Read Your Unread Books Challenge in 2023


Like many bookish people I have become more of a book collector than a reader. For the past couple of years I have been making an effort to read more from my own shelves and my goal for 2023 is the same.

In 2023 please join me in the hashtag #ReadYourUnreadBooks2023 as we try to read through the books that already fill our shelves.

Some ways to tackle your unread books:

Pull some books that you think you might like to read first

Set the goal to read one book from your shelves a month (this step goes well with the previous step if you like to plan out your reading in advance)

When/if you have selected a couple of books see if anyone would like to do a buddy read. It might make it more fun to read along with some (even if it is virtually) and it might be the push to read a book from your shelves.

Some prompts to help you pick your next unread book to read:

a book with a dark cover

a book that has been on your shelf the longest

a book that was a gift

a non fiction book about a topic you are interested in

a book less than 200 pages

a book more than 200 pages

a book more than 500 pages

a book that will be a cozy read

a book that scares you

a book that is a part of a series

a book that was recommended to you

a book that bookstagram made you buy

a book that takes place in a location you would love to visit

a book that is set in your currently city or country

a book that has been a Book Club Pick (your own book club or a Celebrity Book Club)

a book by an author new to you

a book by a favourite author

a book about historical fiction

a genre that you don’t usually read

a fantasy novel

a biography

a mystery

a YA book

a book of essays

If you use the StoryGraph app please join this challenge there! Search the challenge section for Essentially Meagan or Read Your Unread Books Challenge 2023


2022 has two and half months left

Oh my word I have been neglecting this blog.

It has been interesting to see how my reading life has been now that I decided not to participate in any challenges that involved numbers of books read this year. I don’t have a number to beat so I’m not reading anything to boost my numbers. I am still buying books and wanting to read more from my own shelves so I think I’m going to try to come up with a Read Your Shelves challenge for myself (and anyone else who wants to join in) in 2023.

January Reading Life

Wow 2022 has already been an exhausting year, and it’s only a month old.

A recap- I was feeling dissatisfied with my reading life by the end of 2021, I was reading books that I didn’t love so that I could beat my previous read goals. I decided to not set a number of books read goal this year, focusing on reading from my shelves and to read books that I actually wanted to read.

Now to see how I’ve done.

I found that I wasn’t really interested in reading this month. It was like I had so many choices, but none of them appealed to me. I think pandemic fatigue and stresses in my life helped contribute to that feeling. By the end of the month I decided to just read what really appealed to me, and that was to continue reading the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. There’s something about Bosch solving crimes in LA that I find comforting right now. I seem to read Bosch books faster than the other books that I have read this month. They might not be the books that are popular on Instagram (and Bookstagram) right now, but they are the ones that make me excited to read before bed, so I am sticking with them.

Books I’ve read this month:

The London House by Katherine Reay– I started this in December and didn’t push myself to finish it before the new year started. It had potential but was a little flat to me. (Libby)

Off Season- Jennifer Weiner- I put this audio book on hold in December because I was looking for short books to read (see always trying to beat that number of books read) and I didn’t really read the description of this book. Well, I was VERY surprised when it turned out to be a short story that had more in common with Shirley Jackson books than the women’s fiction I thought it was going to be. Rachel Dratch was an excellent narrator. (Libby)

Lost Light- Michael Connelly- I really liked seeing Harry navigate the retired cop life while trying to solve an old cold case that has bothered him. Lots of twists and turns in this one. (Unread shelf)

The Madness of Crowds- Louise Penny- The newest Gamache book wasn’t my favourite. I found it hard to read about a post pandemic world when the pandemic is still going strong in my world. I did love that it was a return to Three Pines, but I could have used more time in the Bistro. (Unread Shelf)

Accidentally Engaged- Farah Heron- I loved this romance set in Toronto. And I want to learn how to bake bread. It is just really delightful. (Unread shelf)

The Postmistress of Paris- Meg Waite Clayton– Firstly, this book’s title is misleading because it doesn’t really take place in Paris. Secondly, I found it to be interesting. A slightly different spin on World War II historical fiction in that it took place in the South of France. I enjoyed that the main character was an American woman who helped refugees, and displaced people get out of France. (Libby)

Bloomsbury Girls- Natalie Jenner- This was an ARC from NetGalley. I really liked going back in time to 1950 London and seeing the inner workings of a bookshop. I almost want a sequel to see how the shop fairs in the “swinging sixties”. (ARC)

The Narrows- Michael Connelly- Harry Bosch is up against The Poet (which is a really great book also by Michael Connelly) There are a lot of references to other books by Connelly in this one, and some spoilers to the Bloodwork series with Terry McCaleb. (Unread shelf)

4 books read from my unread shelf 🎉, 3 from Libby and 1 ARC.

I also set a little no book buying rule for myself for January. And I’m happy to say that I was able to stay strong and not buy any books. It was kind of easy to not mindless browse online bookshops- because of my slump nothing looked appealing to me! What was harder was resisting the book subscription boxes that became available this month- Valentine’s Boxes, Galentine’s Boxes, Thriller Boxes, Tea Boxes with a book that I AM actually excited for. I told myself that I usually end up getting a box that is full of a book that I’m not too interested in and weird snacks and products that aren’t for me. I think I might make my own little box up for Valentine’s Day. Get an unread romance from my shelves, and get some yummy snacks that I actually like!

No Buy 2022

In my effort to read more from my unread shelves I’m going to attempt a “no buy 2022”. We shall see how long I can go without buying a book. I have found that in times of stress and uncertainly I tend to go online book shopping. This as resulted in a lot of unread books, and a lot of money spent on books. I think it will (hopefully) be better for my wallet and my bookshelves to not buy books for at least the beginning of the year. I will have to find new ways of coping with stress. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Bookish Resolutions

Hello, wow it is almost Christmas time as I sit at my desk and write this. I don’t know about you but I have been feeling overwhelmed (of course about variants and the virus and life in the pandemic) but I have been feeling really overwhelmed and a little stressed about reading the past couple of weeks. I look at the number of books that I read last year and I look at the number of books that I have read this year and I want to BEAT the previous record. I have been reading for the sake of finishing a book to add it to my “read” list and you know what? I’m not loving reading like I usually do. I have also been feeling like I needed to keep posting on instagram multiple times a week. Why? Likes don’t really matter (they really don’t) and the friends that I interact with on there will interact with me whenever I post.

I need to take a step back and really look at what my motivation is for reading as well as what will make it enjoyable for me. One thing that comes to mind is that I don’t think I will try any reading challenges next year. I will continue to read from my own unread shelves because I do enjoy that, and I also feel like I have actually accomplished something when I do. I won’t be setting a reading goal on Goodreads (or anywhere) else for 2022. The pressure of seeing the little notification “you are behind on your reading goal” is an added stress that I don’t need.

I will continue to use my paper reading journal because I really like being able to see the books that I have read and what I have thought of them. Plus I really enjoy the ceremony of writing in my reading journal and organizing it. I love keeping lists of what books sound interesting or books in a certain genre that I haven’t yet read.

Next year I think I will keep track of the genres I read, mainly so I know what I can read to switch things up if I hit a slump. As for Bookstagram, I will try to post a couple of times a week but I will (try) to not let it control me.

Have you made any resolutions about your reading life? Are you looking to change your reading life in any way?

Spooky or non spooky? That is the bookish question.

Do you read spooky books in October? I always have grand plans that I will finally read The Historian and Night Film (which are both books that have been sitting on my unread shelf for years) and then October passes by and I haven’t read them again. I am a bit of a chicken and tend to only enjoy Halloween things meant for kids. Maybe I should stick to those books and leave the scary books for a sunny summer day?

Favourite February Reads

I didn’t write a post for January. At this point this blog is probably more for me than anyone reading it but I will try to at least write a monthly recap of my reading going forward.

February’s prompt for the Unread-shelf Challenge was a book you got for free. I chose a Maeve Binchy book, Irish Girls About Town which is actually a book of short stories by Irish authors. Reader, I hated this book. It was from the early 2000’s and it just reminded me of the time that women’s fiction was branded as “chick lit” and how superficial that whole time could be. The actual short story by Maeve Binchy was okay, not as sweet and comforting as some of her full length books.

The March Prompt for the Unread- shelf challenge is a book you got on a trip. And I am stumped for what I will pick. I am not a big traveller, even before COVID so I will have to really think about this one.

On to my favourite reads of the month. I either really loved what I read this month, or I really didn’t love a book. There wasn’t a lot of okay books which I am okay with.

5 star books:

All the Devils are Here- Louise Penny

Kindred- Octavia Butler

4.5 star books:

The Survivors- Jane Harper

4 star books:

The Nature of Fragile Things- Susan Meissner

Boundary Waters- William Kent Krueger

The Girl from the Channel Islands-Jenny Lecoat

Dear Miss Kopp- Amy Stewart

Verity- Colleen Hoover

Locked Rooms- Laurie R King.

2020 Unread Shelf Challenge Wrap Up.

Ohh 2020. What a year this has been. So much heartbreak, and stress and rage. It has been a year filled with so many emotions and feelings.

Through it all the one thing that was consistent was that I liked to read. Some months I went through times when I wasn’t reading a lot, and some months I read SO many books.

I started off the year being really good and reading a lot from my unread shelves as well as reading library books. Then Covid happened and I started reading A LOT of ebooks from my library. Once curbside pickups started happening at my local library I took advantage of the new and newer books available and went a little crazy with the library holds in the summer. And then the slumps started. I was either not in the mood, or didn’t have the right book, or was easily distracted by streaming content. From August-December I didn’t do a great job of reading from my unread shelves BUT I did discover that short stories, graphic novels and romance novels helped me get out of my slump.

I started off the year with 136 unread books and I ended up reading 50 books from my shelves. I bought 26 books this year which should still leave more with less books than I started the year BUT a bunch of books were given to my parents and I picked through them and added more to my tbr list.

I will now start 2021 with 152 unread books. 102 physical books and 50 ebooks that I have picked up when Kobo, Kindle and Apple had sales. I can’t wait to start reading them!

Thoughts about my reading in July

I feel like I say this every month, but I can’t believe that July is already over. Time is going by so quickly and yet also so slowly. 2020 is a weird weird year.

At a glance it would seem that I had a pretty great reading month- I read 15 books. But when I was going over the books I read and thinking about them I realized that I went a little wild with the library holds (my library had curb side pick up) and trying to read titles from the Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide. Looking back I felt like I was in a competition with myself to read as many books from the guide that I could, plus new releases that I had seen on Bookstagram. I only read 1 book from my unread shelf which was a little disappointing.

I did enjoy many of the books I read this month. The Jane Austen Society, 500 Miles From You and The Last Train to Key West were some favourites.

I really liked that Clap When You Land was told in verse it made for beautiful reading and I don’t think I have read a book set in the Dominican Republic before.

I need to listen to all the songs mentioned in The Happy Ever After Playlist.

Sex and Vanity has me wanting to read or at least watch A Room with a View.

The Vanishing Half still has me thinking about identity and what makes us us. It is a really timely read.

28 Summers, Grown Ups and I was Told It Would Get Easier are all books by some favourite authors that I was happy to visit again.

Beach Read was the perfect steamy beach read that has me wanting to read some romance books.

The End of October. Weird to read about a pandemic while living in a pandemic filled world. But still enjoyable because it was a bit of a thriller and I always enjoy those books.

A Baby’s Bones and A Shroud of Leaves I had hoped to find a new series that would be similar to the Ruth Galloway series. This wasn’t it. But I have hopes for Kate Ellis books.

The Leftovers, the one book from my unread shelf. I liked it, even though it made feel a bit panicky and anxious. I tried the first episode of the tv show and didn’t love it. But I should see if the next couple episodes get better.

I hope that August will be filled with more books from my unread shelf and that I slow down my library borrowing (only in that I tend to be too enthusiastic and push aside the books I already own).

6 month check in

I can’t believe that June is almost over and that 6 months have gone by since 2020 started. Time really has lost a lot of meaning while living in this new social distancing pandemic life. I don’t know about you but I have had periods of time where I am reading A LOT of books. And then I have some days/weeks when I can’t focus and reading seems like a chore.

I think I have been making pretty good progress in reading more from my unread shelf. I have completed the prompts for every month so far, although I did struggle with June’s prompt. If I had stuck to my “rule” of only reading one Louise Penny book a month in May this prompt of “a book from a series” would have been easy.

My local library opened up this month for curb side pick ups of books on hold. And I may have gone a little crazy putting books on hold. I have been able to put holds on and have read a couple of books from the Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide this year. Some I have liked, some I haven’t but none of them have been books that I have loved.

I have noticed that since the pandemic started I have been reading a lot of mysteries. I have especially liked reading books in a series, there is something comforting about them (even though they usually feature a gruesome murder). I have also noticed that I don’t enjoy “chick lit” or women’s fiction books as much as I used to. I don’t know whether my tastes have changed or I’ve become a different reader, or my mood/stress level has been different this year or a combo of all of the above.

Some of my favourite reads from the first part of the year: ** book from my unread shelf

  • A Rule Against Murder- Louise Penny **
  • Little Fires Everywhere- Celeste Ng
  • The Book that Matters Most -Ann Hood**
  • The Brutal Telling- Louise Penny **
  • The Janes- Louisa Luna
  • Recipe for a Perfect Wife- Karma Brown
  • Bury Your Dead- Louise Penny**
  • All the Ways we Said Goodbye- Beatriz Williams
  • Two Girls Down- Louisa Luna
  • Other People’s Houses- Abbi Waxman **
  • Bibliophile – Jane Mount**
  • Comfort Me with Apples and Tender at the Bone: Two Culinary Treasures- Ruch Reichl
  • A Little Princess- Frances Hodgson Burnett**
  • A Garden of Small Beginnings- Abbi Waxman
  • How the Light Gets In- Louise Penny**
  • A Great Deliverance- Elizabeth George
  • The Watsons go to Birmingham- 1963- Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Nevertheless She Wore It- Ann Shen