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Tackling the TBR [37]: August 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I found myself almost antsy to set this post up because I’ve been having so much fun lately organizing and scheduling books. (<-Edit, that attitude came back to bite me in the butt… you’ll see). From all appearances, my lineup of books looks the same as always, but I have them arranged a little differently this month.

Top Row: Books I already have copies for and am definitely reading (The Kim Harrison ones are super short, so I’ll be doing that entire trilogy).
Middle Row: Books I have a library hold on and would love to read next month if they arrive in time.
Bottom Row: Books I’m either partway through or am just less excited to read (Gardens of the Moon the exception to both of those).

So… I was so excited for this post, that by the time I went to review it the day before publication, everything had changed (lol, I guess you really can be too prepared). Now EVERYTHING on my list I’m excited to read. :D I left a few blank spaces to accommodate a couple of review titles I know are headed my way.

I’ve been over-scheduling myself these last few months, and that has resulted in several half-finished titles I’d like to get a handle on in August (<- Edit, I already got a handle on them by the end of July and deleted them from this list – go me!). I figure if I stick to my conservative 10 book high-priority list, then I’ll have plenty of time between titles to work on some of these lower priority books (which are just good enough that I don’t want to abandon them outright) (<-Edit, I speed-read a couple of them to the end and abandoned the others). The point of this method is to focus only on high-priority titles, so I’m hoping this visual separation will help keep my attentions on the best books first (because let’s face it, some titles that were high-priority drop down the totem pole once you get into them…but I’d still like to finish what I started). I figure a chapter a day of the less-appealing titles is time I can fit in easily. (<-Edit, I decided they weren’t worth my time and did what I needed to do to free up space for review copies and other titles I know I’ll love). 


So, an unconventional post, but one I’m oddly happy with because it shows the honest struggle it can be to plan out reads sometimes. It also highlights how often throughout the month my reading plans are tweaked.  It’s so weird to feel like I’m both a meticulous planner and a mood reader at the same time. I seem to have finally found a method that allows me to mix the best of both worlds… perhaps I’ll do a post on that soon. :)

The fact that I update my reading schedule almost daily has me wondering if posting a Tackling the TBR more frequently might be more helpful. <-Any thoughts on that idea? Would a weekly or bi-weekly Tackling the TBR post (with a different format) feel like too much? I’d love some feedback. :)

 Have a great August!

by Niki Hawkes

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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

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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]:
1.
2.
3.
Purchased:

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]:
1.
2.
3.
Borrowed:

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]:
Purchased:
Let Go:
1.
2.

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:
Newest:
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

Oldest:
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]:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
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

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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

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Tackling the TBR [32]: March 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you. <-November 2017 I’m trying something new and reading them in a specific, carefully pre-determined order. <-Going back to how I was doing it before.

Here’s what mine looks like:

March 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

My new strategy of reading high-priority books in a carefully pre-determined order is … not working. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the highly structured nature of the system that let me down (I actually liked not having the pressure of choosing my next reads), but the sporadic availably of most of the books. Because I was reliant on library checkouts for at least 75% of my titles, that means I was at the mercy of those in line ahead of me (where they would either keep the books the max time, or return them early… either way they screwed up my system constantly). I’m the type of personality that if I set my mind to a system, I want to stick to it perfectly. So after the 5th or 6th book I had to start out of order, I realized the only way I could get this to work was if I was only reading owned books… not going to happen. Not to mention many of my titles were for Buddy Reads, which start on specific dates. Long story short, I’m back to setting my list for high priorities and reading them as they become available. :D I’m very excited for Nyxia Unleashed, so between that and finishing out the Unhewn Throne series, March has a lot to look forward to.  


Niki’s Incomplete Series Challenge [Via Fantasy Buddy Reads]

Niki’s February 2018 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 2
Darkest Mercy – Melissa Marr
The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories – Rae Carson

Series Brought UTD: 2
Spectacle – Rachel Vincent
Child of a Mad God – R.A. Salvatore

Series Progressed: 5
The Providence of Fire – Brian Staveley
Tricked – Kevin Hearne
The Demon Spirit – R.A. Salvatore
Teckla – Steven Brust
Dime Store Magic – Kelley Armstrong

New Series Started: 1
Child of a Mad God – R.A. Salvatore
Dayfall – Michael David Ares

Abandoned: 1
Dayfall – Michael David Ares

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 3
Up To Date Series: 5
Series Progressed: 10
New Series Started: 3
Abandoned: 2

Because I’ve been focused on my goal of getting under 20 open series (by July 2018, which I slaughtered), I’m now sitting pretty with 15 open series (not counting the UTD stuff). My next goal is to get under 10. :)


What books are you Tackling this month? Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile (and the links to your posts if applicable) in the comments. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [31]: February 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you. <-November 2017 I’m trying something new and reading them in a specific, carefully pre-determined order.

Here’s what mine looks like:

February 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

My new strategy of reading high-priority books in a carefully pre-determined order is definitely working for me. As long as I continue to prioritize the best books first, I can jump into the next book on my list with confidence (and zero lag time). I’m now rotating books within 5 series, and throwing in ARCs or impulse reads in the 6th spot to keep things interesting (the 6th spot is also where I’m tacking my slightly lower priority books). I have a detailed “schedule” of books laid out on this Goodreads Bookshelf, and it delights me to no end to see all the TBR books from each series in a solid line down the page (it’s also really fun to see the books move up the list as I complete them… I’m such a nerd). Anyway, the book I’m currently most excited to get to on this list is Spectacle by Rachel Vincent. :) 


Niki’s Incomplete Series Challenge [Via Fantasy Buddy Reads]

Niki’s January 2018 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 1
Naamah’s Blessing – Jacqueline Carey

Series Brought UTD: 3
Magic Binds – Ilona Andrews
Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs
Persepolis Rising – James S.A. Corey

Series Progressed: 5
Lady of Misrule – T.A. Pratt
Radiant Shadows – Melissa Marr
Dragon Hunters – Marc Turner
High Rhulain – Brian Jacques
The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan

New Series Started: 1
Menagerie – Rachel Vincent

Abandoned: 1
Lady of Misrule [8/10] – T.A. Pratt

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 1
Up To Date Series: 3
Series Progressed: 5
New Series Started: 1
Abandoned: 1

Because I’ve been focused on my goal of getting under 20 open series (by July 2018, which I slaughtered), I’m now sitting pretty with 16 open series (not counting the UTD stuff). My next goal is to get under 10. :)


What books are you Tackling this month? Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile (and the links to your posts if applicable) in the comments. :)

by Niki Hawkes