Reading Off the Shelf – April Results

Off the Shelf Challenge

I’m doing the Off The Shelf Challenge in which readers pledge to read a certain amount of books that they already owned before the beginning of the year. All in an attempt to reduce the number of unread books on their shelves.

I had a total of 31 unread books on my shelves before January 1st 2011. I pledged to read them all by the end of this year. In January I managed 11, 5 in February, and 3 in March, so the old-TBR (yes, I got “some” new books since), was 12 at the beginning of April.

Now, how did I do in April and what were the books like?

I decided to go for some of the oldest books on the shelf and gave some of them a 30 page chance to prove themselves to me. In the end, I did not finish 3 books. The text with each book is also the (only) review I will do of them. Tell me if you think I’m wrong for discarding them:

Further Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. This book was one of the oldest (June 2010) on my TBR pile. I really didn’t feel like reading it, so I told myself sternly to read the first 30 pages and then make up my mind. I tried to give it a fair chance, but decided to give up after those pages.

The book has a large number of characters, and most are silly rich city types, both of which I don’t like. The book moves from one character to the next, in very short chapters which I find confusing. And maybe in the eighties, when this book was published, it was great fun to read about gay people and drugs but I found it rather too obvious.

Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk. This had been on my TBR since a book swap in September. I wasn’t really attracted to the book, but others at the book swap praised the book as being fantastic and a must-read. Finally I picked it up. 30 pages was too much, though. I gave up after about 20. The problem? The book was an assault on my brain. There were descriptions of places, surroundings, thoughts, and not just one or two, they followed each other in rapid succession, sometimes resembling stream of consciousness.

Of course, I looked to see whether the rest of the book would be the same, and it looked like it would. So I gave up. The writing style doesn’t agree with me, unfortunately.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This is not a bad book at all. It’s dystopian, which I love. It’s also YA, which I sometimes like. And it’s an e-book, which has to be pretty good, or I’ll forget to read it. It’s not like a physical book that reminds you “Hey, read me!”.

So I had this book going for a few weeks and I got about half-way. Not a bad story, but I had enough of it. It’s the story about Marcus, who fights against the government’s actions to prevent terrorism, but at the same time restricting the freedom of the people.

Marcus makes clever use of internet and other technology but this turned into a bit of a tutorial on how these things work. His political stance was too often described in too much detail. I’m happy to have read half of the book, but I don’t need any more.

Then, I read a few books that I did finish (remember this is all from my old TBR, I read another 14 books that are not included in the TBR challenge):

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman.  4 stars. A literary read about a sanatorium in Finland in the 1920s.

Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann. 3 stars. About two German scientists in the 18th Century.

To summarize:

I scraped the barrel with some of these books: they had been on my shelf for a long time for a good reason. But one other book was really quite good (4 stars) and another was OK too (3 stars)

That’s 5 books off the old-TBR shelf and 7 left.

So, is the shelf getting a lot emptier then?

Well, I do get new books regularly. In March, I got new books at a speed higher than I could read them, but this month has been good – or should I say: I have been good?

There are now 23 books waiting for me (including the 7 from the old TBR). So, the net result since January (when I had 31) is minus 8, i.e., I have read 8 books more than that I got new in that period. So I’m reducing my TBR at the very slow rate of 2 books a month!

Aaahhhh!

How about you? How’s your TBR reading going?


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Reading Off the Shelf – March Results

Off the Shelf Challenge

I’m doing the Off The Shelf Challenge in which readers pledge to read a certain amount of books that they already owned before the beginning of the year. All in an attempt to reduce the number of unread books on their shelves.

I had a total of 31 unread books on my shelves before January 1st 2011. I pledged to read them all by the end of this year. In January I pledged to read just books from that list. I managed 11 in that month and 5 in February, so the old-TBR (yes, I got “some” new books since), was 15 at the beginning of March.

Now, how did I do in March and what were the books like?

I had a lot of reading that I had to do for all kinds of reasons, and I didn’t get a lot of time to read from my old-TBR shelf. I  managed just 3:

Gran Café Boulevard by Tomas Lieske (Dutch) 4.5 stars

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters by Barbara Silkstone (ebook) 3 stars

The Bostonians by Henry James 2 stars

To summarize:

Only one book I didn’t like and two I was quite happy with. So, I’m glad I finally read these books.

That’s 3 books off the old-TBR shelf and 12 left.

So, is the shelf getting a lot emptier then?

Erm, I did acquire a few new books during the month. They were ARCs, books I won, and one or two from the library: 18 new books this month. Besides the 3 books mentioned already I read another 10 that were from the new-TBR (acquired since January). So that makes 8 extra books on my post-2010 TBR (which was 30 books at the end of February). The total new TBR since January is 38. In theory. I don’t think that number is completely correct.  But hey, it’s a lot more than I can read in a few months!

How about you? How’s your TBR reading going?


Reading Off The Shelf – January Results

Off the Shelf ChallengeI’m doing the Off The Shelf Challenge in which readers pledge to read a certain amount of books that they already owned before the beginning of the year. All in an attempt to reduce the number of unread books on their shelves.

I had a total of 31 unread books on my shelves before January 1st 2011. I pledged to read them all by the end of this year.

But I also pledged to only read from those 31 books during January to make a good start on this challenge.

Now, did I succeed and what were the books like?

You’d think, those books that you constantly reject when choosing a book to read, those wall flowers, they can’t be any good. I must have had a month full of awful books.

Not so. Admittedly, they weren’t all brilliant, but it wasn’t bad. Let’s look at it in terms of how many stars I gave them:

5 stars (Very Good):

Oops, none!

4 or 4.5 stars (Good):

East is East by T. C. Boyle
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding
Kindred by Octivia E. Butler
Harvest by Tess Gerritsen
Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
Solace by Nicci French
De tranen der Acacia’s by W. F. Hermans (Dutch)

3 or 3.5 stars (It’s OK):

Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie (ebook)
Ballet Russes by Rosita Steenbeek (Dutch)

2.5 stars or fewer (Not Good):

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton
Life Sentence by David Ellis (DNF)

And reading now:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Tikkop by Adriaan van Dis (Dutch, ebook)

To summarize:

There weren’t any brilliant books, but most of the books I read were “good”. There were 2 books very disappointing and that is a higher number than in an average month. But actually, both these books were given to me. I would not have chosen them myself.

That’s 11 books off the shelf and 2 on the go. In addition I read one new ARC and I’m reading another one.

Didn’t I do well keeping to my challenge!

So, is the shelf getting a lot emptier then?

Erm, I did acquire a few new books during the month. They were ARCS, books I won, and books I borrowed from a friend. The total number of new books on my shelves is 12, one, an ARC, I read this month. So, that’s 31 old books, read 11, is 20 books. Plus 12 new books, read 1, is 31.

Isn’t that what I started with this month?!! Well, at least I don’t have any more books! In March, I will again read only from my shelves. Can I reduce the number? Will it ever happen?

How about you? Do you struggle to keep the number of unread books down? What’s your strategy?


Off the Shelf 2011 Challenge

Off the Shelf ChallengeBookish Ardour is hosting the Off The Shelf Challenge. That’s my sort of challenge! Have you seen the unread books on my shelf? I’ve got… 30+!

Ok, you don’t find that much, you’ve got way more? Well, I think books are for reading and these 30 keep me awake at night, wondering when I will be able to read them. Then I get new books from the library, from giveaways or for reviews, and all is forgotten.

That’s right, I’ll be reading the new books and forget about my old loves.

So, no more of that. Here is the list of books that I own, haven’t read yet, and will read in 2011:

1. East is East by T. C. Boyle (Read Jan. 20st)
2. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
3. More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (DNF, April 28th, 2011)
4. Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie (ebook) (read Jan 25th, 2011)
5. Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding (read Jan 7th, 2011)
6. The Bostonians by Henry James (Read in APril, 2011)
7. Little Brother by Cory Doctorov (e-book) (DNF)
8. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (read April 16th, 2011)
9. 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton (read Jan 9th, 2011)
10. Asylum by Partick McGrath (read)
11. Kindred by Octivia E. Butler (read Jan 4th, 2011)
12. We by Evgeni Zamiatin (e-book)
13. What To Do If Someone Dies by Nicci French (read October 22, 2011)
14. Harvest by Tess Gerritsen (read Jan 2nd, 2011)
15. Life Support by Tess Gerritsen (read Jan 15th, 2011)
16. Life Sentence by David Ellis (DNF, Jan 10th, 2011)
17. Seven Up by Janet Evanovich (read Feb 2011)
18. Solace by Nicci French (read Jan 26th, 2011)
19. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (read  Feb 3rd, 2011)
20. Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk (DNF)
21. De tranen der Acacia’s by W. F. Hermans (Dutch) (read Jan 14th, 2011)
22. Ballet Russes by Rosita Steenbeek (Dutch) (read Jan 25th, 2011)
23. Ik haal je op ik neem je mee by Niccolo Amaniti (Dutch) (read Feb 2011)
24. Het volgende verhaal by Cees Nooteboom (Dutch) (DNF, Feb 12th, 2011)
25. A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
26. The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland Age 42 and Three-Quarters by Barbara Silkstone (ebook) (read March 2011)
27. Het ultieme recept by Torgny Lindgren (Dutch)
28. Gran Cafe Boulevard by Tomas Lieske (Dutch) (read in March)
29. The Lady and the Poet by Maeve Haran (read October 2011)
30. Your Presence Is Required at Suvanto by Maile Chapman (Read in APril, 2011)
31. Tikkop by Adriaan van Dis (Dutch, ebook) (read Feb 3rd, 2011)

READ SO FAR (September 10th): 29 books

Now, in my favor it must be said that none of these are older than a year, because at the beginning of 2010 I didn’t have that many books and generally I used to read all my books before I got new books. Now, it’s running out of hand, hence the challenge.

The levels you can choose from for this challenge are 5, 15, 30, 50, 75, over 75, over 125. I’m going for Making a Dint which means that I’m to read 30 books (or however there are on my unread pile by January 1st 2011).

If you’d like to join in too, sign up at Bookish Ardour now!

This challenge, together with the challenge that I host myself (the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge) will be the main challenges that I’ll take part in. I will do some other challenges (post about these to follow), but for those I’ll read only a few books.

Wish me luck!

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