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The TBR Tag

The lovely Stefani at Caught Read Handed invited her followers to take part in this tag, and I, being a sucker for a meme, decided to do so!  Here’s a wee bit more info about my TBR pile.

1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Mostly Goodreads/LibraryThing.  I have five (I know) TBR shelves: owned unread paper books, owned unread Kindle books, unowned shortlist, unowned longlist, and unowned maybe list. I obsessively categorise things, it’s in my nature.

2. Is your TBR mostly print or eBook?

I have c. 140 ebooks and 160 paper books in my owned TBR at the moment, so slightly weighted in favour of paper 🙂

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I have a few different ways.  I’ll often make lists at the start of the month of books I plan to get through.  I don’t stick to these rigidly, they’re usually just to give me an idea of what/how much I want to read.   If I can’t decide what to put on this list, I’ll use a random number generator to pick off my Goodreads shelves.  Otherwise, I’ll pick by mood.  In particular, I pick my ebooks by mood as I’ll often finish one “on the go” as it were.

4. A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest.

There are a couple (Dreams Underfoot, Big Fish) that have been there since my 21st birthday (so over three years!)

5. A book you recently added to your TBR.

I bought The Moomins and the Great Flood on Kindle Monthly Deal.  The last paper book I bought was Emma by Alexander McCall Smith but I’ve since read it.  I can’t remember what the last paper book I bought before that was – maybe Pawns of Prophecy.
6. A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover.

There’s a saying about that, you know…
7. A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading.

Um, none?  It wouldn’t be on my TBR if I didn’t want to read it.  Oh, that said, The Lies of Locke Lamora is still on it.  I promised my boyfriend I would read it, to see if I hate it as much as he did.  Problem is, I read the first 100 pages and I really hated it.  I might finish it.  But I somehow doubt it! (In case you’re wondering why, the Whedon-y dialogue and immense stupidity just did not agree with me)

8. An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

Again, I don’t know that there’s much… ooh, Lair of Dreams actually! I can’t wait for it. And Pride and Prejudice a la Curtis Sittenfeld.
9. A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you.

Among books I own?  Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and probably several classics too.

10. A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you.

Probably the same one, tbh. Oh, and Code Name Verity.

11. A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read.

Ahhhh, so many!  All of the ones on my TBR Challenge list, for instance.  Also, the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy but I’m trying to cut down some of the individual books I have first.
12. How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

Okay:

Physical TBR: 160
Kindle TBR: 142 (however, I *think* there are some duplicates in there)
TBR Shortlist: 92
TBR Longlist: 509 (!)
TBR Maybe: 191
Help.
I’m not going to tag anyone either – it’s a free for all!  Anyone that wants to do it should feel free.
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Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I Would Read in my Bookclub (if such a creature existed)

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Thanks as always to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting the meme.

So this week’s pick is an interesting one.  I’ve never belonged to a book club.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to try – I love talking about books with people, but I don’t have a ton of people to talk about them with!  My boyfriend and I have a fair amount of crossover in our tastes, but he doesn’t read YA, so I never get to talk about that with him.  My mum and I also share tastes, but there is a pretty big gulf of things we just don’t cross over on.  My best friend loves YA and contemporary fiction.  So I do get to chat about a lot of the things I love. However, I simply read in greater volume than anyone else I know, so a lot of books I’ve read are things they haven’t got round to yet.  I’m not tooting my own horn, I just don’t have a lot in the way of other interest 😉

Anyway, that’s why I’d like a book club.  Now!  I am the book club overlord. So what are we reading?  I’m going to pick five books I have read, and five that I haven’t.

  1. Cloud Atlas – this novel is weird and multi-layered and I’d love to get other people’s take on it.  I loved it, but I can’t decide whether the structure was sort of gimmick-y or not.  I’d also like to hear which part other people liked best.
  2. Bring Up the Bodies – this is a long book, but I think it would be beneficial to discuss this one in the context that obviously it’s based on things that actually happened – I’d love to talk to someone who knows more about that period of history than I do about this book.
  3. Oryx and Crake – this book is just so good and well written and brings up so many interesting ethical issues.  I don’t necessarily completely agree with Atwood’s stance on everything in this novel, but I think it would be great for creating a discussion around the issues it references.  Also it’s just plain fantastic and I want to reread it already.
  4. The Joy Luck Club – this just seems like the quintessential book club book and I’ve been meaning to have a go at it soon.  It sounds like the kind of thing I’d like to discuss with other women in order to gauge their opinion on the portrayal of women in it.
  5. A Streetcar Named Desire –  I just had the hardest time with the drama.  I was left in shock by what happens between Blanche and Stanley near the end.  On one hand, Stanley is clearly a violent man, and this, in itself, was sadly not unusual behaviour at the time of writing.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I like what was implied about working class people in general in this play – I’m not sure if I was reading it right, but it felt a bit fatalistic and maybe a little one-sided. I’d love to get the opinion of others on this.
  6. In the Woods – Tana French’s books have been getting such an amazing write up, and I love a good murder-mystery, so I think it would be great to discuss this book.  I’ve also not read many books set in Ireland, so this would be a good addition to round out that area of my reading.
  7. Persuasion – mostly because I want to know if everyone loves this book as much as I do.  It often feels a little neglected, compared to Austen’s more famous works, but it might just be my absolute favourite.  It’s a little more reserved and austere, much like its heroine, but I absolutely adore it.  Plus, reading it for a book club would just give it more attention, which I feel like it totally deserves.
  8. The Martian – so. Much. Hype.  It really does sound like my kind of thing, though, so I’d be interested to see whether it’s universally popular or not.
  9. The Knife of Never Letting Go – mostly just for reactions to that one bad thing that happens.  Plus, I think this is a really good book for the YA-skeptical (of which I am often one!) as it combines a strong narrative voice with an (imo) excellent plot.
  10. Invisible Cities – because it’s bound to be a bit of a mindfuck, and differing interpretations of these kinds of work are always fun.

Are any of you in a book club?  What would your picks be?

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This week I will mostly be reading…

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This week, I will mostly be reading:

Pictured above, from top to bottom:

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and other stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer

Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

I finally managed to regain a little momentum towards the end of last week.  I finished Emma and my review for it has gone up.  I’m still stalling on Gormenghast because I’m finding it, physically, a hugely inconvenient book to read as it’s so large and heavy.  I’ll finish it at some point, but I’m trying not to let it become an albatross around my neck as I’m enjoying it immensely.  As well as finishing the original Emma, I’ve read the Alexander McCall Smith modernisation of the same book, as well as All the Bright Places over the weekend.  I’ve already written reviews for both, and those will go up Wednesday and Friday respectively.  Fair warning: neither review is particularly flattering.

So, for this week, what’s coming up?

Everything is Illuminated is still my priority behind Gormenghast.  I hope it will help spur me on even more out of this slight reading slump (I have my own suspicions on why it started but don’t want to say too much on a public blog).

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is a nice short one.  I’m hoping it’ll be a more positive experience of Fitzgerald than my last attempt, which was reading half of Tender is the Night and heartily disliking it.  I’ll probably give the latter a go again at some point.  (For the record, The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books).

The Grand Sophy is one I’ve been looking forward to, as many have compared it to Jane Austen in terms of wit and romance.  I’m hoping that I find it to my taste.  I tend to sway wildly one way or the other with these things.  For example, Cold Comfort Farm is often said to be witty in the same vein as Jane Austen and I didn’t find much to smile about in that one!

We’ll come to the close of January this week.  For starters, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s followed my blog, or commented, or liked posts over this month – it’s been a really positive experience!  This is probably the longest I’ve persevered with a blog as I tend to get discouraged really easily.  I’m trying to remember I’m doing this for myself first and foremost, and it seems to be working.  You’ll also perhaps remember that, at the start of the month, I posted a picture of the books I hoped to read this month.  I’m obviously a little over-ambitious – including those above, I still have seven of those plus half of the Gormenghast trilogy to read.  I shall not let that discourage me!  Depending on what I get done this week, those books will most likely role over into next month.  However, I’ll keep one mantra in mind: it’s up to me.

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This week, I will mostly be reading…

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This week,  I will mostly be reading…

Pictured above, from top to bottom:

Emma by Jane Austen

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

So here’s what I’ll mostly be reading this week! You’ll notice that there’s not been much of a change from the start of this month.  I’ve not spent as much time reading lately as I’d like.  This is odd, as I’d been going really well until the turn of the year.  Hopefully it’s just a tired patch.  Anyway, the first book there is Emma, which I’m about 40% of the way through as of today.  I’m only making slow progress with it as I’m not reading it at home, only on my commute and lunch break.  I’m really enjoying rereading it, as I’m picking up on so much more of the foreshadowing of things that happen towards the end of the book than I did the first time through.  I’ve got Alexander McCall Smith’s modern rewrite lined up for afterwards, and I’m really looking forward to that too.  I like modern rewrites a lot, even though they don’t always do anything innovative with the text.

Everything is Illuminated is what I’ve got lined up for after I finish Gormenghast. I’m kind of nervous to read this one.  I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close near the end of 2013 when I was in a pretty big reading slump and was generally pretty depressed.  Although it was pretty self-conscious and a bit pretentious,  I really enjoyed it and it really spoke to me, especially the meditations on grief.  So I’m hoping that this one will still work for me now that I’m in a much better head-space.  Foer has a bit of a rep for being pretentious and not being as clever as he thinks he is, so we’ll see how I get on with this one.

Finally Gormenghast.  I’m about one third of the way through the second book in the trilogy, and I hope to finish it by the end of this week (I said this last week, and the week before…) The thing about these books is that they’re very dense.  Even though I don’t find the language difficult, or what they’re describing hard to imagine, there’s just so much of it.  It’s been said by many that Peake writes like a painter and that’s true – his imagery is so alive with colour and artistry that it works so much better for me than most other extremely visually descriptive writing.  If I could make one small criticism, he’s a little a repetitive.  For example Steerpike’s “high shoulders” or Fuchsia’s “inky black” hair is referred to at least once every couple of pages.  I’m not sure, maybe it’s intentional, but it doesn’t really work for me.

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This month I will mostly be reading… January!

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So here’s a little taster of what I’m going to be reading this month.  Sorry it’s not the best photography, but I had to use my phone. Looking at last year, I managed at most twelve books in one month, and the least I managed was four.  So I’m gunning for nine this month, as I feel like I’ve got a reasonably empty month ahead, and I’ll have some commuting time (along with probably my lunchbreak) to read.

Two of these books – Gormenghast and Emma (which is on my e-reader, pictured in its fetching owl cover) – will be read for the TBR Pile and Back to the Classics challenge respectively.  Gormenghast is a tome I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.  My boyfriend has been badgering me about reading it FOREVER.  I don’t know if it’s because I have the trilogy collected in one volume that intimidates me, but I’m going to make the effort to get through it during next week’s Bout of Books.  Even if I don’t manage, I’ll give it a good try!  Emma is my only reread that I’ve picked for Back to the Classics, and I chose it to ease me into the challenge, but also as I want to give the Alexander McCall Smith Austen Project modernisation a go in the next few weeks.  I know these modernisations haven’t been popular with a lot of people but I’m loving them so far!

As to the rest… the top one is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and Other Stories (I doubt you’ll be able to make out the title as it’s such a light green!) which I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I loved Gatsby but had trouble getting into (and eventually abandoned) Tender is the Night so I’m wondering how I’ll get on with this – hopefully as it’s very short it might work better for me. The Grand Sophy  I’m looking forward to as I’ve been meaning to try Georgette Heyer for a while – it sounds like a lot of her regency-type romances hit the right buttons for me regarding the right balance of sentimentality and snark.  I’ve already read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so I’m looking forward to Everything is Illuminated – I know Foer’s work isn’t for everything, but the former book got my out of an extremely dark place in 2013, so I’m hoping the latter lives up to it.  Similarly, I loved The 100 Year Old Man… and although I’ve heard The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden does not quite live up to it, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it well enough anyway.

Breakfast of Champions is one I’ve been wary of for a while as my partner did not enjoy it at all but I thought it was about time I tried some Vonnegut.  The French Lieutenant’s Woman I know almost nothing about but picked it pretty much at random.  Despite trying to avoid series, I couldn’t resist the lure of Use of Weapons as I loved Player of Games so much last year, despite it being a deeply silly book.  This will actually be only my second Culture book, as I’ve skipped over Consider Phlebas, but might return to it at a later stage.

So here’s what I’ll be reading this month!  I’ll probably sprinkle another couple of ebooks in there if I finish Emma on my commute.  What will you be reading this month?  Have you read any of the above?

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New year, new goals: Show Your Shelves Some Love

This is a scheduled post.

This is the third and final challenge I’ve picked for this year.  I’ve challenged myself to think very carefully about the books I buy and why, and have set a limit on how many I’m allowed to buy in both paper and e-book format. There’s more explanation below!

Show Your Shelves Some Love: A No Book Buying Challenge

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The challenge is here.  Many thanks to those at Chapter Break for running it.  My goal is to impose a book buying “budget” on myself and to achieve black belt level from my TBR list.  What does that mean?

Black Belt —->51+ books: my shelves and I are going steady

So I must read 51+ books from the books I already own at the beginning of 2015.  This fits in with my “Book Hoarder Challenge” plans.

In terms of my budget?  Well, due to varying book prices, I want to set a limit of one paper book per month maximum. I will allow this to roll over into a following month (ie. if I buy no books in January I can buy two in February.  Conversely, if I buy two in January, I can’t buy any in February).  In terms of Kindle purchases, I can spend no more than ten pounds a month. This will allow to pick up daily deals and so on without overspending.

This is going to be the hardest out of my three challenges as I’m naturally inclined to hoard books, but I’ve reached crisis point in the last few years.  I like to have a tidy mind and having too many books untidies it.  I want to challenge myself to really think about my purchases before I make them. Do I *really* need this?

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New year, new goals: The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge

This is a scheduled post.

As you must ALL be aware now, a big part of my challenge for the coming year is to really eat into the pile of books I’ve got sitting waiting for me.  With this in mind, I’ve taken on the TBR Pile challenge, which urges you to read books that have been sitting in your TBR for more than one year – that is, since before the end of 2013.  With that in mind, I’ve picked some unread books that I have, many of which have been in my possession for at least three years, with the goal of reading all twelve before the year is out.  As above, I plan on reading one per month.  This gives me the structure of having some books already picked for me, and the freedom to read around those I’ve already picked with more impulsive choices.

The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge – Roofbeam Reader

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Challenge can be found here.  Many thanks to The Roofbeam Reader for hosting the challenge.  The concept is to pick twelve books, plus two alternates, that have been sitting on your shelf for more than one year. I’ve picked some books that I’ve been putting off and putting off despite knowing I’ll enjoy them, and, as above, I plan to read one per month.

  • January – Gormenghast trilogy – Mervyn Peake
  • February – Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  • March –  Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
  • April – Disgrace– JM Coetzee
  • May- Dubliners – James Joyce
  • June – Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • July – Big Fish – Daniel Wallace
  • August –  Going Out – Scarlett Thomas
  • September – Tam Lin – Pamela Dean
  • October – The Shining – Stephen King
  • November –  The Cider House Rules – John Irving
  • December – Dreams Underfoot – Charles de Lint
  • Alternates: Cinder – Marissa Meyer; The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster