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My #TBR20 or ma PAL20

In French, a TBR is a PAL, une Pile A Lire.

Like most book lovers, my PAL is high. Too high. I keep thinking I should read the books I own before buying any others. The truth is my PAL is a comfort friend. I love to have shelves of unread books at home, just for the pleasure of browsing through them and having the choice to pick a book that suits my mood. So I buy books on impulse, sure that even if I don’t have time to read them right now, they’ll sit on the shelf and be a comforting possibility. This habit is ingrained and totally unnecessary at the era of e-readers. After all, I can download any book I want to read, provided it is available in an e-version.

I’ve seen the hashtag #TBR20 and followed Jacqui’s journey through part of her TBR. I thought the idea was intriguing and that I ought do it too. I was sitting on the fence until Max’s post here convinced me to participate. I’ve tried book buying bans and self-control and now I’m trying the TBR-watcher approach. I don’t know in which order I’ll read them and it will probably take me four to five months to finish them, but, voilà, here are the happy books nominated to my first #TBR20 experiment:



TBR20_3Sometimes it’s not easy to read the covers, so here are the titles:

  1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.
  2. L’outlaw by Georges Simenon
  3. Lune captive dans un œil mort by Pascal Garnier (Moon in a Dead Eye)
  4. Piazza Bucarest by Jens Christian Grøndahl
  5. U.V. by Serge Joncour
  6. Etoile errante by J.M.G. Le Clézio (Wandering Star)
  7. Heureux les heureux by Yasmina Reza (Happy are the Happy)
  8. Petit traité des privilèges de l’homme mûr by Flemming Jensen
  9. N. by Gyula Krúdy
  10. Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien
  11. Le chagrin entre les fils by Tony Hillerman (The Shape Shifter)
  12. I married a communist by Philip Roth
  13. Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes
  14. Fugitives by Alice Munro (Runaway)
  15. Vienna tales (Various authors)
  16. This Should Be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle
  17. The Romance of a Shop by Amy Levy
  18. Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski
  19. Still Life by Louise Penny
  20. Etre sans destin by Imre Kertesz (Fateless)

Since I’ve finished The Sisters Brothers since I drafted the list, I’ll add Continental Drift by Russell Banks. It’s been sitting on the shelf for ages…

So let’s see how well I do this time. Please let me know if you’ve read some of these books or if you’re interested in reading one along with me.


  1. May 12, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    And WordPress just informed me it’s my 500th post on this blog! It’s a nice way to celebrate this milestone.


  2. May 12, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Bonne anniversaire!
    I have read Fateless and Wandering Star: I loved Wandering Star and was sobered by Fateless. I also have The Sisters Brothers on my TBR, I think I may have bought it after reading a review on Kevin from Canada’s blog.
    I could join you in reading that one, but not until after I get back from overseas i.e. some time after July.


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      I remember reading your review of Fateless.
      I’ve finished The Sisters Brothers, sorry.


  3. May 12, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    I enjoyed The Sisters Brothers – it was one of my very first blog posts! I wondered if This Should Be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle would be on the IFFP longlist this year but it wasn’t to be….


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      I enjoyed The Sisters Brothers too.
      I’m curious about the Helle Helle.


  4. May 13, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Well you know I loved Fun & Games…
    What’s the English title for the Garnier?

    I tried the Sisters Brothers and couldn’t get into it, so it’s abandoned. How long have you got to read this lot?

    I’ve been thinking about joining in on this since I have so many unread books. When are you planning on reading Still Life?


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      I think I should rename this #TBR20 and call it #TBRGuy. Several books joined the pile after one of your reviews.
      I don’t know how long it will take me. I’m also reading the books for my Book Club (Machine Man by Max Barry at the moment) and I wanted to reread La Chartreuse de Parme.

      I don’t know yet when I’ll read Still Life. I thought you’d read that one. If it wasn’t you, then it’s Caroline.


      • May 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm

        No I haven’t read Still Life so I can join you in a readalong when you’re ready. That would make one out of my TBR room.


        • May 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm

          I don’t know yet when I’ll get to it. Is it fine with you?
          Haha, you have a TBR ROOM where I barely have SHELVES. You know how to make me feel better about the number of unread books I have.


          • May 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm

            Just give me a heads up a few weeks before you think you might get to Still Life and I’ll join you.


  5. May 13, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I need to join in too! Well done on your resolve. I hope you will like Louise Penny as much as I do! I was also really fond of Vienna Tales, but am not sure if that’s just my childhood nostalgia speaking. Piazza Bucarest I’ve read and found utteryly forgettable. The Pascal Garnier is one I haven’t read (but it’s Jacqui’s favourite, so I mean to read it at some point). And I’ve been meaning to try more of Le Clezio at some point.


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      I hope I’ll like the Penny too. I have it in English. After chatting with her publisher at Quai du Polar, I wished I had it in French translation, just for the pleasure to read it in Quebec-French.
      I wanted to read something by a Danish writer when I picked Piazza Bucarest. It seemed nice. We’ll see what I think of it in the end.
      I’ve heard this Garnier is good. In any case, it’s short, so I’m not taking a huge risk.

      I know that Etoile errante is excellent. It’s been sitting on the shelf because I’m always reluctant to pick a book about WWII.


  6. May 13, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I’ve not read any of these but I too have Still Life on my TBR. I loved the other Penny novels I’ve read so far so hoping this will be just as good. I know its stupid but I seem to be saving it up for a rainy day…


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      It’s not stupid, I do that too. That’s why I have a couple of unread Garys or why I have a book by “comfort” writers on the shelf.


  7. May 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Congratulations on your 500th post! I really hope the #TBR20 idea works for you, and well done on selecting and sharing your twenty books. I ducked when it came to picking my twenty in advance and decided to go down the pick-as-you-go-along route instead.

    You have an enticing selection of books there. Marina is quite right, I loved Moon in a Dead Eye. It’s my favourite of the Garnier novels I’ve read so far, so I’ll be interested to hear how you find it.

    The Helle Helle is a curious one. I wasn’t sure about it at first but something about the protagonist’s story crept up on me and got under my skin. The style, however, feels quite divisive, so it could go one way or the other…I’ll be fascinated to hear how you get on (or not) with it.

    I have Vienna Tales (hurrah!), so I could join you for that one, although it may depend on when you’re thinking of reading it. Just let me know…hopefully the timing will work out.

    Wishing you all the best with your #TBR20. I’m thinking of putting together a short post with a few reflections on my experience (if I can find the time).


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      I hesitated to pick the books in advance but decided to do it in the end. At least, I didn’t pick them as inventory, First In, First Out. 🙂
      I’ll probably like the Garnier and I’m curious to see my response to the Helle Helle.
      I’ll read Vienna Tales in August, I think.

      That would be great to have your feedback of your first TBR20 experience.


      • May 15, 2015 at 12:47 pm

        August should be good for me, so I’ll join you for Vienna Tales. I’d planned to read it in the summer so that will work nicely. Thanks for your speedy comments on my #TBR20 reflections post – I should be calling it #PAL20 here – you have some great books to look forward to!


        • May 15, 2015 at 8:58 pm

          That’s great news, Jacqui. So, August it is for Vienna Tales.


          • May 16, 2015 at 10:25 am

            Lovely, it will be a pleasure to read along with you again. 🙂


            • May 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

              Perfect, it will be a pleasure.


  8. May 13, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Wonderful post, Emma! You seem to be living the ‘Tsundoku’ life (‘Tsundoku’ in Japanese means ‘buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves, floors or nightstands’ ) 🙂 I love the French version of ‘TBR’, ‘PAL’. You have some wonderful authors in your PAL – Simenon, Garnier, Clezio, Reza, Alice Munro – so wonderful. I remember Marina Sofia reviewing ‘Vienna Tales’ during German Literature Month last year.

    Happy reading the books in your PAL! I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on them.


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      These Japanese have words for everything. After the various names of translations, this one! I love it!
      I’m excited about all the writers I have on the TBR, I just need to slow my book buying and read what I already have. The TBR got out of control after I started blogging and reading wonderful book blogs full of tempting reading ideas.


      • May 15, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        My favourite book-ish words now are PAL and Tsundoku 🙂 The Japanese have words for everything, don’t they 🙂


  9. May 13, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    I was hoping the Garnier was one I hadn’t read…


    • May 14, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      I bought it after you reviewed it…


      • May 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm

        My favourite Garnier so far. I have three others here unread.


        • May 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

          That’s why it’s on the TBR.


  10. May 18, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Congrats on no. 500!

    I like spectating the various TBR20’s rather than committing to join them. You’ve picked an interesting list: I’ve read hardly any of those.


    • May 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      If I gave you new reading ideas, then I’m happy!


  11. May 22, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Congrats on 500! Most of those I don’t know, though I’ll be interested to see your review of The Sisters Brothers (noting that you’ve already finished it).

    Don’t do as I did though. I’ve started with the Proust and three weeks on I’m still deep in it, still part-way through number 1 of my #TBR20. Makes it much harder than it needs to be as I’ve nothing under my belt.

    Why that particular Roth?

    Anyway, looking forward to the Reza, the Le Clézio, definitely the Krudy. Penny I don’t know at all.

    Oh, I blew up every photo and peered at it for the titles, then scrolled down and saw you’d listed them. Sometimes one really should scan the post before diving in…


    • May 24, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Max.

      I didn’t do as you did with the Proust, I did worse. Instead of reading one of the #TBR20 books, I’m currently reading Machine Man for May’s Book Club and a trip to Lake Como made me reread La Chartreuse de Parme.
      There’s no timeline, though. The longest it takes, the longest I have to refrain from buying books. I suspect the book diet will be a torture but absolutely necessary.

      Why that Roth? Because I’ve always wondered how it felt to be married to a militant or have parents who are in a political movement. Communism was such a powerful political movement once. It makes me curious. And Roth is a sure bet for me.

      Sorry you missed the list, I thought it would be helpful.


  12. May 27, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Je suis très en retard dans mes lectures et posts mais je veux bien tenter une lecture commune du Krudy cet été!


  1. May 15, 2015 at 8:31 am
  2. May 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm
  3. January 4, 2016 at 10:00 pm

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