Earlier this year I pledged to ‘do’ TBR20, the reading challenge created by Eva Stalker and taken up by many book bloggers. The aim is to pick 20 books that you own but have not read, and pledge not to buy any more books until you’ve read those 20. Seems like a good idea right? We all have a lot of books we haven’t read. I know I do. So I thought it would be a good idea for me. Well…
I put together my 20 books. I was full of hope. I read a few. But then I realised I didn’t want to read many of the others. A few more yes, but some of them – no thanks. There was a reason they had been sitting on my shelf, unread, for so long. I just didn’t have the interest/desire to actually read them. Some were unsolicited review copies that had appeared, so I think those are fair enough, seeing as I didn’t choose them in the first place.
The thing is, if I want to read a book, I will. If it’s still on the shelf, it either means it is a long term goal (like The Madwoman in the Attic and The Second Sex), or I’m just not that bothered about it. The latter happens quite a lot, and a lot of those books ended up in TBR20.
So, a couple of week ago, I got fed up and took myself to Waterstones. I bought three history books (I’m on a non-fiction kick at the moment), and devoured them all within a week and a half. Two weren’t as good as I had hoped, but it didn’t matter – I had still bought and read books that I really wanted to read, just for me. Not for a challenge, not for a review deadline or the expectations of a publisher or anyone else – for me. And that is something that is supposed to be at the heart of this blog. So I’ve decided I will only do reading challenges if they really suit me, or if I come up with them myself. TBR20 is off, a book clear out is imminent, and reading purely for myself is in. And I’m all the happier for it.
6 thoughts on “So, about TBR20…”
Oh, dear. not sure I should be reading this at the beginning of my TBR20 challenge. I’m about 3 books in and have already derailed with previous similar challenges. To be fair, I don’t think there are many on my shelves, physically, that I won’t want to read eventually. There may be -ahem- quite a few I downloaded as e-books simply because the prices were so low or free… But I’m learning from my mistakes…
Haha I hope I haven’t put you off! If the challenge works for you, go for it.
I’m the same way, as soon as I force myself to read books I’m not in the right mood for I find it so difficult to read. One is fine, but I don’t think I could do 20 in a row either. Sounds like you made the best choice for you, and how you enjoy reading.
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That is exactly what I have found. I have to be a hippy and go with feeling. Like, at the moment I’m on a non-fiction kick, and so I have a lot of unread novels. Reading is too intuitive to me to be controlled by a challenge!
As soon as we write a list, we create a sense of obligation, I almost never join challenges for this reason, reading and writing about books are my ‘total freedom’ activities, I can be spontaneous, I can change my mind, I can stop one thing and start another, I can decide to review or not, I can follow a trail of thought through book after book as they connect and create new interests and curiosities, enriching one’s knowledge around literature and the people who wrote it.
Reading a review will send me diving for something languishing on the TBR for years, because they’ve identified the nugget of inspiration that will relight interest in the book and then I will be amazed it had sat there so long without me relalising what a joy I was in for and I can thank the person who inspired that.
Just to make a list offers little inspiration or reason, too few connections, it doesn’t get the synapses firing for me, it invokes the rebel that doesn’t want to do the group thing, so I strike out alone and do what I please.
Bravo for listening to your instinct and waiting for the inspiration.
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Claire, you have struck a chord. That is exactly why I couldn’t carry on with this challenge. As I said to Alice above, I have to go with what feels right when I choose a book. Being obligated to read something takes some of the joy out of it. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!