The Unread Shelf Project

One of my reading goals this year is to tackle my TBR. In my Spring Reads post, I mentioned some of the books that have been on my shelf the longest, some for two or three years, so when I came across The Unread Shelf Project, I knew it would be a perfect motivator to keep me focused on my plan.

I first came across this thanks to an Instagram story by Zakiya at To Borrow or Buy (@toborroworbuy). The project was started by Whitney at @theunreadshelf as a way to tackle that pile of unread books by providing a prompt for each month. There are also two accompanying Instagram story templates to help keep track of your progress.

It’s now April, so I’m starting this a little late. I’m not sure what number I began the year with but 80 unread books sounds about right. I’ve since unhauled some, bought some, read some, and split my TBR into ‘owned’ and ‘to buy’ so I’m now down to 56 books to read that I actually own.

Looking back at my reads so far this year, I’ve actually unintentionally completed the prompts for January and March, and in the correct months!

January – any unread book: This was one I almost couldn’t tick off, as all my reads in January were ARCs which I don’t usually count as part of my TBR. However, my very first book of the year was a ‘Read Now’ book from NetGalley that I already had my eye on: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. That’s one down!

February – a gift: I’ve technically completed this, but I didn’t do so until March. Last month I read New American Best Friend, a poetry collection by Olivia Gatwood, gifted to me by a close friend at Christmas. The fact that I didn’t read it until March is really annoying, because had I read it in February when this prompt was for, I may have had a chance to book tickets to see Olivia Gatwood’s London tour dates…

March – been on your shelf the longest: The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore! This had been staring at me from my shelf, filling me with unread-book guilt for three whole years and I finally read it last month!

For the rest of the year I’ve picked out some initial choices, but these will definitely change depending on other reading challenges I pick up, or if I just really fancy reading that particular book and don’t want to wait for the prompt to come around! So here’s an indicative list for the rest of year:

April – Most recently acquired: My most recently acquired book is Everything Under by Daisy Johnson. I already have my April reads planned out for the Magical Readathon, but if I manage to finish my chosen seven subjects (it’s day four and I’ve almost finished book two, so that’s a good start) then I’ll be trying to complete more of the 12 prompts. Everything Under could definitely work as my book for ‘Ancient Runes’, a retelling, which would get me closer to that ‘Outstanding’ OWL grade!

May – Bought because of the adaptation: I’m stretching this one because I don’t have any books that I bought for this reason, but I do have Shrill by Lindy West on my TBR, which I’m now more excited to read because of the adaptation.

June – About travel or set in a country you’ve never been: Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama is one that could definitely fit this prompt. It’s set in Japan, which I’ve never visited. It’s one of the bigger books on my TBR, so if I feel I won’t have time for this one then I can also read Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, also set in Japan.

July – From a series on your shelf: I do have the first book in the Tuva Moodyson series, Dark Pines, by Will Dean, which I’ve been meaning to read for over a year! The second book, Red Snow, came out a few months ago and I’ve heard such great things about them so I’m eager to catch up.

August – voted for you by Bookstagram: Due to the nature of this prompt I can’t plan ahead, but this is also the month when the Magical Readathon NEWTs take place, so I’ll likely ask Bookstagram to decide one of my picks for that, and use it to fulfil this prompt too.

September – a book you can buddy read: I’ve never done a buddy read before unless you count university where technically it’s a whole class buddy reading! One of my friends has just moved to Brazil though, and we have similar tastes in books, so maybe buddy-reading something with her will be a great way to connect over that long distance.

October – a book that scares you: I instantly knew what book to pick for this: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. What’s scarier than climate change?!

November – from your favourite genre: I don’t know if this is my favourite genre as it’s not one that I read often, but when I do read it I love it, and that’s dark academia. So for November I’m finally going to read M. L. Rio’s If We Were Villians.

December – shortest book: The shortest book on my list is Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry anthology The Bees. My pick for this one will definitely change, as I’m always working my way through the shortest books when I need a quick read in between bigger novels. It is likely to be a poetry book of some sort though, or one of Penguin’s little Classics!

How do you stay focused on tackling your TBR?

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