Monday, January 04, 2016

TBR Pile Challenge

I haven't really found a TBR challenge that I like now that the TBR Pile Challenge that Adam at is no longer around.

I like to set out a set of books that I commit to read from my stacks, and systematically read them.  I have found some real gems that way, and am rarely disappointed.

So I am going to do my own challenge, and reward myself in December 2016 if I complete my list.

Following the TBR Pile Challenge rules from years gone are my 14 selections, of which I will commit to reading at least 12.

  1. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel - one from my 2015 list that I didn't quite get to.
  2. Paris, by Edward Rutherford - ditto (and I've already started it!).
  3. Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates - about Marilyn Monroe, whom I admire, and it will be my first book by Oates.
  4. The Perfect Summer, by Juliet Nicolson - about the summer of 1911, part of my WWI reading project
  5. The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton - every review of this book makes me want to drop everything and read it.
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf - I want to read the next book in the series by this late, great Colorado author.
  7. The French Lieutenant's Woman, by John Fowles - this might be the book that's been on my shelf the longest.  
  8. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson - this was a Colorado reads book a few years ago, and while late to the party (what else is new?), I would like to read it.
  9. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett - I really enjoyed her State of Wonder and Story of a Happy Marriage, and so am eager to read more by her.
  10. Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott - I loved Lamott's Bird by Bird (best book on writing ever!) and Traveling Mercies, and it's been too many years since I last read anything by Lamott.
  11. Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives: The Industrial Resolution in Lancashire, by Sue Wilkes - I picked this up when I was deep into Elizabeth Gaskell and still want to read about the lives of my ancestors.
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini - I loved The Kite Runner, which was on my TBR Pile list in 2015, and loved it.  Also, trying to get outside my usual reading comfort zone.
  13. Time and Chance, by Sharon Kay Penman - next up chronologically in her wonderful historical fiction series, the continuing story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
  14. What Angels Fear, by C.S. Harris - first in a historical mystery series, featuring Sebastian St. Cyr, a nobleman who fought in the Napoleonic wars.  Comes highly recommended.
Part of the challenge is posting on the books read, so I'll commit to doing that as well.

I like that I have a good mix of contemporary fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, long and short books.  Nice to mix it up!

Happy reading in 2016!


  1. You are very ambitious, my friend! The French Lieutenant's Woman and Bel Canto are two of my all-time favorite books. I'm a big C.S. Harris fan, as you know. What is your WWI reading project?

    1. It's not so much a project as a conscious effort to read about WWI.

  2. I set my own TBR list/challenge last year and it worked pretty well for me; hope yours works for you this year, too. It's a great list of books. I can't wait to hear what you think about them. But I have to admit, I'm partial to the last book on your list. I have a little bookish crush on Sebastian St. Cyr and have read all of C.S. Harris' novels with him in it. :)

  3. How fun to set your own challenge! Have you decided on your rewards yet?

    My challenge this year to get my TBR number from 230 down to 100. I don't think I'll make it, unless I find a lot of books aren't worth finishing - but I'm going to try.

  4. I miss the TBR Pile Challenge too (and I failed to finish my list this year). I've read only four books on you list, and my favorite by far was Bel Canto -- I've heard it was adapted into an opera in Chicago. The Forgotten Garden was okay -- I get the feeling Morton's books are just variations on the same thing.

    1. Well, this will be my first Morton, so at least it will be fresh for me.

  5. I also find some great books on my bookshelves that I forgot that I owned or nearly forgot I owned.

    Good luck with the challenge.

    May 2016 be a great reading year.

  6. Good luck with your own challenge - I think I will miss Adam's Checkpoints which helped me focus on my list. On the other hand I don't like listing books in advance.

    I've read five of the books on your list. I thought The Forgotten Garden was disappointing compared to her other books. It annoyed me that it was in part a re-working of The Secret Garden.

    But you have treats in store with The Perfect Summer, Bring Up the Bodies, Blonde, and The French Lieutenant's Woman. I also have A Thousand Splendid Suns in my TBR piles.

    1. Your blog is where I first learned about Blonde, and I remember you really liked it.

  7. This is a nice eclectic list. Yes, please let us know what your reward is! I have no self-discipline; I need my challenges to come from external sources otherwise I would just go straight for the reward!
    I have read 6 books from your list: definite favorites were Bel Canto and Bring Up the Bodies. I am assuming you already read Wolf Hall…Bring Up the Bodies is possibly even better. I find it amazing how Mantel makes history exciting. There is a scene in Bring Up the Bodies where Cromwell is basically bargaining with Anne Boleyn and even though the reader knows the outcome, I found the back and forth absolutely riveting.
    Hosseini is not a favorite of mine, but I have read both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and I think if you enjoy his style then you will definitely like A Thousand Splendid Suns.

  8. I was interested to learn that a new opera of Bel Canto has just premiered. This review probably has spoilers so you can save it for later if you wish:
    Nice list! Most of Rutherford's books are on my TBR because I start them and then get distracted and don't get back to finish them, even though his writing never disappoints. So I appreciate this nudge myself to read Paris (and Russia and London, and all the rest!).

    1. Thanks for the Bel Canto link, Lucy. Since it probably has spoilers, I will save it. I really like to be surprised!