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The #TBR20 Challenge for 2020

by J. C. Greenway
The #TBR20 Challenge for 2020 - book pile
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Late in December, with encouragement and gentle persuasion from Lizzy Siddal and Richard – and original inspiration from Eva Carson – I agreed to do the #TBR20 Challenge for 2020. The idea is to read 20 books you already own before buying any more. As my to be read pile has morphed into a TBR shelf, this seemed like a good opportunity to look at some of the books that have been languishing, unloved. I wanted to hold on before announcing any kind of list, as we had quite a few books to take to Infinity Books and I knew there was going to be some swapping going on… Then influenza struck, which meant that there were times when reading was all I could do and times when the words were swimming around too much before my eyes and of course posting fell by the wayside.

So without further ado, here is my list of 20 (which you may note is actually 25) books I will read before I buy any new ones. The five are in reserve in case any of the original 20 don’t appeal and I am aiming to finish the challenge by the time the final part of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy is released on 5 March, so it can be purchased with a clear conscience.

My #TBR20 Challenge for 2020:

  1. Jack London, The People of the Abyss
  2. Stephen Mansfield, Tokyo: A Biography (Library book)
  3. Kit de Waal (ed), Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers
  4. Shaun Bythell, The Diary of a Bookseller
  5. Beryl Bainbridge, According to Queeney
  6. Pat Barker, Life Class
  7. John McDonnell (ed), Economics for the Many
  8. Jay Rubin (ed), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
  9. Jamie O’Neill, At Swim, Two Boys
  10. Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
  11. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  12. Gary Budden, Hollow Shores
  13. James Salter, All That Is
  14. J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
  15. Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities
  16. David Peace, Nineteen Seventy Four
  17. Cathy Otten, With Ash on Their Faces
  18. Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog
  19. Haroun Khan, The Study Circle
  20. Karen Havelin, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully

In reserve:

  1. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (I don’t think I will get to this – it’s too long!)
  2. Joanne Harris, Different Class
  3. Ami McKay, The Virgin Cure
  4. Toby Slade, Japanese Fashion: A Cultural History (Loaned from a friend a shameful amount of time ago)
  5. Alan Moore, Jerusalem (Again: TOO LONG! But started in 2018 so another attempt is long overdue.)

Lizzy’s Twitter thread of her progress is here and that is such a good idea that I will make one too and add it soon. [UPDATE! Here is my Twitter thread to show where I’m up to.]

Wish us all luck! Would you be able to promise not to buy any more new books before reading 20 you had already bought? Let me know in the comments below.

[UPDATE 2! As I am not reading them in order, have put the titles of the books read into bold, just to keep myself on track.]

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

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Lizzy Siddal 16 January 2020 - 5:51 pm

Gutsy to make a list! I did too when I started. Now on book 14 and I’ve only read 4 from the original 20! It turns out the books are dictating the direction of travel ….

J. C. Greenway 21 January 2020 - 12:29 pm

They like to do that, don’t they? That’s why I thought I’d better put down some reserves in case. The list was more to give me an idea of what’s there – some on the kindle and others on the shelf – as well as to keep me on track. Good luck with the rest of the challenge, it sounds like you have it well in hand!

Emma 9 May 2020 - 9:01 pm

Well done!

I loved The Power of the Dog, I read it this spring too.

J. C. Greenway 31 May 2020 - 5:14 pm

Thanks! I loved it, can’t believe I left it sitting on the shelf for so long… I was definitely ready for the challenge.


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