THE TBR 21 IN '21 CHALLENGE
MY WRAP UP POST
2021 was the first year I hosted a TBR reading challenge I called the TBR 21 in '21 Challenge. The idea was to read 21 books off your TBR shelves in 2021. Not particularly creative maybe, but easy to remember! And the challenge will get just a tiny bit more difficult each year.
If you want to join me in 2022 for the TBR 22 in '22 Challenge, please check out the main challenge page here and sign up!
MY TBR 21 IN '21 BOOKS
I kept my books in this basket near my bed and read them in random order. One is missing because it was on my nightstand when I took the picture and I didn't realize it until I did my sign up post. Doh!
See any here that sound good?
- Not Now but Now by M.F.K. Fisher, the one missing from the picture. Fisher wrote about food and almost entirely nonfiction. This is her only novel. It was very odd and involved time travel. Reminiscent of Virginia Wolfe's Orlando.
- Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir by Erica Jong. My mom gave me this when I turned 50 a while back. I loved it!
- Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, the sequel to Three Men in a Boat, which I had already read but reread this year because it is so funny. The sequel was good but never as good as the original.
- Old Filth by Jane Gardam. Gardam's Old Filth trilogy tells the story of the long, complicated marriage of Sir Edward Feathers and his wife Betty. The three were the highlight of this challenge.
- The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam. In Old Filth, we get the story from Sir Edward's point of view. In this one, we get Betty's story and our perceptions change accordingly.
- Last Friends by Jane Gardam. In this last volume, we get the story of Terence Veneering, Sir Edward's professional and romantic rival.
- 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. A history of the Los Angeles library from an amazing storyteller.
- Orchids & Salami by Eva Gabor. I got this 1954 memoir for its funny title and glamorous cover. It was the oddest book in the bunch, so obviously ghostwritten! Unless Eva Gabor wrote like a 1950s wise cracking sports columnist.
- A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life by Jim Harrison, a collection of food essays by one of my all-time favorite authors.
- Love your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks. This was a timely read.
- Plum Sauce: A P. G. Wodehouse Companion by Richard Usborne. I've been meaning to read this for years. It was a deep dive into the Wodehouse oeuvre.
- Fork it Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater by Alan Richman, a former food critic for GQ magazine. This was one of my favorites in the bunch.
- 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, but this one fell flat for me.
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle. An excellent book that will make anyone put away their phone!
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau. This was on my Classics Club list. I tried to read it with my ears last year but could not engage with the audiobook. I got through the paper book, but can't say I'll be rushing out to read everything Thoreau ever wrote. Lots of words about the value of a good wool suit and descriptions of ponds.
- Mysteries and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor, a collection of essays, lectures, and criticism by one of America's best authors.
- Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. A memoir about soccer fandom is not exactly my cup of tea, but if anyone can make a description of 30 years of soccer games readable, it is Hornby. I'm a Hornby completist, in part because he taught me that word.
- Wry Martinis by Christopher Buckley is a book of his collected essays. I found it a little uneven. I think it was cobbled together after the success of Thank you for Smoking.
- An Alphabet for Gourmets by M. F. K. Fisher. Unlike her novel, this quirky book of food essays is Fisher at her idiosyncratic best.
- 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 like books about books, so enjoyed this one, although some of the choices of contributors struck me as a bit random.
All in all, I was pleased with my picks. I read over 125 books in 2021, more than usual. So these 21 were only a small part of the total. The others I didn't pick ahead of time, just at whim. I like preselecting a manageable number of books that I know I want to read for one reason or another and making myself read them. Usually the only thing "making" me want to read them is curiosity or the time they have been sitting on my shelf.