Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Taming my chaotic library! 2017 Reading Project

Last year I set a goal to read my own books, mostly because I was running out of shelf space after years of avid book collecting. If I'm honest about it, I must admit that my collecting was far outpacing my reading. My bookshelves were stacked to their capacity and disorganized, making my favorite pastime stressful rather than relaxing.

My first step was gleaning nearly 500 books off the shelves, donating most to a local charity thriftshop and trading others for used books I actually wanted to read. I then set a monthly limit on new book purchases. I could buy up to 4 new books, but only if I had donated/traded at least that many during the month. And, I vowed to make better use of my local library and digital resources.

My intent was to clear shelf space so that my library could be organized, neat and functional.

I spent the last week of 2016 scanning my books into the Goodreads app with my phone so I could inventory my progress. The end result? I both succeeded and failed.

During 2016, I read 69 books from my local library, plus 72 of the new releases I read were digital review copies. So that's a total of 141 books that I read, but did not buy. Good progress toward my goal!

Paring down my collection to an estimated 1000 books is also a success. At the start of last year I had my floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves filled to capacity. Books were double-stacked and it was impossible to find anything. As I scanned my books into Goodreads, I re-organized my shelves by genre and author. The shelves are no longer double-stacked. Wasted, disorganized space turned into useful shelf space! Huzzah!

In 2016, I exchanged 133 used books online. I traded books I didn't want for ones I would actually read.  But, looking over my stats at the end of the year, I noticed that I ordered a total of 176 used books throughout the year, bringing in 43 more than I sent out. I also bought 33 new books online, and an estimated 20 more at bookshops during the year. That in-and-out flow alone would leave me 96 books ahead at the end of 2016. But taking into account the 500 pulled from my shelves at the start, I ended the year with about 271 fewer books. Not too bad.

This is where the results start to pale, however. 

During 2016, I read 193 books. This number includes digital review, kindle books and library books. So if I remove those from the mix....I read a whopping 42 books from my own shelves. Only 42. While that is the answer to the ultimate question of the universe, life and everything.....it's a pretty bad showing when it comes to clearing my bookshelves through reading. 

I did a great job clearing out unwanted books by boxing them up and shipping them off. I used the library and digital resources like a pro. I took inventory and reorganized my shelves. But, when it comes to actually reading the books I already own, the results are lackluster. 

So, I'm continuing my Reading Project in 2017 with a few tweaks. 

My personal library is pared down to books I really want to read. I have no excuse not to read them! This year, for every review book I read, I will read at least one physical book from my own shelf.

I am continuing the maximum limit of four new books per month with the stipulation that I have to donate/trade that many books off my shelves first. This year, that one-to-one requirement also applies to used books. I can have more than 4 used books during a month, but I have to trade/donate at least the same number. I can't order more used books than I send out on my favorite paperback trade site. No more paying for credits to order used books! The only trade credits I can have in 2017 must come from actually sending out a book. No cash transactions!

 I will not buy any books from thriftshops, garage sales or the like. I have enough. I don't need to purchase more.

I will continue to read many books from the library and kindle unlimited rather than buying. I support a lot of authors during the year by pre-ordering and buying their books, but I can't buy every book I want to read. Some authors will be supported through reviews and social media rather than purchases.

Physical ARCs that I have on hand will be read and then traded to other reviewers. 

All in all, I am happy with the end result of my 2016 Reading Project.  I have nice, neat shelves and my library only contains books I  want to read. This year with planning and mindful acquisitions, I can end the year with more open shelf space and a greater percentage of my own books read.

On to 2017!!! I have so many lovely books to choose from & look forward to reading my collection! 

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