May 1, 2011 29 Comments
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.
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!
How about you? How’s your TBR reading going?