Finishing my #TBR20 – a few reflections

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been tagging my recent reviews with #TBR20. You may have heard about this initiative on twitter, or read about it posts by other bloggers (Emma and Max have joined recently – I’ve included links to their posts. Other participants are here). In essence, #TBR20 is a way of tackling the ever-growing ‘to-be-read’ pile of books by reading twenty books you already own before buying any more. It’s Eva Stalker’s idea – you can read Eva’s original post here. Eva started her #TBR20 in November with the aim of finishing by the end of March – you can read her latest post here (one month on from completing her twenty).

Like Eva, I already owned more unread books than I knew what to do with, so I decided to start a round of #TBR20 at the beginning of December. By the first week in April, I’d finished reading my twentieth book, Clarice Lispector’s Near to the Wild Heart (not my favourite book of the twenty, but an exhilarating read nonetheless). If you’re interested, here’s a picture of my twenty books (well, nineteen of them as I read Mary Costello’s Academy Street on kindle).

IMG_2032

One month on from finishing my #TBR20, I thought it would be useful to jot down a few notes on how it worked for me, partly for my own benefit but also because it might be of interest to others.

From the outset, I decided to pick my twenty books as I went along. I had a ‘draft’ set of twenty books piled up on the bookshelf, but I tinkered with it every now and again. My reading tends to be driven by my mood; I need variety, a change of pace or tone. I want books that take me to different periods and places. There are times when one book leads to another, something with a similar idea or theme or an interesting contrast. I found this relatively easy to manage by maintaining the flexibility to move a few books in and out of the pile.

This approach came into its own when I reached the end of January. I hit a difficult period at home. A mysterious pain appeared on one side of my body and refused go away. A protracted sequence of tests, hospital visits and periods of uncertainty followed. I’ll spare you the details, but it turns out that I have a crack in one of my ribs, a fracture that is taking some time to heal. It’s still there, and it’s rather painful.

Out went a few challenging or intense books; in came a few books I just knew I would enjoy. Novels like the warm and affectionate A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O’Brien; an escape to 1950s LA in the form of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Good-bye; and the comfort of rereading a favourite novel, A Heart So White by Javier Marias. (I checked with Eva, rereads are in line with the spirit of #TBR20 – it’s about valuing the books you already own even if you’ve read them before.) All three turned out to be terrific choices.

I also decided only to count the books I intended to review, mainly to tag and record them on here. In addition, I excluded a couple of review copies which I read and posted about while I was doing #TBR20. Library loans (which I used for books chosen by my book group) were also excluded. All in all, I ended up reading 24 books from my TBR/reread shelf (20 reviewed + 4 not reviewed), two review copies and two library loans. You can find links to all my reviews in this index here, or you can click on the #TBR20 tag at the bottom of this post.

So what have I learned from #TBR20?

  • Well, I’ve rediscovered a sense of excitement about the books I bought many months or years ago, several of which were personal recommendations or purchases prompted by other bloggers’ reviews.
  • My original ‘draft’ twenty did not include enough crime, hardboiled or noir to satisfy me; that’s where I would have struggled had I not made at least one tweak.
  • My current TBR includes more than enough choice and variety to satisfy my reading whims. I don’t need any more books. (That doesn’t stop me wanting a few more every now and again.)
  • I don’t feel attracted to the new releases just because they are ‘new’. I still crave books, but the ones I want to buy tend to be older releases, backlist titles by some of my new favourite authors (Elizabeth Taylor, Penelope Fitzgerald, Joan Didion, Ross Macdonald and Javier Marias spring to mind) or other reissues that have caught my eye.
  • I have missed the enjoyment of browsing in bookshops. This has been the biggest challenge, to keep away from temptation. I allowed myself just one visit to a bookshop during the four months of #TBR20, a trip to the new Foyles. Time for a small confession. It was my birthday in March, and I cracked – I used a birthday book token to buy myself a little something: A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr. I nearly read it that very week, but it’s sitting on my bookshelf for a late summer treat. I just know I’m going to love it.
  • When I started my #TBR20, I set up a new wishlist for the books I wanted to buy. By the beginning of April, there were twenty books on that list, and that’s following a couple of rounds of pruning. I had intended to allow myself six new books, but temptation got the better of me and I ended up buying twelve (eek!), the others remain on the wishlist. Here they are – as you can see, I’ve gone a bit NYRB Classics crazy.

 IMG_2118

  • I’ve already read three of them, all fantastic: Philippe Beaussant’s Rendezvous in Venice, Dorothy Baker’s Young Man with a Horn and Alberto Moravia’s Agostino (reviews to follow). I intend to keep the others for a while; they have joined the ranks of the great TBR.
  • I need to carry on with the spirit of #TBR20, of valuing the books I already own rather than allowing myself to be distracted by the next craving. I’m not sure if I can go another four months without buying ANY new books; it might be a little too soon after the first round.
  • As an alternative approach, I’m going to try to cut back on buying books (especially now that I’ve had a splurge). I’m still thinking about what might work for me over the next few months. Possibly a TBR10 or a ‘Three Out, One In’ approach? Maybe I’ll try a TBR10 and see how I get on. If it works out, I might push on through to another twenty, but I’ll need to choose the books I want to read as I go along. I know that much. There are still a good 200+ unread physical books (and around 50 e-books) in this house, so there’s plenty of scope for me to appreciate the ones I already own.

Good luck to those of you who are doing the #TBR20. I hope my thoughts are of some interest – do let me know your thoughts on #TBR20, tackling the reading pile or on any of the books I’ve mentioned. All are welcome.

Belinda Farrell has also posted her thoughts on finishing #TBR20 here.

78 thoughts on “Finishing my #TBR20 – a few reflections

  1. Emma

    Very interesting post, Jacqui. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this experience. It’s been positive, in the end.

    I’ve just started, so I’ll see how it goes. I’ll probably miss browsing in bookshops too and staying away from them will be a challenge.

    I hope you’ll feel better soon.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Emma. I’m glad I did it, and the first couple of months were a breeze. Keeping away from bookshops was the hardest thing as I just knew the temptation to buy would be hard to control!

      Best of luck with your PAL20, you’ve got some great books ahead of you, and I’m looking forward to following your reviews.

      The rib is getting better, thanks. It’s just been difficult to keep on top of everything in the last few months. Looking forward to comparing notes on Play It As It Lays next week!

      Reply
  2. hastanton

    A really interesting post and thank you for sharing your thoughts ! I didn’t do TBR20 but found I was able to rein in my obsessive book buying whilst you and others were doing it ….it really made me think about how many books I buy and why I feel the compulsion to do it ! Unfortunately since you all completed TBR 20 my buying habit has started to creep back.
    I like the idea of you 3:1 ideas tho …might give that a go. Hope your rib continues to heal …poor you.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Helen. It’s hard, isn’t it? Yes, do think about the ‘three out, one in’ approach. It might work for you, even if you just do it for a couple of months?

      Thanks for your best wishes. The rib thing has been a pain in more ways than one! Hopefully, it will heal soon, but it’s taking a while…

      Reply
  3. heavenali

    I sort of succeeded and failed with tbr20 I read 20 books without buying but they weren’t the original 20 on my pile. I then went loopy in Waterstone’s and nearly bankrupted myself. You have read some brilliant things there! I loved Mrs Palfrey and Leaving Mr Mckenzie. I see you read Offshore – my favourite of her books so far.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Wow! That’s good going…Waterstones and Foyles are just too tempting! I knew I had to keep away otherwise I would have ended up doing the same thing.

      Mrs Palfrey was an absolute delight. I’m so glad to have finally made a start on Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, I know you are a huge fan of her work. Loved the Rhys, too, and I’m very keen to read a few more of her novels. I have another couple in my TBR (hurrah!).

      Reply
  4. gertloveday

    I always get very stressed at the idea of any sort of a reading programme, so this is not for me, though I do see the value of re-reading books from your shelves. And the presence of an unread book in the house is like a troll breathing down my neck, so I always read the ones I buy. I’m lucky to have a very good library so I can often get new releases and I actually feel a bit mean that I buy very few books.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      It’s funny isn’t it? I get turned off by anything with the word ‘challenge’ in it because it sounds too competitive (and I don’t like to think of my reading in that way!). That’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t write about the #TBR20 when I started my first book back in December. And I ducked when it came to picking my twenty books in advance because the idea of tying myself to a ‘fixed’ reading list really didn’t appeal to me at the time. I thought I might struggle with the lack of flexibility. It’s a very personal thing, though, and other readers may relish the idea of working their way through a certain set of books. I admire Emma, Max and other participants for selecting and posting their books in advance.

      I love the idea of rereading favourite books from the shelves…I’d like to make more time for that in the future. You’re lucky to have such a great library withing striking distance. I do a bit of volunteering with our local one, but it’s quite small and the choice is fairly limited (especially in the translated lit section). We’re fortunate to have it though; it was under threat of closure a few years ago.

      Reply
  5. MarinaSofia

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the process – I do like it very much, can see the merit of it. I didn’t cope well with the 3 months of TBR Double Dare, but this sounds perhaps more gentle and manageable… And until I get a new bookshelf there is no more room for any books, so I have to stop, constrained by space. (But that still leaves room for library books and those pesky ebooks).
    I also want to do a bit of rereading of old favourites. Perhaps a #Reread5 or something like that?

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      You’re welcome, Marina. Glad to hear they are of some interest. Yes, I’ve seen a few bits and pieces about the TBR Double Dare (reading from your TBR for three months? No other books allowed?). The #TBR20 is a little more flexible, and I did read a few other books (a couple of review copies, book group choices from the library) alongside my twenty. I guess it’s all about finding an approach that might work for you, even if it means adapting the idea to suit your needs.

      Rereading old favourites has been a real joy. The Chandler was another return visit, although it’s a good thirty years since I read it for the first time. A #Reread5 sounds like a great idea, or maybe a #Reread6 – one book every two months?

      Reply
  6. audreyschoeman

    I love the idea of this! I can’t buy any new books at the moment as I’m in China, and I’m battling to buy ebooks with Chinese payment methods so I periodically panic at the lack of reading material. Perhaps I just need to remind myself that I have 100 or so unread ebooks still on the Kindle and set myself a TBR20 to hold the panic at bay? Either way, it sounds like a great list that you had.
    And I just finished Rendezvous in Venice – it was fantastic wasn’t it? I’m planning on writing about it this weekend, so I’ll be looking forward to what you have to say.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, great. That sounds like an excellent idea, especially if you are actually struggling to buy books at the mo! I read some amazing books, and it reminded me that I have so many treasures lurking on the bookshelves at home. I really do need to appreciate and value the books I already have in my collection.

      I loved Rendezvous in Venice, and I’m absolutely delighted to hear you’re planning to review it too! What a lovely little book. I’ve nearly finished writing my post, but it probably won’t be up for another week or two as I have another review to do for a readalong. I’ll keep an eye out for your review – I may not read it until I’ve finished my own piece, but I’ll definitely drop back once I’m done! Thanks so much for dropping by.

      Reply
  7. susanosborne55

    Such an interesting post, Jacqui, both thoughtful and thought provoking. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections. I spotted The End of Days in your ‘liberation pile’ which I admired very much and will be interested to see what you think of it.

    Many commiserations re the cracked rib. I hope it fully repairs itself soon.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Susan. Glad to hear they are of interest. Yes, I just couldn’t resist buying the Erpenbeck in the end. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, and it seems to have captured the imagination of the bloggers shadowing this year’s IFFP. Delighted to hear you admired it too!

      Thanks for your best wishes about my rib. I’ve been a bit stressed out over the last three months as it took a while to discover what was causing the pain. (It didn’t show on the first X-Ray back in Feb, various others tests were inconclusive and it took ages to get a CT scan.) I’m hoping it will improve soon.

      Reply
      1. susanosborne55

        That’s miserable, Jacqui. I’m so glad it turned out to be something relatively benign although I’m sure it’s been unpleasant physically as well as mentally.

        Reply
  8. kaggsysbookishramblings

    Very thoughtful post Jacqui. You’ve done well with the challenge, and it’s hard to stick bookish restrictions. I often find reshuffling the bookshelves is a good way to reconnect with the TBR. Love your pile of new books – and look forward to the reviews. Here’s hoping the rib improves quickly!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Karen. I have missed the bookshops (and charity outlets), but I’ve read some wonderful books. Reshuffling the shelves is a great idea, I’ll keep it in mind as a way of rekindling interest in the TBR.

      I’m looking forward to my new books, more than enough to keep me going for several months! Thanks for your good wishes…I’m on the mend, hopefully.

      Reply
  9. Brian Joseph

    Fascinating post.

    The entire TBR thing with me is complicated. I have an enormous TBR. One obstacle for me from joining an event like this is that if I do not jump to read book or a subject that has recently peaked my interest is that I fear that this “moment of interest” will be lost forever.

    As much as I like E Books, I also love browsing through bookstores. I do so even when I do not plan to buy anything.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Brian. Glad to hear my post is of interest. Yes, I know what you mean about having that flexibility to pick and choose your reading. That’s important to me too. I knew I would struggle to stick to a prescribed list, but I’m pleased to have read a few of the books that have been languishing on the shelves for a year or two.

      Browsing in bookshops is one of life’s little pleasures, it’s hard to cut that out of your life even for three or four months.

      Reply
  10. Claire Stokes (@maudie43)

    Very interesting post, Jacqui. I must admit I juggled my original TBR20 as, like you, I have to have a bit of flexibility. I just love those NYRB classics too. And Joan Didion, in fact I have Play it as it Lays in my bag! I hope you are on the mend very soon.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Claire. Congratulations on finishing your twenty as well. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one juggling a few choices here and there! NYRB are great aren’t they, virtually foolproof.

      Love Didion, and I’ll be fascinated to hear your thoughts on Play It As It Lays. You may have seen it in the comments, but I’ve been reading it alongside Emma (Book Around the Corner), and our reviews should be up next Wednesday, all being well. Thanks for your best wishes, the rib is getting there!

      Reply
  11. realthog

    Huge sympathies over the busted rib, Jacqui — been there, done that . . . several times. Most of the times it was explicable (e.g., falling on a cricket ball while fielding off my own bowling — had anyone else been bowling I’d have let the ball fly by!) but on one occasion I cracked one with a particularly violent cough. It’s never comfortable and, as the doc can’t do much about it except recommend painkillers, iit can be depressing. I’m glad to hear it’s getting better; usually the departure of the pain is quite abrupt — one day it hurts like hell, the next it’s magically gone.

    Red wine helps. :)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you, and sorry to hear you have experienced the same thing! The worrying part is that I have absolutely no idea how it happened, this pain just appeared out of the blue. I suspect I’m going to be susceptible to more of the same in future years. It’s getting better now and, yes, my favourite red wines have helped enormously, as have books. :)

      Reply
      1. realthog

        The worrying part is that I have absolutely no idea how it happened

        That was the same with me and the cough. I went to the doc saying, “It feels like I’ve broken a rib again, but I haven’t done anything that could have broken one.” He replied, “Have you had a bad cough lately?” Indeed I had. Apparently it’s not all that desperately unusual to break a rib through coughing.

        Reply
  12. Scott W.

    I don’t know, I like having unread books lying around. I’m working on my #TBT20, a real challenge: what 20 books from my library will I toss to make room for new ones?

    As regards buying books, I’ve adopted a simple rule of thumb: if I can get the book from the library, I won’t buy it.

    Except some books.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Haha, I love it! I could do with having another #TBT20 clear-out around here. It is nice having a few unread books lying around the house, just not too many! And look, Tristana and Agostino made it into my ‘new purchases’ pile (not to mention Joan Didion’s non-fiction). Your reviews and recommendations may have played a part there!

      Reply
  13. Pingback: New TBR Reading Challenge – and Rereading | findingtimetowrite

  14. Guy Savage

    I’m currently reading an Elizabeth Taylor novel: A Game of Hide and Seek. Close to finishing it. I don’t like nearly as much as Mrs Parfrey at the Claremont but I didn’t expect to. I’m on the fence on this TBR20 thing. I can see the point of it but I don’t want the structure of it. Perhaps later.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, interesting to hear about the Taylor. I’ll be keen to read your review of that one. Angel is the unread one I have on my shelves at the moment, and I can’t recall if you’ve read it.

      The TBR20 thing might not suit everyone, so there’s little point in trying it if it doesn’t feel right for you. It’ll be interesting to see how Emma and Max find it. I hope it works out for them one way or another (or if it doesn’t, I hope they won’t feel tied into finishing).

      Reply
  15. farmlanebooks

    Valuing the books we already own is such a good thing to take from your experience. I have far too many unread books in my house. I need to stop buying so many books and take the time to read those I already have. The problem is that it is so hard to avoid bookshops. It feels like I’m depriving myself from one of the pleasures of life. How do you stop the addictive behaviour?

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Jackie. That’s the essence of it, I think. Valuing and appreciating what we already have rather than constantly hankering after something else. Keeping away from bookshops was tough. I agree completely, browsing rows of books is one of life’s little pleasures. It’s hard to deny yourself that enjoyment…

      Reply
  16. Naomi

    I find the biggest reason I find it hard to get to the books I already have is the library. When I hear about good books, I put them on hold at the library, new and old books. Then, I of course have to read them first, because I only have them for 3 weeks. I’m not good at sending them back unread, but I have had to do that a few times recently. Then I just put another hold on them!
    It sounds like you’re making great progress with your TBR. And, even more important, you’ve been enjoying the books!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      That is a problem, I agree. I went through a phase of doing something very similar a few years ago, and it just pushed other books (the ones I already owned) to the back of the queue. It’s a case of finding the right balance, an approach that works for you personally. Setting up a new wishlist really worked for me. It gave me a bit of breathing space, some time to consider the books on that list before scampering off to acquire them. Might be worth a try?

      I read some great books during my four months, and I know there are many other wonderful books waiting for me in the TBR!

      Reply
      1. Naomi

        I have started making a separate list just for possible library books, and it is working a bit. It gets them out of my head and onto a piece of paper, so I feel like I won’t forget about them. :)

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          That’s good to hear. As you say, sometimes it’s useful to jot these ideas down onto a list, and it’s a good opportunity to take stock of things and decide which books you really want to read next.

          Reply
  17. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    First of all, I hope that you feel better soon. A cracked rib can take a while to heal properly. Second, thanks for your thoughtful post. Similar to your experience, #TBR20 has made me realize how many good books I have sitting on my shelves. And I’ve also realized that I do much better if I don’t pick the books ahead of time. I just wish I wouldn’t get distracted so easily. Here we are in mid-May and I still have to read 3 more books to finish my 20 books. The library has been my downfall. Yet I am happy that I’ve been mostly able to control my impulse book purchases. The piles at home have gotten a little bit smaller.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, TJ. It’s been a difficult few months, but I’m getting there. You’re doing very well with your twenty books; 17 is good going! And it sounds as if you’ve given yourself a bit of flexibility to read other things that have caught your eye at the library or elsewhere. I still find it hard to resist those impulse purchases…all my good intentions of keeping to six books post-TBR20 flew straight out of the window! Ah, well…onwards.

      Reply
  18. Claire 'Word by Word'

    Sorry to hear about your rib Jacqui, but good to know you found the literary rememdies for it!

    What a great exercise your #TBR20 has been, I like that you allowed yourself to adapt it as you went along, I don’t like the idea of a fixed reading list, I value too much the meandering journey that some books and others reviews can take us on, but I did put a similar pile of translated fiction together at the beginning of the year which was going well for a while and recently seems to have got sidetracked.

    Looking forward to more of your reviews Jacqui and I have plenty to catch up on from the last month where I’ve been absent, life taking over and leaving me little time for reviewing, but good to be back into at the moment.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Claire. Yes, books have been a wonderful source of solace and escapism for me in recent months!

      The meandering journey, what a lovely way of putting it – that’s it exactly. I knew I would struggle with the idea of a set reading list, it just felt too restrictive for me personally although I realise this approach may well appeal to others. (I often wonder how I ever managed to stick to reading the IFFP longlist when I started blogging last year!)

      Your pile of translated fiction sounds like a good idea, something to dip into every now and again. You read such a diverse range of books, Claire. Nice to see the return of reviews of your blog too, you’ve been busy this week!

      Reply
  19. roughghosts

    I will have to try some modified version of this one day. I may need to be sentenced to solitary confinement with no access to book blogs, publisher’s sites, reading material that promotes or reviews books, etc. Not sure it would help. I was once bedridden for six weeks and found that the last thing I wanted to do was read because that was about all I could do. At least now I would be able to browse and order or download books if I was in the same situation. Which wouldn’t solve the problem! No, it’s useless. At least I can congratulate myself for dragging two huge shopping bags packed with books to donate to an upcoming charity sale yesterday!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Haha, solitary confinement with one’s TBR may be the only sure-fire way of cracking this thing! I’ve read some terrific books as a result of bloggers’ and tweeters’ recommendations, books I probably would never have discovered otherwise…but my TBR has spiralled of control in recent years. Maybe 250 unread books isn’t too bad (at least I have plenty to choose from), but it still feels a bit on the high side. I’d feel better if it were closer to 120.

      Well done on the sizeable donations to charity sales! That’s a great thing to do every now and again…I ought to have another book cull at some point this year. :)

      Reply
  20. Kevin

    I’d love to read more books before I buy others but I’ve moved a couple of times and my book collection is split between two countries. Hopefully soon I can. Right now I’m going through some indie novels. I recently reviewed Crystal Deception, a nice sci-fi novel and I’m going to read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and other books I have on my Amazon account!

    Hopefully soon I’ll be able to join the TBR20 :)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Well, that does make things more difficult, especially if the book you really want to read next happens to be in your other home! That’s a nice mix of books you’ve been reading. I ought to read a few more sci-fi novels – maybe I’ll include one in my next round of reading. Roadside Picnic is sitting on my post-TBR20 wishlist and I almost bought it the other week. Next time.

      You’ll have a ball with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Enjoy!

      Reply
  21. Kate

    Well done for finishing, Jacqui! I think you made the right decision in picking and choosing books based on your mood, I’d do that if I were to do it again. I’ve had to read a few ‘fun’ books in between #TBR20 ones! There are so many good books that get forgotten about.

    Hope you feel better soon.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Kate. And well done in getting to the halfway point in your TBR, that’s great going! That’s a good thought about reading a few ‘fun’ books or lighter reads in between the #TBR20 ones. It’s made me realise that I probably don’t have enough ‘escapism’ books on my shelves. Some cosy crime, the occasional bit of pulp fiction, a few more downright enjoyable novels like the Darcy O’Brien. Something to think about for the future.

      Reply
  22. erdeaka

    Good job, Jacqui! I’m sure doing, and finishing this #TBR20 is a bit exhausting… pleasurably exhausting, I mean :D. So, how about your rib crack? I hope you’ll get well soon :)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Ratih. It’s been fun, and I’ve read some fantastic books. The hardest thing has been keeping away from bookshops as I knew I would cave as soon as I stepped through the door!

      The rib is getting better, thanks. It’s just been a pain in more ways than one. :)

      Reply
  23. Bellezza

    I’ve been wondering about the finer details of this TBR20, and I’m glad you filled them in. I find myself reading too much of what I “ought” to be reading, for publishers who sent me books to review, or the IFFP Shadow Jury which disappointed me this year. It is time to take a stand as you have done. Perhaps when summer starts, a time of year I always consider my own as I’m free for those few months.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      It’s funny isn’t it. The whole idea of reading to a prescribed list just doesn’t appeal to me any more; it’s just too restrictive for where I want to take my reading in the foreseeable future. I admire you for reading the IFFP longlist earlier this year, but the time wasn’t right for me (and I doubt whether I will want to do it next year either). I know what you mean about ARCs from publishers, it must be hard to keep up. I’ve only accepted two or three this year as I don’t want to feel the pressure to read something just because it’s a review copy. My bookshelves contain more than enough books to keep me satisfied!

      It’s good to take some time out to think about these things. Good luck in taking a breather over summer. Oh, and I’m looking forward to your review of Alberto Moravia’s Contempt (I think you’ve been reading it with Richard, Scott and a few others?). I didn’t have it in my TBR, but I’ve read another Moravia instead: Agostino. An excellent novel!

      Reply
  24. bookbii

    Congratulations on completing your TBR Jacqui. It’s a great blog, I love your idea of 3 out 1 in as an alternative to the TBR20. I may do another TBR soon, got to stop myself buying and undoing all those months of self-denial!

    Sorry to hear about the cracked rib. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Belinda. The 3:1 approach is worth considering, isn’t it? Especially if another twenty feels too steep. I think I read an average of 5 or 6 books per month, so that’d work out at around two new purchases each month. I could live with that for a while!

      The rib is getting better, thanks. Still rather painful at night as the fracture is right on the side, but I’m fine during the day now.

      Reply
      1. realthog

        Still rather painful at night as the fracture is right on the side

        A doctor gave me this tip: Put a pillow in the bed, parallel to you, and lie half on it so that you’re at an angle of 45 degrees (sort of). I’ve found it really helpful.

        Reply
  25. Gemma

    Sorry to hear about your rib Jacqui, hope you feel better soon :)
    This was a really interesting post. I haven’t taken part in TBR20, but I love the idea of valuing the books we own instead.
    I’ve got A Month in the Country ready to read this summer too!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Gemma. It’s improving, definitely!

      I do want to maintain the spirit of valuing the books I already own. The same goes for other goods: clothes, shoes, CDs…many things. It can be tempting to go chasing after something new rather than appreciating the things we already have. I know I’ve fallen into that trap in the past.

      A Month in the Country sounds absolutely lovely, doesn’t it? I’m really looking forward to it.

      Reply
  26. Pingback: I’ve Been Missing Japanese Literature So Much of Late…Coming Soon: Japanese Literature Challenge 9 | Dolce Bellezza

  27. Max Cairnduff

    The rib sounds horrid, glad to hear it’s improving.

    I’ve tried to structure my own 20 so as to take account of the need for variety, but if I had a patch off work or whatever I can see I might need to adapt it. I think that’s ok though, one has to be a bit flexible in life (ribs permitting).

    There clearly is a danger though that when you finish you burst like a dam and buy half of Foyles. Something I’ll have to watch for.

    A purchase of A Month in the Country is never unwise or unwarranted.

    Three out one in sounds good actually, even two out one in. Anything which directs you back to those you have a bit, which after all each excited you when you bought them as everything on my TBR once excited me. The new thing is shiny, but so was the old thing and the new thing will all too quickly become another old thing, or something.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Max. The rib thing has been a bit crap to be honest, but at least I know what the problem is now and things are definitely improving.

      You’ve got a great mix in your twenty, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about them as you work your way through the selection. I hope you enjoy the Adler (I think you will), but I’ll be fascinated to hear either way. And you’re right, we have to be a bit flexible when life throws us a curve ball. Better to make a couple tweaks than ending up struggling with something just because the time isn’t right.

      Haha! Guilty as charged, I have well and truly run amok in one or two bookshops. Oh well, at least I didn’t end up buying twenty; that would have been a desperate state of affairs. Glad you approve of A Month in the Country (you might have had something to do with that!).

      The three or two out, one in approach is something to think about, isn’t it? I think it would average out at a couple of purchases a month, which sounds fine to me, and it might prevent a repeat of the splurge behaviour I succumbed to during April. You’re so right…there are some great books in my TBR, and I need to remember that. It sounds as if you’ve got some wonderful books to look forward to as well.

      Reply
  28. Pingback: Panic, and a #TBR20 : Goodbye to All This

  29. litlove

    I am so sorry to hear about your rib – ouch! i remember how painful Mr Litlove’s were when he fell off his bike and merely bruised them. I do hope you are starting to feel a bit better; these things are a worry and a drag when they go on for a long time.

    Funnily enough, although Shiny New Books has given me so much contemporary fiction and non-fiction that I scarcely get to my shelves these days, it has also kept me out of bookshops. I seem to know everything that’s in them, and without the chance of lovely surprises, they don’t hold so much appeal. I can’t quite decide how I feel about this! I do have a lot of books on my shelves that I DO need to read, though, so I must find a way to get a better balance.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Many thanks, Victoria. It is getting better – still a little awkward at night, but the fracture is healing (albeit rather slowly!). I had completely forgotten about Mr LitLove’s rib incident – well, I know exactly how he must have felt at the time! I do hope he’s back to full fitness again.

      Isn’t that interesting?! Even though I have a reasonable idea of the latest releases I’m likely to see in store, my favourite bookshops never fail to surprise me with something interesting or different to the norm. It’s the staff picks in Foyles, and those carefully curated themed tables you tend to see in the best bookshops…they’re full of temptation for me! I think it is all about finding the right balance and an approach that works for you personally.

      Reply
  30. 1streading

    As you know, I didn’t quite make it first time round, but I agree with many of your reflections, particularly regarding the excitement of discovering a neglected purchase just as good as any new book. My biggest problem, especially as I don’t buy many of my books new, is being tempted by a bargain! However, I’m thinking of having another go…

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, but you were so close, and the only thing that stopped you from reaching twenty was a pressing need to acquire the books for your IFFP reading! That’s entirely understandable.

      Those secondhand bargains can be very hard to resist. Luckily (from a TBR20 perspective), the charity shops around here tend to be full of the latest releases and translated lit or other gems are few and far between. London, on the other hand, that’s where I come up against far much temptation for my own good!

      I still can’t decide whether to start another TBR20 or to go down the 3:1 route. I went a bit wild towards the end of April, and all my best intentions of keeping to six purchases just flew out of the window. Still, I haven’t bought anything for a few weeks, so I’m officially reading book three at the moment (and that’s only counting the ones I tend to write about). Let me know if you start another round of twenty – who knows, I might still be on the wagon at that stage!

      Reply
  31. The Little Reader Library

    I loved reading your thoughts in reflection on this challenge Jacqui, and very well done on completing it, brilliant! It’s so nice to see your new book purchases too. I have done a similar challenge, and still am trying to read mainly tbr books this year really too, and that coupled with a good cull of my tbr pile, removing books I realised I no longer was excited about reading, and that I could get from the library or buy again one day if I changed my mind, has meant that I have less on my tbr now, and am more excited both about reading the older books and then being able to buy some new ones!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Lindsay. I do feel as if I’ve knocked a few books off the pile even if I did go a bit wild in April! It sounds as if you’re making great progress with yours too. Good idea to have to have a cull to weed out any books you no longer feel the urge to read or own. (I ought to have another sort out later in the year.) Anything that reignites our excitement to read a few of our ‘older’ books has got to be a good thing. Hope you enjoy the books you’ve saved.

      Reply
  32. Pingback: #TBR20: dealing with the To Be Read backlog - Tredynas Days

    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Good spot. Well, I’m having another go, mainly because the number of unread books in the heap has multiplied fairly recently. This time, it’s more a case of trying to read some of the books that have sitting in the TBR for the last year and a half or longer. I’m also trying to cut back on new purchases, but it’s very hard to resist everything!

      Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          I’m picking the books as I go along. It’s probably the only way it would work for me as so much of my reading is driven by my mood at the time. It’s hard to stick to a set list, so I can sympathise with your concerns…

          Reply

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