The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: Getting Organized!

The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: Getting Organized!

While working on my massive New Bookshelves Project (Instagram), I also took the time to get organized for my Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge. During the reshelving process, I decided to forego my typical alphabetical order arrangement for my unread titles in favor of a descending “priority” lineup. I’m going to share how this new reorganization has set me up for success with my challenge.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted staring at my collection, researching titles, and creating shelves on Goodreads while trying to get straight which books I should be reading first. I couldn’t find a great way to keep track of everything, so I’d have to re-look up the same titles constantly, wasting precious brain power and reading time. Clearly I needed a better way to organize these titles, and I took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the best solution would be to physically move them around in my collection instead of creating endless digital lists. #brilliant

Since I had to pull all the titles off the shelves anyway for the bookshelf swap, I took the time to painstakingly research each book to check for audio availability (either through audible, library overdrive, or physical CDs at my local branch – 3 sources for each title!! It took forever). Eventually I had everything separated into 3 categories:

1. Books available on Audio for Free!
2. Books available on Audio for a Cost.
3. Books without an Audio option.

I then arranged them from highest to lowest priority on the shelves in their own respective sections. The image at the beginning of this post is how it turned out. :) Here are the top shelves (or, the highest priorities) within each category:

I love it. This new shelving layout allows me to immediately see what’s on the docket, and it made it immeasurably easier to identify which bottom priority titles were up for eviction from my house (researching these bottom titles required another several hours of effort, but I was able to remove 99 from my shelves, which I’m super proud of).

What im left with are titles I’m genuinely interested in reading and a clear, fool-proof plan for reading them all: start with the highest priority and work my way back.

As I’ve explained before, I’m not the fastest at getting through physical reads for a plethora of reasons (eye strain, arcs, phone distractions, etc), so most of my book enjoyment these days come from audiobooks (it’s a bonus that I can listen to them all day at work). So this is the main reason why I chose to separate my collection accordingly. It also frees up more time for physical reads and will enable me to work though my collection that much faster. Here’s the first physical read series I’m Tackling:

Overall, even though it took a ton of time and effort, I’m 100% pleased with how it turned out and think I’ve taken out most of the obstacles I was facing for getting a handle on my collection. Here are some current stats (not including YA titles…I haven’t touched those yet):

Audio Free: 183
Audio $: 139
Non-Audio: 270
Total Non-Read: 691
Titles for Donation: 99 -> 14%!! (I was shooting for 10%)
New Total: 592

Once I let go of my donation pile, I’ll have 592 books to read. Figure I can do about 5 a month (leaving 5 for non-owned titles), then I should be able to get through all of these in 9.87 years. That may seem like a lot, but before I started thinning out my collection some years ago, I was looking at a 40 year TBR pile. The goal has ever been to get the TBR down to a “manageable” level, and 10 years was my goal. My new goal is 9 years (540 titles) – let’s take it in baby steps. :)

Thanks for following along my challenge journey. My next post will be about the much-needed reorganization of my unread YA titles. And then, dare I say, I’ll be finished with this project and can focus on challenge updates from there on out. :)

by Niki Hawkes


The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: Niki’s Mini Challenges Strategy

The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: Niki’s Mini Challenges Strategy

If you caught my post The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: How it Works, you saw all of the mini challenges I created to help my FBR Goodreads group tackle their collections. I’ve tried most of them, and current the ones that are working the best for me are the 3 for 1 and the Book Pledge challenges. Here’s how they’re going:

->The 3 for 1 Mini Challenge

This challenge entails reading books from your collection to earn credits to buy new books at a ratio of 3 to 1 (I’ve adapted it to 5 for 1 for my own personal needs… I have a lot of titles to get through). It’s actually a system I’ve been loosely using for years (allowing myself to buy books after reading 5 of any books, not just ones I owned), but am finding it especially motivating in this challenge. I’ve only started doing this one recently, so I’ve only “earned” one new book, but if I focus on owned books, I could easily justify bringing home at least 2 new titles per month. ^_^

When spending my credits, I’ve been operating under two personal rules:

1. Only buy books you’ve already read and loved enough to add to the collection.

2. If you do buy unread titles, they must be read immediately.

Luckily I have access to most of the things I want to read through digital and audio library services, so it’s easy for me to obtain and read a book before committing hard earned cash to it. If I didn’t have such an extensive unread section already, I might feel limited by this, but as it stands I’m happy that my methods have kept me from adding to my problem these last few years.

Plus, I have the flexibility of being “allowed” to bring home unread titles as long as I read them immediately. This comes in handy when I only own the first couple of books in a series. If they’re not worth reading the moment I bring them home, then that tells me I need to abandon the series and move on.

->The Book Pledge Mini Challenge

This Mini Challenge is the simplest of the bunch. It involves committing yourself to reading a specific number of owned books by a specific date. My current goal is:

To read 100 books from my physical collection by 12/31/2018

It’s kind of lofty for me, but I wanted a goal that would force me to focus. I’ve already made a lot of strides this year and might actually come close. Here are the titles read so far:

Titles Read [Start 9.8.2017]: Heart’s BloodAn Alchemy of Masques and MirrorsA Sending of DragonsYendi, Dragonsinger, Dragonmaster [DNF – Donated], The Infinity Gate, Dragondrums, Magic Shifts, Bard’s Oath [DNF], Rakkety Tam, Oathbringer, Fragile Eternity, When the Heavens Fall, The Emperor’s Blades, Magic Binds, High Rhulain, Radiant Shadows, Naamah’s Blessing, The Providence of Fire, Child of a Mad God, The Demon Spirit, Darkest Mercy, Teckla, Dime Store Magic, The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories, Lord of Misrule, Sword-Bound, Industrial Magic, Dayfall: A Novel, The Lost Hero, The Last Mortal Bond, His Majesty’s Dragon, The Son of Neptune, An Accident of Stars, Haunted, Carpe Corpus, Skullsworn, Unclean Spirits, Fade Out, Broken, The Mark of Athena, Throne of Jade, A Tyranny of Queens, Wildfire, Kiss of Death

Total: 46/100 (personal achievement: I’ve actually reviewed most of these too)

In addition, I set myself a goal of donating 50 books from my collection. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen that I’m already smashing that. My overall goal of The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge is to par down my collection to just books I’m excited to read – ones I can reasonably get to within the next 10 years (I’ll shoot for 5 once I hit 10). Part of that is coming to terms with the fact that I just won’t be able to get to some of these titles for over a decade, so then I have to decide if they merit hanging onto for that long.

Overall, the straightforwardness of this Mini Challenge is exactly what I need. Right now volume is key.

Here’s a link to my Goodreads Challenge Thread if you’d like to see how I organize it on there.

There’s nothing I love more that talking book challenge strategy haha. Thanks for tuning in. :) My next post will be about how I’ve organized my unread collection to help me meet my goals.

by Niki Hawkes


The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: How it Works.

The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: How it Works

As I mentioned Monday, I spent a lot of time creating this Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge for my Fantasy Buddy Reads group, so I’d like to take a moment to share with you the fully composed post I uploaded on there. I won’t be running the challenge here on my blog for others to join, but would love to hear if you end up trying one of my mini challenges and how it works out for you (however, feel free to start your own tracker thread in the challenge folder on the group page – it’s open to the public and we’d love to have you). Here’s a look at what the challenge entails:

Are you a few books away from being crushed to death under you personal TBR? Do you have waaay more owned books than read books? Do you love signing up for yet one more challenge?? If so, the Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge is for you!

The challenge is for those of us who buy more books than we ever get around to reading. The overall goal is to tackle as many titles as you can from your personal library and start making owned books more of a priority. As with our Incomplete Series Challenge, each participant will create their own thread, list out their unread/read owned titles, and come up with personal goals that suits your needs.

Pro tip: If you have too many books to list, you can always paste a link to a Goodreads bookshelf or any other database to your thread for quick access. Goodreads has a scan feature on the app that makes it super easy to upload all of your titles to a bookshelf.

That’s it – track your progress, let us know how you’re doing with updates, and have fun! If you want to get really serious about getting through the books you own, I have some Mini-Challenges below to give you some ideas on how to take this challenge to the next level (i.e. obsessively organized). :)

The Overflowing Bookshelf Mini Challenges!! :D

1. The Book-Buying Ban Mini Challenge: Are your overflowing bookshelves caused by your inability to stop buying books? This 3 for 1 Mini Challenge will help you get through the books you already own while still allowing you to treat yourself to new books. (Nik’s Notes: I’ve been using this challenge for a few years now and it has totally changed my bad buying habits – I love it! My favorite aspect is that it makes me really think about which books I want to spend my “reward” on, so I don’t waste money on books I’m only kind of interested in).

How it works: You must read 3 books from your personal collection for every 1 book you bring home (3 for 1 is an example ratio, so feel free to adapt it for your needs). Here’s a look at the tracker:

Niki’s Book-Buying Ban Challenge [1]:

Nik’s Notes: You can also do a page-count version rather than a book count version (1500 for 1). The benefit is that you’re rewarded for effort, as longer books carry more weight towards completion. If you think the page version will work better for you, here’s how you adapt your tracker:

Niki’s Book-Buying Ban Challenge [1]:
1. The Shadow of What Was Lost 602/602
2. Knight’s Shadow 606/1208
3.The Aware 318/1526 <-the 26 pages over becomes my first entry in my next log.
Purchased: The Legion of Flame

The Borrowing Ban Mini Challenge: Are your bookshelves overflowing because you can’t resist the call of free books from the library? (Or because you can’t stop requesting ARCs from Netgalley?). The goal of this mini challenge is to help you reprioritize the books you actually spent money on.

How it works: You must read 3 books from your personal collection for every 1 book you borrow from the library or request from Netgalley (3 for 1 is an example ratio, so feel free to adapt it for your needs). The tracker should look familiar:

Niki’s Borrowing Ban Challenge [1]:

The Book Hoarding Mini Challenge: Are your overflowing bookshelves so stacked that you couldn’t possibly read all the unread titles within the next 10 years? If so, the Hoarding Ban Mini Challenge might be the one for you!

How it works: You must get rid of 2 books from your personal collection for every 1 you bring home. (2 for 1 is an example ratio, so feel free to adapt it for your needs). The tracker should be annoyingly redundant to list at this point:

Niki’s Book Hoarding Challenge [1]:
Let Go:

The Book-End Mini Challenge: Is your bookshelf brimming with first-in-series, which would require you to purchase/borrow even more books to get through your collection? If so, the Book-End Mini Challenge might be for you!

How it works: Line your books up approximately from longest owned to newest (or sort your online bookshelf by date added. Focus your reading on the books you bring home immediately (the front of the bookend) and the books you’ve been hanging onto the longest (the back of the bookend). This will help you think about the books you bring home: “will I want to read this immediately?” This is also an opportunity to look critically at the books you’ve been hanging onto the longest to see if you still even want to read them. This challenge pairs well with the Book-Hoarding Challenge. Possible log entries:

Niki’s Bookend Challenge:
1. Apex
2. The Stone Sky [Read] <-Moved to a completed section and replace with a new title.
3. The Shadow of What Was Lost

1. Aurian
2. Shatter Me [Got rid of] <-then moved to the “Let Go” pile and replaced with a “new” old title
3. Ghost King

Bill’s FBR Challenge Masher Challenge: Do you love challenges? Do you also like killing two birds with one stone? If so, Bill’s FBR Challenge Masher Challenge might be for you! [Nik’s Notes – Bill is an FBR member who we’ve teased for joining all of the challenges. I think the initial idea for this one was initiated by him, so thanks, Bill!]

How it works: Choose any of the other challenges offered by our group and try to completed as much of them as you can only using books you own.

Current FBR Challenges:

The A-Z Topics Challenge
The Bingo Challenge
The Book Cover Challenge
The Incomplete Series Challenge

You may not own enough titles to complete the challenges entirely (the Incomplete Series Challenge would be difficult), so the goal is to get as many of them as possible with your current collection.

The Book Pledge Challenge: Do you like challenges but don’t have the time or energy to get really complicated with them? The Book Pledge Challenge might be the one for you!

How it works: Decide how many books you’d like to read from your personal collection within a given timeframe. Then track your progress towards your goal:

Niki’s Book Pledge Challenge [Goal: 5 by 12/2017]:
Total: 0/5

Overall, the Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge is designed to be as relaxed or intense as you choose, based on what types of goals you’d like to achieve. There’s a lot of info in this post, so please let me know if you have any questions. :-)

That’s a lot of options, right? I’ve bounced between several of them, but am currently using the Book Pledge Challenge and the 3 for 1 Challenge (adapted to 5 for 1 because I have issues). My next post will be more details on how these Mini Challenges have been helping me so far and what goals I’m hoping to achieve! :)

How are you with bookish challenges? Do you stick with them?

by Niki Hawkes


The Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge: A Pre-Introduction.

Niki’s Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge

Several months ago I created an Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge for my Goodreads group (Fantasy Buddy Reads), but was too wrapped up in my Incomplete Series Challenge to give it much attention. Now that I’m only down to 11 open series (from 129), it’s time to get serious about my overflowing shelves.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me posting updates on my New Bookshelves Project off and on for the last several months. The project has afforded me the opportunity to really dig into and organize my unread titles. The blunt fact of the matter is that I have waaaaay too many (over 1100). Even if I focus only on owned books, it will take me about 8 years to get through them all. If I’m realistic about how many new books and borrowed books I’ll want to read outside of my collection, I’m looking at more than 20 YEARS!! O_o.

My goal with this challenge is to par down the number of unread titles to just those I can reasonably get to within the next 10 years. Some of these titles I’ve been hanging onto for almost 15 years and a lot of them are medium-high priority titles I keep passing up for low priority “do I really want to keep this? Maybe I should read it to see” books (well, Niki, there’s your problem). From now on I’ll be reading exclusively high-priority titles until I’ve whittled my TBR down to something I can manage. Excessive prioritizing has been working for my Tackling the TBR method, so I don’t know why I haven’t implemented it here before now.

With my next post, I’ll get into the specifics of the challenge, but for now (if you need me) I’ll be digging through my collection. :)

Has your collection gotten out of hand?
On a scale of minimalist to death by TBR, how buried are you?

by Niki Hawkes