Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh What the Hell? Another Challenge. Let's Call It The Attacking the TBR Tome Challenge

I know. I know. I came up with three challenges earlier this year and almost immediately abandoned them, so can you really trust me when it comes to challenges? Probably not. However, a new year is on the horizon. I always become my most hopeful self when a new year is on the horizon. I'm the sort of person who if you're going to tell me I've got an incurable disease and only have six months to live, you should tell me in late November, with a new year right around the corner. I will respond with, "Ha! Incurable for most, but not for me Emily Barton, who can conquer anything come January. Just give me till January 1, and you'll see. I've got at least 50 more years in this old body." Tell me the same thing in March or May, and I'll be saying, "Six months, you say? You'd better start digging my grave now. I'm pretty sure it won't be more than two weeks."

2009 (and what disappointments it may or may not have) is already being swept under the carpet as I focus on how much better 2010 is going to be. And what's the first thing I want to attack in 2010? My TBR tome. I know, most of you only have a list, so this challenge is probably going to be a little easier for me than it is for you, given that I will have many, many more titles to choose from than you will. I also know that many of you refer to your TBR pile, an idea that just amazes me. To actually have nothing more than a mere pile (okay, some of you have piles but still) of books to read? I have a whole houseful of books to read, thanks to having married my husband, the former English teacher and pack rat (I hope those of you who have visited will attest to this fact). Not that I can blame it all on him. I didn't used to buy books at the alarming rate at which I buy them now, but I'm like a bulimic. The slightest excuse (broke a fingernail, it's raining/snowing/a brilliantly sunny day, I need a change of scenery...), and I'm off to the nearest bookstore to purchase at least five books, eyes too big for stomach, finding the need to purge (or at least set aside for months on end) after reading only two.

So, here is how this challenge works. It begins December 1, 2009 (because I always believe in challenges that give you more than one year to complete) and ends no later than December 31, 2010, but it really ends whenever you manage to complete it. Here are the rules:

1. Choose 20 books from your TBR list (or tome, if you are like me), and post them on December 1, 2009. If you'd like, you can tell us why you chose each book (I'm sure you can guess what I'd "like").

2. Read those 20 books.

3. Oh, did I mention? You are not allowed to buy any of them. If you don't already own them, you must beg, borrow, or steal them in order to read them.

4. Oh, I guess I forgot the other difficult part: you are not allowed to buy any new (or used. No, you can't get around it that way) books until you have read (or attempted to read at least 30+ pages) of all the books on your list.

5. There is one exception to the rules (because I am a fair kinda gal and belong to 2 book discussion groups): you may buy books you have to read for book discussion groups before you have read all 20 on your list, if you can't get them any other way (i.e. your library system doesn't have them and employs the Sloth Express to deliver all interlibrary loans). However, I highly recommend that you encourage your book discussion groups to read books from your list of 20.

6. And then that final thing: write a blog post about each book as you finish (or decide you can't finish) it.

That's it. Who's joining me?

(And now I'm off to flip through the pages of the TBR tome and start narrowing down my list.)

18 comments:

Becky said...

I don't really like to have TBR books lying around, because the longer they are there, the less likely I am to read them. So, mostly, I read what I buy within the week. I think this challenge might be impossible.

liliannattel said...

This challenge made me smile. First of all I can make all the lists I want but I never stick to them. Secondly, as a writer I can't encourage people not to buy new books! After all it pays the mortgage for many a writer.

liliannattel said...

Oh--not that I think it's an unworthy challenge. I think it's highly worthy!

ZoesMom said...

I like the idea of this, but I am not sure I can commit. I certainly have 20 books on my TBR list and more than that...hmmm...

Stefanie said...

No purchasing of new books until the 20 are done? You are VERY cruel! What about the gift card(s) I am sure to receive at Christmas? If you say no go, you know you are going to have to force me to read the first 30 pages of all the books so I can say they are in progress and can therefore use the gift card without guilt. Or if that won't work then I will have to give the gift card to my husband and make him buy the books for me. Can I count books I am already in the middle of as part of my 20 or must I "start fresh," so to speak? And what about free books? Do I have to say no to ARCs? I'm not trying to get around the rules, just, you know, looking for a little clarification :)

Emily Barton said...

Becky, you could polish off 20 books in a mere week at the rate you read, so you're right, probably not the best challenge for you.

Lillian, well, you see, for me, the impetus to get these books read comes from the temporary hold on book-buying. My goal is to read all 20 very quickly, so I can go back to supporting all you authors out there.

ZM, oh go ahead and commit. You can always un-commit (like I do all the time).

Stef, "buying" books with gift certificates does not constitute buying books. I mean, after all, if someone had given you books, you wouldn't be rude and say, "I can't accept this gift." Which answers the question of free books from publishers: you must accept them, if you don't want to be rude. (You may not, however, buy a bunch of books that you want to read and give them as "gifts" to your husband -- or your cats). And it is completely up to you as to whether or not books you have already started go on the list (I didn't think of it, but it's a good idea. Actually, I did at one point think of the idea of doing a "Finish books you once started and never finished" challenge. Maybe I ought to consider that one for some other time.)

Emily Barton said...

Lilian, I meant "Lilian," not "Lillian." I hate it when people misspell names.

Cam said...

Well, I'll consider it, but I don't know about the book buying bit. I tried the no book buying this year and actually made it through April before buying a book that wasn't for work or for discussion group. And, for my book groups, I read 2 books from my TBR book cases (yes, not a pile, but not quite a houseful -- but 2 bookcases). So, I think I did pretty well.

Litlove said...

I'm sure I must do this over the year anyway, but it will have to happen alongside buying other books. I'll shrivel up and die otherwise. And someone has to keep the book market going (although my husband does say, yes, but does it HAVE to be you alone?). So I'm in, so long as I can buy to replace the read books at a ratio of about 2:1 as usual!

Emily Barton said...

Cam, join the club. I was supposed to read 3 books I already owned for every one book I bought in 2009. I lost count, but I think I have something like 80 books to read over the next two month. Give it a go, and don't feel bad if you find yourself breaking down and buying books.

Litlove, same goes for you. I'm just trying to quit buying thousands of books that I never read, but feel free to adapt the rules so that they work best for you. Actually, I like your "reward" system: read one book, get to buy two.

Dorothy W. said...

I've been avoiding challenges lately, but I may try this one, with the caveat that I will probably tweak the rules and will most likely break them. I'm not sure I can keep to the "buy no books" rule, especially if I happen to go on one of the trips where we visit great used bookstores. Perhaps I'll add the caveat that I can buy books only if I'm involved in a day-long trip with friends where the point is to visit bookstores? The other change I'd make to the rules is that I would create a tentative list of 20 books, but allow myself the freedom to make substitutions if I want. How does that sound? Oh, and I can't keep myself from getting books from Book Mooch. But that's not really buying them.

Heather said...

A great challenge! I'd join you but most of my books are still packed. Could I adjust the challenge to be no purchases for all of 2010 with 20 books from the library (randomly chosen)? Or what if I only buy books from used book stores?

I suppose I could unpack some boxes. Sigh.

BooksPlease said...

I think I'll give this a go. I had my own TBR challenge this year with 14 books on it. So far I have manged to read 1 but I have started 3 of the others. I may have these same books for next year's challenge, but I'm tempted to choose others as there are so many I could pick from the piles around here. I'm not sure I can stick to the "buy no books until you've read 20" though. And I like Dorothy's idea of substituting books too - after all they're all waiting to be read.

knitseashore said...

I think I read this wrong on Dorothy's blog. I thought it was a month-long challenge but it is a year-long challenge! So in that case, I may need to sign up. As the owner of The Cabinet of Shame, I could really benefit from a book-buying diet. :)

Melanie said...

This Challenge sounds great -- I need to get some of my TBR shelves whittled down. Let's see, if I read 20 I'll have one shelf down...So okay, I'm in. The No Book Buying Rule may have to be adjusted to read 2, can buy 1, because I can't in good conscience advocate not buying books when I own an online bookstore and we are trying to encourage people to buy our books at the Xmas season! ;)

Emily Barton said...

I just love the fact that everyone is busy adjusting this challenge in ways that suit her. Such a creative bunch of followers I have!

Dorr, as I said on your blog, let's meet at The Strand. And I am completely with you on substitutions. The only challenges I've ever successfully completed have involved substitutions.

BP, Id say substitutions are definitely in order for you. And go ahead and buy books, if you don't think you need that impetus.

Ms. Knits, ooo, "The Cabinet of Shame." I love that!

Melanie, without any sort of list, I tried the "read 3 books I own, can buy 1" for 2009. I lost count of how many books in debt I am to make up for all I bought, thinking, "Well, just this one, and I'll read it real quick, so it can count as one of the three I own that I now need to read." So I hope you are better at it than I was! (Email me, and when I complete this challenge, the first book I buy, I will buy from your online store, okay?)

Care said...

I love this challenge! even as I could bet money I'll break your rules before Jan 11. Twenty books, huh? It is interesting to me how good the books look in the tbr pile(s) when I have three books "MUST read next" but when I can't decide which book to read 'next', I always want to buy something else. Why is that?

Susan said...

I have the same problem everyone else has: as soon as I say I can't buy a new book until I've read some, you know books will be published in the new year that i must have! That, and I really feel panic when I can't buy books....so if I can buy 2 books for every one I read, then I'm in!! I might move it to buy 3 for every one I read, that seems to be my going rate this past year. The good news is I did read quite a few off my TBR shelves (note I said SHELVES, not Shelf, I have a huge book case for books to read NOW as opposed to the unread books scattered through all the other many shelves dotting the house), the bad news is the shelves are as full of new books TBR that I've bought this year!!! So let's see, what needs to be read next....will post on this by Tuesday!!!