15 January 2015

Final 2015 TBR Pile Challenge List

Adam over at Roofbeam Reader hosts the yearly TBR Challenge.  Rules and more information can be found over here.  I signed up for it last year and epically failed.  I think I abandoned all hope of finishing in, like, February.  I want to try to do it again.  I think I was a bit too ambitious when I created my list.  I chose some truly mammoth and difficult books to read!  Initially, I was going to split it up and choose four classics, four non-fiction, and four easier fiction.  Then I got a better idea.  I feel like I missed out on some truly great or at least truly important books in high school for reasons.  Such as I was an imbecile.  So I'm going to throw some of those onto the list and also add a few that I just can't believe I haven't read.

1.  1984 by George Orwell  This was on the reading list in, I think, the 10th grade.  Why didn't I read it?  I think something was off-putting at the beginning and I just kind of let it go.  Sci-fi and dytopian stories really aren't my thing.  But it's totally one of those books that you're just supposed to read.  I know--there aren't any books that we're "supposed" to read, but I think it's required reading nonetheless.  So many references are made to it in our culture.  It's time.

2.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn  I remember starting this one in high school for class, but I really cannot recall why I stopped reading it.  Aside from Puritans being total buzzkills about...well, everything...with their making sure that nobody anywhere at any time has any fun for any reason and if they do appear to derive even a modicum of pleasure out of anything, then they must know immediately that they are going straight to hell, I think I would like this book.  Or parts of it.  Like the forbidden love part and the living outside of society part.  I don't think I can go through that door description again.

3.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou  This book was from the 11th grade.  I do remember why I stopped reading this one, but I don't want to talk about it.  I did get busted for reading the Sparknotes during class discussion and the teacher told my mom during parent conferences and my mom and I had a come to Jesus meeting about it.  I was supposed to read the book after that talk with my mom, but didn't.  So I'm gonna go ahead and get on that one.  Plus I've heard that her storytelling capabilities are just amazing.

4.  The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers  I've started this novel a couple of times.  I truly love McCullers's descriptive sentences.  She does an amazing job of creating a time and a place and her characters come to life.  I can't remember the last time I attempted to read this one, yet I still find myself wanting to hug Mick Kelly and tell her it will be OK for unknown reasons.

5.  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison  I've never read anything by Toni Morrison.  I can't believe it.  So I'm going to amend this this year by reading this novel.  I started it a couple of days ago (totally legit because it's after 2015!) and really do like it.  Once I have a bit more funds, I would like to purchase a physical copy because I think it's one I just need to completely mark up.  (Ooh!  I have a 20% off coupon that I should use to buy this!)

6.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville  I am reading this damn book this year, come hell or high water.  Seriously.  This has been my white whale for such a ridiculously long time.  I bought the shirt from Out of Print Clothing and I won't let myself wear it until I finish.  So it's just hanging in my closet, with the tags still on, judging me.  This is happening.  If nothing else, this is what I want to happen this year.  (OK, that's not true; there are a lot of things I want to have happen this year, but I really want this to happen in addition to other wonderful things happening)

7.  The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas  I am a francophile, but I've hardly read any French lit.  I'm going to try to change this.  I've heard that this is a pretty plotty book and is on the easy-ish side.  Plus Milady de Winter is supposed to be pretty badass.  Chris O'Donnell is pretty foxy, so I can rewatch the movie after reading this one.

8.  Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray  This one has always been such a turnoff because Becky seems kind of like a bitch, but I have to admire how she makes her way in the world (not necessarily her methods, but the fact that she makes her own way).  I think this one will be a good personal challenge.

9.  Light in August by William Faulkner  Honestly, I own almost all of Faulkner's books, yet I've only read two of them.  This one is often talked about as a masterpiece, so I'm gonna go for it!  Technically, this is another one from high school, but it was a part of the elective summer reading.  I chose to read the war books (All Quiet on the Western Front, Catch-22, and The Things They Carried) instead of the Oprah Faulkner three-pack that came out that summer.  Frequently during the first couple of springlike days, I drop everything to reread As I Lay Dying (favorite memories from college are skipping class, throwing open the windows, and reading this).  I should probably branch out a bit.

10.  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson  I don't know a whole lot about the plot of this one, but I've heard wonderful things about Robinson's writing that I really want to just dive on in.  It's not terribly long, but I get the feeling that it is quite dense.

11.  John Adams by David McCullough  I've heard so many good things about McCullough and think it's a good time to finally pick up this meaty biography.  I don't know a whole lot about Adams, so this is probably a good opportunity for personal growth.

12.  Catherine the Great:  Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie  I don't know anything about Catherine, but she pops up quite a bit in conversations about strong women.  Let's do this.

1.  Emma by Jane Austen  I have always been reluctant to read this one because Emma seems like kind of an annoying busybody, but I keep hearing a lot of good things about this novel and I think it will be good for my patience.  So I'm going to try to push myself.  Plus I've only read one Austen novel and should really try to read more.

2.  Reading Lolita in Tehran by Agar Nafisi  I really admire what these women did.  I think that the ability to read what I want when I want is something that I take for granted.  I watched an NCIS last night about Afghan women who had to go into hiding because they didn't want to partake in an arranged marriage at 13 or they were beaten for kissing a boy and that really stuck with me.  So I think it would be good to read about women who risked it all to read what they want.

I know.  I said no reading lists this year.  Can we say that this is focusing my reading a bit?  :)


  1. Good luck! You've got some books I want to read on your list. I think I have the Moby Dick tee you're talking about which I won after participating in read-along of the book. Moby-Dick is tough, but there's so much to it and I learned to appreciate its uniqueness.

  2. Your list is fantastic! 1984 is a personal favorite, and Light in August is my favorite Faulkner. You've picked a lot of chunksters...Vanity Fair is good and Moby-Dick is brilliant but tough (as you know). Good luck!

  3. I LOVE "Gilead! I highly recommend reading it slowly. It's a slow-paced book, just beautifully written and should be savored. I'd love to get to several of your other books this year myself. You know, we could always pretend we were going to read them together! Or you could just text me one day and say "I'm starting this book" and maybe it would work for me and we could finally succeed at a readalong.