#ShelfLove: Mid-Year Check-In

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

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.”

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My TBR shelf before I moved.

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.

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Only 2 of my book boxes before I moved. The other 5 or 6 were in storage.


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.

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My TBR shelf now. Though it doesn’t appear to be any different, it really is.

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.

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The remaining books after the purge.

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.

8 thoughts on “#ShelfLove: Mid-Year Check-In

  1. Loved reading about how your life has changed in the past 6 months – I had a similar ephiphany a couple years ago about my life. I decided to take myself (after many years not studying) back to uni and study to have a job I would love so that I can enjoy my life. It’s taking its time, but I’m looking forward to actually doing something I love.

    Interesting about how you now own half as many books but read so many than before you were blogging – funny how the quantity of books has no bearing on how many you actually read.

    Congrats on taking the time out to look after yourself and I’m glad you’re enjoying reading while exercising. That’s something I’ve yet to manage – I always listen to music while walking, I can’t concentrate on the story while my body is moving, which is strange!

    1. I think the reason I’m able to listen to audiobooks or read books on my Kindle while I exercise is I don’t choose any books that are remotely heavy. I also don’t read ARCs, since I feel it’s not fair to give books I plan to review less attention than I would if I weren’t on the treadmill.

  2. That’s wonderful that you’re focusing on yourself and your health more, and have found a way to focus that on your reading as well. Amazing how you purged so many books. I didn’t realize how many books I had until we moved. WOW do I have a lot of books, mostly unread ones.

    1. Yep, moving will do that. Most of my books have never been read either, and being able to see that every time I look at my shelves now is a great reminder that I don’t need to buy any more books for awhile.

  3. This post makes my heart sing, Rachelle! 🙂 You’ve discovered some wonderful things via the challenge. And I totally agree with this statement: “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 was/am the same way!

    1. I’ve got several more books on my shelves I could probably part with and never miss, but I’ve left them on the shelves as part of my self-enforced “cooling off period.” Also, I want to at least give them a chance because they’re supposedly great books or classics. I’ll start working my way through some of them after my Sci-Fi Summer challenge is over.

  4. This post made me smile. I love that something as seemingly innocuous as a reading challenge has helped you reflect on so many broader things and helped you set goals that will get you to where you want to be. Even though we like to put ourselves on the back burner, I really do believe that taking care of ourselves is the first step toward making real changes.

    I wish you all the luck in the world, and I hope you finish out your #ShelfLove challenge strong!

    1. I think the memoirs I’ve been reading lately have had an effect on how I look at a lot of seemingly innocuous things. So when is the next #chillafathon? 😉

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