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 TBR 21 IN '21 CHALLENGE
MY SIGN UP POST
MY TBR 21 IN '21 BOOKS
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:
- 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.
- Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir by Erica Jong. My mom gave me this when I turned 50 a while back. Time to get it read!
- Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, the sequel to Three Men in a Boat, which I've already read.
- 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 Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam.
- Last Friends by Jane Gardam.
- 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.
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean.
- Orchids & Salami by Eva Gabor. I got this 1954 memoir for its funny title and glamorous cover:
- A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life by Jim Harrison, a collection of Harrison's food essays.
- Love your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks.
- Plum Sauce: A P. G. Wodehouse Companion by Richard Usborne. I've been meaning to read this for years.
- Fork it Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater by Alan Richman, the food critic for GQ magazine..
- What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind by Debra Ollivier. Her book Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl inspired me to start a "French Connections" list of books set in France or by French authors. Do you have any recommendations to add to the list?
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle.
- 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.
- Mysteries and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor, a collection of essays, lectures, and criticism.
- 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.
- Wry Martinis by Christopher Buckley.
- An Alphabet for Gourmets by M. F. K. Fisher.
- The Book that Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them, edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen.
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.