2012: The TBR Double Dare

December 1st, 2011

Two years ago I posted this list of 21 books I owned but hadn’t yet read and wanted to read. Since that post, I’ve read eight of those books: just over a third of them. Which makes me think that perhaps list-based reading doesn’t work so well for me. I’ve read a fair amount of books this year, but not a lot of them have been books I own: I have what you might call a library habit. And I think, overall, my library habit is a good thing: it’s a pleasant 15 minute walk from where I live to the library I go to, and I like browsing the shelves and discovering new-to-me books and authors, and I like letting one book lead me to another, and I like putting holds on books I have a sudden interest in, and I like being reminded of other books I’ve forgotten about (like, recently, seeing the newest book by Charles Finch reminded me that I wanted to read more of his earlier books).

But at the same time, why do I own all these lovely books that I really do want to read if I’m not actually reading them?

So: this is where C.B. James’s TBR Double Dare comes in. It’s nice and simple: no lists or planning are required. From January 1st to April 1st (or however long they want, or however long their willpower lasts) participants read only books from their “To Be Read” piles/shelves. That’s it. Exceptions are allowed as needed, and library books that you’ve already checked out or placed holds on before 2012 begins are fine.

I’m taking the challenge, but I’m taking the “TBR” part of it somewhat loosely: I’m going to try (!), from January 1 to April 1, only to read books I already own. I’m going to focus on books I haven’t read yet, but if the urge to re-read something strikes me, I will. And I’m not making a list, though I do have a couple of books in mind (Cloud Atlas, for example, is sitting very appealingly on the shelf. Also Nox, which I am sort of appalled that I haven’t read yet, and ditto At Home and The Hare with Amber Eyes.)

In the meantime I have a small stack of library books checked out: I’m currently in the midst of Renaud Camus’s Tricks, which I’m needing to pace myself with (if I read too fast it becomes sort of a blur of cocks, but more on that once I finish it). I also have two of Charles Finch’s mysteries checked out (The September Society and The Fleet Street Murders), and one of those really attractive Melville House novellas (The Duel by Giacomo Casanova) and also Kristen Kaschock’s novel, Sleight, which the blurb describes as being about two sisters trained in “an interdisciplinary art form that combines elements of dance, architecture, acrobatics, and spoken word,” and which I’m hoping is as awesome as it sounds. I also have holds on a YA book (The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, which also has a totally great premise: it’s 1996 and two teenagers log on to AOL and somehow end up Facebook, looking at themselves, 15 years in the future) and a picture book (Snow by Uri Shulevitz). I might feel compelled to place holds on a few more books before the year is out (like more by Charles Finch, if I have fun with the two I have, and also one of Emily Gravett’s picture books that I don’t want to wait to April to read). But once 2012 hits, I’ll plan to turn to my own shelves. We’ll see how it goes.

4 Responses to “2012: The TBR Double Dare”

  1. Teresa Says:

    Hooray for the TBR Dare. I really enjoyed it last year. At the very least, it made me think twice about any trip to the library when I have good books at home.

    And do read Nox. It doesn’t take long. I read the whole thing in less than a hour, but then went back over the next couple of evening and spent more time browsing through it and taking it all in. A magnificent piece of literature.

  2. Heather Says:

    Teresa, yay, the more I think about the TBR Dare the more I find myself getting excited about it as I look at my bookshelves.

    I think I do more reading on the train than at home, at least during the work-week, which is maybe part of why I haven’t read Nox yet. But I am taking some vacation days later this month, which, depending on the weather/my mood, could be very conducive to some cozy staying-at-home-with-a-book time. Mmm.

  3. Stefanie Says:

    Good luck with the dare. Every year I say I’m going to read more from my shevles but never seem to manage it. Though this year I did buy fewer books and used the library more so at least there weren’t gobs of new books added to my shelves.

  4. Heather Says:

    Stefanie, thanks. Reading more from my shelves has been a long-standing but not-really-achieved goal for me, too!

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