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The Sunday Salon: The 2012 TBR Challenge

The Sunday Salon.com Lately, I haven’t joined any reading challenges. I used to sign up for quite a few, but I never managed to complete any. It seemed that once I put together a book list for a challenge, the books on the list took on some sort of virus that made them entirely uninteresting. I wish I had a name for the phenomenon… suggestions?

But this year I decided to join one challenge. I blame Jill (Fizzy Thoughts) and her post about Adam’s (Roof Beam Reader) 2012 TBR Challenge for breaking my challenge fast. The goal of the TBR Challenge is to read 12 books that have been your “To Be Read” pile for at least an entire year. And you’re allowed to put 14 books on the list, in case two of them end up not working out.

I blame Jill for me signing up for this challenge because on her sign-up post she put all her challenge books on a “Shelf of Doom,” and I love the idea of having a Shelf of Doom in my house. Unfortunately there aren’t any open shelves to turn into the Shelf of Doom right now (currently the pile is sitting on top of another bookshelf), but I’m hoping Santa will be remedying that problem with a new bookshelf for Christmas!

Anyway, here’s a look at the 14 books I decided to put on my own Shelf of Doom:

  • Complications by Atul Gawande — I got this one from my parents for Christmast last year and still haven’t read it.
  • Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman and Rereadings, edited by Anne Fadiman — I’ve had both of these on my TBR list since I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down a few years ago.
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers — I’ve wanted to read this one since I read Eggers’ memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (one of the first books I reviewed here on the blog!).
  • Coyotes by Ted Conover — Conover is a major figure in the literary journalism movement, and I’ve had this one on my shelves for a couple of years.
  • House by Tracy Kidder — I want to read all of Kidder’s books, and this is his second (published in 1985).
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt — I didn’t love the collection of Byatt short stories I read for book club last year, but many bloggers I love really love this book, so I want to read it.
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood — I’m an Atwood fan girl, so I can’t wait for this one.
  • Kiss My Tiara by Susan Jane Gilman — Gilman is one of my favorite feminist memoir/essayists, and this is her first book. I just found a copy of it at a use bookstore, which is awesome!
  • The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff — I can’t remember when Cass (Bonjour, Cass!) convinced me to read this book… I think it was more than a year ago?
  • The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida — A friend of mine read this when we were in high school, and I’ve been curious about reading it ever since.
  • The Things We’ve Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi — I loved Nafisi’s first memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, but haven’t read her second yet.
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis — I wanted to read this one before the movie came out. but I didn’t quite make  it. I’m hoping to find time in 2012.
  • There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz — I’ve had this one on my shelves since I read Random Family by Adrian Nicole Leblanc.

So there you have my Shelf of Doom for 2012. I’m pretty optimistic about finishing this challenge. Every book on the pile is one I’ve bought because I want to read it, but just have never made the time to pick up. I can read one of them per month, no problem… right?

As for my reading today, I’m hoping to finish Donovan Hohn’s Moby-Duck, an epic “journey into the heart of the sea and an adventure through science, myth, the global economy, and some of the worst weather imaginable.” It’s pretty fascinating so far, and I think I can finish it this morning before football starts at noon. My team made it to the playoffs in my fantasy football league, so I am cheering hard today. There’s money on the line!

What books would you put on a hypothetical “Shelf of Doom”? What are you plans for this beautiful Sunday?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) December 18, 2011, 11:20 am

    I did pretty well with challenges in 2010, so signed up for quite a few this year and pretty much bombed. I’m going to lay low on them next year.

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:30 pm

      I’m always an epic fail with challenges. I’m hoping if I just sign up for one, I’ll be able to do it? Only time will tell…

  • Christina December 18, 2011, 11:45 am

    I usually sign up for the TBR list that allows you to select twelve other titles as alternates. I haven’t heard if it’s being put on again next year but I’m also not sure if I will be signing up for challenges for next year.

    Anyways, as for your list, Possession is a book I have yet to read as well. I wasn’t a fan of Oryx and Crake, which was a disappointment since I’m also a fan of Margaret Atwood.

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:34 pm

      Wow, a “Shelf of Doom” with 24 books on it would be mind-boggling! That’s sad about Oryx and Crake… I’ve been waiting on that one for awhile. Hopefully I will feel differently about it!

      • Tina January 11, 2012, 12:51 pm

        I adore Oryx and Crake, but I’m all about apocalyptic literature. She’s written a companion, The Year of the Flood, but I’ve not read it yet.

  • Cass December 18, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Ooh, I might have to join this one too. Especially if I follow Jill’s lead and put all the books on the same shelf to stare me down with the PRESSURE.

    Also, I talked you into The Race Beat before, then during, BEA. Excited to see it on this list!

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:34 pm

      I’m pretty sure I’ve been thinking, “Cass said to read this book, so read it!” for longer than a year… sad! I finally have it in paperback, which looks less intimidating than the giant hardcover from the library, so I’m thinking that’ll make it easier.

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm December 18, 2011, 3:48 pm

    I like this challenge idea! Might be a great way to help me finally try all those books that’ve been lurking around for years…

    Plus, ‘Shelf of Doom’? Pure awesomeness.

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:35 pm

      I know! Jill is so awesome at coming up with things like that. Once I actually have a shelf, I’m going to make it a “Shelf of Doom” label.

  • Vasilly December 18, 2011, 6:24 pm

    Every shelf of mine is a shelf of doom! I have so many unread books! 🙂 I think you’re going to enjoy the Fadiman books. Zeitoun is a book that I’ve been meaning to read forever now. Maybe I’ll read it now while I can. Let me know if you ever want to do a read-along of Zeitoun. Have a great week!

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:36 pm

      Ha ha, so true. I have way more unread than read shelves. Le sigh. I’m almost 100 percent sure I am going to love both Fadiman books. I’ve been saving them for a special occasion, but any time can be a special reading time.

      Yes, let’s do a read-a-long of Zeitoun! Do you have an idea for a month that would work for you?

  • softdrink December 18, 2011, 7:23 pm

    You have a homeless Shelf of Doom! That’s even better…

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Poor homeless books…

  • Trisha December 18, 2011, 9:34 pm

    I really should do this. My TBR books are completely out of control.

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Mine are too. It’s just gotten worse since I moved, which makes absolutely no sense.

  • Kailana December 19, 2011, 5:04 am

    To be honest, I have the same problem with making lists and then not reading the books on them. That is why I join challenges and then never make lists. I don’t care if you are expected to… I just don’t. lol I find I get more reading done that way. 🙂

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:38 pm

      That’s a smart way to do it — then you get to do the challenge without the list-disease ruining books. I’ll think about that in the future!

  • Care December 19, 2011, 7:55 am

    I completely forgot about Sarah Jane Gilman! I need to put her on the list for my must-get-to-authors list. I also intend to get Possession crossed off the list.
    House will be perfect for one of the What’s in a Name categories and challenge overlaps are fine. Sign up for that one, too. 😉

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:39 pm

      Gilman hasn’t written a ton of books, so she tends to fall of my radar. I just happened to find Kiss My Tiara at a used bookstore, which was amazing!

      I’m excited about House — I think you read and liked it, right?

  • Andi December 19, 2011, 1:11 pm

    Great list! I neeed to join a TBR challenge of some…ANY kind. But I haven’t yet. We’ll see. 🙁

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:40 pm

      I’m excited about the list. They are all books I really want to read, many by authors that I know I like, but just never make time for.

  • Roof Beam Reader December 19, 2011, 1:27 pm

    Glad you’re joining us for the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge!

    Your list looks great.

    I have to say, Possession by A.S. Byatt is absolutely brilliant. It’s not what I was expecting (highly literary) – so took me longer than I would’ve expected to finish it. It’s meaty, but worth it.

    Good Luck!

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:40 pm

      Possession is an unexpectedly meaty book. I have a paperback, but it’s hefty.

  • Amy December 20, 2011, 9:16 pm

    Love the idea and will be watching how you do! I’m doing something like it though with more books, with my roommate 🙂

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:40 pm

      I loved reading about your roommate challenge. That sounds like it will be a fun project too. I have books AND yarn I need to get rid of 🙂

  • Trish December 21, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I have ONE reading goal next year (well, except a general number I’d like to acheive). I really want to read The Stand.

    Possession would be on my list if I didn’t think it would require too much of my non-existant brain power. 😉

    Enjoy the books of dooooooooom.

    • Kim December 22, 2011, 3:41 pm

      Simple goals are good. It makes them easy to achieve!

      I feel like Possession might be a mid-winter or late fall book, the kind you want to just settle in for a long day of reading.