Rambling on

I’m busy, but I can’t exactly complain about my workload being overwhelming, because the truth is, it’s really not. It’s a reasonable workload. The truth is that I’m busy because I’m insisting on spending lots of time on my bike and on going to yoga and pilates classes several times a week. Okay, maybe four or five times a week. That keeps me busy. So I’m not complaining, exactly, but still, I don’t have a lot of extra time.

So I was hoping to review Paco Ignaco Taibo II’s novel The Shadow of the Shadow, but I’m just too tired. I think I’ll ramble on a bit instead. Come back on Wednesday (most likely) for a proper review of the Taibo.

Even though I haven’t joined a challenge in ages, I’m considering doing Emily’s Attacking the TBR Tome challenge because the number of books I have lying around unread is truly ridiculous. The challenge is to read 20 books from your TBR list between December 1st, 2009 and December 31st, 2010. AND you’re supposed to refrain from buying books until you have read or attempted to read all 20 of your chosen books, unless you need to buy a book for a book group.

If I decide to do this challenge, I’m adding some small changes to make me more likely to complete it: 1. I’ll write a list of 20 books from my stacks I’d like to read, but I’ll allow myself to make substitutions as desired. Having a list of 20 books I feel I need to stick to is too limiting. 2. I’ll try not to buy any more books, BUT I’ll allow myself to get books from Book Mooch and I’m allowed to buy books, new or used, if I happen to be on a trip with friends where the point is to visit bookstores. There’s no way I’m saying no to friends who want to visit bookstores with me, and there’s no way I’m going some place like The Strand without buying books. It just ain’t happening.

So we’ll see. I have a few more weeks to decide. Not having committed to or begun this challenge yet, I was free to visit bookstores over the weekend, and I stopped by one of the shops in town on a whim. I came home with two things, Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose and Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Light Years. And the next L.M. Montgomery book (Anne of the Island) arrived in my mailbox recently from Book Mooch, as did Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

I suppose if I’m going to commit to a challenge like Emily’s, it’s good to have a substantial supply of possibilities on hand!


Filed under Books, Life

15 responses to “Rambling on

  1. Cam

    I commented on Emily’s blog that I just didn’t know if I could commit to not buying books, even though I refrained from buying books between Jan and April this year. I may have to buy some books for a book club of one if I participate in this. But, given my overflowing book cases of unread books, I could certainly benefit by knocking that stack down to a more resasonble size.


  2. I’m afraid to attack the TBR Tome, for it may become unstable and create a landslide.

    Actually, I have been inspired to re-read some Tolkien for an event next Spring.


  3. I think I’m going to take part in a very similar way to you – I also buy books to keep the publishers in business. If I love reading, teach literature and want to write myself, I feel I have an ethical imperative to invest in the industry! But I figure I get through 20 books off the shelves in a year any way and would like to support Emily’s challenge.

    I’m still amazed by all the sport you do – you must be so super fit!


  4. No wonder you feel busy between the biking and the yoga and pilates!

    I’ll be doing Emily’s challenge too with caveats. I have managed to slow down my book buying significantly this fall, so I figure one or two new books now and then is not a bad thing, right? Got to help the economy recover 🙂


  5. I was always ready to drift off once I got down on my pilates mat. It’s so comfy down there.

    If you give up book buying won’t all your lovely book trips end in ‘and then I didn’t buy any books’ ?;) No, good luck with this challenge, not buying books can be like not buying food when you’re depressed – hard.


  6. If Emily’s challenge were Jan 1st to Jan 31st, I would sign up in a heartbeat. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get much reading done in the time leading up to Christmas.

    I have so many great books from our travels that I want to get to. I tried to do a book diet before (see upcoming post) and failed miserably. It seems as though as soon as you declare you are not going to buy books, all the ones you’ve been waiting for are there, calling your name. Sigh.


  7. Well, you’re busy, but it sounds like you’re doing fun things, so that’s good. I think that exception to book-buying when you are with friends to go bookshop-visiting is a good one. So, shall I meet you at The Strand, say, for your birthday in Jan. or my birthday in Feb. or both? :-)!


  8. Angle of Repose is my all time favorite book. Read it. You will LOVE it. 3 generations framed. Great story. Great characters. East – West. Literary – Engineering.
    Let us all know if you love it.


  9. I absolutely LOVE that you go on enough bookstore-specific trips with friends that you can foresee that exception in advance. That just makes my day.

    And I always find that moderate goals are more rewarding & sustainable than their more extreme counterparts. Good luck if you decide to do the challenge.


  10. I’m doing a similar challenge – Andi’s from the stacks challenge – and I have to say I have discovered some of the best books of the year that way!
    Secondly, it is weird how much time working out takes. I’ve recently been rethinking my schedule and how to make it more accommodating, and while working out takes priority it definitely is a time suck! But hey, unlike a lot of my friends in their thirties, I don’t have a bad back or a bum shoulder, so it is worth it…
    time. we all need more TIME.


  11. It sounds like your busy is a good kind of busy. The sort where you get to do things you want to do and enjoy doing! I should take a peek at Emily’s challenge. I like the idea of making myself (as if that’s a chore!) read from my own stacks, and I am still trying not to buy any books (with the exception of bookmooch and amazon credits of course!). I can’t quite cut myself off…So it would be good to concentrate on those two things. Like you, though, I can never quite commit to a list and have to be able to swap out books as I never know what I’ll be in the mood for.


  12. My husband is definitely up for me doing this challenge! 🙂

    Actually I am making a concerted effort to read what I have for the time being, but visiting other people’s blogs does make resisting acquiring more books even more difficult. Definitely a kid-in-a-candy-store problem. For example, I really need to get Angle of Repose, and I really do need to read it. Can I really be a literate Westerner if I haven’t?

    Enjoy Anne of the Island–just the other day I was talking about The Pickwick Papers and I love the part in AotI when one of the roommates (maybe Stella) is talking about always being hungry when she reads Pickwick because the characters always seem to be taking snack breaks.


  13. zhiv

    I like the idea of giving the TBR pile some close attention and developing a plan to make a dent in it, but what’s up with not acquiring books? There’s some kind of unnecessary guilt going on. Why are you supposed to refrain from acquiring books? It just doesn’t make sense–I suppose I should read the challenge to see if they explain it. If it’s a financial issue, that books are too expensive and you can’t afford them, that’s one thing, but once you’re in the world of reading classics and authors and library sales and used book stores, you can get books cheaply and keep the spending down to a minimum. The connection between when you get a book and when you read it seems to be a false one. Who’s to know when a person feels like reading a certain book? Books are also a rare smorgasboard for our time and attention, and you want to be able to look at your shelves and find something deeply intriguing and even exciting. That’s just my own approach. You’re such a good, active, thoughtful reader that you’ll work this out, but I find the idea of connecting working on the TBR pile to not acquiring books, especially for a lengthy period of time, outrageous. I suppose I can see how they obviously might seem related: “I’ve already got too many books I want to read that I haven’t gotten to, so I’m going to read those and not get any more books in the meantime.” But I think they’re really two separate categories. You have a healthy stack of great books you want to read: that’s fantastic, read them. You see affordable great books that you might want to read at some point–get them. I guess I’m just a proponent of building the personal library now and for the future, and defying the idea that you have to have read most of the books on your shelves, or that negative feelings should ever be attached to your own active reading and interests. Woo–end of rant… almost. Maybe the challenge should be setting up your TBR pile with 52, and every week that you don’t finish a book off the top of the stack, you have to burn one on the bottom. TBR books as hostages, with a clock ticking, just like in a movie.


  14. Zhiv, the impetus for me is to get the books read and to complete a challenge, for a change. If I don’t have some sort of consequences (like not buying books until it’s done), I’ll never do it (for instance, in 2009 I tried, “Buy one book for every 3 read that I already own,” and just ended up, every time I bought a book, promising I’d read 3 for it, and I lost count as to how many books “in debt” I am).

    I figure, this way, maybe I’ll get all twenty read by the end of February or so and can start buying books again. Also, this house really doesn’t need more books. We’ve got multiple bookshelves crammed full in every single one of the nine rooms (yes, even the kitchen and dining room) and a bunch up in the attic as well.

    But, I have no problem with people adjusting the challenge any way they see fit and in any way that works for them, which most are planning on doing. Everyone is being very creative about it.

    (Dorr, sorry for the long explanation on your blog. I probably should have just written another post!)


  15. Cam — I think it’s sensible not to commit to not buying books if that seems too hard. Going from Jan. to April is pretty good! Of course, you can modify the challenge as much as you like.

    Bikkuri — no landslides! How fun a reread of Tolkien will be!

    Litlove — I think you are absolutely right about supporting the publishing industry. It makes sense as a way of participating in the whole writing/reading business, especially when you (we, all of us) can buy from publishers who really need the support. Same is true for bookshops.

    Stefanie — exactly, and I do really want to help not only publishers but also my local bookstores. I’m glad you will be participating in the challenge. I need to start planning what goes on my list!

    Jodie — if I tried to do pilates on my own, I’m sure I’d end up sleeping too, which is why I like classes so much. There’s nothing like a teacher and a room full of people to embarrass me into working hard! And I certainly won’t be returning from my trips without any books — that’s just not going to happen 🙂

    Debby — I think you’ve seen now that the challenge is actually 13 months. Does that mean you will participate? I know, there is kind of no point in trying. Are we really going to go into Manhattan in January and not buy books? I don’t think so.

    Emily B. — how about both? 🙂 And yes, being busy is a lot easier to handle when I feel like I’m doing things I enjoy. Now, I don’t exactly enjoy the grading I do, but I need to earn money for books somehow.

    Kristen — I’m very glad to hear you like the Stegner so much! I’ve had other people tell me something similar. I’m looking forward to it.

    Emily — don’t I have the best friends ever? 🙂 And while there are things I don’t love about where I live, I DO love the amazing abundance of bookstores and literary destinations around here.

    Courtney — you are so right about the time working out requires. It’s not just the actual working out time, but the preparations for cycling and the stretching out afterward, the driving to and from pilates classes, the showering, the packing of my work bag with without clothes, etc., etc. But yes, it’s worth it, definitely.

    Danielle — yes, it’s no good being strict about a list, and since you and I both have tons of TBR books around, there are plenty of good substitutions! You should think about the challenge — I’m looking forward to it. I suppose I’d read a lot from my TBR piles anyway, but it will be nice to be more methodical about it.

    JaneGS — in my case, both my husband and I could stand to go on book diets 🙂 How fun about Anne of the Island; it’s been so long since I read it that I’ve forgotten details. And yes, blogs do make it SO easy to find books you absolutely must have.

    Zhiv — thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your efforts to make me feel less guilty about things, and I will do my best! As you will see, I wrote a post inspired by your comment; it certainly got me thinking. I agree with your logic, absolutely, and yet the guilt lingers.

    Emily B. — please, write as much in the comments as you like!


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