TBR Challenge

Social distancing seems like the perfect time for a TBR Challenge. My TBR pile teeters at twenty four books. That doesn’t include the interesting looking ones that I snaffled from the teens’ shelves or any of the review copies that I have pending. Would you care to join me in reducing your own TBR pile in a #TBRChallenge?

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What is a TBR CHALLENGE?

First things first … What is a TBR pile? It is the pile of books that still have To Be Read. Every book lover has one. You know how it is, books call out to you. Those book exchanges at Railway Stations, it would be cruel to leave an unloved book there. My birthday wishlist is always stocked with books. Every year the TBR pile gets bigger. Now is the time to make the pile slightly less mountainous.

Here are the twenty four books in my TBR Challenge. I haven’t gone for a plot synopsis but rather how they came to be on my TBR pile.

THE TALES OF THE BEEDLE BARD by J K Rowling

I spied this in the station book exchange in 2009 when we were in peak Harry Potter. It sits unread by any of us 11 years later, a slim volume that looks as if it could be consumed in a longish coffee break.

THE GUEST CAT by Takashi Hiraide

Father Christmas bought this for Mr CW based entirely on the fact that it features a cat and has an enticing cover. Mr CW enjoyed it and it came to live on my TBR pile. Every time I pick it up it gets put down again as I fear it is a cat snuff book. Mr CW assures me that it is a good book but refuses to allay my fears that the cat dies and so it has remained unread.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY by Shelia Burnford

My parents had a cat before I was born and they named it Bodger after the Bull Terrier in The Incredible Journey (I know, I know). When I was born my grandmother decided that Bodger was a danger to me and took the cat away up to Yorkshire. When I saw a copy in the Beehive bookshop in Norwich I had to buy it but it remains unread.

A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWELVE MAPS by Jerry Brotton

My brother gave this to me for Christmas and it is the kind of book that I inhale. Maps and history, what’s not to like. Unfortunately the print is extraordinarily small and I was given the book at the stage in my life where I needed glasses but was refusing to admit it. Now that I am on my second pair of varifocals I have absolutely no excuse.

THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN BY Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Third in a series of which I have read and loved book one and four, I saw this at Scout jumble sale. Mr CW is a stickler for reading series in the correct order but I quite like to fill in holes.

ANDERBY WOLD and SOUTH RIDING by Winifred Holtby

Part of three set from the late lamented Book People. Ever since I read Testament of Youth by Vera Brittan I wanted to read the work of Winifred Holtby but back in the pre-internet days finding her books was tricky. As soon as the trio arrived I read The Land of Green Ginger but Anderby Wold and South Riding got buried in the pile.

THE TATOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris

Another 20p well spent at the Scout Jumble sale. Just a side note, jumble sales are a really good way to raise funds for your Scout, Guide or School. Stuff gets recycled and money gets raised for a good cause. All round win.

THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton

When ever I travel my luggage always contains enough books to see me through. Even so the airport bookshops always lure me (all bookshops lure me). How could I resist the Seven Deaths … on the day after it appeared in paperback whilst we were on our way to Venabu?

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo also appeared the day before we flew to Oslo and joined Seven Deaths in my hand luggage.

THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro

Hands up there was a three for two offer on at the Heathrow Waterstones and it would have been rude to have left the Buried Giant unbought when I was purchasing the other two.

HOW TO MEASURE A COW by Margaret Forster

This was a birthday present from Mr CW chosen, I suspect, on the same lines that Father Christmas selected A Guest Cat.

REMARKABLE CREATURES by Tracey Chevalier

My mother picked this up from the book swap table at TWIG (The Women’s Interest Group (men allowed) a break away group from the Women’s Institute). She enjoyed it and passed it on to me.

A WHOLE LIFE by Robert Seethaler

Another present from Father Christmas to Mr CW. This time the purchase was inspired by how much I had liked The Tobacconist by the same author. Mr CW enjoyed A Whole Life and recommended that I read it.

REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE by Julian of Norwich

Mother Julian of Norwich was a fifteenth century anchorite who had visions and wrote about them in Revelations of Divine Love. My grandmother was a devotee of Mother Julian and her mantra All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Given that she wrote at a time of plague maybe this is the book that we should all be reading now!

MY NAME IS LEON by Kit de Waal

Bought on impulse solely because Curly Wurlies were mentioned in the blurb on the back cover. Also the cover has some nice pea like vines on it.

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE by Sinclair Lewis

On one wet visit to Southwold we strayed off the beach and into Southwold Books. I can’t remember what I chose but Teen Two selected It Can’t Happen Here, a 1935 satirical novel about a demagogue elected as President of the United States after fermenting fear and promising radical economic reform. He enjoyed it so much that he recommended I read it.

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by Elena Ferrante

Another find from the station book swap at the time when everybody seemed to be reading this. What has put me off picking it up is that you never see books two and three on book swap shelves. Did you read it? Was it worth it?

QUEEN BEES by Siân Evans

This look at six society hostesses active between the wars was a birthday present from my brother. It promises not just to be a catalogue of long gone parties but of the influence that the women wielded.

NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney

Everybody seems to have read Normal People. I even have a hardback edition. There is no excuse except for the fact that I was late to the party and then decided to stay away. Then because it was a hardback it didn’t fit into my handbag. Now I have no excuse because the party is due to start again as a TV series is in the offing.

YOUNG REMBRANDT by Onno Bloom

This was given to me by as part of a press trip to Leiden to see the Young Rembrandt exhibition at the Lakenhal Museum. Given that I loved both Leiden and the exhibition I expect to enjoy reading about Rembrandt’s Leiden years.

THE NEW SILK ROADS by Peter Frankopan

The Teens gave this to me for Christmas, it chimes with our mutual interest in history, geography, politics and economics. The blurb promises to follow the Silk Roads east and look at the inter-connectness of the world and the way that power shifts around the globe over time.

THE SHORTEST HISTORY OF EUROPE by John Hirst

Yet another Christmas present from the Teens. We all enjoyed The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes and with a similar title and Brexit looming this looks both timely and interesting.

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

Another book that I am late to party on and yet another one picked up for 20p at the Scout jumble sale.

SHIPS OF HEAVEN: THE PRIVATE LIFE OF BRITAIN’S CATHEDRALS by Christopher Somerville

Christmas present from my brother this time. As children we visited Cathedrals, one of my very early ambitions was to visit all of the Cathedrals. My grandmother took me on a road trip to see York and Beverley Minsters plus Ripon Cathedral. Given that my world view consisted of Norfolk and the North Riding of Yorkshire that took in all that were nearby. Lincoln glimmered distantly visible from the A17 as we drove back home to Norfolk. I’m still on my mission to visit them all, but my world has got larger and the task bigger.

Will you join me in reading your way either through your own or my TBR pile. Share your progress on Twitter or Instagram with #TBRChallenge, if you tag me (@CulturalWed twitter or @culturalwednesday Instagram) then I will share your posts. Happy Reading.

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