A lot has changed in my life since I started this year’s Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge. I got a full-time job. I moved to a new apartment. I began to truly focus on my health. With all of those changes, I’ve come to realize quite a bit about myself that I didn’t previously know, and books have become an even more important part of my life as a result.
For instance, I realized I have to work for the sake of my mental health, not just my bank account, but I also have to have a job or at least be doing or working towards doing something I’m passionate about. After I was offered the job, I was so excited to finally be working full-time again, but the excitement quickly wore off because my job is 1) not challenging and 2) has nothing to do with books. So, my game plan has changed a little bit. It’s no longer “I want to eventually go to grad school to become a librarian.” It’s now “I’m taking the steps to go to grad school as soon as possible.”
That doesn’t have much to do with #ShelfLove, other than the obvious (books, of course), but my recent move to a bigger, but very differently configured, apartment made me greatly appreciative of this challenge’s existence and the lovely women hosting it. I’ve discussed many times before how my book collection has caused quite a few problems when it comes to moving. There’s the back-breaking weight, the cost of packing materials, and then the process of unpacking and reorganizing. Ok, that last one is kind of fun. Alright, a lot of fun.
For the first time in nearly seven years, I finally cut down my collection and moved to a place big enough to have all of my books in one place and easily accessible. No longer do I have to drive out to my storage unit and dig through boxes to find that *one* book I want to read or loan to the Boyfriend. Granted, not all of those books are on shelves, thanks to my shelves still being in storage until we have the money and time to shut down the storage unit for good, but all my pretty lovelies are READily available 😉 and that makes me a happy gal.
Though the main purpose of this challenge is to read the books we already own, and I’m definitely doing that, it has also made me rethink the books I choose to keep. I was holding onto a lot of books I knew I would probably never read, but the pressure to read them because I bought them was causing me unnecessary stress. I finally decided to take them to the used bookstore. I thought letting go of these unread books would be difficult, but I didn’t shed any tears, and those books are better off in the hands of someone who will actually read them. So far, I’ve made over $50 off those books and I’ve got another box that is halfway full. Since my job hasn’t made me rich, that extra money means that I could afford to buy myself some exercise clothes that actually fit and are cute and comfortable so I’m more likely to get off the couch.
What does concentrating on my health have to do with #ShelfLove? It means I’m reading more. Not only am I setting aside time every night to read as a form of self-care, I’m also reading while I exercise. Whether I’m reading a book on my Kindle while I’m on the treadmill or listening to an audiobook while I’m walking during my breaks at work, I’m getting through my books much faster than I did last year. I’m already at the halfway point of my goal of reading 51 books off my TBR pile. Last year I was about five books behind. Of course, I was still in college and taking Summer courses to finish my degree faster, but I wasn’t making as much time for exercise, either, and there’s nothing I’d rather do more while I sweat than read.
Overall, the changes in my life have improved my relationship with books and reading. I didn’t believe that was possible, especially since I was sure my new job, moving, and exercising more would all cost me valuable reading time. Instead, the opposite has happened, and maybe this challenge has something to do with that. Perhaps my determination to stick with it has made me come up with workable solutions. All I know is that before #ShelfLove, and before I started blogging, I was barely getting through half the books I now read in a year, despite owning double the number of books I own today.