The Unread Shelf Project 2021

Hosted by theunreadshelf

420 participants, 5730 books added

Starts: Friday, 01 January 2021

Ends: Friday, 31 December 2021

The heart of the Unread Shelf Project is reading and enjoying the books we already own. It's not just about numbers (although knowing your unread number helps) or a lifelong buying ban (unless you really want to).

Many readers, including me, love the high of a new book purchase. But after the high wears off, how often do we actually read the books we were once so excited about?

That's exactly what I struggled with as a reader. In 2017, I started my own personal Unread Shelf Project and started reading what I owned.

I didn't stop buying books, but I loved becoming the reader I wanted to be by tackling my unread shelves. And in 2018, I invited others to join me in the project on my Instagram account @theunreadshelf.

Thousands of readers responded, excited about a community of book lovers who want to stop just acquiring and start reading the books filling up their shelves.

The community has grown every year since, and this year the Project is better than ever. And I'm so glad you're joining us!

To get your FREE guide to the Unread Shelf Project and stay up-to-date on the monthly challenges, click HERE.

If you're looking for a community of book lovers who can help you transform your shelves this year, we'd love to have you in our Unread Shelf Community - click HERE for the details.

FIRST YEAR? Start Here:
  • Count your unread books & put them all in one place.
  • Say goodbye to the books you no longer want to read.
  • Make a list of your top books to read this year. Put them on a special shelf, and use a checklist to keep yourself on track.
  • Commit to a one month ban on buying and borrowing new books, in order to focus on reading the books you already own.

The 2021 Challenges

The twelve monthly challenges are the hart of the Unread Shelf Project. Each month, we commit to reading at least one book from our unread shelves, based on that month's challenge. If we don't finish the book by the end of the month, we get rid of it. By giving ourselves a deadline, we find the motivation to read the books we've been meaning to (sometimes, for years).

This year, we're adding an extra set of BONUS challenges. Consider these your extra treats, to help you keep up the momentum of reading, or use them to sub in for challenges that you don't have a book for.

The free guide also includes 12 bonus challenges, a year-long unread book bingo card, a monthly tracking sheet, and more. Sign up for your free guide HERE.

Challenge prompts

1. January - A book with high expectations (408 books added)


'High expectations' can mean that you expect a lot from this book, or that it was a highly anticipated read for you, or a it's a book with a lot of fanfare. Interpret as you will. :)

2. February - A book you got for free (410 books added)


Whether it's a gift, a Little Free Library book, or a review copy from a publisher, it's time to knock out that freebie.

3. March - A book you bought on a trip (285 books added)


Don't we all love book shopping on trips? Reawaken your vacation memories and finally finish that book you picked up as a travel souvenir.

4. April - A book bought from a used bookstore (303 books added)


Who doesn't love a used bookstore??? Cheap, old books are the best - unless we never read them.

5. May - A book you bought as a new release (296 books added)


There's always that one exciting book we grab the day it comes out. But how often do we actually read it? Finish it this month.

6. June - A book bought in a spending spree (308 books added)


You know what I mean - that one time (or ten) you went crazy in the bookstore and added a dozen new books to your shelves with one swipe of the credit card. Let's get one read.

7. July - A book bought for the cover (230 books added)


Book covers are a work of art in themselves. Sometimes what's inside the covers matches the gorgeous outside; sometimes, not. Let's find out.

8. August - A book from an independent bookstore (293 books added)


It's the month of Independent Bookstore Day! Celebrate by finishing your indie bookstore purchase.

9. September - A book you want to learn from (254 books added)


School season is upon us. So look at your shelves and pick up that book that you know will make you a better person and expand your knowledge of the world.

10. October - A book you're secretly afraid of (173 books added)


Maybe it's the content, the cover, or the topic. You may secretly think it's too sexy/scary/violent/heavy/light/romantic/science-y/fantastical for you, but you're embarrassed to admit it - and you can't quite make yourself pick it up. Let's get over the fear and read that book.