Saturday, January 16, 2021

2021 CHALLENGE - Back to the Classics



The Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate is one of my favorites. I didn't get my act together in 2020 to sign up in time, so only participated in my mind. 2020 was that kind of year. But I am a little more on my game so far in 2021, so here is my sign up post. We will see how I do reading the books!

The idea for the Back to the Classics challenge is to read "classic" books meaning those published more than 50 years ago that are considered classics. There is no hard and fast definition and you pick your own books. Participants read up to 12 books in 12 separate categories. Readers who read 6 books get one entry for a prize at the end; two entries for nine books; and three entries for 12. Read all the details and rules on the main challenge page. You have to sign up by the end of March.


  • 19th Century Classic
  • 20th Century Classic
  • Classic by a Woman
  • Classic in Translation
  • Classic by a BIPOC Author
  • Classic by a New-to-You Author
  • Classic by a Favorite Author
  • Classic About an Animal
  • Children's Classic
  • Classic Humor or Satire
  • Travel or Adventure Classic
  • Classic Play


I hope to read at least six books for the Back to the Classics challenge. My plan is to read books off my Classics Club list so I can make progress on finishing that list by my deadline goal of December 2023. 

I'm not sure which books I'll pick, but possibilities include:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter - BOOK BEGINNINGS



Another week is here for us to share the first sentences (or so) of the books we are reading. Book Beginnings on Fridays has been going for several years now. We've gathered a lot of opening sentences! 

For those of you who have participated for a long time -- THANK YOU! For those of you who are more new, welcome! I appreciate everyone who participates. I don't always get around to visit everyone every week. But I enjoy all your blogs and love the variety of readers who take part in this event and the different sorts of books we all read.

Please link your post below. You don't have to have a blog to play along. You can post on facebook, Instagram, or other social media and link your related post in the Linky box below. As always, if you post, or share your blog post, on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag so we can find each other. 


August, 1931 -- The port town of Veracruz is a little purgatory between land and sea for the traveler, but the people who live there are very fond of themselves and the town they have helped to make. 

-- Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter. Published in 1962, Ship of Fools is a shaggy story of many characters on a ship from Mexico to Germany in the stormy times prior to WWII. 


Please link to your Book Beginning blog post or social media post, not the home page of your blog or your social media profile page. 

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The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


David, hearing the thin edge in her voice, said no more, but reflected that no matter how he tried to explain his point of view to Jenny, about anything at all, he seemed always to go off at a tangent, or in a circle, or to get bogged down in a spot he had never meant to be in, as if Jenny's mind refracted his thought instead of absorbing his meaning, or even his feelings about certain things -- Indians, for example. He would give up from now on talking to Jenny about Indians, or about her painting, either; she was sentimental about the one, and obstinate about the other; let it go.

Ship of Fools is a long book -- my edition is just under 500 pages -- but I like it. It's wordy, idea-based, repetitive, and detail-driven, the way many mid-Century (meaning mid-20th Century) novels seemed to be. It is one of the 50 books I put on my Classics Club list because it is on Erica Jong's list of Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women


Monday, January 11, 2021

Little Free Library New Year Books - MAILBOX MONDAY


A couple of new year's intentions (I wouldn't go as far as resolutions) have me tidying my bookshelves and out for neighborhood walks. Both these find me hitting the nearby Little Free Libraries on a regular basis these days. I have a nice one-mile loop through my neighborhood that takes me past FIVE Little Free Libraries! I can get some exercise and drop off books along my way. 

Of course, I often end up finding books that catch my eye in the LFLs. Isn't that always the way? I am just trying to keep the outflow of books from my house greater than the inflow from the Little Free Libraries. 

Here are my recent Little Free Library finds. What new books have come into your house lately?

Buckingham Palace: The Interiors by Ashley Hicks (Rizzoli). This was my favorite find. I love fancy coffee table books, and this stunner from Rizzoli is brand new. Now that I finished the last season of The Crown, I'm happy to have another way to visit Buckingham Palace. 

A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro. Mostly Shakespeare biography, part history, this book focusses on Shakespeare's life in 1599, the year he wrote four of his most famous plays -- Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet.

In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture by Alister McGrath. This is another literary history book I found with the Shakespeare book, most likely dropped off by the same neighbor reader. It also looks great.

740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building by Michael Gross. Framed as the history of a fancy building in New York City, built by Jackie Kennedy's grandfather, this is a social history of New York. 


Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Friday, January 8, 2021

12 Books to Read in 2021 -- A Year's Worth of Interesting Indies!


stack of 12 books discussed in blog post


A Year's Worth of Interesting Indies

Whether you are still in a reading slump from last year or just looking to liven up your 2021 reading list, here are 12 books to read in 2021 guaranteed to mix things up a bit. These indie authors and publishers have turned out top-rate memoirs, novels, short stories, biography, and travel books, so there is something here for every taste, or to fill in a a whole calendar of exceptional reads.

River Queens: Saucy Boat, Stout Mates, Spotted Dog, America by Alexander Watson

It took me a while to get to River Queens and I am so glad I finally did. What a delight! It's the memoir of Watson's adventure restoring an old wooden Chris-Craft boat he and his partner bought in Oklahoma and sailed back to Cincinnati, Ohio. It's a charmingly quixotic story of adventure, mishap, and the romance of river life. The real heart of the book lies in how Alexander and Dale, two urban, gay, landlubbers-turned-river-captains, are adopted by the community of small town and rural "river people" they meet along their inland journey. In these divisive times when it sometimes seems like no one gets along, it is nice to read a book and realize that people are really nicer than we remember. 

The Canyon Cuts Both Ways: Hidden Stories by Dan T. Cox

Reading Dan T. Cox's new collection of short stories is like living in Oregon's North Santiam Canyon for a while. The stories overlap just enough you feel like you know the community, with its small towns, mills, forested hills, bad weather, and difficult lives of the people who live in this beautiful but struggling pocket of Oregon. Cox is an excellent writer in that you don't notice his writing -- the stories come straight at you. If you are a fan of Raymond Carver, you'll love The Canyon Cuts Both Ways


Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World by John W. Haines

Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World by John W. Haines (2020, OSU Press). 

John Haines was an adventure seeker from a young age. He biked through Tibet, kayaked the Niger River, and rode the Trans-Siberian Express from Beijing to East Berlin. A fall from a train in the Czech Republic in 1999 left him partially paralyzed and radically changed his life. His new memoir, Never Leaving Laramie, weaves the stories of his travels with his philosophy of travel as Haines writes about how growing up in Laramie, Wyoming gave him perspective and taught him lessons he carried with him around the globe. He ends with a chapter on his life since his accident and the different ways people can travel through the world. 

Hunting Four Horsemen by Jim Geraghty

Hunting Four Horsemen by Jim Geraghty (2020, Discus Books)

If you are in the mood for an up-to-the-minute thriller, Hunting Four Horsemen is the book for you. Set in 2021 when vaccines have corralled COVID19, but nothing is quite back to normal yet. Now the CIA's "Dangerous Clique" team of special operatives, lead by Katrina Leonidivna, must track down a new threat -- an anonymous arms dealer trying to sell a new bioweapon to terrorist organizations. This deadly virus would make corona look tame and plunge the world into chaos. It's non-stop action as the Clique races around the globe tracking bad guys, saving humanity, and trying to avoid some pretty nasty monkeys.  

Rough House by Tina Ontiveros

Rough House by Tina Ontiveros (2020, OSU Press) 

Tina Ontiveros's memoir is a tough read but it lays bare what it was like to grow up in the logging camps of the Pacific Northwest. Raised by a charming but abusive father and a mother worn down by small-town poverty, Ontiveros writes with heartbreaking honesty about family dysfunction and intergenerational trauma. Rough House makes an excellent companion read with Dan Cox's short story collection, The Canyon Cuts Both Ways, because it is the nonfiction version of the same world, as seen by the women and children who live in it. 

Dudes Rush In by Lynn Downey

This debut novel takes us back to 1952 Arizona, the heyday of Dude Ranches, when war widow Phoebe McFarland leaves her settled life in San Francisco to spend six months on her in-laws' ranch. Her discovery of a diary from WWI years sets her on the path of a mystery and her own rebirth. The story is packed with engaging characters, plot twists, and memorable settings, and Phoebe is a smart and likeable heroine. Downey was the archivist for Levi Strauss, Co. and her skills as a researcher show in this page-turner of a historical novel.

Braided in Fire: Black GIS and Tuscan Villagers on the Gothic Line by Solace Wales

Solace Wales tells the story of the Tuscan village of Sommocolonia and the Black 366th Infantry Regiment that defended the village in WWII during the Battle of Garfagnana. At the center of her story are Lieutenant John Fox, who posthumously won the Medal of Honor for his heroism, and the brave Biondi family. Wales explores how the bonds between some of the Black GIs and Italian villagers, forged during the battle, remained strong for lifetimes. As the Black Lives Matter movement continues, Braided in Fire is a timely record of the Black lives given during WWII to save Europe from fascism.    

Always an Immigrant: A Cultural Memoir by Mohammad Yadegari with Pricilla Yadegari

Always an Immigrant: A Cultural Memoir by Mohammad Yadegari with Pricilla Yadegari (2020, White River Press). 

Mohammad Yadegari was born in Iraq in an Iranian family. At 18, he moved to Iran to finish high school in Tehran. Later, he immigrated to the United States for college and graduate school where he met and married his wife Pricilla. He wrote his memoir in the form of personal stories and anecdotes about growing up in the Middle East in the the 1940 to early 1960s and then moving to America. He's a good storyteller and the book is full of humor and real life wisdom. Immigrant stories are a part of American life and it is fascinating to get the perspective of someone who immigrated from the Middle East in the mid-1960s. 

Mordecai's Ashes by Arlana Crane

Mordecai's Ashes by Arlana Crane (2020, Big Tree Press)

With Mordecai's Ashes, Arlana Crane launches her new Larsson Investigations series, set on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Karl Larsson has lost his job in the Alberta oil fields and his wife, but he just inherited a detective agency in Victoria, BC. With nothing to lose and a lot to learn, he sets out to solve a mystery or two, his 19 year old cousin Kelsey as his sidekick. There are plenty of twists and turns, lots of PNW atmosphere, and a terrific story to keep the pages turning. All in all, Mordecai's Ashes is a fine kick off for what looks like a very entertaining series. It's always fun to start at the beginning. 

Beloved Prophet 2020: The Abridged Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journals, edited and arranged by Virginia Hilu and Dalton Hilu Einhorn

Beloved Prophet 2020: The Abridged Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journals, edited and arranged by Virginia Hilu and Dalton Hilu Einhorn (2020)

Kahlil Gibran wrote The Prophet, which since published in 1923 has never been out of print, has been translated into over 100 languages, and is one of the best-selling books of all time. Gibran never married but had a long-time intimate relationship with Mary Haskell, to whom he was once engaged. This is a new edition of Beloved Prophet, the correspondence between Gibran and Haskell, which was first published in 1972. This edition has been pared down about 40% to make it more accessible to a general audience, editing out the parts of interest only to academics. Beloved Prophet is a must read for die hard Gibran fans. 

She Said God Blessed Us: A Life Marked by Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Church by Gail Hovey

She Said God Blessed Us: A Life Marked by Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Church by Gail Hovey (2020, Exposit Books

Hovey's memoir discusses the often overlooked issue of sexual abuse of girls by women. But don't be put off by the subject matter. It is really the story of how easily young people can be enthralled and exploited by someone older who seems  charismatic simply by showing the young person a little special attention. That manipulation leads to feelings of guilt and shame that take a long time to recognize and and even longer to understand, well into adulthood. When Hovey was a teenager, she was emotionally and physically seduced by Georgia, the education director at her church. It took her decades, including a move to South Africa, to break free of Georgia's influence. Hovey tells her story well, with compassion and insight. She Said God Blessed Us is a memoir worth reading for anyone whose family has been touched by abuse or who wants to understand dynamics and effects of abuse. 

The Town Crazy by Suzzy Roche

The Town Crazy by Suzzy Roche (2020, Gibson House Press)

The Town Crazy is set in Hanzloo, Pennsylvania, a suburban Catholic community in Pennsylvania in 1961, when a single father moves to town with his son Felix. The dads are suspicious, most of the moms are smitten, and Lil O'Brien, one of the town moms, seems to be losing her mind. Felix befriends his classmate, Lil's daughter Alice, but when the town busybody jumps to a conclusion of misbehavior, tragedy follows. Meanwhile, Lil's bottled-up secret is leading to greater emotional collapse. This character-driven, captivating story will keep you engaged from cover to cover. 


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow - BOOK BEGINNINGS and THE FRIDAY 56



Welcome to Book Beginnings on Fridays, where we share the first sentence or so of the book we are enjoying this week. You can play along on your own blog, social media, or in the comments below.

If you post on your blog or social media, please link to your post in the linky below. Please link to your BBOF post not your home page or social media profile. If you want to participate in the comments, just leave a comment with the opening sentence of the book, along with the title and author's name. 

If you post or share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag so we can find each other. 


I'm making a big effort -- a bigger effort than usual -- to clear off my TBR shelves in 2021. With that goal in mind, I'm reading Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow this week because it has been on my TBR shelf for as long as I can remember. 

He had to have planned it because when we drove onto the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor no electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was, and when the big Packard came down the ramp Mickey the driver braked it so that the wheels hardly rattled the boards, and when he pulled up alongside the gangway the doors were already open and they hustled Bo and the girl upside before they even made a shadow in all that darkness.

Wow! That is quite a shaggy opening sentence. It's an entire story in itself. Billy Bathgate won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award

I didn't care for Ragtime, even though most people love it, so I put this one off. But I'm now halfway through and enjoying it very much. Ragtime bugged me because it seemed to me a bucket of historic facts dumped out and then strung together like beads by the story. Although Billy Bathgate is based on the criminal history of New York gangster Dutch Schultz, it is a solid, cohesive story.


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TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


From Billy Bathgate

It surprised me that someone that physically unfortunate would want to dress sharply. His trousers were pulled up so high by his suspenders that he seemed not to have any chest.

Doctorow is a good storyteller. He spins a yarn so you can picture everything precisely. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The TBR 21 in '21 Challenge is Ready to Go - Who Wants to Join Me? Sign Up Now!


January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021

To sign up, go to the main challenge page here.

Want to join me to read 21 TBR books in 2021? Then sign up for this TBR 21 in '21 Challenge that I'm hosting here on Rose City Reader. Sign up on the main challenge page here or click to the button above. 

The idea is very simple -- read 21 books you owned before January 1, 2021 and read them before December 31, 2021. You do not have to review them. Crossover with other challenges is OK and encouraged, even other TBR and backlist challenges. 

You don't have to have a blog to play along. If you want to participate on goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, or some other social media, please do. You should be able to link social media posts using the same Mr. Linky. If it gets tricky, ask me. I think your social media profiles have to be public to work. You can also participate simply be leaving comments here on Rose City Reader if you prefer. 

You do not have to pick your books ahead of time, you can choose as you go. I picked mine now because playing with my books is one of my favorite things. I have this basket next to my bed so I can look forward to my next read.

Yes, if you look carefully, you will see there are only 20 books in the basket. That's because the 21st book was already on my bedside table when I took the picture and I forgot it! 

The complete list of rules is on the main challenge page. This is supposed to be fun, so please don't get too bothered by any of the rules. If you have questions, ask me. 

Please join me and happy reading!

2021 CHALLENGE: Vintage Scattergories - Vintage Mystery Challenge 2021



The Vintage Mystery Challenge on My Reader's Block has always been one of my very favorite challenges. Bev has hosted it since 2011, which is the first year I joined the challenge and I've done it most years since then. I love it. 

Read all the detail of the Vintage Mystery Challenge on the main challenge page. The idea is to read at least eight vintage mysteries, either from the Golden Age of mysteries (those published prior to 1960) or the Silver Age of mysteries (those published from 1960 to 1989). Yes, Bev recognizes that the dates are somewhat arbitrary. Yes, you can sign up to do both the Golden and Silver Ages. 

Each year, Bev makes some kind of game out of it. This year the game is Vintage Scattegories. Participants are to read one book from at least eight of the following categories. I'm signing up for both the Golden Age and Silver Age to try to read 16 books. It's a big motivator for me that Bev also hosts the Mt. TBR Challenge and my plan is to read 16 vintage mysteries already on my shelves!


1. Colorful Crime: A book with a color or reference to color in the title
2. Murder by the Numbers: A book with a number or quantity in the title
3. Amateur Night: A book with a detective who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; or other official investigator (Nurse Keate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
4. Leave It to the Professionals: A book featuring cops, private eyes, secret service, professional spies, etc.
5. Jolly Old England: A mystery set in the United Kingdom
6. Yankee Doodle Dandy: A mystery set in the United States
7. World Traveler: A mystery set in any country except the U.S. or U.K.
8. Dangerous Beasts: A book with an animal in the title
9. A Calendar of Crime: A mystery with a date/holiday/year/month/etc. in the title
10. Wicked Women: A book with a woman in the title--either by name (Mrs. McGinty's Dead) or by reference (The Case of the Vagabond Virgin)
11. Malicious Men: A book with a man in the title--either by name (Maigret & the Yellow Dog) or by reference (The Case of the Haunted Husband)
12. Murderous Methods: A book with a means of death in the title (The Noose, 5 Bullets, Deadly Nightshade, etc.)
13. Staging the Crime: A mystery set in the entertainment world (theatre, musical event, pageant, Hollywood, etc.)
14. Scene of the Crime: A book with the location of the crime in the title (The Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, etc.)
15. Cops & Robbers: A book that features a theft rather than murder
16. Locked Rooms: A locked-room mystery
17. Impossible Crimes: Any other impossible crime (locks not necessary)
18. Country House Criminals: A standard (or not-so-standard) Golden Age-style country house murder
19. Murder on the High Seas: A mystery involving water
20. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: A book with a mode of transportation in the title
21. Murder is Academic: A mystery involving a scholar, teacher, librarian, etc. OR set at a school, university, library, etc.
22. Things That Go Bump in the Night: A book with something spooky, creepy, gothic in the title (The Skeleton in the Clock; Haunted Lady; The Bat; etc.)
23. Repeat Offenders: A mystery featuring your favorite series detective or by your favorite author or reread an old favorite
24. The Butler Did It...Or Not: A mystery where the butler is the victim, the sleuth...(gasp) the criminal...or is just downright memorable for whatever reason.
25. A Mystery by Any Other Name: Any book that has been published under more than one title (Murder Is Easy--aka Easy to Kill [Christie]; Fog of Doubt--aka London Particular [Christianna Brand], etc.)
26. Dynamic Duos: A mystery featuring a detective team (Holmes & Watson; Pam & Jerry North; Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin, or a little-known team that you introduce to us)
27. Size Matters: A book with a size or measurement in the title (Death Has a Small Voice; The Big Four; The Weight of the Evidence; etc.)
28. Psychic Phenomena: A mystery featuring a seance, medium, hypnotism, or other psychic or "supernatural" characters/events
29. Book to Movie: A book that has appeared on screen (feature film or TV)
30. The Old Bailey: A courtroom drama mystery OR a mystery featuring a judge, lawyer, barrister, district attorney
31. Serial Killers: Books that were originally published in serial format (from the pulp era) OR a book that includes three or more deaths--all committed by the same person.
32. Killed in Translation: A work that originally appeared in another language and has been made available in English--original publication date determines Gold or Silver Age--OR if your native language is not English, then a work that originally appeared in English which you read in your native language.
33. Blondes in Danger: A variation on "Colorful Crime." A book that features a blonde in the title (The Blonde Died First; The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde) or another shade of hair color (The Case of the Substitute Brunette)
34. International Detectives: A variation on "World Traveler"--but instead of the crime being set in another country, the detective is not from the U.S. or U.K.
35. Somebody Else's Crime: Read a book that someone else has already read for the challenge.
36. Genuine Fakes: Read a book by an author who wrote under a pseudonym (Josephine Tey [Elizabeth Mackintosh]; Nicholas Blake [Cecil Day Lewis]; etc.)
37. Hobbies Can Be Murder: A mystery that involves a hobby in some way: stamp, coin, book collecting, etc; knitting; birdwatching; hunting; etc.
38. Snatch & Grab: Read the first book you pick up off your shelf or TBR stack/s
39. I've Got You Covered: Pick a book to read based on the cover
40. Get Out of Jail Free: One per customer. You decide what special category the book fits and it counts--the only thing not accepted is "It's a vintage mystery!" The genre/time period is a given.


I'm not sure yet which Golden Age vintage mysteries I will read, but some possibilities lurking on my shelves include:

  • Murder by the Numbers: Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Jolly Old England: The Wisdom of Father Brown  By G. K. Chesterton
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy: Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
  • Dangerous Beasts: Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie
  • Staging the Crime: Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh
  • A Mystery by Any Other Name: Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie (aka After the Funeral and Murder at the Gallop)
  • Country House Criminals: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
  • Dynamic Duos: The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 


Likewise, I don't know for sure which Silver Age vintage mysteries I'll pick and my choices are fewer, but I could round up these suspects:

  • Murder by the Numbers: Twice Shy by Dick Francis
  • Jolly Old England: At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy: Touch by Elmore Leonard
  • World Traveler: The Amateur by Robert Little 
  • A Calendar of Crime: March Violets by Philip Kerr
  • Wicked Women: Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carre
  • Repeat Offenders: Innocent Blood by P. D. James
  • Killed in Translation: The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 CHALLENGE: TBR 21 in '21 and Mt. TBR Challenges - My Sign Up Post

January means book challenge time! I love planning ahead (some) for books to read in the coming year, especially picking the books from my TBR shelves I want to get through.

Every year I try to do two reading challenges specifically aimed at clearing off my TBR shelves. One is the Mt. TBR Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block, which aims to read a certain number of TBR books by the end of the year. No need to pick them now, just tally them up at the end of the year. 

The other is a personal challenge I started doing back in 2010 to pre-select a certain number of books each January to get through that year. The number of books corresponds to the year. From 2010 to 2019, I picked twice as many books as the year -- 20 in 2010, 22 in 2011, and so on. Starting in 2020, I went to a single ratio of books to year and picked 20 books for 2020. 

Which is how why I have the TBR 21 in '21 Challenge. Feel free to join me if you want to clear off 21 books from your TBR shelf in 2021!




The books I picked for 2021 are mostly nonfiction because my nonfiction TBR shelves are out of control. I only have four novels and the rest are nonfiction.

I mixed them all up and put them in a basket and will read them in the random order they ended up in - not for any reason, just because. With one exception -- I have to read this book first because it's my book club book for January:

That one didn't make it to the basket because it is already on my bedside table. The rest are here:

Here is the list, in the order I plan to read them:

  • Not Now but Now by M.F.K. Fisher. Fisher wrote about food and almost entirely nonfiction. This is her only novel. The Boss Dog is partly fiction, but mostly memoir.
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam. The three books in this trilogy are the rest of my fiction picks. Gardam's Old Filth trilogy tells the story of the long, complicated marriage of Sir Edward Feathers and hit wife Betty.
  • The Florence King Reader by Florence King. King was a prolific writer, mostly of essays and articles, known for her writings about the American South and her acerbic wit.
  • Orchids & Salami by Eva Gabor. I got this 1954 memoir for its funny title and glamorous cover:


  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau. This is on my Classics Club list. I tried to read it with my ears last year but could not engage with the audiobook. 
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. A memoir about soccer fandom is not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed the movie, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the book well enough. I'm a Hornby completist, in part because he gave me that word.


I climbed "Mt. Ararat" in 2020, which was a goal of reading 48 books from my TBR shelves. I read 52 books that had been on by TBR shelves at the start of 2020. In 2021, I am going to go for the "Mt. Kilimanjaro" level, which is to read at least 60 books from my TBR shelves.

So in addition to the 21 books listed above, I will find another 39 or more already on my TBR shelves. I'm not going to pick those now, I'll pick them at whim. I'll list them below as I read them.


(coming soon)



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