Today marks the beginning of two new challenges for me. One is the Ultimate Blog Challenge (UBC for short) – a 30-day blog challenge that I have been participating in (on and off) for several years. One of the best things about this challenge is that it feels like a Facebook family reunion. I see familiar faces that welcome me back with open arms. We say hello and catch up as if no time has passed. We are connected not by blood but by our passion for writing and dedication to the craft. And, the only thing I need to bring to this get-together is my best writing and a plethora of good cheer and never-ending support for everyone in attendance.
During UBC, I always meet long-lost “relatives” who I don’t know but almost instantly connect with over favorite books, authors, and of course, secret writing fantasies that we wouldn’t dare share with our real families. C’mon, who among us here doesn’t dream of being locked in their favorite independent bookstore for an entire weekend surrounded by nothing but amazing stories and plenty of coffee? Who is with me?!
Regardless, this virtual “family” reunion is full of friendly faces and endless encouragement. There are no crazy aunts or uncles in attendance that tell you to get a real job here. Everyone gets it, and we have a blast sharing our stories and experiences with readers from Day 1 to Day 30. And, we never really say goodbye. In the end, we say the Hebrew word “L’hitraot” – until we meet again because we know it’s true.
The other challenge I am taking on this month is possibly more personal than blogging. It is called The Unread Shelf Project. This project is for avid and out-of-control book buyers like me who LOVE to read and support writers everywhere. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my TBR pile is over 100 titles (153 to be exact). They are either sitting on a physical bookshelf in my office, downloaded to my Kindle, waiting patiently in my Audible account, or strategically spread out on nightstands, in closets, and other random places in my house (and yes, maybe in the trunk of my car).
The first step is recognizing the problem. I saw a quote on Facebook the other day that read, “It isn’t hoarding if it’s books.” I firmly believe that this is true. But I also have an uncle who has a dedicated room full of books from floor to ceiling, and I don’t want it to come to that. And it won’t.
Immediately after signing up for this project, I knew it was the right decision. The introduction itself was like looking in a mirror. Yes, I love the high of buying a new book, but it wears off rather quickly once I’ve made my purchase. Yes, I want to dive into my own shelves instead of constantly adding to them. Yes, I need to get my reading life under control, and now is as good a time as any.
This challenge has a few parts. First, I have committed to not buying or borrowing any books for one month. That will be hard, but not impossible. I am actually looking forward to taking a break because every time I buy a book, I feel guilty knowing that I didn’t really need it.
Second, I went through my stacks and determined which books I no longer wished to read. There are some books I have acquired that are not my cup of tea, so this was a fairly easy process. I also felt a lot lighter knowing that my bags of books would be donated to people who would enjoy them.
Third, I am selecting the books I want to read based on a monthly challenge from The Unread Shelf Project. For May, I was asked to pick a title from my pile that I bought as a new release. I chose The Library Book by Susan Orlean. A few years ago, I wanted this book so badly that I bought the hardcover version. I couldn’t wait for the paperback to come out. I had to have it! And, guess what, it has been collecting dust ever since. Today, I am already 50 pages in and loving it.
At the end of the month, I want to give you a good report. I want to say that while I was tempted to buy a new book(s) – many times – I did not cheat on my TBR pile. Instead of buying a book, I will write about this challenge here. I have a feeling that combining these two challenges will be a match made in heaven.
I’m excited about completing both of these challenges this month, and I’ve set some personal goals. For UBC, I love to write, share my thoughts, and then write some more. I have a book in me that is dying to come out, and every word and sentence in this blog is a step toward accomplishing that goal.
I also know that I have some wonderful stories right at my fingertips. I remembered a few years ago that I picked up a book off my shelf called Beneath a Marble Sky. It sat there for at least two years before I decided to actually read it. This historical novel about the building of the Taj Mahal is still one of my favorite all-time reads. I was kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I’m excited to find the next story right in front of me to add to my favorites list.
So, two challenges in one month. I’m ready to get started!
Are you taking on any big challenges this month? Tell me all about it in the comments!