The TBR Challenge

Well, congrats to me on (mostly) finishing Emily’s TBR Challenge! The challenge was to read or attempt to read 20 books from your TBR pile and to post on each one. There was something about not buying new books in the challenge, but I think everyone involved quickly forgot about that. I finished 19 of the books and made a serious attempt to finish the 20th, Rosalind Belbin’s Our Horses in Egypt, but I wasn’t enjoying it, so I set it aside. I didn’t quite write on every book, but I wrote about most of them, and I’ll bet each book got at least a brief mention, if not a full review. Here’s the post with the list of books. I was surprised to find that the challenge wasn’t really all that challenging; I didn’t feel constrained or limited by it and was happy picking up each book when the right time came.

So, I thought I would make another list for next year. These books are ones I’ve had on my shelves for a while, some of them for a long time, such as the William James and the Yukio Mishima. Some authors I’ve been saying forever that I want to read (Atwood, Colette). Others just caught my eye when I was reading through my list of unread books. I have seven novels and five nonfiction books, one for each month, or something like that. I’m looking forward to it!

  1. Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
  2. Yukio Mishima,  The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
  3. Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
  4. Colette, Cheri and The Last of Cheri
  5. Scarlett Thomas, PopCo
  6. Sybille Bedford, A Legacy
  7. G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
  8. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
  9. Cynthia Ozick, Quarrel and Quandary
  10. Janet Malcolm, Two Lives
  11. Mary McCarthy, On the Contrary
  12. Francis Wilson, The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth


Filed under Books

21 responses to “The TBR Challenge

  1. I do want to read your take on G. K. C.’s The Man Who Was Thursday. I admit I’d thoroughly enjoyed it but not exactly grasping the exact parallels of the allegory. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday reading!


  2. Good job on finishing this one! And I love your list for this year. I’ve been wanting to tackle Oblomov and Temple of the Golden Pavilion for some time now – I look forward to your thoughts.

    And after making that semi-snarky comment about memoir on your last post, I realized that my favorite read of the whole year was a memoir – Simone de Beauvoir’s Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée. So here I am, eating my words. 🙂


  3. Congrats on finishing this challenge! I enjoyed it a lot, even if I didn’t finish all 20 on my list (and yes, I forgot about the do-not-buy-more part of it fairly quickly…) I also like your idea of making a new list — think I will continue setting myself this challenge as well, as I found that I was reading more from my own shelves this year — slowly clearing some space, book by book…


  4. oh, and I hope you will enjoy Alias Grace – I think it’s my favourite Atwood read!


  5. “Alias Grace” is my favourite Atwood as well. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of it. And I’ll be joining you in reading a couple of the books on your list–“The Man Who Was Thursday” and “The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth” are both high on my TBR list.


  6. Ooh so many fantastic books on that list! And others I don’t know at all and will be very interested to hear about. I’m starting to think of what 2011 will hold, reading-wise. I do love making plans, even if I don’t always stick with them !


  7. SFP

    I’d hoped to read PopCo this month but it looks as if it’ll be pushed back until next year. I’ll be looking forward to your review in particular for that one, as well as the William James, which I’ve always been afraid to commit to.


  8. I like the sound of this list. I’m curious to hear about Colette. For 2011, I might look towards self-published books, high-rated ones with topics that attract me. There seem to be some excellent writers who are utterly ignored by the industry. I’ve run across a few on Amazon… I’ll do a little more research and post in the New Year.


  9. You did so well on the challenge! I think I’m short by three or four. I like your list for next year. I loved Oblomov. And of course I fully endorse the reading of Atwood’s Alias Grace. Excellent book. One of her best. I look forward to your thoughts on The Man Who Was Thursday. A most surreal book if there ever was one.


  10. Michelle

    That is an excellent list of books for the next year – and I look forward to reading your thoughts on each book, in particular the Mary McCarthy and the Margaret Atwood.


  11. I badly want to read Malcolm’s Two Lives. I look forward to hearing about it – or maybe I’ll beat you to it!


  12. Congrats on doing so well with your challenge! I am hoping to focus a lot more on my shelf sitters next year. Something must be done.
    Some of your authors for next year are also on my list. I hope you’ll enjoy Alias Grace, such a good book.


  13. Congratulations on completing a most worthy challenge–I am making a concerted effort to read from my shelves these days.

    Alias Grace languishes in my hopeless shelf, although with your list as inspiration, I might seriously think about finally reading it.


  14. I somehow managed to read Alias Grace three times! Not sure how that happened but well worth it on every count, but then I am a fan of Margaret Atwood. You have lots of good books on your list–I loved Cheri and want to read more Colette, too. Enjoy your reads and I think you did a great job on your last list–if only I could stick with the lists I make!


  15. Ooo, good for you! I’m glad the challenge worked for someone, even if it didn’t work for its creator. Even more glad that you’ve been inspired to do it again. Looks like you’ve got a great list. The only one I’ve read is the Chesterton, which I think you’ll enjoy.


  16. bardiac

    I read the Temple of the Golden Pavilion after visiting while I was in Japan (and before visiting again). It’s really interesting! I hope you enjoy it and the rest of your challenge.


  17. Congrats on doing so well on the challenge – I read exactly six books from my list – though I did enjoy the challenge, I apparently need more than a year, so I’m carrying my 2010 list over to next year. Your list for next year looks great, too – I’ve heard really good things about PopCo, and have been meaning to read it myself, so I look forward to reading your review of it.


  18. Congratulations! I’m so impressed that you read everything on your list, even the last book that you decided wasn’t worth finishing. Maybe for next year I will make a list and join you…we *have* added a lot to our TBR shelves with our book crawls, haven’t we? And Christmas will bring only more good things to read for 2011!


  19. Congratulations, Dorothy! I am so very impressed.


  20. Arti — I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the Chesterton! Your comment makes me curious about it!

    Emily — you’ve gotten me very curious about the de Beauvoir; I do love good personal nonfiction, whether memoir or essay! I’m looking forward to seeing how I like the Mishima; it will be the second book of his I’ve read, and I really enjoyed the first.

    Melwyk — I find that I’m not clearing any shelf space at all, as I just keep buying more books, but at least this challenge keeps me from completely neglecting older books in order to read newer ones. That’s the main thing I like about it.

    Kate — I’m happy to hear that about the Atwood, and to hear that from two of you! It will be my first Atwood (crazy), and I should read Handmaid’s Tale as well.

    Litlove — yes on the plan-making fun! It was pretty unusual for me to actually stick with the plan this time around. I’d like to do that next year as well, but I won’t mind if I don’t.

    SFP — I think the James is the book I’ve had on my shelves longest. I’m definitely feeling a little intimidated by it. But I”m also curious, and I hear so many good things about him. I’m glad to hear you’ll be reading PopCo. Perhaps I should tackle it early on.

    Melissa — I’m curious to see what you will find. I’m daunted by the mass of things out there and the varied quality of it, but I’m sure you’re right that there is a lot of good stuff. Where do the high ratings for those books come from?

    Stefanie — thank you! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it with Gravity’s Rainbow 🙂 I’m glad to hear you liked Oblomov and Alias Grace so much. Everyone is making me very curious about the Chesterton!


  21. Michelle — thank you! I’m looking forward to the McCarthy a lot; I really love her prose style.

    Julia — how fun that you might be reading the Malcolm soon too! I really loved her book on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

    Iliana — something must be done, indeed! And yet nothing gets done around here — I read the old ones but have plenty of new ones to put in their places. Oh, well!

    JaneGS — I’ve had Alias Grace for quite a while now; I’m not quite sure why I haven’t gotten to it yet. Now is definitely the time! It’s ridiculous that I haven’t read Atwood yet.

    Danielle — three times! It must be good then 🙂 I remember your experience reading Cheri, which makes me look forward to it even more.

    Emily B. — well, you got some good books read, right? Even if you didn’t finish the challenge? I’m looking forward to the Chesterton — it’s high time I read it!

    Bardiac — oh, how cool! I’m envious of your Japan trip 🙂

    Heather — I think carrying the list over into the new year makes sense, as long as the list still looks appealing. No rush, right? My husband just finished Scarlett Thomas’s most recent book, and he really loved it, so I’m looking forward to PopCo a lot.

    Debby — I see some packages that look suspiciously like books under the Christmas tree! It would be wonderful to have you join me in the challenge. It’s the least we can do to encourage each other to read those books we buy together, right?

    Lilian — thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s