Books & Writing

Read My Own Damn Books: The Purge

As some of you may know, the 2016 Reading Challenge I took on was to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks!

Do This With Me!

I have far too many books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet (like, way over half). And I need to read them before I buy too many more, and this addiction gets out of control. What if my new favourite book is already sitting on my shelf, and I don’t even know it? Or, even worse, what if I’m wasting shelf space with a book that I think I’ll like, but really I’d think it’s trash?

That second question is the one that keeps me up at night. I can live with putting off a good book until  have the time to enjoy it, but I don’t want my book shelves to be dominated by space-wasters. I’m thinking about getting out of my apartment soon, and the idea of moving 700 books is not appealing.

So here are some of my strategies for reading my own damn books and cleaning up my shelves once and for all!

1. If I know I’ll love the book, I can put it off until later. There are some titles on my shelves that are sequels to books I love, or they’re by authors I love so I know I’ll enjoy them.

2. If I’m not sure what I’ll think of the book, it goes to the top of my TBR pile. There is a science to what I’m going to do with these books that I have no idea about. I don’t care if they’re YA fiction, classic novels, or plays – if I don’t know how I’d feel about it, I am going to play a little reading game.

3. I’m going to read the first chapter of all of these iffy books in my TBR pile. That’s right. Every first chapter. The way I see it, if an author can’t hook me after the first chapter, it’s not going to be a very interesting book to me. If I can read that initial chapter and think “eh, I honestly don’t like where this is going” or “I don’t care”, it goes in the donate pile! Get outta here! If I’m even slightly interested, I’ll keep it around and read it when I’m in the mood to read that type of book. But at least I’ll have a better idea of which books I want to get rid of.

4. Read books I’m in the mood to read. If I’m feeling in the mood for a classic, pick up the biggest classic and pour myself into it while I’m in that mood. Feeling in a reading slump? Pick up a short book or comic and blow through it so I’m still accomplishing something. Maybe it’ll put me in a better reading mood for my next book.

5. Don’t buy more books unless I’m really interested in them. I do still get ARCs, and I love reviewing them, but for my own personal book shopping, I have refused to buy things unless I know I will love them. Feeling iffy about the book? It can wait until I’m done the others on my shelf.

6. If I read a book and love it, but am not in love with it, it goes to donation. Am I going to read it again? Probably not. Am I super proud that it’s on my shelf? Eh. Do I really need two copies of that book? No. All questions I’ve been asking myself as I purge my shelves.

The point of the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge, for me, is to get rid of a lot of the books I’ve been hoarding and finally make decisions. If I can cut out 1/4 or even 1/3 of my shelf contents, I’ll be one happy reader.

How do you decide which books to keep and which books to purge?

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5 thoughts on “Read My Own Damn Books: The Purge

  1. Oh MAN. Most of the books on my shelves I have read. But what you just said about potentially moving 700+ books just really struck me. I’m in the same boat – likely moving this year – and the idea of having to move all those books…ahhhhhhh. I purge about twice a year anyway and it’s probably about time to think about doing another one…
    I like the idea of reading all those first chapters! A good way to get a taste and make some quick culls without reading a book that you don’t think you like just to know that for sure in the end! Good luck!

    1. Thanks! And right?? I moved last year, and moving a ton of books was terrible. So when I do it again, I’m slimming those boxes down! For some reason books look smaller on the shelf – once they come down, it’s like “where did all of these come from?!” Purges just feel nice and productive, too 🙂

      1. I like donating them to worthy causes, thinking about how they have the potential to affect someone else. I’ve donated to burned down library rebuilding efforts, seniors centres, school fundraiser efforts and recovery homes. They are legitimately taking over my home again…partly it is all the wonderful ARCs – what are the rules about getting rid of those?

      2. Those are good ideas! I have a pile that I was just going to donate to a thrift shop, but I like the idea of giving them to a library or a school. Honestly, I have a pile of ARCs I tend to give away to friends who would like them, because otherwise, they’d just sit on my floor 😛

  2. I borrow the vast majority of the books I read from the Toronto library. If I *really* like them, then I may consider buying them, but this doesn’t happen often.

    The last time this happened, the Chapters at John & Richmond had a closing sale! (The books in question were “All In” by Arlene Dickinson and “The Orenda” by Joseph Boyden.)

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