white book in white table near yellow wall

A Reading Challenge for 2021: #readmyshelf

The Windup

Hey book nerds! Jennifer here. As the new year quickly approaches, I have been drawn once again into the optimistic furor that always inspires me during this time of year. Whether it be to exercise more, meditate more, eat healthy, etc., a new year always seems to beckon with the possibility of a better you. But what about when it comes to books?

Setting reading goals is becoming more and more common these days, perhaps thanks to Goodreads. I know it was a huge wake up call for myself when, several years ago, I created my own reading challenge in Goodreads and failed. Miserably. Being a ‘reader’ was so wrapped up in my identity thanks to my childhood that I didn’t even hesitate to still consider myself a avid one, despite the fact that I wasn’t actually reading books.

Since starting a podcast in January of 2020, this situation has improved quite a bit. I am right on track to hit my fifty book quota tomorrow, December 31st (I never said I had stopped procrastinating). But there were a couple of larger problems that podcasting had revealed to me.

One, the diversity of my reading was abysmal. Like truly horrible. Looking at the books I physically owned, the shelves were white as fallen snow. The ebooks I was reading through Libby were better, but not by much. Now why that was the case is a whole other story, perhaps one I will post about later, but it was clear that if I wanted this to change I would need to make a conscious effort. This has been going well so far, and I am planning on giving monthly stats breakdowns when I *hopefully* get our YouTube channel up and running. This isn’t meant to be performative, but rather to keep myself accountable to my goal of reading more widely.

The second problem that I found looming over me is that when I looked over those white, white shelves, is that I realized most of those books were also unread. For some it had been years since I had even cracked them open, but an equally large and embarrassing number had never even been touched except when I moved them from Florida to Maine. When I started decluttering in preparation for the move, I held on to so many of my books because I hadn’t read them yet, and I couldn’t bear to part with them until I had given them a chance. And this, this is where my #readmyshelf challenge was born.

Reading unread books on your bookshelves is not a new idea. Like not at all new. There is actually a great social media account and website called The Unread Shelf that is geared towards encouraging you to clear out your TBR. If the idea is speaking to you, I would encourage you to check out The Unread Shelf’s monthly prompts for 2021. However, the challenge I was envisioning was a little different.

#readmyshelf: The Rules

  1. I will read ALL the books on my shelf that I have not read in the past year (2020).
  2. I do not have to include textbooks or professional literature if I don’t want to (yes, I have textbooks…).
  3. This only applies to physical books, it does not include ebooks – maybe I’ll get to that eventually.
  4. Don’t take rule #1 too seriously. Given that I will have reading for the podcast, my actual TBR, and the fact that I have a good thirty or so unread physical books to get through, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. This is meant to be fun, not a punishing slog!

And that is my #readmyshelf challenge for 2021! Very simple and straightforward. I will be posting updates on our social media accounts using the hashtag #readmyshelf & #readmyshelf2021 so you can keep up with my progress there. I will also eventually be giving updates in our YouTube videos! *fingers-crossed*

What are your reading goals for 2021? Are you also planning on some reading decluttering? Or a certain number of books? Perhaps you don’t buy into reading challenges at all? Let us know in the comments below and check out a gallery featuring some of the books I will get to this year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *