January 12, 2016

The Picky Pledge: 2015 Review

What is The Picky Pledge? Well, it's a partnership between me and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books where we held each other accountable for the books we acquired in 2015. For more details on The Picky Pledge, be sure to visit the introduction post. We tracked our book acquisition stats throughout the year - focusing specifically on the books we bought and books we read for review. We loved making more intentional reading choices! 

We both created a page to track our progress, and we posted quarterly check-ins analyzing what we'd learned and where we had room to grow. We shared our 2015 reading statistics yesterday, but it's time for the final check-in today! We're reflecting on the past year and highlighting our three favorite improvements and the ONE thing we need to work on as we move into the new year. We'll share our specific 2016 goals tomorrow.
1. Re-reading old favorites shifted my focus and brought me back to my reading roots.
Fifty-one out of the 153 books I read in 2015 (33%) were re-reads, which was a huge increase from 2014 where only 12% of the books I read were re-reads. While I don't expect re-reads to always make up that much of my yearly breakdown, I'm so thrilled that they did this year! I used to re-read a ton prior to blogging, and I hated that I'd fallen out of the habit. It was something I wanted to focus on in 2015, particularly since I co-hosted The Re-Read Challenge, and I definitely think it helped shift my focus from review books. 

Instead of thinking about what was new and shiny, I was dreaming about what worlds and characters I wanted to revisit. Most of my re-reading in 2014 (though not all) focused on early books in a series before I dove into the latest (or final) installment. But that wasn't the case in 2015! I re-read books just because they were calling my name. Honestly, it was just what I needed! Whether or not I continue to re-read as much in 2016, I'm so thankful for what it taught me this past year. I needed this reading wake up call!

2. I learned to ask myself "Why?" with review books and decreased the number I read in 2015.
In 2014, review books made up 31% of what I read during the year. When Alexa and I were plotting The Picky Pledge, I knew that decreasing that number was going to be one of my main goals for 2015. I'm thankful for the opportunity to read books for review, but I noticed that it was starting to negatively impact my reading experience. I looked at my average rating by source and realized it was lowest for books I read for review. And that didn't surprise me! I'd started reading books because I had to and not because I wanted to.

My goal for 2015 was to read no more than 36 books for review, which meant I was allowing myself around three review books per month. I'm happy to say that I met my goal and only read 34 review books in 2015 - 22% of what I read during the year! I think the biggest thing that helped me make this change was that I paid more attention to WHY I was requesting or accepting a book for review. And if it was anything other than "because I'm dying to read it!," it didn't make the cut. The standard has been set, and there's no going back now.

3. Looking at my shelves with a critical eye helped me embrace the art of culling.
Before we launched The Picky Pledge, Alexa and I started by culling our books. Both read and unread books were on the chopping block, and we shared some tips (for shelves and for TBR) based on our experiences. It was the perfect way to start the year, but we didn't stop there. Throughout the year, I got rid of books I was no longer excited about or interesting in reading and books I'd liked but never planned on re-reading. Reading Marie Kondo's book inspired me to keep only the books that brought me joy!

While I didn't completely follow her advice on tidying books, she did change my thinking on what I own and what I acquire. I learned to look at my bookshelves with a much more critical eye, thereby embracing the art of culling! Seeing how many books I still hadn't read helped me truly grasp how my book buying had gotten out of control, and paying attention to the books I'd kept (but didn't truly love) made me realize that I wanted my bookshelves to be filled with ONLY my favorites. I'm creating a library that I truly love!
1. Buying books wouldn't be bad if I didn't own so many unread books! So, 2016 is "The Year of the TBR."
The combination of the three things I learned this past year has made it even clearer what I want my priority to be in 2016: tackling my TBR! Re-reading took me back to my pre-blogging habits, which included buying a book when I wanted to read it (and not letting it sit on my shelves for months). Getting pickier about review books reminded me that there's a whole world of books outside of the ones being hyped or newly released. And culling my shelves is how I've finally whittled my TBR down to the books I truly want to read!

So, I feel like everything is aligned as I enter 2016. With a baby on the way, it will become more important than ever for me to be intentional about what and when I read. I'm still setting a goal for the number of books I read for review, but my focus will be on curbing my book buying and ramping up how much I read from my shelves! If I didn't have so many books just waiting to be read, I wouldn't feel guilty about my love for buying books. And that's why I'm hoping to end 2016 with significantly fewer unread books on my shelves than when I started!

Check back tomorrow for all the details on The Picky Pledge in 2016!
Were you more intentional with your reading choices in 2015?

5 comments:

  1. I'm also focusing on buying less this year too. The library will become my friend once again.

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  2. 2016 is absolutely the year of the TBR for me. I've already been better (within the last few years) about cutting back on book buying, or only buying books I've already read and loved. I hope to cull a lot of books off my physical shelves to make room for the ones I really want to keep. I also need to really READ those books on my shelves!

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  3. Sounds like excellent progress! I am determined this year to read more from my own shelves and to be more intentional about what I buy. I want books I buy in 2016 to be books I actually will read in 2016. I've joined two challenges to help me with that, but I'll be keeping in mind your Picky Pledge thoughts on books as well :)

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  4. I love that you were able to look at your reading habits so critically this past year! As I've been blogging the past two years I have noticed the amount of unread books I own is getting a little daunting, and I've found now that I work full time that I need to be more intentional with what I read and when, rather than reading for review copies. Major life changes really have a way of making you reevaluate your reading life!

    Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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  5. I love that your goal for 2016 is to focus on reading books from your TBR! Very excited for you to get to the titles that have been hanging out on your bookshelf (as there are certainly going to be gems in there). And I need to learn to embrace your attitude when it comes to review books - which is my goal for 2016, really. Here's to us making things happen!

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