The Quest Of The To Read Shelf Of DoomJanuary 7th, 2012 at 10:36
I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions as such, though I tend to lay out some kind of general, practical plan for my new year. This year’s looking like a bit of a blank slate so far, though, as I have no idea yet which of my projects I’ll be writing, and I’m fairly happy with my current work-life balance.
The only thing in my life that I really need to change is that shelf. The dread To Read Shelf of Doom, the one that I refer to with such exasperation quite regularly on Galactic Suburbia. It’s not just reaching the point of health and safety risk, but it’s actively stressing me out.
It started out as such a nice, organised space, somewhere for me to put, well quite obviously, the books I hadn’t read yet. I set it up not long after we moved here (nearly seven years ago!) and it made me happy.
But flat surfaces. I have a bad, bad relationship with flat surfaces. I put things on them. And then I put things on the things. And somewhere along the way… well, yes.
The worst part is that nearly every book teetering in piles on that top shelf is one that I actually desperately wanted to read when I acquired it. Most of them, I still do. I bought them or acquired them by other means because I couldn’t WAIT to read them. And yet, there they are. And they’ve been entering the house way too fast.
It seemed quite obvious to me a year or two ago that my reading speed and numbers had dropped, and that my book acquisitions were outstripping them too fast. But after a year of actively trying to restrain purchases, limiting myself to an online shopping budget and so on… the tower grows higher.
Even when I don’t buy books, and try not to request books for review unless I REALLY think I can read them in the next month (ha!) and keep my books for award judging in an entirely different part of the house, they just stack up and stack up and you know, I’ve been to houses which are basically held together by teetering towers of books, and much though I love having many books in a house, this is really not sustainable right now.
Then there’s the ‘archived’, much neater shelf below, which for the most part is books which I have acquired but not read over the first five of the last seven years, and have not successfully culled despite much earnest staring at the shelves because, you know, I still want to read them.
Sure, there are some romances and chick lit books in there and I haven’t been in a mood to read either type of books for several years, but when I am in that mood, I want THOSE books to be waiting for me! Ditto for the books about historical female authors, and the ones that were actually quite hard to find, and wouldn’t be a snap to replace if I do want to read them, in two years or so.
Aaargh I say, aargh. I love my books, but they are freaking me out.
So my main goal this year is to get this thing under control. It has to happen. I am not going to let this shelf beat me. And um, I manage not to think about the storage issue of reading the books and then having to find room for them on other shelves, LET ME HAVE MY DENIAL PLEASE.
Plan #1 is that I am only allowed to buy one book for every 3 I read, with the coda that two of those three have to be books from the physical To Read Shelf. This should slow me down a bit because my Tiptree books have priority and are elsewhere in the house (though I don’t have a lot of those left to read now), and there are others elsewhere like my Agatha Christie Bag. And a few others in sneaky locations.
I don’t think the 3-1 ratio is going to make the shelf shift fast enough to get it properly under control within the year, but it’s a start. I also need to do regular ruthless culls of those books that have been sitting around for years and years, and to be firm about returning books lent to me by others. The extra obstacle of course is that reaching the books lower down in the teetering stacks is tricky.
I’ve put some thought into properly shelving some books, especially non fiction works, without reading them. But let’s not go nuts here. Last resort, people!
Also, full size graphic novels and download-only audio books are excluded from either the purchasing ban or counting towards my tally, because I consume them sensibly, and because they are stored elsewhere. I’m worried, though, about the way that, well, books do rather flock to me even when I take spending money out of the equation.
I’m going to be checking back on this project throughout the year. It’s going to work. It is! I will adapt it as I go if it’s not working fast enough. No one write any good books this year, ok? I’m not going to be keeping up with new releases as well as I have in recent years. And I can’t help thinking that really that wall isn’t being used for anything else and maybe my reward should be to build more shelves…
Let the reading COMMENCE!