Anyway, here is my list. I, like Dorr, am choosing these for now with the idea that, if I feel like it, I can make substitutions later. We'll see how it goes. If I manage to get through twenty books and enjoy the process, this might turn out to be a yearly event for me.
1. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
I actually have two Diane Ackerman's I've been meaning to read forever. The other one is The Moon By Whale Light. I chose this one, for now, because I'm more in the mood for it. That might change, however, so don't be surprised if I end up reading The Moon By Whale Light instead.
2. Brookland by Emily Barton
Should be pretty obvious why this one is on the list, especially for those of you who have been following me for three years and were there when I wrote one of those early posts about how I really do need to read one of her books.
3. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
Despite the fact I did not like Friends and Relations when I read it, I did promise myself I would give Elizabeth Bowen another go. A long-time friend of mine discovered Bowen this year and has been raving about her, so I decided this would be a good time for that "another go." But that's it. If I don't like this one, sorry, but I'm not trying anymore of hers.
4. A Window Over the Sink by Peg Bracken
I love Peg Bracken whose mid-twentieth-century books have such sensible titles as The I Hate to Cook Book and The I Hate to Housekeep Book (and are full of the sorts of recipes that people in that era ate). I bought this memoir a number of years ago, sure it would be delightful. So sure, I guess, that I decided I didn't need to read it to prove it so. Time for some proof…
5. Passion and Affect by Laurie Colwin
I loved both of Colwin's books about cooking, but I've never read any of her fiction. This one is killing two birds with one stone: not only is it in this challenge, but it is also helping me keep up my goal of reading more short story collections.
6. The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
A friend of mine has been pushing this book on me practically since the year we met, which was 2001, and Ms. Musings has recommended it to me, too. I finally found a copy at our library book sale last year, which was my first step towards reading it, but I keep choosing others over it, for some reason.
7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I know, I know. Can you believe I haven't read it yet? And now everyone is raving about her newest one…
8. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I have yet to read a blog post that does not rave about this book. I picked it up at the 2009 library book sale, so it's a relatively recent purchase. It does sound like it's going to be brilliant, so I hope my expectations aren't so high that it can't deliver.
9. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
You can't attend seminary vicariously and not be aware of this book. People raved about this one while Bob was at Union. I think the first blog post I read about it was Dorr's. Bob read it in the fall of 2008, and I've been promising him ever since that I'd read it.
10. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I am quite sure that this one has been in the TBR tome since before I even began to write the tome's first chapter. I think it was in the prequel. Anyway, that should be explanation enough as to why it's in the challenge.
11. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
I love Anne Lamott. It's been a while since I read anything by her. So this one is on the list as a "guaranteed to like" choice.
12. The Giant O'Brien by Hilary Mantel
Yet another author I've been promising a "second chance," because the first one was pretty disastrous. So many bloggers rave about her, though, that I can't help feel I must have missed something. We'll see. This one is short, so if it's really dreadful, I'll practically be done with it by the time I hit page 30 and might find myself finishing it, regardless.
13. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
McEwan had already had his two chances (Enduring Love, which was okay enough, despite its slapped-together ending, to lead me to Atonement, which I pretty much hated, although he did manage to drag me in enough that I wanted to find out what happened and so finished it). I'd decided he'd get no more of my time. I'd written him off as one of those "darlings of the literati" who shouldn't be. Then Hobs read this one, wrote about it, and I changed my tune. So, I'm giving McEwan one more go, but that's it. Really.
14. Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
This might be a re-read. I went through a Maugham phase in my late teens, and I can't remember what I have and haven't read. I love Maugham. I have no doubt I will love this one (especially since it comes highly recommended by Litlove as a comfort read). I think a dreary day in February, when it should be snowing and is raining instead, after making a pot of tea and some brownies (or maybe it should just be ale and cake, although I prefer sherry with my cake, if we're choosing something alcoholic) might be perfect for this one. Okay, I've just made myself want to race off to the Amish bakery for some cake and to the liquor store for some sherry.
15. Still Life by Louise Penny
This one is in the most recent chapter of the TBR tome. I found out about Louise Penny from Susan over at You Can Never Have Too Many Books and decided I need to give her a read.
16. The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart
I took this one from my parents' collections a number of years ago. It's the one on this list that I know I will absolutely read, because after deciding it ought to be a part of the challenge, I was asked to choose the next book for the CT mystery book discussion and chose this one.
17. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
I've never read any Roth. My friend Bob piqued my interest more than any reviewers have ever been able to pique it when it comes to reading him, so I put this one on my list, then bought it, but have yet to read it.
18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Because, although I'm not as ga-ga over him as some, I do like Harry Potter, and really, I ought to get through the series sometime before he turns 50, oughtn't I? A lot of people I know say this is their favorite, so I'm looking forward to it.
19. In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike
2009 was supposed to be my year of John Updike (another author I'd never read and also highly recommended by the likes of the-friend-not-husband Bob and Hobs). I read exactly one book of poetry and one short story. However, I did buy three of his books. This is the one that is most striking my fancy at the moment, but again, might be exchanged for either Roger's Version or Marry Me.
20. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This is another one Hobs (boy, he seems to have a lot of influence over me) raved about, so it tentatively went into the TBR tome. Then Ms. Musings also raved about it, and it made it permanently into the TBR tome. Bob bought it for me last Christmas. Really, it's about time I read it.
There you have it. I have anal-retentively arranged this list alphabetically by author's last name. However, I can tell you that the reader in me is saying, "Screw the anal-retentive nature. I am going to read these in any order I please, as the mood strikes me."
I hope others of you are planning on sharing your lists today (or this week, or whenever). Oh, and yes, yesterday, my last day of getting to purchase books before these are all read, I visited One World Classics and purchased three books (I'll let you know what they are if I ever read them).