How To Read The Books You Own

For most book lovers, particularly those of us with a large home library, this struggle of mine is common: I have so many wonderful books at home to read, yet I seek more from outside sources on nearly a daily basis. For me that’s listening to audio books with the Overdrive app, requesting advanced copies from NetGalley, picking up used paperbacks at thrift shops, borrowing from the library, and there’s probably at least one book source I’m missing here…

I have many bookish friends who feel my pain, and share theirs as well. “So many books, so little time” is often the reply we give each other when passing on a new recommendation.

When I saw my friend, and fellow bookworm, Holly post about her own reading challenge she was calling Only Own October, I was intrigued and had to know more. She was kind enough to collaborate with me on a post about her idea!


Holly and Cricket


Tell us a little about yourself in regard to your reading life. I’ve loved books and reading for as long as I can remember.  I grew up with wonderful parents who not only read to me but encouraged my bookish ways; there were many trips to the library and I know I got to buy at least one book from every book order that came my way in school.  I’ve always made time to read “for fun” because it’s such an important part of who I am and several years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to turn one of the bedrooms in my house into a home library; it’s my own little paradise, especially when my pup curls up with me while I read.  I prefer fiction but have recently discovered I enjoy throwing a non-fiction in the mix every once in a while; I struggle to get into audio books but plan to continue trying them in hopes that I will learn to enjoy them.  I love discussing, recommending, and lending books and it warms my heart when someone recommends or lends me a book they think I’ll like.

How and when did you come up with the idea for Only Own October (OOO)?  Despite the fact that I have over 200 unread books on my shelves, I found myself continually checking out and requesting books from the library.  Books being raved about and covers or titles that caught my attention on Instagram were books I felt I needed to read immediately.  Yet while reading these books, I often noticed myself scanning my shelves and thinking numerous times “Why haven’t I read that book yet?  I really want to read that one!”  In August, my library requests dwindled to a reasonable number and I decided to stop hitting that pesky request button in order to get them all read by the end of September.  I felt I could start October with a “clean slate” so I came up with a little challenge for myself: Only Own October. (I LOVE alliteration!)  To encourage myself to give my own books some love and attention, I was only going to allow myself to read books that I already owned at the start of October.


Tell us about that adorable book cart in your Instagram post about OOO! I follow quite a few book accounts on Instagram and photos started popping up with these fabulous carts displaying books.  I knew right away I had to get one.  I loved the idea of making my home library a little more like the “real” libraries with a cart full of books.


Was was your line-up for October? And how did you come up with those? Looking at my bookshelves trying to decide what to read for Only Own October was a little daunting because of the number of unread books I had to choose from.  To make things more manageable, I broke the task down into smaller parts.  I went shelf by shelf and chose the books I most wanted to read; once I had that core group, I continued to filter by those I most wanted to read until I had only the number of books that would fit in the top two shelves on my book cart.  From those two shelves, I’ve simply been choosing what seemed like the best match for me at the time.  (My first read was Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg because I wanted to read the book on which my favorite movie is based.  I then read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  I’m currently reading The Dinner by Herman Koch and hope I have time to squeeze in one more after that.)

Did you stick to your line-up? How’d OOO go for you? OOO went really well. I haven’t requested or checked out a book from the library and honestly haven’t had the desire to do so (which has come as quite a surprise!).  It’s been exciting to look at my cart and anticipate what my next read might be and it’s satisfying to see the progress as the collection shrinks.  I just wish I could read faster to make a bigger dent!  I think I will probably continue to read my own books for a while after the challenge is over and I’m planning on giving myself some kind of challenge in the new year to encourage me to read more of my own books.  I’m not sure what it is about challenges but they really motivate me!

Did you receive much response to your post about OOO? Did other people do it with you? I received a great response to my post about  OOO.  I had people tell me which books they had read and enjoyed, which books they also owned but hadn’t yet read, and suggestions about what books I should read first.  Several people mentioned they also requested too many library books and needed to do a challenge like this themselves.  As far as I know no one but me is actually participating in the challenge but I think if I had given people more notice and promoted it a bit more, I would have had some participants. 

What ratio do you usually read of your owned book to library loans? Because I’m a number nerd, I went back and actually did some math!  It appears about a quarter of the books I read during the year are books I own.  This year I may break that trend! 

How do you choose your next read? If I’m on a requesting spree at the library my next read is determined by whatever book happens to come in next.  I’m a bit of a mood reader; if I’ve read several heavy books or several thrillers in a row, I often need a break and choose something lighter.  Once in a great while, I’ll throw in a non-fiction book to “cleanse my palette.”


How many books to you read per month/year on average? The last several years I’ve averaged about 35 books a year.  This year my numbers are up a bit and I’m hoping to hit a nice 52 to average one per week.

What are you reading right now?  The Dinner by Herman Koch.  One of those books that had been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years and I kept meaning to get to!

Tell us your favorite authors and books! I adore Fannie Flagg’s novels for their cute characters and feel-good stories.  I’ve always enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s novels for the subject matter and often unexpected endings.  My all-time favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and I love the Harry Potter series.

I must note that when I first saw Holly’s Instagram post in the last days of September, I commented that I would love to join her challenge. Then I promptly forgot about it and failed miserably. I guess there’s always next October!

1 Comment

  1. Get Through the Books on Your Shelves During Only Own October -

    September 26, 2019 at 9:03 am

    […] That’s why I’ll be participating in Only Own October next month, hosted by my dear friend Holly. Last year was her inaugural October challenge, and afterward I interviewed her about it, you can find that post here. […]

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