Empty Those Shelves: A Book Challenge

Books are wonderful, aren’t they? They way they feel and look, not to mention all the incredible words and stories hidden inside. Books open up new worlds, provide escapes from the mundane, add excitement or knowledge or laughter to our lives. Even my kids bounce with excitement when it’s time to head over the town library.

Then our library closed. All the libraries closed.

I did buy a couple of books, but that can become an expensive addiction. My kindle collection expanded further, and I’m extremely grateful for the easy access to digital copies, bought or loaned. But it wasn’t the same.

Very quickly, I found myself missing the weight of a book in my hands, the touch of a page as you turn it, eagerly anticipating the words to follow. Just as all of us have during this difficult Spring, I missed the physical connection. I had taken the easy access to it for granted.

Then I remembered something. I do have a library, probably similar to most of you. At home, and within reach.

Browsing the titles on those shelves, I was greeted by many familiar faces, and several I had completely forgotten about. They had been placed there with the usual good intention of being read promptly, yet remained untouched and unread for who knows how many months (or years). How much of my own personal library have I not actually read?

So I pulled one down. Then another.

Down came the Christmas gift from my husband. Down came the books from my mother. Down came the research titles to further my own education. Down came that autobiography I bought impetuously. Down came the novels, the speeches, and the handbooks. Down came the recommendations, the gifts, and the history.

One by one I stacked them.




There it stood. An entire stack of books I have never read, daily residing only a few feet from me. All at once, I felt excited and embarrassed.

Look at all these books to read! I can’t wait to dive into them.

Wait, what is wrong with me? Why have these been sitting here, collecting dust for so long? 

For someone who has been striving to practice thankfulness, this stack of unread material was a mirror revealing my own hypocrisy.  How can I claim to be thankful for what I already have, for what is around me, when I haven’t even put to good use the books upon my shelves? No, instead, I want the town library open. I want new books, more books. I want what I don’t have, when, in reality, what I have is a spectacular tower of intriguing volumes! I want to keep books on my shelves that I don’t read, merely for the pride of hoarding them. And in doing so, deprive them of their very purpose.

Discontentment had revealed itself in an unexpected place. And sure enough, it was sucking away joy that was easily within my reach.

So I kept those books stacked. I moved the entire thing to a visible place next to my nightstand. But surprisingly, their titles no longer guilt me. I am excited to read them! The whole reason I pulled them off the shelves, slowly and deliberately, was so that I would finally decide to read them all. And in doing so, practice contentment.

And you and I both know by now, dear reader, that contentment breeds thankfulness, and thankfulness breeds contentment. 

It’s a win/win, right?

Odds are, these rediscovered books will not all be read within a month, or even several months, but I’ve started. And I would like to challenge you to join me. Browse your own personal library, and pull down the titles you forgot about (unless you are one of those rare people who has read every book on their shelves–then my hat’s off to you!).

Make your own stack and let’s explore the beauty of our own libraries, while we wait for the public ones to open again.


6 thoughts on “Empty Those Shelves: A Book Challenge”

  1. I recently did the same thing: I went through my bookshelf, selecting books I hadn’t yet read, and I found so many! This a great post, and a great challenge!


      1. I have a copy of where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens, and I’m very excited for it! I also just finished reading mark of the thief, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, which was good! What book are you most excited to read?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Those sound excellent! I’m looking forward to opening The Downingtown Years by Margaret Thatcher (I read her first volume of memoirs, and it was amazing!) and G. I. Brides by Duncan Barrett

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s