The TBR challenge

It’s December 1st, which means it’s time to plan what books I want to read for Emily’s TBR challenge. These are books I already own that I am going to try to read over the next year and one month (finishing up on December 31st, 2010). I will try to stick to this list as much as possible, but I reserve the right to make substitutions as I feel like it.

First, there are books I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time. These are books that are near the beginning of my TBR list, since I add new ones to the end.

  1. Balzac, Cousin Bette. I’ve never read Balzac, and it’s time I rectified that situation.
  2. Samuel Beckett, Molloy. I’ve never read Beckett’s fiction either, and I’ve owned this book for perhaps a decade, or at least a lot of years.
  3. Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories. I think this is the first book I got from Book Mooch — the first of many.
  4. The Bhagavad Gita. Seriously, I’ve wanted to read this book forever. It’s about damn time.
  5. Lawrence Weschler, Vermeer in Bosnia. This is an essay collection I’ve had my eye on ever since hearing an interview with him on NPR. At least, I think I heard an interview with him. It was so long ago. I do remember buying the book at a Barnes and Noble near my parents’ place one Christmas, but I can’t remember which Christmas that was.

And now for some books I’ve acquired more recently and won’t want to wait long to pick up:

  1. Rosalind Belben’s Our Horses in Egypt. Since I never see this book in bookstores, I decided to order it online, and I found a cheap copy at Better World Books.
  2. Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. I now have a signed copy of the book. I’m curious to see what I think of her when I read her writing on the page instead of listening to an audio book.
  3. Jane Gardam’s Old Filth. Like Rosalind Belben, this is an author I wouldn’t have known of if it weren’t for blogs, and I remember hearing about her from bloggers I admire, so I’m looking forward to it.
  4. Maureen Corrigan, Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. I know one of these days I’m going to get the urge to pick up the kind of nonfiction book that’s highly entertaining and where the pages fly by. This will be perfect.
  5. David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Why have I not yet read this book? I have no idea.
  6. Jane Carlyle, I Too Am Here. This book is selections of Carlyle’s letters. I came across Carlyle in an Elizabeth Hardwick essay and have heard a couple references to her recently, so I think it’s time to try this one out.

And now for some books I would like to get to for various reasons including book groups or because they are part of a series:

  1. Stevie Smith’s Novel on Yellow Paper. This is the next Slaves of Golconda selection. My edition, very fittingly, has yellow paper.
  2. Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Yellow Room. This is the next selection for my mystery book group, chosen by Emily.
  3. Richard Holmes’s Coleridge: Darker Reflections. This is part 2 of Holmes’s Coleridge biography. I read part 1 last summer and have wanted to continue on ever since.
  4. L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island. I’m on a small Montgomery kick these days and want to continue my reread of the Anne series.
  5. Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room. I’m slowly rereading Woolf’s major works, and this one is up next.
  6. Elizabeth George’s Payment in Blood. This is the second Elizabeth George book in the series; I read the first at some point this past year.

And now for a few random books:

  1. Miklos Vamos’s The Book of Fathers. I have a review copy of this one I need to get to fairly soon.
  2. Louise Gluck’s Proofs and Theories. I like her poetry, and I’ll probably like this essay collection as well.
  3. Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Hobgoblin bought this one a while back, and we both hope to get to it next summer. A nice, light summer reading, right?

As I wrote the list, I tried to find a balance between heavier books and lighter ones, although my tendency when coming up with challenge lists is to go for the heavier books — the challenging ones. But a mix is better.

I’m looking forward to diving into these!


Filed under Books, Lists

19 responses to “The TBR challenge

  1. I think I might have to sign up for this challenge. It sounds perfect for giving me a kick in the butt to finally tackle the insane pile of books threatening to take over my bedroom πŸ™‚


  2. Pingback: letters and sodas: booknotes » Blog Archive » TBR Challenge

  3. I need to make my list for this challenge too! It certainly seems like something I need to do, to clear out my shelves somewhat. I’m limiting myself to no re-reads though; I know I won’t be giving those away after reading. πŸ˜‰

    But I am planning on rereading the whole Anne series very shortly in any case. Have fun with it!


  4. Sounds like a wonderful challenge, reading up books already owned… but I do have one issue, if I take it up, does that mean I can’t buy anymore books for the year? That would be quite an impossible task… not even for a month:)


  5. That’s a great list, Dorothy – really lovely variety in there. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say about all of them – but particularly Beckett, Balzac, the Bhagavad Gita, Gardam, Belben, Strout and Corrigan!


  6. Kristina

    Hi, I’m a Swedish reader (and librairian)who likes your writing and blogging very much.

    I just wanted to comment on Leave me alone, I’m reading by Maureen Corrigan which I bought in NYC (at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum)last year. It was marvellous reading inspiration; it made me want to read even more than I already do. I really like books chatting about and around the reading process and which make comparisons to life.


  7. You are so good at balancing your lists! I look forward to hearing what you think about all of them. I had to laugh though because you have two books with yellow in the title right next to each other and for a second I thought you were going on a theme and would not have been surprised if the next book on the list was The Yellow Wallpaper or Yellow Raft on Blue Water, or Chrome Yellow, or–you get the point πŸ™‚


  8. Reading books from your TBR list is such a great goal. It would be wonderful if you read Gravity’s Rainbow and provided one of your great succinct analyses of a book that scares the bejebus out of many.


  9. I love making reading lists, but I’m not always very good at reading from it later in the year! Still, it looks like you have a nice mix of things in it so you shouldn’t have a problem choosing for the mood you’re in. I also want to read Maureen Corrigan and Mary Rinehart, too. Since I am trying not to spend too much money I ordered a really cheap copy of the Stevie Smith book–not knowing what I would end up with–I got a mass market edition of the book with a cover shot from the film that was made–did you know there was a film? (I didn’t). Despite the unlovely book edition, it sounds really good and I can’t wait to read it.


  10. verbivore

    An absolutely fantastic reading list. Many of these are ones I’d like to get to as well, and I own many of them already so that would make it easy. I haven’t sat down and made a good reading list lately, perhaps it’s time.

    I’ll be curious to see what you think of the Corrigon book. I have it and I tried reading it earlier this year but for some reason couldn’t get into it. I think it was me, and not her…


  11. I didn’t know Gluck wrote essays as well! Looking forward to what you have to say about it. And the Pynchon — I have two of his novels and have yet to crack either.


  12. Well, we’ve both got The Yellow Room on our lists (surprise, surprise). For some strange reason (don’t ask me why), I thought you’d already read the Bhagavad Gita. You must have just talked about it at some point. (Hmm, should books be taken off TBR lists if others are convinced you’ve read them?)


  13. This is a really good idea. I have an awful habit of impulse buying books. Then buying more before I’ve read the last lot. Maybe I should read my backlog before buying any more…

    What a great list!


  14. This is very impressively organized, Dorothy! I love how systematic you are, and how thoughtful.


  15. Gentle Reader — it would be fun if you joined the challenge! It’s excellent motivation.

    Melanie — oh, how fun that you are rereading Anne! It’s an interesting experience for me, certainly. I look forward to perusing your reading list — reading lists is so much fun!

    Arti — well, the challenge does specify not buying anymore books, except for book groups. But if you noticed, in my post I conveniently didn’t mention that part. I’m not sure I can do it either πŸ™‚

    Litlove — thank you! I’m looking forward to getting to all those authors. I did try to get some variety, so the list won’t feel too burdensome.

    Hi Kristina! Thank you for commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the Corrigan book, and you make me even more eager to get to it. I really enjoy books about books, and that one should be fun.

    Stefanie — I noticed the yellow thing too — wouldn’t that be interesting! I’ll bet there are a decent number of “yellow” books out there. But no, no themes for me πŸ™‚

    Jodie — well, I’ll do my best with Gravity’s Rainbow. A friend tells me it’s not so terribly hard, so I hope I can report that as true πŸ™‚ I’d love to make it a little less scary.

    Danielle — I had no idea there was a film of the Smith novel. Fun! I’m glad you found a cheap copy, even if it’s not the nicest one out there. I’m so curious to see what it’s like. I’m really not sure at all. We’ll see how I do with finishing this challenge — 20 books is a lot!

    Verbivore — thank you! I’d love it if we ended up reading some of the same books. Hmmm … I’ll have to see about the Corrigan book. I’ve heard some great things and some mediocre things, all of which makes me curious.

    Imani — I have no idea what the Gluck essays are like, but I’m looking forward to finding out. I’ve read Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and I liked it, so perhaps I don’t need to be afraid of GR …

    Emily B. — someone else thought I’d read the Bhagavad Gita as well; I must have said something confusing about it. I’ve certainly been talking about reading it since the early days of this blog, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I gave people the wrong impression…

    Catherinedigman — thank you for commenting! If I read my backlog before buying more, I wouldn’t be buying books for a few years, so that won’t be happening! But it would be nice to catch up a bit.

    Bloglily — oh, thank you! I love those words much more than “obsessive” and “nitpicky,” both of which could probably apply. Being systematic and thoughtful is great πŸ™‚


  16. Ooh, I just LOVE Beckett’s fiction – I’ll be curious to read your review. I read the whole trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, & The Unnamable) in one go, and felt like they just kept getting more & more amazing.

    Great list in general. I also have Gravity’s Rainbow on my to-be-read shelf. I was expecting to read it this winter, but I think it may wait until spring or summer instead.


  17. I need to make a list too! Do you find it helps you to finish the books you’ve been avoiding? I like that you’ve mixed in some fun ones along with the “should reads.” I guess I’m kind of a Puritan that way; I’ll list only the challenging books and then give up and read the ones I really want to read instead.


  18. Emily — oh, I’m so glad to hear that about Beckett! It makes me more excited about getting to the book. His plays are great, and it will be fun to try the fiction. If you read Gravity’s Rainbow this summer, I’ll read it with you!

    Debby — reading your list would be fun. It does help me get to the books I’ve had my eye on for a long time but just haven’t gotten around to. If the list is too challenging, I may not get to them all, but I will get to some at least. Definitely making a varied list helps me finish it.


  19. Pingback: The TBR Challenge | Of Books and Bicycles

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