Reading Off The Shelf – January Results

Off the Shelf ChallengeI’m doing the Off The Shelf Challenge in which readers pledge to read a certain amount of books that they already owned before the beginning of the year. All in an attempt to reduce the number of unread books on their shelves.

I had a total of 31 unread books on my shelves before January 1st 2011. I pledged to read them all by the end of this year.

But I also pledged to only read from those 31 books during January to make a good start on this challenge.

Now, did I succeed and what were the books like?

You’d think, those books that you constantly reject when choosing a book to read, those wall flowers, they can’t be any good. I must have had a month full of awful books.

Not so. Admittedly, they weren’t all brilliant, but it wasn’t bad. Let’s look at it in terms of how many stars I gave them:

5 stars (Very Good):

Oops, none!

4 or 4.5 stars (Good):

East is East by T. C. Boyle
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding
Kindred by Octivia E. Butler
Harvest by Tess Gerritsen
Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
Solace by Nicci French
De tranen der Acacia’s by W. F. Hermans (Dutch)

3 or 3.5 stars (It’s OK):

Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie (ebook)
Ballet Russes by Rosita Steenbeek (Dutch)

2.5 stars or fewer (Not Good):

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton
Life Sentence by David Ellis (DNF)

And reading now:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Tikkop by Adriaan van Dis (Dutch, ebook)

To summarize:

There weren’t any brilliant books, but most of the books I read were “good”. There were 2 books very disappointing and that is a higher number than in an average month. But actually, both these books were given to me. I would not have chosen them myself.

That’s 11 books off the shelf and 2 on the go. In addition I read one new ARC and I’m reading another one.

Didn’t I do well keeping to my challenge!

So, is the shelf getting a lot emptier then?

Erm, I did acquire a few new books during the month. They were ARCS, books I won, and books I borrowed from a friend. The total number of new books on my shelves is 12, one, an ARC, I read this month. So, that’s 31 old books, read 11, is 20 books. Plus 12 new books, read 1, is 31.

Isn’t that what I started with this month?!! Well, at least I don’t have any more books! In March, I will again read only from my shelves. Can I reduce the number? Will it ever happen?

How about you? Do you struggle to keep the number of unread books down? What’s your strategy?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

27 Responses to Reading Off The Shelf – January Results

  1. Nymeth says:

    My strategy at the moment seems to be to fill the house with books, plain and simply. Not a good plan, I’ll be the first to admit 😛 You did well in January – I’d say that so many 4 and 4.5 books makes for a good reading month! It’s funny; I keep finding gems among the books I reject when reaching for something to read. I think it’s because the fact that I reject them doesn’t say much about their appeal. It’s just that for whatever reason, the books I don’t yet own always seem a bit shinier. When I DO own something, I keep thinking I can always read it later and reaching for the library pile instead.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I know what you mean! The books definitely lose their shine the longer they are on the shelves. But they are just as good (on average) as the new books you keep buying or borrowing. That’s what I proved here, I think. 🙂

  2. Dorte H says:

    How good you have been!

    I had a similar idea, and on the plus side I have read 4 books in January which have been on my shelf for several months.

    But this resolution conflicted with two other resolutions: to review more Scandinavian books and to use the library again. So four were Scandinavian – new in the house – and the last four were new books I chose for the five challenges I participate in.

    And please don´t ask me how many new books I have acquired in January. In my defence, two were gifts/wins, and the eight ones from Awesomebooks were absolutely, overwhelmingly cheap. (What can a human being do when they offer you four for the price of three + free shipping?)

    • Leeswammes says:

      Four books off the shelves is something, Dorte, and working on your challenges is another good thing. So you did well. As for the undisclosed amount of new books you bought… well! Even cheap books have to be read- when will you find the time? Not good, I say! 🙂

  3. You did terrific “reading off the shelf” –very impressive. I think I need to do that a lot more as well with 600+ unreads on my shelves 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Eeks, 600 Diane? That is … a lot! Some people like to have their own library of unread books. You must be like that. I prefer to read what I have. To me, unread books are a physical to-do list that stare me in the face every time I look at my shelves.

  4. LOL at working so hard at this and still ending up with the same number TBR. Still, great job with the reading from the shelf!

  5. Uniflame says:

    Wow you have read so much! I only red one book this month and now busy with the 2nd. I do have some books on my shelves, but those are mainly books I want to keep. Since I read a lot through bookcrossing, I pass them on after I read them 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      I also pass on my books these days, Uniflame. Not via bookcrossing, but via giveaways, book swaps, bookmooch or second hand sales. I guess you’re too busy with making bentos and looking up new recipes to do much reading. Well, that’s a really nice hobby, too!

  6. Novroz says:

    11 books in a month? wow, I feel so slow 😦

    This challenge looks interesting…this month, I have only read 2 novellas from my shelf and read 1 reread-book, and 2 library books. My poor shelf had 3 new books. I wonder when I’ll be able to reduce it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I think we all have that struggle, Novroz. We buy or borrow new books and those poor old books stay on the shelf. As you can see, I tried to do something about it, but it didn’t really work…. 🙂

  7. Rachel says:

    I am looking forward to your review on ‘The Corrections’.. it’s on my TBR list.

    11 books in one month is also impressive. I made 7 this month which, for me, is good… just wait til work goes back.. lol

    • Leeswammes says:

      We all read at different paces and have different amounts of time to spend on reading, Rachel. So you can’t really compare one person to the next. Happy reading.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Umm, I don’t have a strategy BUT I have to say that I did make a dent in my to-read shelves in January by taking off and reading more than what I put on them.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, that’s brilliant! I had hoped my TBR would have been reduced this month, but I got so many books that I didn’t have any control over (ARCs and prizes I won ages ago)… But they’re all very nice books, so you won’t hear me complain.

  9. Suzanne says:

    I also can’t wait to hear your thoughts on The Corrections. I couldn’t get through it, but if you enjoy it I might be willing to give it another try.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, I found the beginning pretty good, but then half-way it became really boring. Now I’m in the last quarter of the book and it’s a bit better again. I did consider giving up, though.

  10. Isn’t it interesting that you didn’t like the books you wouldn’t choose on your own. I have found this to be true for me too.

    I can’t believe January is over!

  11. Cindy says:

    Well done, I’m lagging far behind!

  12. Chinoiseries says:

    At least you got a lot of Shelf reading done AND you haven’t bought any new books 😉 I’d be a bad example: have bought a lot of books (13 bought already? Not even counting the cookbooks and audiobooks) and today is still January O___O I’m off to the Slegte tomorrow though, to try and find cheap gems (and also off to the library). I’ve got 12 books on my TBR list (kind of the same challenge, but hosted by Roof Beam Reader Adam) and I said I’d read one book a month.
    Keep us posted on your progress, it is interesting to see how you are doing throughout the year 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Hmm, you are not doing much to stop the TBR growing out of proportions. But that’s fine. For you. 😉 Have fun at the book shop tomorrow.

      I meanwhile got another 2 books today (one from author, one from publisher) making a total of 14 books. I’m in the red now, as far as reducing the pile is concerned. 😦

  13. amymckie says:

    Good luck with reducing your pile… though 32 sounds awful sparse. Scary 😉

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