Sunday, December 28, 2014

TBR Pile Challenge 2014 - Wrap Up

Down to the wire, but I made it!  Just finished book 12 from my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge. This challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader, who is hosting again in 2015--I'm working on my list now.

Turns out I really needed the alternates as I simply couldn't read my #2 selection, The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho.  It was not at all what I expected--more mystical mumbo-jumbo than a memoir of walking the Camino de Santiago.  I also abandoned the first alternate I tried.

  1. Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow -finally read this immensely popular book from the 1970s.  Enjoyed the movie after reading the book.  Good historical novel that merged real characters and situations with fictional.  Set in NYC, which is a favorite setting for me
  2. The Pilgrmage, by Paulo Coelho - ditched it after 100 pages..  Life's too short to read books you hate!
  3. The Taste of Sorrow (Charlotte and Emily), by Jude Morgan -one of my favorite books of the year.  Jude Morgan is an outstanding writer about writers.
  4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer - my first 9-11 book; powerful and memorable.  As good as the movie.
  5. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt - didn't live up to all the hype; I think this is best read while in your 20s.  
  6. Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner - another best book of 2014 for me; Stegner's writing is a joy to read.  
  7. Heat Wave, by Penelope Lively - interesting story by an author I would like to read more of.
  8. A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster - and another fantastic book, and one that finally got me to India.
  9. Highland River, by Neil M. Gunn - set in Scotland, it felt like a memoir but was actually fiction.
  10. South Riding, by Winifred Holtby -fantastic novel, by a wonderful, interesting woman who died way too young!  
  11. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath - only okay--again, I think I read it when I was too old to be wowed.  A very sad novel.
  12. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Shiguro - stunning book--still need to watch the movie...maybe this week.
  1. On the Shores of the Mediterranean, Eric Newby - I tried and tried, but anyone who can make Venice dull isn't for me..
  2. A Conspiracy of Paper, by David Liss - redeemed author David Liss in my eyes; so much better than The Whiskey Rebels, and now I know all about the South Sea Company!


  1. Congratulations on completing the Challenge - and with a couple of days to spare :) You have a diverse list there! I'm glad you enjoyed the Penelope Lively book - I think it's one of her best. And I had the same reaction to Paul Coelho. One of his books was chosen for my book club, and I just couldn't - even after another member insisted on giving me her copy. I think it was The Alchemist. I'll look forward to seeing your list for 2015.

    1. I have Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively that I hope to read in 2015. She's really a great new writer for me. I was thinking about reading The Alchemist until I tried to read The Pilgrimage--Coelho is just not for me!

  2. Congratulations Jane! I have only read one book, A Passage to India, from your list but I want to read several of these.

    I completely agree that reading time is so precious that one cannot waste it on subpar books.

    Have a very happy New Year!

  3. So glad I wasn't the only one unimpressed with The Secret History. I had such high hopes for it after people told me it was her best. I really liked The Goldfinch but I think you're absolutely right about the target demographic for this one. And don't even get me started on Coehlo. So not my cup of tea.

  4. Hi Jane - you know how excited I am about your reading South Riding, which is on my TBR pile! I've added it to my 50 classics to read list for this year that I've made up. Every time I pick up the Secret History I am bored by what it is about. I think you're right, you have to be in college in order to read it and enjoy it properly. I wonder if it should be marketed as YA? I have The Taste of Sorrow, too, so I think I will add that to my 50 books to read this year. Good captions of your reading experience with each, too.

    1. I'll be checking your blog for posts on both South Riding and Taste of Sorrow--I think you'll really like both of them.