Archive for January 4, 2016

#TBR20 or #PAL20: what now?

January 4, 2016 42 comments

On May 12th, 2015, I started my own #TBR20 challenge or in French my #PAL challenge. As I mentioned it in previous post, I completed it by the end of December. I read the following books:

  1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
  2. Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes (abandoned)
  3. Lune captive dans un œil mort by Pascal Garnier
  4. U.V. by Serge Joncour
  5. Petit traité des privilèges de l’homme mûr by Flemming Jensen
  6. Piazza Bucarest by Jens Christian Grøndahl
  7. This Should Be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle (abandoned)
  8. Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski
  9. Still Life by Louise Penny
  10. I Married a Communist by Philip Roth
  11. N.N. by Gyula Krudy
  12. Happy Are the Happy by Yasmina Reza
  13. Vienna Tales (Collection of short stories by various authors)
  14. Fateless by Imre Kertész
  15. Runaway by Alice Munro
  16. L’outlaw by Georges Simenon
  17. Continental Drift by Russel Banks (abandoned)
  18. Wandering Star by J-M. G. Le Clézio
  19. The Romance of a Shop by Amy Levy
  20. Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien

I abandoned three of them because I couldn’t find enough interest in them. Some were truly outstanding and made it to my Best of the Year Reads. I’m not going to calculate statistics about the % of female writers, of 5 star books or of French writers. KPIs are for my working life, not my blogging life. Suffice to say that all in all, it was a good selection of books, novels and short stories and from different countries. I’m glad I finished it in 2015.

What do I get out of it and how do I feel about the whole challenge?

I’m happy that my TBR decreased a bit (still 180 books to go…) and I think it was good to focus on reading what I already owned. The difficulty came from defining the list of books in advance. I had put them on a special shelf and even if I had not set a special order for them, I felt a bit prisoner of that selection. Well, I fell off the wagon twice to read Australian novels set in Perth before our Australian guest arrived, so I had a good reason. But sometimes I wanted to read something else but I stuck with the list otherwise I knew I wouldn’t make it.

The other difficulty was to refrain from buying books. This asked a lot of effort. I joked about it in previous posts as well, saying that I bought books as gifts and got some new bookish accessories. Anything to justify my presence in book stores and spend time browsing books. I feel like I’ve been on a low carb diet for months and now all I want to do is get pizzas, lasagna or risotto. In other words, I’m starved from book buying, I’m in withdrawal and I’m ready for a book buying binge. Not so good.

So, what now? I treated myself with a literary day on January 2nd. I visited four book stores, got myself three books. I found some Hemingway tea and I went to the cinema to see the adaptation of The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe. (It’s a French film directed by Michel Leclerc, starring Jean-Pierre Bacri as Mr Sim. It’s a brilliant adaptation of the novel.)


I’ve been reasonable. Agostino is January’s Book Club selection, the Keats is because I’m reading his Letters to Fanny Brawne and I didn’t even know his poetry. I was delighted to find a bilingual edition. And the Craig Johnson is pure lust for the second volume of the Longmire series.

But I don’t want my TBR to regain the weight it has lost. 2016 needs a new reading diet.

I want to continue on the #TBR20 trend but I want to do it differently. I read about a book per week, meaning that I already own 3.5 years of reading, so the TBR won’t vanish overnight. So, four books per month is my reading capacity at the moment. One book comes from my Book Club selection. Two will come from the shelves. And the last one is a free read. Either it will come from the shelves or it won’t.

And I’m not going to pick the books in advance this time. I have a new shelf of the books I’d like to read this year but I may not keep my word and read them in 2016. It will depend on my mood and I like it that way.

Last but not least, I’ll try to read the books I buy or the books I get as gifts within 6 months. This will probably fill in the fourth book of the month. I’ll try not to buy books if I think I won’t be able to read them within 6 months.

I hope that with these three new rules the 2016 #TBR20 – #PAL 20 project will seem lighter to pursue. I should decrease the TBR, moderate my book buying and still feel free to read what I want. We’ll see how it works for 2016.

Will you do a #TBR20 challenge this year too?

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