Conquering the Unread Shelf

Every book lover know this to be true: buying books and reading them are two separate hobbies. There’s nothing more exciting than the possibility that you’ll read this awesome-sounding book you just picked up … one of these days, or months, or never.

I’ve been there, pruning out books that never made it out of the shrink wrap, asking myself why I even bought it. If you’ve ever been in the pre-loved book market, it’s great exactly because it’s dirt cheap. But if you’re trying to rehome almost-new books, don’t hope to recoup much of what you spent on it.

The Unread Shelf Project

When it comes to the unread masses, Whitney Conard of The Unread Shelf Project knows exactly where we book lovers are coming from. An owner of a LOT of unread books, she started a journey in 2018 to read them and quickly amassed a following along the way. This managed to escape my notice until I stumbled upon a bullet journal spread for this year’s monthly themes. I’m in!

My version of The Unread Shelf Project 2020 in my bullet journal.

There is a theme assigned to each month, together with challenges or assignments. The first one was to count the number of unread books. Instead of identifying the unread, I counted everything: 473. I only keep a small percentage of the books I’ve read, so the unread accounts for the majority. Let’s conservatively say that I’ve read 150 out of the 473 books. That leaves 323 books.

The 2020 List

After consulting the monthly themes, I pulled out 28 books that I would like to finally read this year:

(Click to enlarge)
  1. Still Missing – Chevy Stevens
  2. Bangkit – Appy Mohd Hapizan
  3. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell (Malay)
  4. Teach Yourself Ethics
  5. Communicating Effectively – Garry Kranz
  6. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
  7. Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
  8. Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide – Mark Yakich
  9. SingPoWriMo: The Anthology
  10. How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  11. Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli
  12. When I Say Spoken, You Say Word
  13. White Pine – Mary Oliver
  14. Modern Guide to Energy Clearing – Barbara Moore
  15. Depression & Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim
  16. Cartography – Chloe Ling
  17. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – DH Lawrence
  18. Wicca – Scott Cunningham
  19. In the Pocket of Small Gods – Anis Mojgani
  20. Coexist – A Fairy Tale – Anna Tan
  21. Instructions for Happiness and Success – Susie Pearl
  22. Once We Were There – Bernice Chauly
  23. The Light Between Oceans – ML Stedman
  24. Lion – Saroo Brierley
  25. Such Wicked Intent – Kenneth Oppel
  26. The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
  27. The Last American Vampire – Seth Grahame-Smith
  28. Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho

Whew! Now I read an average of 50 books in a year, so these aren’t the only books I’ll be working on. But it’s a start. Here’s my current reading list, which is a spillover from December unless stated otherwise:

  • Depression & Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim (from the Unread list)
  • The Bullet Journal Method – Ryder Caroll
  • The Witch’s Herbal Apothecary – Marysia Miernowska
  • Urban Magick: A Guide for the City Witch – Diana Rajchel
  • Shadowplay – Joseph O’Connor

No more buying?

The second challenge is a book buying ban, which isn’t an issue for me because as of two years ago, I mainly buy locally-published books or chapbooks by Malaysian poets. However, I’m a NetGalley member so my book buying ban absolutely applies to not requesting galleys as well!

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite excited about this project! You can find me on Goodreads or on Instagram under @kuchingbooks so we can cheer each other on.

Are you joining the project? Let me know in the comments.

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