On Reading and Dusty Bookshelves

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I read, and why I read what I read.

For the last month or so, I’ve been devouring every YA Fantasy book I can lay my hands on – I’ve found some astonishingly good ones (a post for another time?) and some not-so-good ones. Continuing in the same vein, I picked up Legend two nights ago and was just overcome with a feeling of guilt. I haven’t been able to read since.

My reading has always been a hodge-podge of genres. I go through phases, yes, but they don’t last very long. And for some reason, Legend just triggered something off in me.

See, I’m taking the year off from college. Primarily to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life career-wise, but a huge part of the reason was that I also started to feel that I was doing more I’m-supposed-to-do-these things and less I-want-to-do-these things. My reading started to suffer, the pleasure I got from reading was put on the back seat and emphasis was given to the next assignment I needed to complete or the next exam I needed to study for. I wasn’t having fun, even though these were subjects I had chosen to study. Subjects I loved.

It’s part of the reason I went on an almost year-long blogging hiatus. And when I came back, I found that I needed a fresh start – a spanking new blog.

Anyway, I spent the last two days making lists because making lists makes me feel like a ninja. I’ve written down every single book that I started to read during college but had to put down for some reason or the other, and now I’m going to attack them with a vengeance. Code Name: Operation Year Off.

Also? Since I’m a mood-reader? Every time I don’t feel like reading one of the books I have? I just skip on down to a bookstore and pick one up. And I know this makes me feel better at the time – I have a friend that says, “I firmly believe that the purchase of books is a distinct activity with therapeutic qualities and is entirely unconnected to the actual reading of those books.” And I agree. Wholeheartedly. But it’s just gotten to a point where I have all these wonderful books just waiting to be read, accumulating dust on my shelves.

And so, when I remembered seeing this on Astarteia’s blog, I checked it out and as of this post, I’m officially signed up. There are going to be times when I just don’t feel like reading the books I have, and that’s cool with me as long as I’m actively trying to change my book-hoarding status to a book-reading one.

2013 – Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Hosted by Books – A True Story, this is a year long challenge where they’ve got monthly themes and everything. I wish I’d signed up sooner, just look at the themes from the early months. It seems very relaxed – just a bunch of people looking to make a dent in their reading list. They’re just a little more organised about it than I am.

Okay, so, what do you do if you want to join?

1. Sign-up with a blog post, by joining the Goodreads group, or leaving a comment on this post.  Be sure to link your blog post in the linky below.  Include in your blog post the badge and your list of books you want to read.

2. Pick a level:

~Pixie Dust – Read 0-5 books

~Dust Bunny – Read 5-10 books

~Cobwebs – Read 10-15 books

~Grungy – Read 20+ books

EXTRA CREDIT-Say how long that book has been sitting on your shelf!

Doable, right? The list of books I have in mind is here. They aren’t concrete reading plans, just the ones I’ve been wanting to read the longest/most. I thought of adding graphic novels to the list, but then it would just explode and I don’t want this to be one of those intimidating challenges.

I’m aiming for Cobwebs, but if I can’t finish all the books on my list, or if life happens and I get new books I’ve been wanting to read, these will just spill over into Operation Year Off. Okay? Okay. 

Also, I’m curious. How do you handle your TBR pile?

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26 thoughts on “On Reading and Dusty Bookshelves

  1. I love your friend’s quote. I am totally like that, although my latest feel good sin is to download on my Kindle. There’s something decadent about juts pressing a button and getting a new book. I’d like to join the dusty book shelf challenge but at the moment I have too much on. I’ll still go and have a look though.
    At the moment I have a back log on my Kindle so I am making myself read those before I download anymore, most of these were free by Indie author’s doing promo’s but I’m still hoping to get through them before I buy the next one. I’m also trying to set myself a budget each month and when I hit that no more downloads. It’s not working great as I’m such an impulse buyer, but I am getting better.
    Good luck getting to Cobwebs. Will you give us updates?

    • Oh, I know what you mean. There’s just something about being able to get your books like that. It’s faster than making a cup of coffee, even. But although I’ve started being addicted to e-books as well, when it comes to books that I feel are going to be a little heavy, I prefer a physical copy.
      It sounds like you’re already working on the challenge, actually. :) Maybe if blogging about it is too much of a commitment, you could try the Goodreads group? Let me know!

      Thanks, Debbie. I fully intend to. You can expect a review every time I come across a book I like. :)

    • Don’t you have any that you’ve been meaning to read at college? And do you have e-copies of books that have been on your list forever? Do it! I felt like I was cheating on all the books on my list because I’ve just been making impulsive purchases and then proceeding to read them straight away. And all these books have just been waiting ages for their turn.

      Fuzz? I’ve been meaning to ask you. Would you happen to have any Atwood with you?

  2. Mmm, I might do this! I’m always terrible when it comes reading books I own. I’ll start with buying on impulse, and then if my impulse-buys get out of hand, I turn to the library. Either way, it results in a nightmare of books littering the house.

    How did you like Legend? I read it during an all-things-YA-dystopian spell. I was a little disappointed by it, but I still want to check out the sequel. Just to see how things play out, you know?

    A year off! I hope you enjoy this wonderful break. I only ever take summers off. After spring quarter, I’m kaput. School can have the nasty habit of ruining downtime. I’m experiencing the same problem with school and reading. Only with me, I’m not doing exactly what I want to do, so… I’m putting in all this time and effort towards a career I don’t want (but my family does), and in consequence, the enjoyment I get from hobby reading suffers. Bleh.

    • When I joined their Goodreads group, it said you were already a part of this and that made me happy. :P
      Ooo, Raya! Raya! Our buddy-reads will count towards this, won’t it? This is going to be FUN.

      I know what you mean. When I was taking stock of the books to put on my list? I thought it might be a good idea to reorganise my shelves and find space for all the books on my bedside table and under my pillow and..you know. Everywhere. And now my room is an absolute mess and I remembered why they weren’t on the shelves to begin with. So I looked up shelf designs on Pinterest so that I could turn it into a DIY project – BIG mistake. I found this and the rest of my day just went poof.

      I wasn’t able to read much. :( I was only about..fifty-sixty pages in? And then it just lost me. I think I need a switch in genres, for a little bit.

      Oh, no. That’s terrible! What is it that you want to do, if you don’t mind me asking?
      I found that while my reading suffered at the hands of getting things done for school, it was also the only thing keeping me going. I know I ended up having to put away a lot of books that I would otherwise have loved, but the books that I did manage to stick with have become some of my favourites. And for that, I’m glad.

      • I am part of the group! When I first joined I aimed for the dusty bunny level and completely blew it. I don’t think I read any of my own books that year, and I was so mad at myself.

        Ugh, re-organizing shelves — I just attempted this the other night! As if a little re-arranging would miraculously make room for all the books that don’t already fit in first place. I ended up making a bigger mess. Have you seen the floating bookshelves for DIY? I’m so tempted, but I get nervous about drilling holes into my walls. Right now, my shelves are full, so I have book stacks taking up space on my dressers and, well, all over the floor of my room, my desk, under my bed… It’s a problem.

        I had some issues reading Legend, too. It felt a little… stiff, and kind of limited in character dimensions. I got more into it at the end when there’s more action and suspense, but it felt pretty “meh.”

        Ha, I have no idea what I want to do! I know that I love literature with a passion, and I used to love creative writing (before school wrung me dry). I’ve thought about majoring in English, though where that would take me job-wise I haven’t a clue. And that kind of scares me, but not as much as having a career I don’t want in the first pace.

        It’s the same with me, too. Reading is one of my escapes from stress, so even though I end up turning away from certain books I know I’d enjoy, I’m glad for the ones I do fit in. It’s a problem when school headbutts into my reading time, though. I really, really hate that! Especially around finals time.

        • Those floating bookshelves are gorgeous. But, yeah, I’m the same. I’ve been looking to make bookshelves that don’t have to go up on my wall – I don’t want it to become a problem if I have to move.

          I think if I had read Legend in isolation, I might have at least finished it. But I picked this up after Jellicoe and Angelfall and it just didn’t stand a chance. :| I read Twilight Robbery instead, and that went well, so I’m happy. :)

          That’s kind of what happened last year. I wanted to switch to studying Literature, and I really really wanted to teach – but then once I thought about it, there was a chance that reading for school would get in the way of reading for pleasure. And I can only write if I’m passionate about something, not because I have a paper to hand in, so that goes out the window. I still want to teach, though. It’s the what I’m trying to figure out. If you do choose to study English, there are plenty of things you could do with it – I don’t think that should be tooo much of a problem. Do you know anybody who’s majored in English that you can talk to?

          • I’m afraid I don’t have the best eye for decorating, either, so once I put a hole in the wall and realize later that it’d look better off to the left or somewhere… Oops.

            I’ve talked to a few people moving through English lit courses, and most of them are either confused about their future or determined to teach. I know one person who went to school to study English and teach, but she’s not doing well on the job-hunt. Teaching doesn’t appeal to me, at least at the moment it doesn’t, though I’m fuzzy on other jobs I could land with an English degree. I’ll figure it out. I know I can’t keep taking these science and math courses or my brain will explode! So I’m definitely changing career-paths.

            • Haha, yeah. I decided to paint my room last year because I was feeling restless – and I didn’t do any research, nothing. Just went out, got paint, started. And, um, I forgot to use the painter’s tape thing to section off portions for different colours and lay newspaper on the floor, and it was just such a mess. :|

              I wouldn’t worry tooo much. Just go with your gut, okay? I’m confident you’ll work things out. :)

  3. I love this post! That is so cool that you took the time off to figure out what you want to do. I had to change my major in college from what my dream major was to something I was really good at. Because my dream major was not making me happy at the end of the day.

    I love making lists also :)

    I’m so glad this reading challenge helped you meet some of your personal goals. Good luck!! :)

    And I’m really glad you like the mini-challenges because I was thinking of getting rid of them since no one did them….but if you like them then I will definitely keep them :)

    • Thanks, Jessica! I think I’m going through a similar thing. I’m trying to figure out if it was the subjects themselves or the way they were taught, you know? Because the latter, I can fix.

      Yay, another list-making-ninja! :P

      The mini-challenges are brilliant. Especially the quote-game, the soundtrack and the “Pick My Read”? I’m so disappointed I missed them. Of the ones that remain, I’m totally taking on October’s theme. For September, I have a few books in mind – they’re ones I’ve been dodging for a very long time. I hope I can get at least one or two off them checked off the list.

      Thank you for hosting such a wonderful event! :)

  4. What a great challenge! As you well know, better than most, I am terrible at handling my to be read pile and so it has grown to ginormous proportions. But, as I told you in a reply to a comment on my blog, I am now banned from buying any more books for 2013 due to an impending permanent overseas move in January, so I’m kind of forcing myself into this challenge anyway. So that’s kind of neat! :P
    Glad to hear you took the year off for what sounds like the right reasons to me! Might as well do it while you can – I sure as hell know at the point in life I’m at, the rollercoaster is going way too fast to stop now. :P

    • Isn’t it? I think it’s perfect. I’ve come across a lot of these TBR challenges, and I like this one the most. They’re very relaxed about it and leave you to decide which books count and which don’t. Which is great, because if I suddenly feel like going out and getting a book, I don’t want to feel tooo guilty about it. :P
      Oh yeah, I remember THAT conversation. How many unread books was it, again? A hundred? Two hundred? *shakes head in disbelief*

      Your life sounds like it’s going to go through some major changes in the future – all of them good, I hope. You’re still going to teach, yes? You’ve talked about how you handle your class a few times on your blog, and it sounds like you really love it. :)

      • Hahahaha oh I don’t know, a couple of hundred I think? Shhhh….

        Yeah, all the changes will be good. I think I’m still going to teach, not 100% sure on that one but I am enjoying teaching this year. I’ll see how things go, and how much language affects my ability to teach (there’s an English speaking school there in the town, if I don’t get in there even teaching English would require knowing some Swedish I’d imagine – I am starting to learn the language but it will take time of course). But yeah, I do enjoy teaching for sure. I have one of my classes blogging this term, actually. I created a class blog, with individual blogs for them within the class blog. All set to private so only they can comment on each others blogs and stuff, but it’s fun and they’re doing great at it!

        • I’m not even going to say anything. Just tell me the Harry Potter series is among them? (No, I haven’t forgotten. :P)

          I’m sure you’ll figure things out! The important thing is you’re doing what makes you happy, yes? The rest will fall into place, given time. :)
          And that sounds like so much FUN. I wish one of our teachers had thought of that!

  5. This is a good idea. I tried something similar not long ago – I wouldn’t say it was a success BUT I’m still working on it so who knows! I actually think I’ve become more addicted to having the books than actually reading them. I’m always on the look out and it’s almost like I have a fear of missing something really good! A bit stupid really, I’ve probably got well over 100 unread books so goodness knows how many excellent reads I’m missing that are right under my nose!
    Good luck. I’ll keep an eye on your progress – it will inspire me to be ‘better’! (Squeezes eyes, shut, covers ears and hums lalalalala whilst chanting ‘I will not buy more books, I will not buy more books, ‘one click’ is evil, etc, etc)
    Lynn :D

    • Thanks, Lynn. I found that I was doing exactly the same thing. The book I picked up yesterday is proof of that, and I’ve had it on my shelf for almost a year. :|
      Anybody that tells me book collecting is not an obsession will get a swift bonk on the head. It seems that a lot of readers have the same problem, I was just telling Matt we needed a Book Buyers Anonymous. I never imagined it was this bad!

      Hahaha, I wish you luck with your reading-and-not-buying. Give those poor neglected books some love! And let me know how it goes. :)

  6. Pingback: Read-a-thon Alert! | The Yeti Says

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