new thing. BUT, I do have a tendency to just reread the same books I love over and over and over again. And I have a tendency to stick to very particular genres or authors. AND I have over 50 books on my bookshelves that I have purchased over the years but never actually read… Whoops. PLUS I tend to go for the whole “Eh, I’ll just Netflix…” thing and ignore books in the process (which, don’t get me wrong, you know I love TV and movies! But I realized in 2017 I think I rewatched all of Gilmore Girls three or four times. I clearly need to apply my “open to new things” philosophy to all the media I’m consuming…).

So, on January 2nd, when I was still confined to my couch post-appendectomy, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a post from my friend Daci (who is also an incredibly talented blogger and writer. Go here and read some of her stuff!) and I decided this project/challenge sounded right up my alley:

You can follow the creator of the project, @theunreadshelf, on Instagram.

The idea is simple: read the unread books you already own. Don’t go buy more. Don’t head to the library on new arrival day. Don’t even let a friend shove a book in your hands and say but you haaaaaave to read this! (not that I do that to people ever okay all the time).

January was a roaring success, in my opinion, for this challenge. I had three books that I’d started and abandoned in late 2017, and I took January as the time to finish them off. One of those books was the middle book in a trilogy, which I already owned book three of, so that was my “new” cover-to-cover book. Four books in January after no books in the last full quarter of 2017? Like I said, roaring success:

Super quick reviews: The Eye of the World is dense and intense, but a wonderful high fantasy book if that’s your jam. The Legend trilogy is a weird mash-up of The Hunger Games + Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which basically just means it’s dystopian/sci-fi Y.A. where the narrator switches between a male and female protagonist. Food: The Good Girls Drug is awesome for anyone who has ever struggled with eating issues.

Then February rolled around (and yes, I realize we’re only nine days in). And I picked up two more books that were on my unread shelf! The first was Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey, which was a vivid, thoughtful reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (basically, what were Prospero, Miranda, Caliban, and Ariel up to on that island before Prince Ferdinand’s boat crashed there). And, unsurprisingly, it absolutely shattered my heart even though I knew the ending would be sad:

Seriously, gutted. Even the author herself admitted it was intentionally crafted that way in her response to a tweet of mine.

I also started a personal/professional development book I’d bought on Kindle a while back. I’m still very early in that one, but I’m liking it so far — it’s about thought patterns and working together with people who think/process information differently than you do.

But then, a coworker of mine asked if I wanted to go to lunch with him one day and “just swing by Barnes & Noble on the way back to the office.” And I agreed. And that was silly, because we all should’ve known how it would end:

Oh, hi, me with three brand new hardcover books that I totally didn’t intend to buy or read since I still have OVER 50 UNREAD BOOKS ON MY SHELVES AT HOME.

Sigh. Oh well. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, so…

I’ve decided I’m going to modify the challenge for myself a little bit. After all, the true goal of the challenge was read more books and read stuff I haven’t read yet, so in that honorable pursuit, I’m setting up the FOLLOWING rules for myself:

  • New books (books that I didn’t own prior to January 1, 2018) are okay, but…
  • I must read at least two of my “unread shelf” books before I can read a new book

Since I read both Champion by Marie Lu (the third Legend novel) and Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey in full this year so far, I am going to start one of my new purchases today:

I’m obsessed with Vice Admiral Holdo from The Last Jedi, and apparently this book is approved Star Wars canon about how she and Leia became friends, so…

When I finish this, it’s back to the unread shelf for my next two books, and then I’ll start either The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (or possibly a different new book if one has made its way into my possession by then…)

What about you? Do you have any reading goals for 2018? Do you set a book challenge for yourself on Goodreads (hey, let’s be friends on Goodreads!)? Do you have a pile of unread books you need to get through? If so, start sharing them on Bookstagram (I mean, Instagram)  and using the hashtag #theunreadshelfproject2018. 


  1. I have a similar goal for 2018 as I really want to minimise my tbr-pile too. So I allow myself only to buy one physical copy per month (I exclude ebooks, because I’m not such a fan of them anyway), or I sell a book first in order to buy a new one. Other than that I only read books from my endless tbr-pile. đŸ™‚


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