Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Extended TBR Challenge

Last year, I created a challenge that was meant to get me reading books from my TBR tome. The goal was to read 20 books between Dec. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010 and to post about each one. It sounded very doable when I first came up with the idea, but as the year wore on, I began to realize that, although still interested in every single book I'd chosen and still wanting to be able to say I'd read them (or at least given them a try), as well as being interested in the challenge some of them presented, I wasn't always so interested in actually reading any of them when it came time to choosing books to read. My reading mood is very fickle I guess. What sounds terrific today is not always so appealing by tomorrow (or even by tonight), which is probably why I ought to do something like read books the moment I acquire them, but if I did that, what would I do with the thousands of books I've acquired and never read?

I will say, that even though I didn't always stick to the original list, what I did do last year was read more books that I had acquired and/or decided I wanted to read prior to 2010. That's because the original idea had been to read all twenty of those books before I could buy new ones (in the hopes that I'd get through them all quickly. Instead, I just abandoned -- I think it was in January -- that silly notion). Anyway, I am hoping to continue that trend in 2011, trying to read at least three books I already own before purchasing one. We'll see how that goes. I've tried it in the past without much luck, but last year's exercise maybe helped me develop some discipline in this area.

Anyway, toward the end of the year last year, I realized I wasn't reading and posting on much from my challenge list, and so I gave myself (and anyone else who had taken the challenge) an extension. I really do hope to finish all the books by the end of this year, because I still want to read them, and they've all been waiting so patiently for me to discover them. In the meantime, I thought I'd revisit the list and let you know where we stand with each title.

Those I've read and reviewed in blog posts:
The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Giant O'Brien by Hilary Mantel
On Chesil Beach by Ian McKewan
Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Those I've read and have not yet reviewed:
A Window Over the Sink by Peg Bracken
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
(It's ridiculous that I haven't written blog posts. I keep a book journal where I write about every book I read. All I need to do is type these up here, and yet, for some reason, I haven't done so yet.)

Those I'm in the midst of reading now:
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

Those I look forward to reading and reviewing this year:
Brookland by Emily Barton
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
Passion and Affect by Laurie Colwin
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Still Life by Louise Penny
In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

I'm guessing, since no one else has been sitting, looking at these books all lined up on that one shelf in the study, waiting to be read all year, that it's almost as though I'd chosen new books, because I doubt you'd remember what my plans were. I'm hoping so, anyway, because otherwise, this would be a pretty boring post ("there's that stupid TBR list, yet again!"). And I'm hoping there are still some titles here that you're eager to have me read and review. I'll get on it.


Susan said...

Still LIfe by Louise Penny is saying "Pick me! Pick me!" :-)

The Zookeeper's Wife is one I've wanted to read. Gilead I've heard good things about. I'm very curious what you will think of all three!

litlove said...

I have In the Beauty of the Lilies and have been meaning to read it for YEARS. I will try to keep you company on that one!

Stefanie said...

Well as long as you don't buy four new books for every three you read you should be ok ;) How is it you haven't read The Poisonwood Bible? I shouldn't ask, I know how these things happen.

Grad said...

I'm interested to see how you like The Poisonwood Bible, which is on my list for this year, and the Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I read in 2009.

Carrie#K said...

Still Life was good. If I name a book, it suddenly becomes the last book in the world I want to read. It's made challenges challenging. I had to give them up.

Smithereens said...

Just so as to encourage you, I'm looking forward to reading your reviews about Ann Lamott and the American Pastoral! Why don't you scan your book journal and paste the image online? On second thoughts, I probably know why. Hum ;)

Emily Barton said...

Susan, you know I bought that book because of you, and I think it's one I've sort of been saving. But it's about time I read it (you know, before it goes bad).

Litlove, hmmm...why don't we make a pact to read it together this summer, when the lilies are in bloom?

Stefanie, yes. I'm going to have to restrain myself when I visit bookstores (or only visit them once I've read my first eighteen books or something). And, of course, I've already excluded the library book sale, because, you know, that's not buying books, that's contributing to the library and getting rewarded for it. It's a particularly good question about my not having read The Poisonwood Bible, because everyone in my family but me has read it (and that is a very rare thing).

Grad, well Edgar Sawtelle is the choice for one of my book discussion groups, so you know you'll be hearing about that one soon.And The Poisonwood Bible, I hope, won't be far behind.

CarrieK, wise woman. I'm terrible about making lists and plans when it comes to reading and often find the most enjoyable books are those I just pull from the shelf on a whim and start reading.

Smithereens, lol. Years ago, I did do a couple of "pen casts" for people, but I was very meticulous in trying to write as well as I possibly could. My book journal entries are often more of a mess than even my letters!

Rebecca H. said...

Oh, yes, I'm definitely interested in what you think of those books, especially the Bowen, Kingsolver, Joyce, Updike, and Wroblewski. Well, and I guess the others as well :) Looking forward to your reviews!