What’s 746 books all about then?

14222258_10153926822701589_2111809166078527704_nMy name is Cathy. I am a 40-something mother of 10 year old twins who loves buying books.

I am addicted to buying books of all types; real proper books, second hand books, borrowed books, books for Kindle, books for iPad….

In 2013 I realised this madness could not continue, so I set myself a challenge. I counted all the unread books in my house and it came to 746.

It was frightening.

What was even more frightening is that I didn’t count the unread books that are packed away in boxes in the attic and have been since we moved house, 19 YEARS AGO. Nor did I count the books that belonged to my father that have been in storage for the last 10 YEARS. Plus, I didn’t factor in books of my husband’s that I’ve been meaning to read as well. But 746 books was what I had to hand, and 746 was where I started.

In the last year preceding my challenge, I read 36 books. Continuing at this, let’s face it, not very inspiring rate, meant that it would take me 20.72 years to read everything I have in the house. I’ll be 63. Bloody hell.

So, I decided to concentrate on reading the books that I already own. From 2013 to 2016 I didn’t buy muself any new books. Now I try and limit the books that I buy but I do try to prioritise that towering TBR!

I am passionate about Irish Literature and host the annual Reading Ireland Month in March. Click on the Irish Literature section to see news and reviews about the exciting work coming from Ireland. I also focus on writing from Northern Ireland in particular and you can check those reviews out in my Northern Exposure series.

I work full time as the Arts Programmer at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy where my compulsive reading is seen as a transferable skill! I review theatre for the Irish entertainment website No More Workhorse and have taken part in the Belfast Book Festival, Dalkey Book Festival and Jaipur Literature Festival in India.

You can follow my progress on Twitter @cathy746books or email me at cmac2708@yahoo.co.uk

279 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi Cathy! I landed here from Marina Sofia’s blog. I’ve not counted my unread books, but I must be in the same situation- problem is, I can’t stop myself from buying yet more, I cheat by buying ebooks so there’s no evidence… Pleased to meet you, Marina

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Cathy! My name is Aya, and I am a fellow book blogger. I was wondering if you’d be interested in participating in a small project that I am doing. I wanted to ask a bunch of bloggers (49, to be exact :p), to give me one of their favorite book quotes. I’m going to compile them all in one post and then post it on my blog on the 22nd of this month. It’d be fantastic if you would be a part of this. Just let me know by this Sunday, please, so that I have plenty of time to compile and/or ask someone else. Thank you!
    P.S. You are the 48th blogger to be asked!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christ is Risen!
    Hi Kathy, just discovered your site thanks to your interview of BookerTalk, a favorite book blogger of mine. I realize you follow my Orthodox blog, which has so far so few posts… and a few other Orthodox blogs! Are you Orthodox?
    Otherwise http://wordsandpeace.com is my “profane” book blog.
    Matushka Emma

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Cathy, I just stumbled across your blog via your 20 books of summer challenge (I’m joining in with 10 books myself). I have also made a no-more-book-buying pledge, although mine is only for the remainder of 2017 (if I’m successful I may allow myself to buy a FEW books as a prize and then continuing the challenge in 2018). But your plan is awe-inspiring! 746 is a very large number. I hope you can do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have over 1,000 unread books on my Kindles as well. But it’s funny, they’re all present in my mind somehow and I keep rescuing them from oblivion when the right time comes (when I research something or go through my folders searching for certain kinds of books). And yes, I still buy books, both ebooks and paperbacks 🙂 But I have to say I have lots of DNF books. But then there again, the funny thing is that I’ll be reminded of a book I began and start at the beginning again and finish it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I found a link to your website over at Thom’s blog, The Immortal Jukebox. Good luck with your reading project. I’m impressed with your determination and your taste in books.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cathy, am in same predicament as you and many on the post. Just can’t stop buying books from Charity shops and second hand bookshops. You have inspired me to at least count my stock and then maybe I will set myself a target for the winter! Betty

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’ve made me fee so much better! I counted my books a while ago and found out of them over two hundred were unread. I now see that is nothing to worry about and it’s fine for me to accumulate a few more, ha haa!! 😀


  9. Hi Cathy! I came across your blog through a comment you left on Bibliobeth’s recent post – what an incredible project you’ve got on your hands here!! Looking forward to poking around a little bit and seeing how you’re doing 😉


  10. Oh my gosh the unending book collection…I know this well. I too have books from family members, and more than enough of them are ambitious ideas based more on curiosity than a real desire to read THAT book. I wind up thinking, well if it weren’t for this book I’d never even think to read this subject/book/author, so I better hold on to this so I remember to. 😉 Oh dear… Awesome project you’ve embarked on, best of reading to you!


  11. Wow Cathy. I thought that I was the only crazy book lady. That is mad to think of how long it will take you to get through reading all of the books in your house. My, oh, my! Reading is a great gift to have and to give. Both of my sisters are librarians. One works on the County Wicklow Mobile library, while the other works in the law library. I have a 10 y/o duaghter and a 7 y/o son and books and the love of reading has been instilled in them, my hubby is also an avid reader. Looking forward to this challenge. Thanks, Gracie x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Cathy, I’m in awe of your tenacity in this project, not just making your way through all these books but reviewing them too! I panicked at 118 back in 2016, scribbled out a list on a piece of paper and set to reading them all 🙂 Libraries shutting last year prompted a bit of a relapse but nothing a few months reading wont solve. Found my way here through the 20 books of summer (enjoying putting together my list) and looking forward to following your progress!


  13. Hi Cathy – Just discovered your blog after you commented on Reading Matters site. I had a quick look at your reviews and think I need to stop – I have my own lord knows how many books unread and I cannot add any more from your list! Good luck – I also am on a mission to read more of my book shelf – I stopped counting my unread books at 600+ – and I’m older than you so have less time :-). Kate


  14. Why so guilty? I’ve got loads of books TBR and it’s lovely to escape and browse through to choose the next one. Thinking I must read them all before I die is like the bullying parent who tells the child to “eat it all up” before they’re allowed to play. But my Mum’s still reading at 93 so I hope I’ve got lots of time. And I’ve a feeling this site is going to draw me back to Amazon (or Waterstones or Blackwells or ABooks or…….). I’ve inherited my parents and my late husbands libraries so lots and lots.


  15. That’s wild! I don’t think I have more than 30 unread books in my apartment. It would feel so good, to have that many books to read lying around without worrying about purchasing more. Kinda like Christmas as a child when I got a pile of books that kept me occupied until Summer, but better.


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