Books Before TV: The Librarian’s Challenge

I had an interesting idea this evening. This probably will not come as a surprise to anyone, but I own tons of books I haven’t read yet.  Beyond the backlog of books I myself own, I also have four already checked out from the library and a list of 70 items that I intend to check out when I have a chance. Clearly, I’ve got a lot of reading to do, yet over and over again, I waste what free time I have on doing stupid things, like watching a bunch of so-so at best movies and TV shows.

The idea is simple: no more TV-watching until I finish every book in this house.

This is just part of my library, to give you a sense of the scale of what we’re talking
about here.  I don’t know how many books this is or how many of them are unread,
but I will count tomorrow and report back.

Here are the stipulations:

  1. This includes books I have not read that are  in the house as of this moment (and the books in my office that I checked out and haven’t brought home yet).  I wouldn’t be buying more books right now anyway, since Christmas is almost here, but if I am given books, they do not count in this challenge. Also, this only includes actual, physical books, not e-books or articles on my iPad.
  2. Both fiction and non-fiction count, but not books one would not normally read cover-to-cover, like a cookbook, dictionary, knitting pattern book, or the like.
  3. The sad fact is that there are some books on my shelf that I probably don’t want to read.  They sounded good at the time, but then I found I couldn’t get into them, so they went back on the shelf in hopes that I would enjoy them more at some later date.  Well, hopefully that date is now, because if not, those suckers are getting donated.  Each book will get two tries.  If I start a book and I’m really not able to get into it, it moves to the back of the line.  After I finish everything else, I try it again.  If I still don’t like it, it gets donated.
  4. There will be no TV-watching of any kind, including movies, TV shows, documentaries, or the like.  Short internet clips, like  Youtube videos under five minutes long or videos of my friends’ adorable children, are permitted.  Also, having the iTunes visualizer on the TV while I’m listening to music and doing the Sunday crossword or cooking is permitted.
  5. Watching TV in a social setting is permitted. In other words, I can watch if I get invited to go to a movie, have a friend over and he or she would like to watch TV, or go to someone else’s house and he or she suggests we watch TV.  In those situations, I wouldn’t be reading a book anyway (I think the person I’m with might find that a bit rude).  It only makes sense to cut the TV when reading is the alternative activity.
  6. There’s no time limit or deadline on this – I continue until I either finish or donate every unread book on my shelf (and return the ones checked out from the library) or I declare defeat, possibly risking having my Awesome Librarian badge revoked.
  7. To be clear, I’m still allowed to do other leisure activities – it doesn’t have to be all reading all the time.  I’m just not allowed to watch TV.

So that’s the challenge.  I was thinking I’d wait till after the holidays and consider this my New Year’s resolution, but you know, I’m thinking why wait?  Why waste another day boring myself with pointless TV?  Starting tomorrow, no more TV for me.

So how about you?  I imagine at least some of you reading this have a similar situation.  It may not be books and TV, but I challenge you to think about what you’d like to get around to doing and what you’ve been wasting your time on instead.  Set a finite goal and commit to avoid wasting time on the other thing.  Come on, you know you want to play along with me!  If you’re doing it, tell me about it in the comments!

By the way, in case you’re curious about my list of books to checkout, it’s saved as an Amazon Wishlist.  To be clear, I don’t want to actually own any of these – just check them out from the library.  So if you are a person who happens to be shopping for me and you stumble upon this, that’s very nice of you, but I don’t need to own these 🙂  It’s almost all non-fiction, but there’s a little fiction toward the end.

3 thoughts on “Books Before TV: The Librarian’s Challenge

  1. Great idea! I need to get into some of those books I haven't read. Although I really can't give up my shows, I could stand to turn it off earlier and read in bed a bit. I get side tracked by my magazines too. I'm letting them all run out this year so I can read more books. p.s LOVE that you have a blog now!

    • Yay, glad you like the blog! It's different if you actually have shows you follow…I don't, really, so mostly I'm just watching movies that aren't that good or TV shows I've seen a million times (Seinfeld and Arrested Development, mostly).

  2. I have the same exact problem. I see all the books I promised to read and review and somehow end up in front of the tv. When I go to bed, I end up reading past midnight, then I have to get up to go to work! I've told my husband that I need a month's vacation to just read all books I have and want to check out. I'll probably need more than a month! I think the perfect job would be to read and review ARC or any other books. I'm happy to see that others have this problem and think about reading but not doing it. I am following your blog, I think it's great!

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