Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Continuing the Empty Shelf Challenge

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

New York Times Bestselling author Jon Acuff threw the reading gauntlet in 2013.

“Empty a shelf in your house somewhere. Every book you read from now until December 31, 2014 goes on the shelf. Waiting until January 1st to do something awesome is stupid and fake.”

The number of books on my to-read list is longer than my children’s Santa wish list, but sometimes the stress of life means books go untouched for far too long.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” – Stephen King

The Empty Shelf Challenge gave me some weird sense of permission to read again. I’ve found that not only does my writing improve when I’m constantly reading, but it gives my mind a break from creating and lets me escape into beautiful worlds created by other talented writers.

Instead of emptying a shelf, I created a Pinterest board and started using my Goodreads account. I found that when the number of times I stared at the computer uninspired diminished. The words flew and my vocabulary increased. An appreciation for great writing intensified and I allowed myself to stop reading books that were poorly written without feeling guilty for not completing something I’d started.

“A writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat. If you’re going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in it first.” Louis L'Amour

As a nonfiction writer, I found that reading great novels allowed me to draw creativity into my own works. In fact, one of my secret weapons while I was writing The Cinderella Rule was to pick up a copy of a bestseller and read until my heart and mind were so full that I couldn’t keep my fingers off the keyboard.

There are several places to find great books, but my newest favorite place is BookBub.com. When you create an account, you choose the categories and genres that appeal to you. They send you an email with that day’s free or heavily discounted books. Most are by bestsellers and have large 5-star ratings on Amazon.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I stayed up until 2 AM reading one of Jeffery Archer’s books that was a free deal from BookBub. I found a new favorite author and Archer gained a new fan.

Today, I throw the gauntlet.

Join me as we read more books this year than ever before. We start now, because waiting to do something awesome is stupid.


Read more books this year than ever before: Join the Challenge. Itstarts the day you read this (Click to Tweet)

Bethany Jett’s life changed when she left her first writers conference with an agent and a book deal. Not only was The Cinderella Rule a Selah Awards finalist, it opened doors to national speaking engagements, international radio interviews, multiple publishing opportunities, and teaching at writers conferences.

Along with ghostwriting for her literary agency, Bethany founded Serious Writer Academy and created the My Moments quarterly planner and the Serious Writer’s Companion: the All-in-One Organizer for writers.

Connect with Bethany on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, SeriousWriter.com and at BethanyJett.com. Click here to register for her upcoming free webinar “7 Secrets to Landing a Book Deal.”


  1. Bethany, Thank you for the encouragement to read more. I will take the challenge also. There are so many books to read. I started seriously reading last year when I began to write. I prayed and asked God what books I should read. I was overwhelmed with the choices. He impressed upon my heart to read books written by my friends; to encourage and promote them. My friends list grows and my reading list grows with it. Many of these writers have won awards for their books. I am surrounded by an online community of great writers. I must add, The Cinderella Rule, to my list.

    1. That's such a lovely way to choose your books!!! :) Kinda excited The Cinderalla Rule is added to the list. :) Thanks for commenting!!!!!

  2. Bethany, Love this challenge! I have too many books I have not started or finished and some I just need to donate. Thanks for the nudge to get busy reading. Blessings to you!

    1. Hi Maureen! www.PaperbackSwap.com is how I started my "transfer" of getting rid of books I'd read and getting new books for my bookshelf! Happy Holidays!

  3. Thank you, Bethany! I needed this reminder and grace to read. Great article!

  4. Hey Andy!!!! :) I hope you're doing well!!

  5. I like the Pinterest idea. Bethany you have a great day.

  6. Thanks, Bethany. I enjoyed meeting you at BRMCWC. I came home with 2 bags of books to read, and you have infused my goal with encouraging words. I find some freedom in your sharing the fact you no longer feel guilty in not finishing a book poorly written. Thanks!!