Welcome to the February edition of Counting Up the Books! In which I take stock, re-set the parameters for my book counting, and decide where I’m going with this crazy monthly counting of books…
But first — the backstory:
This past fall, I wrote a post called Counting Up the Books, talking about two things I love: BOOKS and NUMBERS. That was the beginning of a monthly feature for me, in which I tally up just how many unread books there are in my house and on my Kindle.
Here are my book totals from the past four months, adding in new books and subtracting books read or given away:
You’ll notice that my numbers went up, not down, for a few months there, until finally in January we have tiny baby steps of progress in getting the numbers under control.
In thinking about this book count methodology of mine, I’ve started to reach the conclusion that my approach is a bit flawed. In general, when it comes to my reading habits, I try to avoid absolutes. I don’t participate in challenges. I don’t view my resolutions as rules, but rather, as aspirations.
And I would certainly never put myself on a book buying ban.
Why set myself up for failure? I know I won’t give up buying books for a year, and I won’t even pretend that that’s a realistic expectation. I am, however, making a conscious effort to request fewer ARCs and preorder fewer new releases — largely because I know that I already have a huge backlog of books to be read. Even when a brand new book arrives hot off the presses, I don’t always read it right away, so why do I need to buy it the second it comes out?
All that said, I think if I want to track my progress with reading my shelves, I need to have a fixed baseline as a reference point. And so, arbitrarily, I’m taking my January numbers as point zero. Going forward, my Counting Up the Books tallies will not include newly acquired books. Yes, I’ll keep track of my new arrivals (hurray, a good excuse for another spreadsheet!), but I’m going to use my January count as my 2016 point of departure. Of the 548 books that are on my list as of January, how many will I actually read in 2016? And how many will I give away, sell at the used bookstore, or donate to a good cause?
We’ll see. I’ll be posting a fresh book count at the beginning of each month to track how I do… and at the end of the year, I’ll do a re-count — or hey, I like the word recalibration! That’s it: At the end of December, I’ll recalibrate my book count to add in any new and still unread acquisitions from 2016, and start with a fresh baseline number in January 2017. Make sense?
Which brings us to today. Using 548 as my 2016 starting point, here’s where I stand as of the start of February:
So… like I said — baby steps.
How are your shelves doing this month?
Don’t forget to join me for Shelf Control on Wednesdays, where we highlight books from our shelves that we really want to read!