The unread shelf project: February update

This month, I did the opposite of last month – I didn’t stress out about library books! In fact, I borrowed a lot of library books. It’s weird to think that library books were causing me so much grief last month, but I welcomed them this month. Clearly, I’m a bit fickle about some things.

I think the library book issue comes back to one of the many reasons I don’t want to have a large unread shelf (5 books or less is my target). Sometimes I want to read or research something new, I’m one of those people who often feels obliged to read what I already have before I read borrowed books. I know it’s silly, but I haven’t yet been able to let go of that feeling. And, this month, I became really interested in low-impact and zero waste options, so I borrowed a number of eco-living and zero waste books. Granted, I only skimmed through most of them, but that’s still time taken away from reading books I already own. And, just yesterday, I picked up 3 novels from the library (all very short, but still …).


Thankfully, my unread pile is getting smaller. This is partly because I’ve been keeping up with my reading, but mostly because I seem to have developed a habit of reviewing my unread book collection at the beginning of the month. In February, this led to 16 books being donated. And, despite still being within the first few days of March, I’ve already pulled a couple of books from my unread shelf to be donated because I lost interest in the books (note to self: don’t buy books unless you can get to them quickly, otherwise you’ll probably loose interest and it’ll end up being a waste of money).

In February, I removed 23 books from my unread shelf:

  • Read: 5
  • Quit: 2
  • Donated: 16

And, I added 1 new book. Technically, I bought 2 books this month, but one of them was a cookbook, so it’s not part of the unread shelf (also, it’s great and I’ve already found a couple new favourite recipes). I’m expecting a book that I pre-ordered in December and I ordered a poetry book (book buying ban be damned!), but that won’t arrive until end of March or early April.

Because I want to be accountable, here are the books I’ve purchased:

  1. The First Mess Cookbook, which was a planned purchased. I reviewed a library copy first and decided that I would likely use if often. So, I made a bargain with myself: if I got rid of one of my current cookbooks, I could buy this new one. In the end, I got rid of two old cookbooks (and put one on probation). The new cookbook is fantastic. I’ve already used it a couple of times and discovered a few new favourite recipes.
  2. The Good Lands which was a reward for my unread shelf progress. I have a points system where I gain points for reading or weeding books and lose points for accumulating books (for example, last month’s ebook purchase cost me a point). I use it as a reward system: every time I accumulate 40 points, I’m allowed to buy one book without penalty (no lost points and no guilt). Because of all the books I weeded in January and February, I was allowed to buy my first reward book much sooner than I’d expected and I went all-out with this art book that I’ve been itching to buy for a while. I was very excited to get it – doubly so because it was a reward for sticking to my plans.

So, my current tally sits at:

  • 37 physical books (2 books in progress)
  • 3 magazines
  • 6 audiobooks, plus 3 unused credits (no audiobooks currently in progress)
  • 17 ebooks (1 ebook in progress)

I feel like my numbers might be off by one or two, so I’ll re-count everything later this month. But, my chart looks good! It doesn’t include all the books I donated at the beginning of January (or all the books I donated before I officially started this project), so February looks really impressive!


The projects continues to be a success for me, though I’m worried that it will stall a bit as my numbers reduce, partly because I’ll have a reduced sense of urgency and partly because I might have a harder and harder time weeding the unread books. If I find it stalling, I may consider implementing some rules (“rules”) around library books. Whitney, the originator of the unread shelf project mentioned that she only borrows one library book at a time. This might be a good idea for me, but I might modify it to allow for audiobooks. Maybe one library book (paper or ebook) plus one audiobook.

If you’re doing the #unreadshelfproject, I hope it’s going well for you!


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