26 December 2011

Making the TBR Double Dare a little harder

No doubt many of you read about the TBR Double Dare over at Ready When You Are, C.B. And I am sure more than a few of you participated last year or plan to participate this year. I had a great time last year and plan to take the dare again this year. Essentially you can only read books in your "to be read" (TBR) pile/shelf/stack/room between midnight December 31st and April 1st. For those of us with a TBR pile in the mid-three digits, this doesn't seem like much of a difficulty--although it is amazing how boring one's TBR pile can become when one can't look elsewhere for reading material.

Anyhoo, last year I made it a little harder for myself by limiting myself the to the books that I had in my nightstand. And despite the fact that I cracked with less than a week to go last year, I thought it was a really great exercise. I finally picked up and read some books that had been languishing for quite some time and some of them turned out to be real gems.

This year I decided to similarly limit myself to a small fraction of my TBR pile. Unlike last year, however, I don't have any books in my nightstand this year. So I decided to go spelunking in my library to come up with a TBR pile that would last me for three months. This makes for a much more interesting stack of books for the dare this time round. I chose a wide variety of books to cover every possible mood, but I did also include some volumes that might be more like work than pleasure just to stay true to the spirit of the dare.

So do you think 60 will be a big enough pile for 3 months? More than enough I am sure, but did I choose the right 60? Will I make it all the way to April 1st this year?

The My Porch TBR Double Dare Universe
These are the books I am limiting myself to between now and April 1st.

The Publisher Pile
I made sure I had a good range of Viragos, Persephones, and NYRB Classics. All have been the subject of special blogger run reading weeks or months in which I have taken part. The Persephones are kind of the candy of this crowd with the NYRB Classics being the vegetables--delicious and satisfying, but ultimately still vegetables. The Viragos are somewhere in between.

The Modern Library Top 100 Pile
I have been making my way through the Modern Library's Top 100 novels of the 20th century pile for about 15 years now. So far I have polished off 62 of them but I am getting down to authors I don't necessarily relish. I am looking forward to the Bennett, and am ambivalent about the Graves and the Lowry, but the rest are pure medicine except for the Rushdie which I fear will be worse tasting than medicine. The ultimate coup would be to finish all of these by April 1st. (Hmm, a dare within a dare...sounds tempting)

The Neglected Hardcover Pile
I have a fair number of older hardcovers that I have picked up over the years while combing used bookstores but I seem to forget their un-read status much more than I do with paperbacks. So here I rescue a pile of them from their slumber. Some favorite authors here like Shute, Lewis, Drabble, Hemingway, and Sarton, as well as some newbies to me. Most in this pile would also fit in the The Take The Next Step Pile.

The Take The Next Step Pile
These are all authors I have read and enjoyed. In most cases I took the earliest of their books that I have on my shelves. Armadale is the Collins that most people seem to love most so I had to pick that one. And the Trollope is the next one in the Palliser Series.

The "Out damn spot" Pile
Nothing to do with Shakespeare, but these are books that I may end up loving but for some reason never seem to be in the mood to read. Thus, like a bad stain, they never seem to go away. I have only ever read one Dickens (Hard Times) so I thought it was time to really give him a whirl. The opening of the Mitford has always rubbed me the wrong way. A little too irreverent about killing Germans. I assume once I get past that I will end up liking it. Plus a "hilarious" one by Baindbridge about a young Hitler. That will require some suspension of disbelief. The Picano is a queer one that I have never been able to break into. The MFK Fisher is so short but I have tried repeatedly with no success.

The Cure For Reader's Block Pile
These are all titles that I know to be good reads, or easy to read, or in some way enjoyable to serve as buffers for the more serious stuff elsewhere in the pile.


  1. Your OCD spelunking and categorizations are as always inspiring. Might try the same for myself this week. Or at least pick a small stack of must-reads for the three months like The Glass Room that has been waiting so patiently for me and comes so often recommended including from you as I recall. Hmm.

  2. That's a great idea! The only ones in those stacks that I've read are Wish Her Safe at Home and Rock Crystal, and I loved both of them.

  3. Wow, great piles! There are tons of good reads on your lists. I highly recommend The Old Wives' Tale and Doreen, one of my favorite Persephone reads this year.

    I really liked Love in a Cold Climate but I'd seen the miniseries and so there were no big surprises, but I loved it all the same. I have three more Mitfords I got as Christmas gifts last year so I hope to read at least one myself, plus a biography of the Mitford sisters.

    I failed horribly at the TBR dare last year and I've signed up for three or four challenges already. I know working at the library makes it almost impossible to stick to my own unread books. For my challenges I've chosen from my TBR shelves almost exclusively, so I hope that will inspire me.

  4. Not much light in there - where are the zombies? But oh, what an impressive shine on your table!

  5. Those piles are mind boggling! but - I am making notes of some stuff there which I am sure I would love tor ead.

  6. Love everything about this - the spelunking, organizing, and of course, pics of the piles. I, too, am going to do the dare again. I've begun a list, but you have inspired me to further organization. :) Happy reading to you, and may you make it all the way to April! :)

  7. This past year and the year before, I tried much more to read from my shelves, and I think I did pretty well, particularly as I wasn't accepting many review copies and I didn't have a library close by or, er, an income. This year, though, for my birthday, I got a Kindle, so I have been reading many more books on there...

  8. All the King's Men isn't medicine at all! It's a wonderful book, highly recommended.

    60 seems like a big enough pile for three months, particularly thanks to the incredible variety you have here. I like to think of the TBR Double Dare (or other challenges along those lines) as subtle coughs to remind us to cut back on the book-buying and to discover the gems we already have. I think almost every reader can benefit from a personal challenge like this, if only because you're always going to find some amazing book that had been hidden for years. Best of luck with the dare!

  9. I love that you organized your books like this. I'm definitely excited to read about your adventures in the TBR pile. I'm joining the challenge as well. I have almost 60 books that I want to read in 2012 and I want to read them exclusively through to April. One day I'd like to get to the point where I never have an unmanageable amount of unread books on my shelves... but somehow I'm not sure that's going to be possible!

    Happy New Year!

  10. What enticing gobs of reading you have stacked up for 2012. I think I'm going to have to do this challenge too. The TBR pile next to my night table is spreading like slime mold.

  11. Frances: It was a great way to spend part of the afternoon. Sometimes too many books in the TBR make it hard to choose the next one, too much choice. Going through and creating a smaller pile is fun and takes away some of the existential angst.

    Amy: I've heard great things about WHSAH,nice to know Rock Crystal is also a good one.

    Karen: I think I remember reading about your fondess for TOWT. Is that possible? I know someone out there wrote about it fairly recently. I would think that working at a library would indeed make this dare impossible.

    Jill: You know me I hate zombies. John's in charge of the table shine.

    Mystica: It was fun to do.

    Susan: I think my pile of 60 should guarantee that I make it this year. Fingers crossed. Although I am already realizing that I forgot to include a Brookner.

    Aarti: I would think review copies could really make this dare hard.

    Biblibio: I briefly tried AtKM once before and it didn't grab me. Hopefully that won't be an issue this time around. As soon as I read your comment, my mind went scrolling back in my head and without looking back at my post I thought: "I spelled gem wrong in my post..." Now I need to go back and fix it. Was using the word "gem" in your comment your subtle way of pointing out my typo? At any rate, thanks.

    Lu: I no longer know what an unmanageable TBR pile would look like. I know that as soon as I cut it in half it would just grow again. Its what we do.

    Ted: But much more enjoyable than slime mold!

  12. I don't think I could limit myself to 60 books and I can't recall when my TBR pile was ever that small. You do have many very good titles in your TBR mini-stack.

    Glad to have you on-board again this year.

  13. Awesome stacks. I think if you make it through all 60, you could allow yourself to read others off the TBR! I've limited myself by not allowing to read books on my TBR shelf that I've actually read once ages ago- they're on that shelf because it's been so long I'm not sure if I'll actually like them again and wanted to test them with a further read before shelving among the permanent books.

  14. Far too books that I like or want to read to even begin commenting on them, but this selection does sound wonderful! I shan't join in, because I need to read new things for book groups and study all the time, but I look forward to seeing how it goes from the sidelines.

  15. What a lovely selection of books - look forward to hearing how you've been getting on.

  16. Impressive! I've always had the best intentions with the TBR challenge (or my own variety of it), but inevitably I get sidetracked. I admire your ability to commit - and your list looks AWESOME.

  17. CB: Last year, making my TBR pool for the Dare made it much easier for me. And it is already paying off (I started a few days early...).

    Jeane: I can pretty much guarantee that I won't finish 60 in three months. I would have to be unemployed.

    Simon: Not surprising you like many in the pile. It definitely has many volume inspired by SIAB.

    Verity: It has been too long since I read a Virago. I think this will help me focus.

    Kerry: Last year I failed with under a week to go. Hopefully I will do better this year.

  18. I always find that when I limit myself to a stack of books, I immediately only want to read books that aren't in that pile! So I doubly admire your gumption to only read your own books until April 1st by limiting the selection this way... And if you can read 60 books in 4 months, I will be SUPER impressed!


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