Monday, February 8, 2016

Resetting My TBR

Back in September, I really started thinking about the unread books in my collection and decided I would hold myself accountable by posting my "starting" and "current" TBR numbers on my sidebar. Since then, I've been tempted to re-set that starting number as my current total started creeping up instead of down. I decided that was the opposite of holding myself accountable though and instead slowly worked on moving that number back in the right direction.

However, now that I've done a major clean-up of my shelves, I think is IS time for a re-set. There has been a huge jump down in my total (yippee!), but that is due largely to culling rather than reading. While I have been reading from my shelves more than in the past, I think chopping 85-ish books off my TBR gives me far too much of a "cushion" to really have a sense of my progress. So, as of today, my starting number will be 500 instead of my original 580. At one point it had crept above 600, so while 500 is still a very large number, I'm very glad it's not as high as it once was.

It felt so great to finally let go of some books to places where they can be put to better use, that I'm certain I will continue to cull more. But I've put a lot of time into this project and I think I need to take a bit of a breather and re-evaluate again later with fresh eyes. Admittedly, it was easier to pass on books I had already read, but by being more honest about how my tastes and interests have changed, I know there are even more TBR titles on my shelves destined to find new homes.

Apparently this is what progress looks like... Please feel free to have a good chuckle about that!

Empty spaces! No doubling up! No stacking above the rows!

I spy half an empty shelf!

Letting go of ARCs really lightened my nightstand!

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Thanks for following along with this little book-reduction project of mine! How many books are on your TBR list?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A New Year's Bookshelf Clean-Out + Where to Donate Books

Like many avid readers and book collectors, I've always been a little defensive of my overflowing shelves. No matter how well-meaning or innocent, I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to comments or questions about how many books I own, feeling the need to explain and justify my hobby. "There are worse addictions to have than my addiction to books!" is a phrase I have used many times. And I use the term addiction very loosely because true addiction is no laughing matter -- it's not like reading or books are ruining my life, relationships, or finances. Rather, books and reading enrich my life and bring considerable enjoyment to my days. Books are a joy to share with my young son, other family members, and friends, not to mention all the like-minded book nerds I've "met" through blogging.

I am so very fortunate to be educated and literate with access to a fantastic library system and the means to buy books as well. While I have gotten a little click-happy with ordering books online more times than I'd like to admit, I always feel good about supporting local book stores. I love browsing and discovering some hidden gem or interesting title I had never heard of before. The odds of this sort of serendipity occurring seems to increase if I'm in a used bookstore which just adds to the fun.

However, I recently realized (again!) that I no longer had any shelf space left. As Andy Miller wrote in The Year of Reading Dangerously, "I had confused 'art' with 'shopping'. Books, for instance. I had a lot of those. There they all were, on the shelves and on the floor, piled up by the bed and falling out of boxes." While my collection is fairly well contained, I couldn't help but see myself a little bit in Andy's observation. Book shopping is fun in its own way, but it doesn't hold a candle to the actual reading. That's the really fun part.

So what's a bookworm to do? Cull, cull, and cull some more. If you're looking for some ideas of where to send books, here's where this round of culling is headed:

1. Schools via Reach A Reader's ARCs Float On
Bloggers, check this program out! This is a great way to responsibly deal with review books you are done with or that are so far past their publication date that it's time to let them go. I chose to offer the teachers I contacted finished books as well since I have so many to pass on right now. Personally, I'd rather pay for media mail shipping and know my old ARCs are going someplace they are wanted, than to push them on local schools that aren't actively seeking out or willing to accept them. I contacted three different teachers, received prompt responses, and have been busily boxing everything up to get into the mail. If there is a teacher in the directory near you, you might even be able to drop them off. Reach A Reader also has many more resources listed here for additional donation options.

2. My grandmother's account at her local used bookstore 
I have an account there too, but seriously, I don't need any more credit than I already have! My grandmother shares an account with two of my aunts, so they often run out of credit. This particular store only takes paperbacks, so any books I didn't think would work for high schoolers, I have in a bag for the next time I visit. It obviously doesn't have to be your grandmother, but if you know someone with a trade account at a used bookstore, I'm sure they would appreciate a little bump to their balance if you have extra books to share.

3. My local used bookstore
This store takes hardcovers, so any of those that didn't seem like a good fit for a high school are going there. Mostly this has consisted of mid-life, middle age, finding-peace-after-divorce type of fiction -- which other than a familiar author name catching my eye, I don't even know why I even picked up these types of books and I'm considerably older than a high schooler! I don't send all my books here, but I do like supporting a small, independent business. 

4. My brother's girlfriend's mom
I found out she reads Nora Roberts and despite the fact that I used to read her books, I haven't picked any up in the past several years. My own mom has borrowed and read them all, so I'm glad others have and will enjoy them, but it's time for me to move on! It's definitely worth asking around if you want to share some excess books with friends and family.

5. Better Worlds Books donation bin in my library's parking lot
A handful of books I didn't think the schools or bookstores would want are going here. If they can't use the books in their online store, they get recycled, so this is often a last-ditch option for the odd stragglers I don't know what else to do with. See if there is a collection bin near you here.

SOME of the piles to be boxed up.

Some additional ideas:

1. Donate to a Little Free Library
A few months ago, I gave a friend a big pile for her Little Free Library, but I didn't want to overwhelm her with another avalanche of books. If you don't know anyone who runs a Little Free Library, you could start your own! Also, the whole premise of these libraries is "take a book, leave a book" so could always participate as a patron of any Little Free Library you come across. Search for one near you here.

2. Donate to a nursing home
Before I moved, I worked at a nursing home/rehabilitation center and we regularly received book donations to share with the patients and residents. I would recommend contacting them ahead of time to make sure they are willing to accept your books and have the space to store them, etc. You'd want to ask for the Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation (TR) Department.

3. Donate to a doctor's office or other organization
While I mostly think of magazines when it comes to waiting room donations, I know my son's pediatrician has a rack of picture books in every exam room. I haven't done this myself, but I'm sure when the time comes I could ask at the desk if they needed any additional books. If finding a local organization to share your books with is important to you (and you'd like to avoid shipping fees!), it can't hurt to ask! Call, email, or ask the next time you are visiting or nearby. Be aware they may decline your offer for various reasons (don't need any more books, don't want/need the types of books you are offering, don't have storage space, don't have anyone to sort/handle/distribute the donations, etc.), but you never know! If you inquire ahead of time, you give them the opportunity to evaluate whether or not they are willing and able to put your books to good use. Shelters, schools, after-school programs, day-care centers -- there a lot of options if you want to do some research.

4. Donate to a Library Book Sale
In my experience, a lot of libraries do NOT accept donations, unless they have a Friends of the Library group that coordinates book sale fundraisers. If your library does have a Friends group that runs these sales throughout the year, ask about how/where they accept donations. Some accept books year-round and others might have designated drop-off times or dates.

I feel like I was evaluating my collection pretty ruthlessly, pulling out well over 100 books, but I still have A LOT of books left in my house! So what the heck kinds of books are still on my shelves if I got rid of so many? I'm mostly keeping favorites, unread books I am still excited to read someday, and what I will loosely term "classics." That last category includes a LOT of children's books for various ages I'd like to share with my son as he gets older.

I am hoping this experience will help me to let go of books I'm done with more easily in the future and also be more mindful about future book purchases -- honing in on what is worth adding to (or keeping in) my collection versus what is just adding to the clutter. And let me tell you, knowing that so many of the books leaving my home would be going into classrooms made it SO much easier to let them go. That was my biggest lesson I think -- having a plan and knowing that any books I remove from my collection will be used and appreciated helped make my decisions about what to keep and what to give away so much easier.

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Have you ever done a major culling of your book collection? Do you have any other tips, tricks, or donation suggestions to share? Please tell us in the comments!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A (Picture) Book About Books

If You Wish, written by Kate Westerlund & illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Series? No
Publisher: minedition
Date: September 2014
Other Details: Hardcover; 32 pages
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author Publisher

This was my first complete book of 2016 and what a wonderful way to start the year! I discovered it while doing some research about Robert Ingpen who has done the illustrations for a whole series of classics (that I keep adding to my collection!) as well as many other books including this one. His artwork is absolutely beautiful and this story just warmed my bookish heart. Essentially, it is about a girl who learns to use her imagination while re-reading her favorite books -- she discovers how to find the "book inside the book."

This book currently has only 12 ratings and 1 review on Goodreads and I'm so surprised by that. According to the author's website, it was originally only available in German and French, but it was later published in English in the US in 2014. I'm so glad my library system had a copy to borrow, but I have a feeling this one will eventually join our home collection as well.

This is a must-read for any book lover -- child or adult! And most especially if you have a soft spot in your heart for re-exploring your favorite stories. It is a wonderful book to read aloud and there were quite a few lovely quotes I jotted down in my journal -- that doesn't happen too often with a picture book!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Charity Reading Challenge

OK, this is my last challenge -- promise! I really love the idea of reading for a good cause, so I couldn't pass this one up. I am opting to track my reading and make a donation each quarter instead of buying books at a charity shop. There are two reasons for this -- first, I don't have any charity shops nearby and second, I am really trying to limit my book buying this year. I am planning to donate to Feeding America, FINCA, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and some sort of literacy program -- probably one from this list.

Here's what I've decided on to guide my fund-raising:

25¢ per:
  • picture book -- 1st reads + Caldecott re-reads for Julie's challenge
  • young-reader's/beginner book
  • stand-alone short story

50¢ per:
  • novella
  • short non-fiction
  • most graphic novels/comic collections

$1 per:
  • novel (adult/YA/middle grade)
  • longer graphic novels & comic collections (like Blankets, etc.)
  • full-length non-fiction
  • short story collection
  • poetry collection

$5 bonus per:
(Those last two don't have set levels, so I am making my own!)

If it looks like the totals are getting higher than I anticipate, I may opt to donate more frequently to spread things out -- maybe monthly or bimonthly -- I'll see how it goes!

Click the badge above for more info or to sign up! And if you are joining this or any other challenge in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Some Specific Reading Challenges for 2016

Now that we are almost two weeks into the new year, it's about time I finalized my challenge choices for the year. The first two challenges I joined are very broad and encompass all genres and types of books. My goals for those are basically to read what I already own AND to read whatever new books I purchase in 2016. But I also wanted to join a few more specific challenges that focus on the types of books I am most interested in reading in the coming months. So here they are!

In addition to Newbery Medal and Honor books, this challenge also includes Caldecott Medal winners, so I'm definitely in! I love borrowing picture books from the library to read to my son and with SO MANY available, I tend to go on runs of specific authors, illustrators, holidays, themes, etc. So why not focus on some award winners in 2016? Well, that's my new plan! Plus, I have some Newwbery books I've been wanting to read or re-read. I have a few GoodReads shelves to keep track of this challenge: Newbery MedalNewbery Honor, & Caldecott Medal. (I have a Caldecott Honor shelf as well, but those don't count!)

This challenge awards points for each type of book read:

3 points for Newbery Medal
2 points for Newbery Honor
1 point for Caldecott Medal books.

My Goal: Lowry level, 60-74 points

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I have SO MANY series I am in the middle of and would like finish. In addition to all the series I started on my own, I have a whole bunch more where I read book #1 for book club, but then never got around to continuing. I am not deluding myself into thinking I will finish them all in 2016, but I'd love to make some progress -- the number I have to choose from is rather ridiculous! I have a GoodReads shelf for all the series I am either working on or would like to start -- and any of them would count!

My Goal: Level 3 (Experienced), 3-6 series

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Well, I have to join my own challenge now don't I? I did better than I expected in 2015, so I'm hoping to just keep reading more of these great titles (and re-reading too!) I have a GoodReads shelf with lots of options to choose from.

My Goal: Rabble-Rouser level, 6-9 books

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I am completely fascinated by books that bend the rules and use fun, unique ways to tell a story. I have purchased quite a few of these books recently, so I absolutely could not pass up this challenge. Books with letters, diaries, emails, I.M.'s, drawings/photos, footnotes --etc. etc. are included in this challenge. I'm including novels in verse as choices on my GoodReads shelf for this challenge as well as books with unique kinds of illustrations (like paper cutting) and unique adaptations of original works (like Fable Comics, etc.) Truthfully, I am on the fence about some of the other illustrated books I've added to the shelf, so I will have to use my judgement as to whether or not they are truly unique once I see them in person. So consider that GoodReads shelf a work in progress :) 

My Goal: Uniquely Great level, 10 books

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And finally, a challenge I really need to help clear my shelves of ARCs! I've taken a major step back from review copies; however, I still have a shelf full of ARCs (mostly from Shelf Awareness, but also from giveaways, etc.) I never got around to and I feel guilty every time I look at them. I filled out too many request forms, entered too many sweepstakes, and before I knew it, I had more books than I could possibly review and I ended up going on a blogging break! When I came back, they already felt *late* so I just started avoiding them altogether. I gave a friend some for her Little Free Library, but I still have more I really would like to read and review before passing them on. I like that this challenge puts a positive spin on things instead of focusing on the guilt/shame of unread review copies. The guilt clearly hasn't worked, so maybe a "better late than never" approach will give me the nudge I need to finally pick them up. I'll be working my way through this GoodReads shelf.

Note: Nicole over at The Reader's Antidote has said this challenge will be returning for 2016, but I haven't seen the official sign-up yet. I've decided this is something I need regardless, so I'm unofficially joining based on last year's information. I will update the link and badge if/when the new challenge goes live.

My Goal: 12 old ARCs/review books

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Click the challenge badges above to visit the host sites for more info or to sign up! And if you are joining these or any other challenges in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bookish Christmas

I thought I'd take a little break from the New Year goals and challenges to rewind and share the bookish gifts we gave and received this Christmas. And don't worry, there are more New Year challenges to come :)

My inlaws did a little photoshoot while babysitting one afternoon and gave us this photo in a beautiful frame from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. How adorable?!?!

There are quite a few friends and family members who know we are book lovers, so the little man received a few more for his collection :)

My husband and I gave these two by Nancy Tillman to our son. I absolutely love all her books because they are both beautiful and sentimental in the best possible way. Highly recommended.

Another gift from my husband and I to our son. My parents still have Volume 2 & Volume 3 from when my brother and I were kids and we borrowed those to read this year leading up to Christmas. And while I know they will happily lend them to us again, I thought I would track down a copy of the first volume to add to our own collection. They are apparently not so easy to find, but I lucked out at this Etsy shop. I think it will be nice to mix up which volume we read each year in the future.

I received the Outlander graphic novel from my aunt- and uncle-in-law. I read it from the library (last year?) and loved it, but I didn't have a copy for my collection. Now I do! :)

And finally, my cousin and her family got us this awesome heat-sensitive Harry Potter mug...

 ...and HP onesie for the little guy. But, shhhh, we all know he's really a wizard :) :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Year's Reboot + Bookish Goals

I always find the start of a new year an inspiring time for goals and projects. And of course you know my favorite sort of goals and projects are book-related! So while I continue finalizing my 2016 reading challenge entries, I thought I would also revisit a few long-term projects I started back in 2013: The Classics Club and 1001 Children's Books. I've shared some new thoughts on those projects in addition to completely overhauling my Classics Club list and tweaking how I keep track of the children's books. If you'd like to see the changes I've made, click the links above. (You can always find links to those projects beneath my blog header as well.)

And while we're at it, a few additional bookish goals for the New Year:
  1. Choose a library story-time to attend and start taking my son regularly.
  2. Continue adding to my book quotes journal as I read.
  3. Get serious about reading from my shelves AND actually read any new books I buy.
  4. Support my local independent/used bookstores when I do shop.
  5. Find a better balance between reading library books and books I already own.
  6. Participate in at least one short-term, intensive read-a-thon (like Dewey's or 24 in 48)
  7. Complete my year-long reading challenges (more info on those soon!)
  8. Review more on the blog. This doesn't mean every book I read, but I want to figure out how to get excited about reviewing again, whatever shape or form that might take.
  9. Read all the remaining unread children's books on my son's shelves at least once.
  10. Re-read at least 5 books -- with all the excitement of new stories, I sometimes forget to make time to re-read. Harry Potter illustrated edition, I've got my eye on you!
My book quotes journal

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year everyone!

Update (1/5/16) : As it turns out, resolutions are this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic over on The Broke and the Bookish, so I'll be linking this post up there :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge + 2016 Read the Books You Buy Challenge

First of all, I love this challenge because I think it is a really positive way to approach our TBR piles. Instead of focusing on TBR guilt or "getting through" those stacks of books, it's all about showing our books some love and that is a sentiment I can wholeheartedly get behind.

For Shelf Love 2015, I only read 20 books I owned before the first of the year. I did read a whole bunch more (including a ton of picture books) from my collection, but they were added during 2015, so they didn't count. And let's be honest, I was a library-book-reading fool in 2015! I read a LOT of graphic novels, audiobooks, and childrens' books and those are precisely the types of books I most often use the library for. I love my library, but it's time to try for a better balance (again!)

Last year, this challenge also emphasized a goal of (ideally) no book buying or sticking to a limited budget. Instead of a budget, I opted to make up a whole bunch of complicated exceptions and let's just say that part of the challenge was a major fail for me. Even though I fell off the wagon, I think I learned a lot from the experience that will help me going forward. This year, the goal is the same, but the emphasis is to "responsibly obtain books for your personal library" and I love that shift in perspective.

I've come to realize the most important thing for me to consider when buying new books is whether or not I will actually read them in a reasonable amount of time. If I'm not going to read them soon (or at least soon-ish), I really don't need to be buying them at that moment. So instead of a total book buying ban or a specific budget, I am simply doing the 2016 Show Your Shellves Some Love challenge in conjunction with the 2016 Read the Books You Buy Challenge. So my combined goal is to read more books already on my shelves AND to read whatever new books I add in 2016. If I find that new purchases are piling up unread, I will put myself in a book-buying timeout until I have caught up. Sounds simple, right? Well, I am hoping that keeping things simple will be the key to actually achieving a better balance in my reading and keeping my purchases in check.

My #ShelfLove 2016 goal: 51+ books (My Shelves and I are Going Steady)

A part of me thinks I am aiming too high, but I want to truly challenge myself this year. Also, I know I have some unread children's books, shorter books, graphic novels, and audiobooks in my collection that I've been meaning to read. So if I read those as well as full-length print novels, I really think I can do it -- wish me luck!

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My Read the Books You Buy 2016 goal: 80-100% (Mission Accomplished)

I'm aiming for the highest level because I really want to hold myself accountable when it comes to adding to my collection. I am really so spoiled to even be able to buy books, so if I buy 'em, I should read 'em! And if I am perfectly honest, I also really miss the excitement of diving right into a book as soon as I bring it home. I think the last time I did that was for the final Harry Potter book! It's time to get excited about new books again instead of shelving them away for another time.

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For more information about these challenges or to sign-up, click the badges to go to the host sites. And if you are joining these or any other challenge in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Wrap-Ups

By this time of year, I'm usually doing pretty poorly on my challenge goals, so I don't always care to write wrap-up posts to enumerate just how poorly. (Why do I join these, again?!?) But this year, even though I once again felt I didn't do so well, I thought I would do the tallies anyway since I only joined 5 challenges. And I must say, I didn't do as badly as I thought I had! I didn't review most of these books, but the actual reading of them is what I personally care most about. Now, I can really start planning for 2016!

Goal: 6 categories
Completed: 2 categories

1. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (a classic novella)
2. A whole slew of classic picture books (a classic children's book)

OK, I did the worst on this challenge, so let's get it out of the way first. I don't know if I will do this one again in 2016. Either way, I want to revisit my Classics Club list and recommit to it. I don't want the classics to get completely lost in the shuffle -- I own too many I really want to read!


Goal: Rabble-Rouser Level, 6-9 books
Completed: 10 books!

1. Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
2. Saga, Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
3. Saga, Vol. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
4. Saga, Vol. 4, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
5. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
7. Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss
8. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
10. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

Surprised to see some of those picture books on my list? Yea, they may not be frequently challenged, but I've found them on a few banned/challenged childrens' books list. Crazy, right? Look out for a post in the new year about banned/challenged childrens' books.


Goal: 2nd Shelf Level, 7-12 books
Completed: 15 books!

1. What I Know for Sure, by Oprah Winfrey
2. The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami
3. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. One Love, by Cedella Marley & Bob Marley
6. Flight Explorer, Vol 1, edited by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
7. Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
8. Explorer: The Hidden Doors, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
9. Explorer: The Lost Islands, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
10. Every Little Thing, by Cedella Marley & Bob Marley
11. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
12. Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah
13. Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
14. Copper, by Kazu Kibiushi
15. Ghosts in the House, by Kazuno Kohara

Considering how many more books I ended up reading overall this year, I know I have a lot more work to do when it comes to diversifying my reading.


Goal: 8 books
Completed: 3 books

1. Outlander
2. Dragonfly in Amber
3. Voyager

Hmmmm. Yea. So, I took a head start on this challenge because I was already in the middle of a re-read before it began and Kay graciously said that was OK. But, I definitely didn't continue on as far as I would have liked! Doorstop chunksters and new babies apparently don't mix terribly well.


Goal: Purple Belt Level, 31-40 books
Completed: 20 books

1. Environments Envisioned: Building Fantastic Sets and Scouting Dramatic Locations, by Jody Revenson
2. Blackwood, by Gwenda Bond
3.The Creature Shop Compendium: Flora and Fauna from the Harry Potter Films, by Jody Revenson
4. A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department: Posters, Prints, and Publications from the Harry Potter Films, by Jody Revenson
5. Wizard Wear and Muggle Attire: Costuming the World of Harry Potter, by Jody Revenson
6. Ten Years Later: Life on Set with the Harry Potter Cast and Crew, by Jody Revenson
7. Movie Magic: Practical Props and Exciting Effects, by Jody Revenson
8. Fallen (Fallen, #1), by Lauren Kate
9. Torment (Fallen, #2), by Lauren Kate
10. Passion (Fallen, #3), by Lauren Kate
11. Rapture (Fallen, #4), by Lauren Kate
12. Fallen in Love (Fallen, #3.5), by Lauren Kate
13. Voyager (Outlander, #3), by Diana Gabaldon
14. Keep Quiet, by Lisa Scottoline
15. Paper Towns, by John Green
16. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
17. Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller
18. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
20. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

I took a break from blogging (and this challenge apparently) for a few months after my son was born in the spring. When I returned, I declared a reboot and said I would count any books already on my shelves at that point. But you know, that was kind of cheating! So I decided to stay true to the rules of this challenge and only count books I owned before January 1, 2015 to see (for real) how well or poorly I did. I'm not terribly disappointed with a count of 20, but I hope for this number to be much higher in 2016. If I finish the book I am in the middle of in the next two days, I can bump my count up to 21. #ShelfLove 2016 here I come -- I need this one again for sure!


Did you join any year-long challenges in 2015? Are you planning to join any for 2016?

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Classics Christmas

Since it is my son's first Christmas this year, I have been wanting more than ever to continue with some holiday traditions. Of course, he's not quite 8 months old yet and won't remember any of it, but still, there are certain things I like to do to get in the Christmas spirit. It's more challenging this year to actually do those things while also taking care of a baby, but I keep reminding myself that there is no such thing as "perfect" and that there is also no need for "perfect."

While I do believe that Christmas is really about the intangibles -- love and family and hope and joy -- it has been so much fun doing some of the other stuff too. And you're mostly here for the books, right? So while I don't read any specific Christmas story every year, I like to read something Christmas-related during December. This year, with the help of this list, I decided to dive into some classic Christmas stories. I mostly chose ones I had hidden in my home "library", but there are some other great suggestions on that list as well. A lot of these are in the public domain and available as free or inexpensive ebooks if you're looking for a last minute holiday read.

Charles Dickens

O. Henry
  • The Gift of the Magi

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker

Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales & Stories
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier
  • The Little Match Girl (This one is super sad.)
  • The Fir Tree (Also kind of sad -- it really is true that fairy tales are pretty dark!)
  • The Snow Queen

Picture Books

Of course, we have also read a lot of newer Christmas picture books, but I thought I'd stick to the "classics" for this list. Do you have any favorite holiday reads? Please share in the comments. And don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway! (Ends midnight on Sunday)