Shelf Control: Taking Stock

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.pngA question came up last week as a comment on a Shelf Control post:

Of the 152 books I’ve highlighted so far in my Shelf Control feature, how many have I actually read?

Wow. That is a BIG question.

Shelf Control has been a way to force myself to go back, again and again, to my overflowing bookshelves and take a look at what’s already there. I pick up new books all the time, usually through Kindle deals or at library sales or at used book stores, but still, the fact remains that I buy more and more books when I already have enough unread books on my shelves to keep me busy for years!

So, rather than feature another Shelf Control book this week, I thought I’d take stock and try to answer the question. Luckily, I organize Shelf Control (as well as so much else in my life) through the glory of spreadsheets, so it’s not that hard to figure out.

According to my worksheet:

Total Shelf Control books so far: 152
Number of Shelf Control books I’ve read since posting about them: 14
Number of Shelf Control books donated or otherwise discarded: 9
Number of Shelf Control books that I doubt I’ll ever read (I still have them, but they may be next to go, whenever I do another shelf purge): 12

Which means:

Of the books I’ve featured, I have…

117 books still to read! 

Will I read them? I hope so! I bought them for a reason… and I still find them interesting enough to hold on to. It’s always hard to strike a balance between new books, ARCs, library books, and books on the shelves, but sooner or later, I do end up going back to books I already own. Of the 14 featured Shelf Control books that I’ve actually read, there was only one that I’d consider a dud. As for the others, I’ve read a classic I’ve always meant to read, gotten hooked on series that I’d been curious about, and have read some amazing fiction that moved me and entertained me. I call that a win!

Maybe I’ll do one of these “taking stock” posts once a year (or more often) to see where I stand. Meanwhile, pardon the interruption in my regular schedule! Next week, I’ll be back with yet another book from my shelves… and hopefully, I’ll actually read it before too much time goes by.

If you wrote a Shelf Control post this week, don’t forget to share your link!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Counting up the books: 2017

 

CUTB_2

For a brief period last year, I had the crazy idea that I’d do a mini-inventory of my books each month. Basically, I decided I’d count all the unread books on my shelves and on my e-reader, then track my monthly reading and buying and see if my numbers went down (the goal) or up (the reality). The point was both to remind myself that I actually own oodles of books that I should get around to reading and discourage myself from buying more books than I read.

Did it work?

Well. No.

I quit my counting project after a few months. My spreadsheets were messy, my tracking was arbitrary, and in the end, who needs the pressure?

But here I am, back again with a brand new approach!

libib2Thanks to being turned on to the oh-so-fun-and-useful Libib app (www.libib.com), I have a whole new way to get geeky about counting my books.

With Libib, you can create libraries of books, movies, music, etc, organized in whatever way suits you. Adding books is super easy — there’s a scanning feature, so I went through my entire house and starting scanning book barcodes using my smartphone. The scanning feature won’t work for books that have bookstore stickers over the original barcode, and I also got incorrect results for some of my older books. Most of the time, though, scanning worked beautifully, letting me build my home library record over the course of a few hours. (And for anything that didn’t scan, manual entry via the website was quick and easy.)

I decided to include just the unread books in my house, so I’d have a starting place for keeping track. I broke my inventory out into four categories, and here’s where I stand at the moment:

I decided to exclude book I felt pretty sure I’d never read — and in fact, created a new stack of books to donate or give away while I was at it. I also excluded e-ARCs, and any Kindle titles that I doubted I’d get to.

Grand total: 657

The last time I counted in February 2016, my numbers were:

Books: 428
E-books: 76
Graphic novels: 40
Non-fiction: 52

For a total of…  596

Hmmm. My numbers keep going up and up. To be fair, I’ve done a lot of public library reading this past year, but still, I’d like to think I’m reading books from my home library too. I did make a big dent in my graphic novel collection, so yay me!

Anyway, this is all really just for my own bookish entertainment. (My son thinks I’m a total nerd.) I’m not going to be doing monthly updates, but it might be fun to see where I end up at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, my project 2.0 with Libib will be to go back through my house with the scanner one more time and create a “books I’ve read” library too. You never know when that dreaded moment will hit, as you stumble on a book you’re tempted to buy and think “wait, do I own that one already?” Okay, this mainly happens to me in regards to my Stephen King collection, but it’s still fun to have a reference of all my books ready at my fingertips.

abacus-1866497_1920Anyone else crazy about counting books? What methods do you use for keeping count?

I’m so glad I discovered Libib!

A big step forward over my older methods, after all.

 

 

Counting up the books: February update

 

CUTB_2

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:

October: 539

November: 548 

December: 554

January: 548

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:

BC 022016

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!

 

Counting up the books: January update

 

CUTB_2

Oops! It’s January 9th, and I just realized that I never did an update post for the beginning of the month and the year!

In early September, 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. I’ll omit my September numbers here, for two reasons:

  1. I originally included non-fiction books, but have since dropped them from my totals, since I’m so much less likely to actually read any of the non-fiction books I own. (Hey, they’re there if I need them!)
  2. Right after my September count, I did a major culling of my shelves and dropped off bags and bags of books for donation, which accounts for a big drop from September to October in the number of physical books in my house.

Okay, moving on. Here are my book totals from the past three months, adding in new books and subtracting books read or given away:

October: 539

November: 548 

December: 554

Hmm. We seem to be going in the wrong direction!

How am I doing at the start of 2016? Let’s see:

BC 012016

So… by this reckoning, I’ve gotten myself back to where I was two months ago. Yay, progress? I guess.

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!

Counting up the books: December update

 

CUTB_2

Another month, another opportunity to take stock of my overflowing shelves!

In early September, 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.

My September starting point was 598:

Book Math 1

As of October, I’d made some progress after culling and donating a bunch of books, plus making the decision to omit non-fiction books from my total — since, let’s face it, I’m a fiction lover through and through, and I feel no urgency at all about getting to all those non-fiction tomes (as interesting as they may seem) any time soon.

As a result, my past two month totals, adding in new books and subtracting books read or given away, were:

October: 539

November: 548 (yes, that’s an increase…)

And here we are at the beginning of December… and, well, my Black Friday/Cyber Monday/used book store mania is clearly showing. Here’s the latest count, which clearly tells me that I’m heading up and not down:

BC 122015

Just to be clear: I actually read more than five books during the past month! But a lot of those were library books, and while I adore the public library, reading library books doesn’t help get my bookshelves under control.

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!

Counting up the books: November update

 

CUTB_2

Another month, another opportunity to take stock of my overflowing shelves!

In early September, I wrote a post called Counting Up the Books, in which I combined two things I love: BOOKS and NUMBERS.

I tallied up just how many unread books there are in my house, which gave me a rather scary number. My September book count looked like this:

Book Math 1

As of October, I’d made a smidge of progress, thanks in large part to culling and donating… and also, making the executive decision to leave the non-fiction books out of the count. Because, let’s face it, those non-fiction books are probably permanent fixtures on my shelves — nice to have, and maybe I’ll read them eventually, but for now — give me fiction! Here’s where I stood as of the beginning of October:

Book count 102015

And here we are in November! I mostly added (shame on me!), but that’s okay. I had a busy month with not a lot of time to read, and I solemnly swear that I absolutely intend to read all of my new acquisitions!

BC 11012015

Sigh. I added more than I subtracted… but I guess that’s the life of a book lover! Still, I’m excited to be focusing a bit more on my shelves, and I love that I’m finally getting to books that I’ve owned for a good long time already.

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!

Counting up the books: October update

In early September, I wrote a post called Counting Up the Books, in which I combined two things I love: BOOKS and NUMBERS.

I tallied up just how many unread books there are in my house, which gave me a rather scary number. My September book count looked like this:

Book Math 1

After that, I decided to do a Book Count including just the unread physical fiction books and graphic novels in my house, changing the outcome to look like this:

Book Math 2

Now that a month has gone by, I’m realizing that I need to stick the Kindle number back into my count. The Kindle books may not take up space on my overcrowded bookshelves, but they’re still there cluttering up my virtual shelves… besides which, they’re all books that I wanted to read in the first place, so I should really get to them.

Let’s do the math for October, adding in new acquisitions (yes, dammit, I’m still buying books!) and subtracting books that I’ve donated or otherwise given away or traded in.

Book count 102015

So there you have it! Yes, I did read some books from my shelves during the past month, but I also kept adding books to the collection, so my numbers didn’t really go down in any significant way.

But I’ll keep moving forward!

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!

Counting up the books

Danger! Danger! Beware of falling books!

I have shelf overload. A few years ago, I added a bunch of shiny new bookshelves, assuming they’d be neat and organized, with room to spare, for years and years and years.

image

FAIL!

They’re full. They’re overflowing. They’re messy. They’re disorganized.

I won’t do anything as drastic as going on a book-buying ban, but I do want to finally take some time to acknowledge how many unread books are actually sitting here in my house.

To that end, one change I’ll be making is mostly sitting out my usual “Wishing & Waiting” posts for a while. I want to stop focusing on upcoming new releases and instead give myself time and space to concentrate on the books I already own. You know, the ones I was actually dying for when they first came out… and then never did anything with.

Step #1 in my goal of appreciating what I already have (okay, yes, this could be a much wider goal about appreciating all the good in my life… but for now, let’s focus on books, shall we?) is taking stock of all the books tucked into all the various nooks and crannies in my house. I can’t read what I already have if I don’t know what I already have!

Like the numbers and Excel geek that I am, I started by doing an inventory. Picture me, laptop in hand, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my shelves. I decided to create a spreadsheet listing every book in my house that I haven’t read yet. Here are the basics of what I did:

  • Going shelf by shelf, I made a list of everything on my shelves not yet read.
  • I only counted the books that are actually mine — so my kids’ books don’t count. Unless they’re kid books that I want to read myself. (I’m starting to get muscle strain from tying myself into so many knots.)
  • As I scoured my shelves, I came across bunches that — let’s face it — I’ll probably never read. The ones that I felt “never will I ever” about got pulled from the shelves and put into to-be-donated boxes. Yippee! I’m counting and I’m cleaning!
  • I set up separate tabs in my worksheet (fun with Excel!) for fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels.
  • When I got through all the physical books in my house, I decided to check my Kindle contents. Yikes. I have a lot of Kindle stuff that I’ve snatched up when there were price drops, but never got around to reading. So, another tab just for Kindle, but I only included books that I really intend to read. Because there are some that just aren’t going to happen, ever.
  • I didn’t include ARCs. Either I’ll read them or I won’t, but since I didn’t purchase them and can’t give them away (since they’re mostly on my Kindle), I’m not including them in my inventory.

So where did I end up? Let’s do the math:

Book Math 1

Ha. 598? That’s a bit daunting. Overwhelming. Coma-inducing.

When will I ever read them all???

Listen, I’m a realist (sometimes). It’ll take time. No pressure, no timetables, no deadlines. After all, the last thing I need in my life is one more way to feel stressed!

My entire goal here is to keep myself aware. Aware that I have plenty of awesome books sitting on my shelves, just waiting for me to show them some love.

So will I stop buying or borrowing new books? Heck, no.

But I will try to make more time for the books I already have, rather than always rushing toward the newest and shiniest. I want to read without pressure, without commitments, without timetables. Just reading what I want, when I want — isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

And what about my book math? To keep myself on track, I’m going to be check my “book score” at the start of each new month. I know I’m unlikely to read more than a few non-fiction books in a year, and that’s okay. The Kindle books, well, I’ll get to when I get to. So, going forward, I’ll do a little Book Count update, including my physical books (fiction and graphic novels) still unread, plus any new additions, minus any I’ve read in the past month. Fun with numbers! And to keep myself on track, I’ll have a little Book Count icon in my sidebar that I’ll update too… because, what the heck – why not?

Here’s where I stand as of right now:

Book Math 2

Wish me luck!