Home Library Challenge

How many times have you looked at the books on your shelf and thought, I should really stop buying books until I read the ones I have? If you’re like me, you think this all the time. I’ve expanded it to include, “I should really stop borrowing stacks of books from the library until I read the ones I have,” because I keep those library scanners going.

We’ve got a fairly largeish built-in bookcase (thanks Dad), and I’ve limited the books to fiction, other than the highest shelf and the lowest shelf (assorted classics in matchy-match binding on top; cookbooks (shudder) and gardening and some college literature anthologies on the bottom). So, my challenge:


Do I need a timeline? It’s a big bookcase. But I have read a lot of them…at least half, I think. Well, let’s just see how far I can get by the end of the year, shall we?

I’m not going to finish each one, because frankly, there’s quite a bit of Kerouac. Each book will get a chance, though, of fifty pages (and that’s being darn generous, I think, because nowadays I’ll happily set a book down if it doesn’t hook me in the first five).

I’m also not going to re-read books which I have already read.

I’m also not reading the same books twice just because we have two different copies and/or editions (hello Bloomsbury Harry Potters, nestled next to their Scholastic kin!).

Some parenting and other nonfiction books have been lazily added to the bookcase. These do not count toward the challenge. They are only there because I don’t feel like carting them down to the basement (to the nonfiction bookcase) while holding a heavy baby in one arm. That sounds a bit dangerous.

YES, to answer your incredulous question, I HAVE SEPARATED MY READING MATERIAL BY GENRE. It comes from working in a bookstore. Or maybe it comes from being me.

les livres!


  1. readingisdelicious · March 1, 2013

    Excellent project! I am overwhelming myself with projects right now and having trouble staying focused. There’s just too much that I need to do.

    • Beth Hull · March 1, 2013

      I have one last book to read from YOUR challenge – Sabriel came from the library a couple of weeks ago, & I better get on that before I have to return it. That, and six or seven others….

  2. Shaz · March 1, 2013

    Doesn’t everyone sort their books by genre and then alphabetically by authors last name? I really need to do this too, although I have read almost all of the books on my shelves. There’s just a few that are new or from other people that I really need to get through.

    • Beth Hull · March 1, 2013

      I think some people like being “quirky” and making their books hard to find by mixing it all up. While I embrace eccentricity, I don’t think mixing up the library is something for me. Gives me the itch.

  3. Randi · March 1, 2013

    Happy reading! I am going to read as soon as I finish grading papers!

  4. I’m jealous of your bookcase 🙂 Mine are smaller and scattered throughout my house–I have shelves in my desk, shelves on the wall of my office, on the wall of my bedroom, and two standalone shelves in the living room. We moved to this new apartment just a few months ago, and before we did I purged my shelves of books that I a) knew I’d never read again and didn’t mind parting with or b) knew I’d never get around to if I was really being honest.

    Somehow the stacks have still managed to grow (not that I’m complaining). Good luck with your library challenge!

    • Beth Hull · March 2, 2013

      Thanks, Natalia! We have the rogue, scattered bookcases as well. Some have snuck in with the DVDs (my research books), poetry goes above kids’ books in the family room, and then there’s the random piles of books I’m “in the middle of.” A reader’s work is never done, right? 🙂

  5. Sean · March 2, 2013

    Mine tend to be technical/job books. Reading for pleasure is kind of a fuzzy memory at this point… But I have at least read parts of all of mine. I think. Maybe? Checking would require moving from my comfortable position, but I’ll look later if I remember…..

    • Beth Hull · March 2, 2013

      I’m curious if you have, Sean. I think you’d be in the minority!

  6. jamieweilhealthcoach · March 2, 2013

    How is it you have time to sort your books, QS?! Your mad skills never cease to amaze. I crack up at this because YES, I have the book case, which has now made its way out to the shop after repeated insults from interior decorator type friends who tell me it’s time to part with my college Shakespeare books. (So rude.) Out there, though, I have started my own B&N with all categories, including loads of pictures books from parenting and teaching second grade where I spent all my salary and more on picture books which is why I don’t teach anymore:) My new shelf, though, is right next to my bed and my drawers are now so full I can’t open them. When you sell your book, I’ll put it on top! It feels nice to have someone get me, QS.:)

    • Beth Hull · March 2, 2013

      Oh, the picture books! Don’t even get me started on the picture books. That’s a whole other love affair.

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