My Self-Imposted, First Quarter, Two Week Read-My-Own-Damn-Books-A-Thon!

I’m writing this post on the 11th and as of today 6 out of 10 of the books I’ve read this year have been library books – and currently I’m reading two more library books. If you recall my goals set at the beginning of the year, you’ll know that I decided to not buy any books so I’m doing well with that and using the library, but one of my other goals was to read my own books since I owned, at the beginning of January, 355 unread books.

SO I decided that once quarterly, for two weeks, I’ll be reading ONLY my own books, as an attempt to try and get my TBR down. Not only that, but I’m signed up for a few reading challenges for this year that have me reading my own books and it would be nice to try and get ahead.

Starting on January 21 through to February 3, I’ll be reading my own books, NO library books, NO rereads, and see what kind of a dent I can make in my reading pile. This does overlap with the Persephone read-a-thon, which is fine, since I’ll be reading my own books for that, too.

Here’s what I would like to read, but if you know me, this is definitely subject to change:

 

From the Edith Wharton collection, I want to read The House of Mirth, and I’ll also be reading at least one of my Persephone books, too. I’m keeping the list pretty low, so hopefully I can fit in some more books, maybe a few of my Little Black Classics, in there as well.

Do you ever have self-imposed read-a-thons? How have you been at reading your own books this year?

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Favourite New-To-Me Authors!

There are so many authors who I want to read more of in 2018, but there are a few authors who are new to me that I’d love to read more of this year. These are authors who everyone else has loved but who I’m just discovering. As you can see, some of them are classic authors who have been around forever and I can’t believe that I haven’t read them yet!

Agatha Christie

I’ve only read two of Agatha Christie’s books last year – I started Murder on the Orient Express just before the movie came out because I had planned on seeing the movie ASAP and wanted to finally dig into her books beforehand. I loved the book and I STILL haven’t seen the movie! I then read Hercule Poirot’s Christmas over December and loved that one, too. I think she writes such great mysteries and they’re just fun to dig into and more of a whodunnit rather than a nichey (?) cozy mystery you’d find these days. I mean, I love a cozy mystery about knitting or something, but it’s just fun to dig into something more old-school, which also seems a bit more grown up since the characters aren’t as caricature and silly.

Daphne du Maurier

I have heard of Daphne du Maurier’s books for SO LONG and have been so intrigued by Rebecca that I finally bought myself a copy and dug in. It’s funny because the book doesn’t have a fast moving plot, but her writing is so engaging that I looked forward to reading it whenever I had time to read. I’m excited to read more of her books, mainly My Cousin Rachel and some of her short stories (I had no idea that she wrote the story for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds!).

Haruki Murakami

This was a late-year read for me, a book I read in just an evening (really, in about 40 minutes) to introduce me to the author. I had been really interested in reading Murakami’s books and I had also been interested in reading more translated works so when I saw his book The Strange Library at the bookstore I had to snatch it up. The book is very slim but so pretty! It has flaps that fold over the front and illustrations throughout and I’m so glad I bought a copy for my library. It was a very strange read, but reminded me of Neil Gaiman but with another unique quality to it that I loved. It was strange and simple and beautiful. I plan to read Never Let Me Go this month, and hopefully more of his books this year! (Oops – thanks to the people who reminded me that Never Let Me Go was written by Kazuo Ishiguro! I don’t know how I mixed that up since I’ve actually read one of his books and this one has been sitting on my desk for a long time now!) 

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is one of those authors I’ve known about for years and years. A Christmas Carol is one of those books that has had so many adaptations that have been shown in film that it’s hard not to catch who the story was written by. I owned a collection of stories of his for about 4 years before I finally dug into it, reading A Christmas Carol, and I loved it! Like I said, the collection has other stories and I can’t wait to read them this Christmas.

Andrew Kaufman

I was perusing the library one day, looking for Canadian-authored books, and came across this super slim book called The Tiny Wife. I had set myself a challenge of reading 30 books in December and this looked like the perfect kind of read for the month since it was so short. Little did I know was that this story was going to be strange and fascinating. I loved Kaufman’s writing and how I was immediately enthralled in the strange little story. I was excited to learn that he had numerous other books with an almost fairytale-like quality to them. I look forward to delving into his strange works again!

Fredrik Backman

In case you haven’t read my review of Fredrik Backman’s latest book, Beartown, I had originally picked it up because I thought it would be a great read for December since it had to do with hockey. I thought it was going to be one of those stories about a down on their luck hockey team becoming the best of the best but was surprised to find that the story was a lot darker and character-driven than I thought it would be. Initially, I wasn’t sure about his writing or the story, but then something happened in the story and I was hooked. I had already heard of his book A Man Called Ove, and am excited to see he has another couple books out on top of that! I’ve read a few Swedish authors now and have really enjoyed them – maybe in 2018 I’ll find another favourite Swedish author!

Stuart McLean

Stuart McLean is another one of those Canadian household names that I had known of for a while. I actually had one of his books on my shelf for a long time, having picked it up at a book sale, but then I got rid of it, thinking I wouldn’t like it. Christmas rolled around and I saw the beautiful edition of his latest book, Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe, and I just had to get a copy of it. I loved how pretty it was and that it came with a ribbon for a bookmark, but on top of that, the stories inside were charming and absolutely hilarious! I don’t think I’ve laughed so much reading a book in a long time! I was lucky that Santa brought me a copy of Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe for my stocking and I can’t wait to dig in this year.

Carys Bray

I seem to have fallen in love with strange little stories that don’t have anything to do with the supernatural or paranormal or mythology or anything, but rather stories that have to do with real life and the darker side of human nature. Stories that are almost whimsical and strange, like a fairytale, but not like a fairytale at all. I think of Neil Gaiman when I say this, but these authors – like Haruki Murakami and Andrew Kaufman – aren’t like Neil Gaiman at all. Carys Bray is one of those authors, as well. I gobbled up her short story collection, Sweet Home, in no time, loving the short, strange stories contained within. I didn’t read any of the synopsis beforehand and my jaw dropped a few times while reading. I fell completely in love with her writing and I’m happy that she at least has a novel out to keep me entertained.

Are there any new-to-you authors you found last year that you’d love to read more of?

Thoughts on rereading and have I been buying books wrong this whole time?

At the end of last year, I was on a weekly library trip with my daughter to pick up my humongous pile of holds and interlibrary loans. While we were there, I went to look through the sale shelf where you can buy books for $1 and I picked up three titles – a fiction and two nonfiction books – and then I thought to myself: I have a ridiculous amount of books at home, around 300+ unread, so why am I buying more books? Why am I even thinking about buying more books? 

Even the library sale books, which are a great deal, add more heft to my collection and while it’s great to collect books, I think I’ve been doing it wrong; instead of keeping those books that I love and want to reread, I’ve been keeping anything and everything.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve gone through at least two BIG book purges over the last 8 years and have gotten rid of hundreds of books, some bought at full price and others for cheap or free. But as I get older, I feel like I’m growing with my reading and my ultimate goal isn’t just to read all the books that interest me, but to also revisit the ones that were my favourites in the past.

I haven’t always been a rereader. One year I maybe reread one book, the next year none, and, in the case of this past year, I reread 6 books. My reason for not rereading in the past has always been that there are so many books released every year – why would I waste time on rereading? But then I wondered why I was even buying books in the first place. We buy DVDs and CDs and watch and listen to them many times – I’ve even worn out DVDs and CDs from use – but I buy books to be something like a trophy on my shelf, kept in pristine condition, never to be touched again.

I was inspired after watching Helene’s vlog on the books that she reread over 2017. It made me wonder why I’m buying books I don’t even know that I’ll love or not, when I could get them from the library and then maybe buy a copy if it’s something that I want to read again in the future, a book that I read and completely adored. Looking through my shelves, I noticed that I still have copies of books that I hated and books that were just okay, and definitely books that I can’t see myself rereading at all. Going through my shelves at the end of the year, I found a couple that I gave just one star to, books I absolutely despised – why was I even keeping these?

On top of that, I was pulling books off my shelves that I want to reread in 2018 and I noticed that some of the titles I wanted to revisit I no longer owned. Or maybe I read them and loved them, but borrowed them from the library, but still don’t own a copy. Just going through my 5-star books on Goodreads had me marking at least 50 of them as books I would love to reread and maybe own on my shelf.

Thinking about all of this, it made me want to set a goal to not buy books in 2018. I know that we all say that we’re not going to buy books and then we all buy anywhere from 5 to 100+ books. But I feel like I actually mean it. Yes, there are some books that I want to keep for my kids, especially some of the middle grade and YA books or series that I loved, but I don’t necessarily need to keep them all. I’d rather have my kids go through my home library seeing books that I loved, rather than what they could see at the regular library. Am I striving to make my home library the same as what you could get at any city library, or do I want to make my home library into something special, full of books that I loved and could read over and over?

I choose the latter.

In 2017, as I had mentioned, I was crazy with buying books. I bought way too many books and will admit it. I have enough books in my collection to last years and I don’t want to say that I’ll never buy books again because of that, but thinking about rereading made me want to do a few things:

  1. Try to make a big effort to reread more in the year. Books are expensive, so why am I buying them just to read once? We buy a DVD and can watch it lots, but why read a book just once?
  2. If I read a book and hate it, and definitely can’t see myself rereading it, put it away. I did this with maybe 70 books from my bookshelves and didn’t automatically put them in a donation box, but put them in a closet I never go into. I decided to follow the same idea of turning all of the clothes hangers in your closet around and getting rid of anything that hasn’t been put back the correct way by the year’s end. If I don’t think of these books or go after them for a reread, I should take them to a used bookstore or donate them.
  3. Instead of buying books, make a list of the books that I want to own – take a look at the library books I’m getting and list the ones that I loved, write them down, and then go to book sales where I can get books for $1-2 and buy some there. Obviously I don’t have to get ALL the books I love at once, but get some and reread them! I’d really love to do this over the year and then go to more library sales in 2019 and get the ones I’d love to reread and own, rather than a bunch of books for the sake of their cheapness.

I know that making a statement that I’m not going to buy any books is a big statement to make, but I feel like just making it is a step towards something good. And those books that I saw in the sale section? I promptly put them back because I didn’t need to add more books to my collection – especially books that I could end up hating. Not only are they then a waste of money but a waste of shelf space.

Already I’m using places like Netgalley and the library to put books I’m looking forward to on hold and I hope to continue that over the year. And maybe I’ll share my list of books with you as the year goes on – like I said, I made a list of nearly 50 books that I’ve read over the last 10 years that I’d like to own copies of to reread. I think I’ll check some of them out at the library for a reread and if I still love them, maybe then I’ll buy a copy for my shelves. Until then, I think I’m going to try to form a habit of trying first, buying later.

Are you a big rereader? Do you buy lots of books and keep them whether you loved them or not? Or do you only buy books that you loved? Do you “test drive” books at the library to gauge if you will like them or not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!