Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019 Challenge: COMPLETED - 2X19 and Mt. TBR


At the beginning of 2019, book challenge season, I posted a dual challenge for myself that I've been doing for seven years now. The goal of these two challenges is to clear some books off my TBR shelves, which is always a good idea.

I've now completed both challenges. I'm going to do similar challenges in 2020. Who else has TBR challenges lined up for the new year?

2X19: The first of my two 2019 challenges was a personal challenge I called the 2X19 Challenge and was to read 38 books off my TBR shelves. I've done the same thing since 2013 -- tried to read a "two times the year" number of books off my shelves. Of course, the challenge kept getting more difficult!

I plan to switch to one book for each year in 2020. There must be a challenge already planned for this. I've seen a few "read 20 books in 2020" challenges. Is there a "read 20 books on your TBR shelves" challenge? "TBR 20" or something?

MtTBR: The second TBR challenge I do every year is the Mt. TBR Challenge. Bev hosts this popular annual event on her blog, My Reader's Block.

I've now finished both challenges, although I will polish off at least one more and maybe another for the Mt. TBR challenge before we ring in the new year.

Happy Holidays!



Because 2019 involved reading 38 books, I intentionally chose short books this year (short in pages, not height, but see below). My preference is for long, shaggy, plot-driven novels, so intentionally picking short books made me read books that have been sitting on my TBR shelves for a long, long time.

The results were mixed. There were a couple gems I am glad I finally read, like the Muriel Spark dark satire, The Abbess of Crewe and Levels of Life by Julian Barnes for the essay on grief. But a couple of the short ones I could have skipped, like the maudlin short story, Friend of My Springtime by Willa Cather.


I took this picture last December when I planned the challenge, which explains the Christmas theme.  I read them in the order listed below: The first were New Year's resolution books; the next two I was excited to read; and the rest I read in order of height, from tallest to shortest, for no reason except I was feeling goofy. After I took the picture, I realized I had two Françoise Sagan books, so I swapped one for Wise Virgin.

A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron (my interview with Donna Cameron is here)

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior

The Girl from Oto by Amy Maroney (my interview with Amy Maroney is here)

The Shame of Losing by Sarah Cannon (my interview with Sarah Cannon is here)

An Affair with a House by Bunny Williams

Mark Hampton on Decorating by Mark Hampton

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene

Friend of My Springtime by Willa Cather

Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy by Diana Kirk (my interview with Diana Kirk is here)

Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

Zuckerman Unbound by Philip Roth

The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

The Robineau Look by Kathleen Moore Knight

Agents and Patients by Anthony Powell

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

A Woman of Means by Peter Taylor

The Poorhouse Fair by John Updike

Girl, 20 by Kingsley Amis

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Slam by Nick Hornby

Lady Into Fox by David Garnett (James Tait Black Memorial Prize Winner)

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat by William Bradon

The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery by Kyril Bonfiglioli

The Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard

Do the Windows Open? by Julie Hecht

Dirty Friends by Morris Lurie

Something Special by Iris Murdoch

The Imitation Game by Ian McEwan

The Small Room by May Sarton

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

Wise Virgin by A. N. Wilson

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Heart-Keeper by Françoise Sagan

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

First Love by Joyce Carol Oates



Every year, I join the Mt, TBR Challenge on My Reader's Block. In 2019, I signed up for the Mr. Kilimanjaro level of 60 books. I tried this same level in 2018 and fell sort by two books. This year, I have to read 22 in addition to the 38 from my 2X19 Challenge.

I've read 61 books so far, so reached the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and am still climbing. I will probably finish two more books before the end of the year. That won't get me to the next peak in Bev's challenge, but it will get a few more books off my shelves.


In addition to the 38 books listed above, I read:

Educated by Tara Westover

The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Book I) by Paul Scott

The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan

The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, Book II) by Paul Scott

The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, Book III) by Paul Scott

A Division of Spoils (The Raj Quartet, Book IV) by Paul Scott

Staying On by Paul Scott (Booker Prize winner)

In the Woods by Tana French

Collected Poems by Kingsley Amis

A Man of Property (The Forsyte Saga, Book I) by John Galsworthy

In Chancery (The Forsyte Saga, Book II) by John Galsworthy

To Let (The Forsyte Saga, Book III) by John Galsworthy

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope

A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold John le Carre

Set in Darkness by Ian Rankin

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

A Cat Abroad by Peter Gethers

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs

Shattered by Dick Francis

The Hunter by John Lescroart


Updated as of December 21, 2019.


  1. This would be a fun challenge this year. I'd like to prioritize the books I "really, really" want to read and see how far I get.

  2. This would be a fun challenge for me this year. I'd like to prioritize the books I "really, really" want to read and see how far I get.


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