Posted December 29, 2014 by in New Reads

The Empty Shelf Challenge

2015 is right around the corner, and that means one thing: RESOLUTIONS! If you are like me, my New Year’s resolutions last about 24 hours. I have kept very few for the whole year. In 2014, though, I stumbled upon a resolution that I knew I could keep, and I believe it’s one most Bookkaholic readers will find easy to stick with as well because it only involves two things: an empty shelf and reading. So, for 2015, I invite you to try a New Year’s resolution known as “the empty shelf challenge.”

In January, clear off a shelf in your home. It can be any width, length, or height; however, I do recommend selecting one tall enough to allow your books to stand upright. Next, after you finish reading a book, just add it to the shelf. Finally, watch your shelf fill up! The challenge can be both fun and informative. For example, I knew that I read a great bit, but I was surprised by just how quickly my first shelf filled up, which caused me to add a second one. I also invite you to challenge a few friends to take “the empty shelf challenge” with you and compare notes via social media. That way, you’ll be motivated to read more, and you may stumble upon a few new titles along the way!

Here’s a recap of my experiences with “the empty shelf challenge.”

Shelf Challenge January

In January 2014, I started writing for Bookkaholic, and I began “the empty shelf challenge.” I read a total of six books in January, but my favorite was The Book Thief, which I completed as an audiobook (see full review here). To keep up with all my reads, I used stand-ins for audio and e-book reads. Several of the books I read throughout the year were reviewed on the Bookkaholic website.

Shelf challenge March

By the end of March, I had completed 22 books. I was walking a lot, so I had amassed quite a few titles in the audiobook count. At that point, my favorite read for the year was A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith. This book was a delightful piece of historical fiction (see full review here).

Shelf challenge June

By the end of June, I had to add my second shelf! When I first picked my empty shelf, I was concerned about being able to fill it up in a year, but I quickly realized that filling the shelf would not be a problem. Half-way through the year, I had read 45 books. I had also discovered two new series: Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler detective novels and Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway books. I enjoyed both series, but the Ruth Galloway books may have just edged out the Simon Serrailler works.

Shelf Challenge September

The summer brought a lull to my reading, and by the end of September, I had only added 16 books, which brought my total to 61 for the year. I discovered several new authors in that time, though, including Britta Bolt, Simon Beckett, and Stephen Dobyns. Britta Bolt’s Lonely Graves (see full review here) was probably my favorite mystery, thriller, and suspense read. However, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (see Rebecca’s full review here) was my favorite read of the year at this point. This book was fantastic on so many levels. I highly recommend it to everyone!Shelf Challenge December

We are at the end of 2014, and the final picture shows the completion of my experience with “the empty shelf challenge.” At this point, I have completed 75 books. The fall quarter saw me add 14 more titles to my list. I re-read The Hunger Games trilogy, which I liked even more the second time around. However, my favorite book of the quarter was The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap (see review here).

Reading is such a joy, so keeping this resolution was not a problem. I hope you’ll take “the empty shelf challenge,” too!

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Mollie Smith Waters

Mollie Smith Waters teaches American literature, theater, and speech at a small community college in rural Alabama. Her hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, and walking.