Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TBR Baby Steps

Since I have set myself the 101 in 1001 challenge, I have found a couple of things. First off, the initial excitement lasted all of about a week. That seemed concerning in terms of making it to the finish line with as many completed items as possible. The next thing that I noticed was that actually, now that I've written these things down as goals, some of them have been falling into my lap. People have commented on fascinating coloring books or I've spontaneously played Scrabble in a bar.

That said, I think that one thing that may prove helpful is finding a way to direct myself through to the end of the big goal in baby steps. After all, accountability seems to be what I need to focus, as NaBloPoMo proves. I did not set out to be interesting for a month's worth of blog posts, I just set out to do them. So far, it's going swimmingly. Thus, I decided that one way to push through some of my goals was to set little mini deadlines for them. And as NaBloPoMo has had me wandering around the Internets more than usual, I've found some reading challenges that might help push me along to reading my 101 adult books and 50 children's books. I was also inspired by this post which introduced me to the acronym TBR. I know, I know - I'm slow on the uptake of the new lingo.

** Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2008 - that you've been wanting to read (that have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.

** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 "Alternates" (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn't grab you at the time)

** Then, starting January 1, 2008, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31, 2008.

No thinking involved! Not hard at all. Here is my list:

1. Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore
2. Borderlines, Peter Hoeg
3. Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
4. Tokyo Cancelled, Rana Dasgupta
5. The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh
6. The Optimists, Andrew Miller
7. Plainsong, Kent Haruf
8. Naked, David Sedaris
9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
10. What is the What, Dave Eggers
11. The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster
12. Fox Girl, Nora Okia Keller
Alt.The New Kings of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass
Alt.Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Alt.The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl
Alt.Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier

February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009: The Themed Reading Challenge is a six month challenge designed to help readers clear books from their to-be-read stacks which center around a common theme or themes. Here are the “rules”:

* Books should be chosen from the reader’s TBR pile (this may be an actual physical pile or a virtual pile).
* The goal is to read 4 to 6 books linked by theme.
* Overlaps with other challenges are allowed.
* Readers may change their list of books at any time.

Readers may choose three different levels of participation:
Read at least 4 books with the same theme.
Read at least 5 books that share at least TWO themes.
Read at least 6 books that share MORE than two themes.

Choosing the themes proved difficult - and dusty. First I seperated out the small number of already-read books in my bookshelf - it's a small number because I sell off anything I don't love and because all my pre-August reads went back to Canada when I visited. Then I tried to come up with just one theme that covered the largest number of books, which turned out to be books set in Europe. That left me scratching my head and trying to come up with two other themes that'd fit, as I wanted to do the six books level of the challenge. Finally I had it - books by female authors in which the time period is key to the storyline. And here they are:

1. Cafe Europa, Slavenka Drakulic (Eastern Europe, post Communist)
2. The Devil's Arithmetic, Jane Yolen (Poland, WWII)
3. Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky (France, WWII)
4. The Great Fortune, Olivia Manning (Bucharest, WWII)
5. Friends and Heroes, Olivia Manning (Athens, WWII)
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (England, 1806 - Napoleonic Wars)

I'd have loved to manage to focus on WWII specifically, but I lack any more books about the time period in my TBR pile and the book ban doesn't allow for aquiring anything on my mental TBR list. I also wish that I had the middle book of the Balkan Trilogy by Manning, which I may try and aquire as one of my permitted 5 slips of the book ban. Granted, if I can get it second hand, that isn't a slip according to my (self-imposed) rules and the two I had did only cost me 1,000 won at What the Book. Sadly the second one wasn't there. The worst thing about this challenge is that I'm now rather enthusiastic about it and it doesn't start until bloody February.


Cairo Typ0 said...

I have committed to joining one reading challenge during 2009 and had contemplated Carribu's Mom "Themed Reading" challenge. But i like the TBR one better. I'm off to sign up! :)

Amanda said...

Please note that it is a 2008 challenge. I didn't. However, I may still try and finish it off in 2008 and start a new one next year!

J.G. said...

You are so right about enthusiasm for the list vs. waiting until February! I have been pondering whether it's cheating to start early. So far, I'm thinking it is and working on my patience.

Wendy said...

I love your themes! And you are one of the few who have taken on the three or more theme option :) Glad you are joining us for this challenge in 2009 :)