Trimming Book-Fat #6: Inventory, Goals Assessment Edition

Searching for the end of the bookshelf and the belt line with K.M. Zahrt

Sometime in the last week or two, the magnitude of this challenge started to drive me crazy. So, I took what seemed to be the appropriate next step.

Read day and night like exam week in college? Hit the gym like a maniac? Ha! No.

I sorted, reorganized, and alphabetized my books — a completely logical response from a bibliophile.

I wanted to know exactly how many unread books I needed to conquer. And, guess what I found? How many books do you think I have on my shelf that qualify for this challenge? Guess a number.



Seriously, higher.

One hundred and twelve. No joke. One hundred AND twelve! I was as shocked as you are.

2.8 shelves packed wall to wall

That number does not even include the 25 books I collected during the inventory process that were elected to exit stage left. For expediency sake, I took them all to the used bookstore, and they were much obliged to have them. A win-win.

Unfortunately, because the goddess Bibliophilia is such a nuisance, I wasn’t able to take leave of the store without taking a new book with me. And here’s the irony of it: my wife already had a copy of the book tucked away in the house. (I know which book is getting trimmed next.) Also, I must confess, I bought a copy of Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Exstinction (2014) since our last encounter.

That’s how this happens, isn’t it? It accumulates unnoticed over time, adding little by little. And poof! You find yourself to be thirty years old with a bookshelf full of good intentions and one hell of a mountain to climb. Consarn you, Bibliophilia!

So, how long will this challenge realistically take? I average, now with a toddler at home, about two books per month, 24 per year. At this pace, it will take me four years and eight months. I’ll be scheduled to finish this challenge sometime in the spring of 2020. And that’s if I’m diligent.

Impossible. I read The Believer Book Award winner every year. That alone is going to set me back four books.

Having read 10 books since this started, that puts me at about 8% complete. As it turns out, at about 30% complete, the weight loss aspect of this challenge is the more achievable goal. I wouldn’t have guessed that at the outset.

As for that metric, from April to May, I dropped eight pounds. But, since the Fourth of July weekend, my progress has stalemated. I’ve reached an impasse. Thinking on it now, my sudden rage to take a complete inventory of the book situation may have been a displaced response to my frustration on this front — to feel like I’ve done something, even if it wasn’t going to the gym.

I do feel better, but I need to get back to it.

In sum, what have I learned thus far?

First, I’m reminded that it’s not going to be the sprint for which I’d foolishly hoped. It’s going to be a marathon. I can hear the trainer’s cry now, “Lifestyle change! Lifestyle change!” Yeah, yeah. Okay. Fine. I hear you. I’ll pace myself.

Second, I have a better chance of getting down to my target weight than I have of finding the end of my bookshelf, and I don’t say that lightly.

PUN! That’s the third moral to this story. If I’m going to continue on this journey, I’ve got to have some fun along the way.

For now, I’ll continue on this quest with the hope of achieving my target weight by the end of the year. At that time, I’ll take inventory of the shelf once again, and as usual, I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Until next time, folks…

Books Read: 10 (Change: +3)
Books Given Away: 36 (Change: +25, -2)
Pounds Lost: 8 (Change: +\- 0)

Next Month’s Reading Selections
The Sixth Exstinction (2014) by Elizabeth Kolbert
Bleeding Edge (2013) by Thomas Pynchon


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