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.