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So, about TBR20…

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.

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An Update (That Inevitably Includes ASOIAF)

How is your GoodReads challenge going this year? Mine is not going well. I’ve read three books and am apparently five books behind schedule. You know why? A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve been reading A Clash of Kings for what feels like a year, and I’m only just over halfway through. There was a point where it all started to feel a bit… long. I found myself wanting to hurry up and get to the end of the book so that I could move on. This was partly because I have seen a version of what I am reading in the TV adaptation, Game of Thrones. There are a lot of differences between the books and the TV show, which means that there is a lot that is new to me – but I know where a lot of it is heading. I read a scene, no matter how good, and go ‘oh yes, this is where he…’ I know what is coming (mostly).

So I have some doubts about continuing, about reading the entire series. But there is the question of now that I’ve started, I want to finish. And the books are much richer than the TV show, which is great, so I do really enjoy the books. I’ve also made a deal with my boyfriend, who has read the entire series and is eagerly waiting for me to do so, that every other book I read will be ASOIAF… admittedly it was made on a night out, but I do plan to stand by it.

So I won’t be posting any reviews until I’ve at least finished A Clash of Kings – but does anyone really need to read another review of it? I’ll post my thoughts on GoodReads, briefly, but I’m not sure I’ll write a whole review. I’ve just got to plan what to read next!! I have committed to doing TBR20, so I’ve got a relatively small selection to choose from… but that won’t make it any easier!

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#TBR20

In my last post I wrote about the troubles of having too many books to read. I also posted recently about using a book jar, something which I have, and am able to use – but haven’t yet, because really I haven’t needed to. Really it’s there just in case I need it. But frankly it isn’t helping me to work through my TBR. Ah, the TBR. The thing that book bloggers both love and loathe. Our To Be Read list (often a physical heap) is something that gets us happy and excited, but also make us nervous, and can sometimes be overwhelming.

So what is TBR20? It’s basically a way to cut through the TBR, and I think it’s fantastic. It was created by blogger Eva Stalker, who tweets and posts about it regularly. A lot of bloggers I follow mention it often enough for me to have considered doing it. And now I’m gonna!

The premise is: in order to help you work through your TBR, you pledge/actively decide to read 20 books from it before you buy any more. Simple enough, but not buying books is hard. Not any at all?? Not even one? Nope. Doing the TBR20 puts an embargo on book purchases and forces you to pay attention to the books you have, some of which might have been waiting weeks and months (or years…) to be read. Which is just silly and pointless.

So which books do I choose for the list? The only way to do this was to sit and stare at my unread books, look at them all over and over until my boyfriend gave me a funny look, cut out a few, add a few, take away more… and finally manage to wittle the list down to 20. And here they are in all their glory:

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My apologies for the slightly crappy photo. The books on the left are:

  • Havisham by Ronald Frame
  • Freud’s Sister by Goce Smilevski
  • The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
  • Red Room: Short Stories Inspired by the Brontes
  • The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood
  • Girl at War by Sara Novic
  • Tracks by Robyn Davidson
  • The Blue Tattoo by Margot Mifflin
  • The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann

And the books on the right are:

  • Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss
  • The Inheritors by William Golding
  • Nagasaki by Eric Faye
  • The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
  • Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall
  • Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • The Vatican Cellars by Andre Gide
  • Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan

I’ve included the proofs I currently need to read (Girl at War, Ladies of the House, The Ecliptic) as well as several books I’ve been meaning to read for a long (long) time. I’m currently just under halfway through A Clash of Kings, so this project will start once I finish that, so… mid March I expect. I will be posting my reviews as well as my thoughts on the process as I go along. Wish me luck!! Anyone else done/doing the TBR20? The #TBR20 hashtag on Twitter is the perfect way to join in!

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