Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Attacking the TBR

I am joining in on one last challenge, Emily's Attacking the TBR Challenge. I need to do this one; I have more than one bookshelf full of books I want to read -- things I've purchased randomly or been given or bookmooched, and so on. And I really do want to read them all; that is why I acquired them in the first place, isn't it? Emily's rules, such as they are, are as follows:

It begins December 1, 2009 (because I always believe in challenges that give you more than one year to complete) and ends no later than December 31, 2010, but it really ends whenever you manage to complete it.

Here are the rules:

1. Choose 20 books from your TBR list (or tome, if you are like me), and post them on December 1, 2009. If you'd like, you can tell us why you chose each book (I'm sure you can guess what I'd "like").

2. Read those 20 books.

3. Oh, did I mention? You are not allowed to buy any of them. If you don't already own them, you must beg, borrow, or steal them in order to read them

.4. Oh, I guess I forgot the other difficult part: you are not allowed to buy any new (or used. No, you can't get around it that way) books until you have read (or attempted to read at least 30+ pages) of all the books on your list.

5. There is one exception to the rules (because I am a fair kinda gal and belong to 2 book discussion groups): you may buy books you have to read for book discussion groups before you have read all 20 on your list, if you can't get them any other way (i.e. your library system doesn't have them and employs the Sloth Express to deliver all interlibrary loans). However, I highly recommend that you encourage your book discussion groups to read books from your list of 20.

6. And then that final thing: write a blog post about each book as you finish (or decide you can't finish) it.

This sounds like the perfect Challenge to me, and I have spent much time over my recent days off going through my shelves, deciding what I want to read right away. I've decided to count only books I currently own, no library books or borrowed ones. And I am starting on January 1st, as this week I still have my annual holiday trip to the Big City and its bookstores coming up.This is my working list, and I won't necessarily be reading them in the order they are listed:

1. Yellow Boots / Vera Lysenko
This is a classic of Ukrainian Canadian literature that I was lucky enough to find at a local used bookstore last year. I want to read this one, and it is one for my Canadian Book Challenge reading as well.

2. Return to Paris / Colette Rossant
Foodie writing, by an author whom I love. I read her Apricots along the Nile, about her childhood, some years ago (loved it) and this is the next stage in her life. Great writing, and recipes!

3. Heaven is Small / Emily Schultz
A new Canadian novel that I serendipitiously found a copy of. Must read! A man dies and ends up working for a huge romance publisher in an afterlife limbo, not realizing he is dead.

4. Seven Ravens / Lesley Choyce
A memoir of two summers, by a Maritime author I adore

5. Sunset Oasis / Bahaa Taher
I received this from the publisher about six months ago and still haven't read it. It was the first winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and it looks so good.

6. Hunting Unicorns / Bella Pollen

7. Things to Make and Mend / Ruth Thomas

8. Ursula, Under / Ingrid Hill

9. The Circus in Winter / Cathy Day

10. Field Guide / Gwendolen Gross

11. The Ballad & The Source / Rosamond Lehmann

12. Green Dolphin Country / Elizabeth Goudge

13. Angel / Elizabeth Taylor

14. Ship of Widows / Irina Grekova

I've had all the above for a long time, intending to read them - they are all by, about, and thematically concerned with, women and women's lives.

15. All the Names / Jose Saramago
Do I need to give a reason to read Saramago?

16. Four letters of love / Niall Williams
I've had this a long time, supposed to be fabulous and the author is Irish - I like that.

17. The Rain before it falls / Jonathan Coe- I've been wanting to read something by Coe; he championed Virago press last year which made me really fall for him. And this story is supposed to be inspired by Rosamond Lehmann and her sister.

18. Henrietta's War / Joyce Dennys - a slim epistolary novel I recently won from Thomas of My Porch, it is a collection of letters set in England during WWII

19. So long a letter / Mariama Ba - an even slimmer epistolary novel, set in Senegal; supposed to reveal women's lives in an extraordinary manner

20. Any of the titles I own by Penelope Lively which I haven't read yet - because I adore Penelope Lively and intend to read every single one of her titles sooner or later. My greatest reading discovery of 09! (titles include: The Road to Lichfield; Passing On; The City of the Mind; Next to Nature, Art; Judgement Day)

And there are my twenty. There are many more that I may reach for if one of these doesn't catch my fancy, including

Embers / Sandor Marai
The Deadly Space Between / Patricia Duncker
The History of Love / Nicole Krauss
Must Write / Edna Staebler (diaries)
Pursuing Giraffe / Anne Innis Dagg (nonfic)

Thanks, Emily, for hosting such an inspiring challenge!


  1. Very nice list! Don't rush through them though so you can buy new books without guilt ;)

  2. Stefanie - though I will do my best, "guilt" and "buying books" never seem to go in the same sentence for me ;)

  3. I always need to attack my TBR pile... It's an on-going battle!

  4. I love the rule that you cannot buy the books.

    Looking forward to your review of Emily Schultz's book. I read her short story "I Love You, Pretty Puppy" a couple years back and loved it, but have not read anything by her since.

  5. Kailana - I am hoping this will help me get into the habit of reading at least some of the books I buy, when I buy them and not ten years later ;)

    John - yes, have to clear out some room to buy more books :) I am really looking forward to the Emily Schultz book, I've heard good things about it.

  6. There are many books here that I'm not familiar with, so I'm looking forward to learning about them!


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