31 March 2013

Last day of the TBR Double Dog Dare

  
Today is the last day of the TBR Double Dog Dare hosted by CB James. For the past three months I have limited myself to reading only those books that were already in my possession (on my To Be Read pile) at midnight on December 31, 2012.

Thoughts:
  • Despite buying quite a few books during the Dare, I didn't really have any issues sticking to the challenge. That doesn't mean, however, that I am not glad it is almost over. I may have held up well over the past three months, but enough is enough. Can't wait to be a free range reader again.
  • Last year just to make it more challenging, I limited myself to the sixty or so books that were in my nightstand. This year I decided to try and focus on those books still remaining on my Century of Books list. I made some really good progess on that front. I now only have twenty-four books on that list to go.
  • This year I managed to finish thirty-one books during the dare compared to last year's sixteen.
  • The thing I like most about this challenge is that it always manages to surprise me. I always end up discovering some real gems in my TBR pile.
  • Because I was focusing on my Century of Books list this year, I read fewer books that had been sitting on my shelf for years and years. Most of them had been chosen and purchased only last year when I filled out my ACOB list.

Top three books read during the Dare:
1. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
2. Martin Eden by Jack London
3. Peter Camenzind by Hermann Hesse

I have a theory as to why there are no women in my top three--something that is quite unusual for me. When I was creating my list of 100 books for the Century of Books challenge I was using various "best of" lists and online resources for books published in certain years. Nor surprisingly those resources, because they focus on the supposed "greats" or best sellers are short of works by women. If the books of Persephone and Virago had been listed by year, I might have had more women on my list. I did include some from those publishers, but they were limited to those I already owned and could easily check out the year they were published.  I also decided not to include any of the three Barbara Pym books I re-read during the Dare. Those could have easily filled the top spots.

Bottom three books read during the Dare:
28. Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
29. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
30. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

In order to come up with the bottom three I asked myself which books would I be least likely to want to read again. In the right mood I could see myself re-reading Zuleika Dobson, but  only in comparison to the two that I liked even less. Although I ultimately found Catch-22 tedious, I can appreciate its merits and would prefer it to the tedium of the Childers.

Other books I have finished recently (in one sentence)

Crampton Hodnet, Jane and Prudence, and A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
Loved re-reading these three gems in preparation for the Barbara Pym Society Conference.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
I am beginning to think that Lipman's wonderful The Inn at Lake Devine does not make up for the rest of her rather boring, albeit kind of fun, novels.

Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
Way too whimsical tale of a pretty woman who casts a spell over the undergradates at Oxford.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Although still impressed with Atwood's skill at drawing me in and recognizing the merits of this book, I was glad when this re-read was over.

Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather
Cather can do no wrong and this tale of slavery and family in the hills of western Virginia is a delight to read.

Love in a  Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
I far preferred The Pursuit of Love, the prequel to this one.

Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett
In the right mood I could appreciate the mini-series like quality of this tale of the life in the pottery towns of northern England.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Parts of this book I found extremely moving and other parts extremely clever, but over all I felt like Atkinson tried to throw in everything and the kitchen sink.

Penrod by Booth Tarkington
I tend to like Tarkington but this episodic tale was like a cross between the Lil' Rascals, Dennis the Menace and Leave it to Beaver.

It is a little disappointing how few of these books I actually enjoyed. I must be in a bit of a funk. Several of them I know I would have enjoyed more if I had been in a different mood.











3 comments:

  1. I will say, in all honestly, I was really glat whtn the TBR Dare ended this year. But, I did stick to it.

    I'm moving Martin Eden to the top portion of my TBr pile (bookcase).

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  2. You're better men than I, James and Thomas! Interesting to read your reaction to Catch 22, Thomas. It's been sitting on my TBR tower for YEARS. I keep trying it based on friends' recommendations and I find I cannot get through it.

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  3. I didn't clear as many off this year - either through reading or discarding - but on the other hand it wasn't as difficult to stick to the TBR piles as last year. I'm glad this is the last day too! I went to the library yesterday - I have missed that. And I admit to adding some alluring new books to the TBR stacks.

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