Monday, April 2, 2018

All the Updates: March Take Control of Your TBR, TheUnreadShelfProject2018, & Budget

I hope everyone celebrating had a lovely Easter or Passover! We had a dusting of snow this morning, so the seasons are feeling a bit confused right about now. Hopefully soon the calendar and the weather will start to match up a bit better :)

Now that March is over, there are so many things to wrap-up, so I'm combining them all into one big update post...

My goal was to read exclusively backlist books from my shelves during March and while I didn't stick to that 100%, I'm calling this challenge a success!

Only three of these were in the TBR stack of six I made at the beginning of the month. I postponed the rest of the Madeleine L'Engle Time Quintet for now, but will be returning to that series for sure. In addition to these six, I also started The Ghosts of Greenglass House and No Drama Discipline, making it about a quarter of the way in each of them. I was enjoying the Greenglass sequel better than the original, but then I hit a bit of a wall. I'm going to try a few more chapters before deciding if I'm going to DNF (or possibly switch to audio) to finish it off or not.

Audiobooks is where I veered off a bit -- I listened to 70% of Whiskey and Charlie for an upcoming discussion at my library. That one is a backlist title, but I borrowed it via Overdrive. And then I couldn't resist diving right into The Read Aloud Family the day it released. I pre-ordered the paperback, but also used an Audible credit and listened to it over 6 days, finishing it off during our Easter travels.

The Task: Choose a book to finish by the end of March... or ... get rid of it!

The Result (short version): I did finish my selection, but I'm still getting rid of it!

The Result (long version, aka an actual book review!):

I finally read this book after far too many years collecting dust on my shelves. I rated it 2 stars on Goodreads which doesn't seem quite fair to the essays I enjoyed, but there were far too many I just did not care for. At all. Like the one where an author yelled at a woman with a mental illness for disrupting a class he was teaching. Then when he apologized to the clerk and other customers for yelling (apologizing to the wrong person here, perhaps?), the bookstore employees applauded him for it? No thank you. I don't claim to act perfectly in all situations or know the right thing to say or do in challenging circumstances, but this is NOT an interaction to be admired, I know that much. Then there was the rant against bookstore cats. I’m not even a huge cat person, but really? Why? Leave the poor cats alone! And then Chuck Palahniuk patting himself on the back for being the only audience member at a David Sedaris event to laugh at a “funny” story about a dead boy being autopsied. Yea, I didn’t find that one funny either.

And then there were a few too many that basically said, "This bookstore supported me when I was an unknown. They do really great events and support local writers. And they know their customers." There's nothing wrong with any of that, but it doesn't make for a very memorable essay -- or ten – and they started to blur together a bit.

So what did I like in this collection? Isabel Allende's story of writing through grief -- and her grandkids attending Harry Potter midnight release parties. The bookseller who helped a teacher find a "just right" book for a student who didn't have any books of his own -- and how hard this boy worked to be able to read it aloud to his mom. The bookstore that survived multiple tragedies and relocations and the community that rallied around it. The author who grew up in a book desert – no bookstore OR library – who became a writer and shares his joy in watching his daughter grow up around books and how each section of the bookstore represents a different stage in her childhood to him. Nancy Shaw’s “Sheep Phone It In” in the style of her beloved Sheep in a Jeep picture book. And Lisa See’s book launch with her extended family in attendance who she describes as, “not what you’d call book buyers or readers.” She expected them to perhaps buy a copy out of familial duty, but they completely surprised her.

There was good in this collection, but not enough to make me want to keep it on my shelves. An updated paperback edition was published last year that includes 8 additional essays, which I’m admittedly curious about. Will they be 8 more of the really good ones? But unless my library gets a copy, I’m not going to find out because I am NOT buying another copy of this book just to satisfy that curiosity! I need a break from reading about bookstores right now, but I have a feeling The Bookshop Book, by Jen Campbell which has a global focus is going to be more up my alley (My Bookstore was exclusively US.) Has anyone else read it yet?

March Budget

I don't want to talk about it.

But of course I'm going to talk about it anyway! As happy as I was at the end of February for the chance to start over in March... March was a bust too. First of all, I had The Read Aloud Family pre-ordered and I was charged for my Audible renewal (2nd of a 3 month half-price deal). Which only left $6 and change in my official budget. A Barnes & Noble trip to look for a gift ended with two bargain books for me that put me in the red... on the 5th of the month. Then there were a few $0.50-$1 library discards. And some cheap Caldecott titles I bought used because not a single library in my whole system had a copy to borrow. And when I went to use some Audible credits, the books I was interested in were not worth using a credit on because the Kindle/Audible Whispersync deal was better -- which it great! but it also meant I spent $ instead of credits. And to top it all off, there was a  Book Outlet order and a order -- which contained Easter and Birthday gifts for my son... but which I then rounded out so I wouldn't get charged for shipping. Womp, womp. 

It could have been worse, but it certainly could have been better. I'm still not throwing in the towel on the whole budget thing. This is a learning process for me since I have never done it before, so even though I'm most certainly failing based on my original goals (which let's be honest, were probably unrealistic), I'm going to keep trying and see what I can learn as I go.

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Did you participate in any March reading challenges? I'd love to hear how they went!


  1. Congrats on your reading stats! I just realized that I forgot to make a wrap up post for the 'March Take Control of Your TBR' read-a-thon on my blog... I've been so busy the past week that I forgot about writing one.

    For the 'March Take Control of Your TBR' read-a-thon, my goal had been to read 5 books during the month of March. The good news is that I read and/or listened to a total of six books. However, I only started and finished reading one of the original books I had intended to read for the 'March Take Control of Your TBR' read-a-thon. I'll take my reading as a win though as I finished reading more books than I had intended to read.

    1. That happens to me all the time! I tend not to make TBR piles because I'm so bad at sticking to them. But reading your goal number (plus an extra!) is definitely a win!

  2. Great job with your Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge. I need to find a month to do that, but April isn't going to be it...

    I think your budget project is going well, even if you aren't sticking to your amount. At least you're keeping track so that you know where you're spending it, and you can revise and prioritize for future months. And I'm sure you're thinking about your purchases more than I do before you decide to buy them! :)

    1. I want to do it another month too! It's such a great challenge :)

      I totally did throw the towel in for April on the budget, but I think I will get back to tracking after I take a break for this month. I probably think about my purchases TOO much actually, but you can see it still hasn't deterred me from accumulating a huge TBR -- well, we won't run out of things to read at least :)


I'd love to hear what you think :)