Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Self-Challenge - One Shelf at a Time: Shelf #1

I've decided to do something a little different, challenge-wise, in 2011. Usually, I tend to shun challenges completely because I've found that I am so fond of variety that I get topic fatigue rather quickly -- or, at least I'll limit myself to one or two challenges at a time, each year. This year, I've decided to do something I've been pondering for quite a while. Instead of joining in on formal blog challenges and all that they involve, I'm challenging myself to hit my TBRs and really tackle them one shelf at a time. Each time I finish a shelf, I'll start on another.

The idea is to just keep going; it's a perpetual self-challenge, although I'll number the shelves and see how it goes. My first shelf of books began with some titles that have been on my closet shelf for quite a while and from there I switched and substituted, added and rearranged until I decided I'd better just take a photo or I'd keep altering things, forever. I do that, you know.

I tried to arrange the books to fit the variety I crave but I'm also starting out with at least 4 books that have been loaned to me, so that I can get them back to their owners. There are a few ARCs I didn't get around to reading, last year, and a few classic titles that I keep looking at longingly. Two are volumes of short stories, one is a goofy book, one a book about Bible characters. Yeah, it's a hodge-podge, all right.

I've already begun reading one of the titles: Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen. I'm not sure, but I think I might have heard of that particular book and acquired it because of a review by SuziQ, a favorite blogger who never leads me astray. So far, it is excellent.

Here's my list for Shelf #1:

1. The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch - Probably received via Shelf Awareness (Ack! I don't remember!)
2. You'll Be Sor-ree! by Sid Phillips - Started to read this last year and stopped, another SA book
3. Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife by John Nagl & Peter Schoomaker - borrowed from husband
4. Semper Cool by Barry Fixler - Meant to read this for the Vietnam challenge
5. Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs - for fun
6. Manifesting Change by Mike Dooley - An ARC I didn't get to in 2010
7. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl - On loan from my future daughter-in-law
8. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri - Got this ARC for free from my local library and I've heard the stories are marvelous
9. Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda - Borrowed from future DIL; we have both read Gavalda's I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere repeatedly.
10. Never Shower in a Thunderstorm by Anahad O'Conner - My goofy read
11. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald - I'm planning to buddy read this one with New Orleans Chris (aka "Stuffster", at least in my little brain)
12. True Grit by Charles Portis - I've had this one for a while, but naturally the new movie version has motivated me to dig it out.
13. Fire Bell in the Night by Geoffrey S. Edwards - Another buddy read, sent to me by the author and then lost repeatedly. My friend Paula has wanted to buddy read this one with me for so long it's embarrassing.
14. Virtual Realities by Alfred Bester - Sci-fi short stories; I've read a few of these and really enjoyed them
15. Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen
16. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara - Classic from the closet shelf
17. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick - Borrowed from eldest son's collection
18. Anagrams by Lorrie Moore - I've had this one for probably 10 years; it's one of the many books I bought at our former salvage store when they got some very-slightly-damaged book stock that was sold at unbelievable prices. I got a lot of wonderful literature from that particular sale.
19. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale - A book I've put on challenge lists twice and failed to even open. This time I shall read it, oh yes I shall.
20. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - Another classic I keep telling myself I need to get around to reading

Not pictured: Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate (two novels in one book)

That's quite a big shelf for starters, isn't it? We'll see how long it takes to read them. Should be interesting!

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. You go girl!! Now this is my type of challenge for the year. I would really have to "stack the shelf" in my favor and I'm afraid that I would be tweaking a lot....but you are the boss of the challenge so you can change to rules whenever and however you want!! I like it.

    Hope you faired well in the ice storm!

  2. Nice challenge you've given yourself. I've gone and done something similar. I've decided that I'm going to give up the library for the duration of Winter and start cleaning off my own shelves. I have plenty of stuff there so I'm not in any danger of running out of reading material no matter how long this stupid snow lasts. I have to get some of these books gone so I can add more! Good luck to you.

  3. I love the idea of this! And it does look like you've got a great mix. Good luck!

  4. I love your frozen header. Fascinating!

    I also greatly enjoyed reading My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland by Liz Curtis Higgs and imagining I was actually on the trip to Scotland with her. That's the way she wrote the book, as though "we" were traveling together. My review was so "convincing" that one person thought I HAD traveled with her. Umm, that person was Bookfool. You may want to re-read my 2007 book review:


    Then read my other review, on my Book Around the World blog, about Scotland:


  5. Right on! I have made the exact same resolution for 2011. Good luck!

  6. I hope that this works for you! I'm doing something similar ... well I was, until I got distracted by library books. :) Can't wait to see your progress!

    Miss Remmers Review

  7. i read garlic and sapphires and really enjoyed it! ruth is such a DARING eater while i have the palate of a 7-year-old. she eats things i wouldn't dream of touching but it was such fun to read her descriptions and the lengths she went to in order to keep her anonymity as a reviewer. enjoy this one--it's a good read!

  8. Good luck! I don't think I'm disciplined enough to stick with a challenge like that.

  9. Inside a Book,

    After I posted the picture, I realized I forgot to toss in a random YA that's been lying about, so I might just sneak one or two in and add them to the "not pictured" list. Yep, that's the joy of a self-challenge. You can do whatever you want because you're the Supreme Ruler of the Galaxy -- or at least of the challenge. :)

    The ice storm was perfect - a dud, as ice storms go but rather pretty for photography.


    That's one of the reasons I've been pondering a TBR self-challenge for quite a while --there is absolutely no way I'll run out of reading material. I could be buried in this house for 20 years and still have plenty. When you've got enough to trip over, it's definitely time to work on your own shelves (and piles)!!


    Thanks! I did forget to add a YA or two, though. I'm going to sneak a couple of them onto the shelf, 'cause I can. :)


    I remember that review very well. In fact, I've got a copy of the book in my bedroom. You were my influence in that purchase, of course!

  10. Pamela,

    Wahoo! Good for you and best of luck right back at you! It's nice to know others are doing the same!

    Miss Remmers,

    Very cool! That makes 3 of us! I've got a couple library books in my living room, too. I decided that was silly of me and they have to go back. It's far too easy to add library books to the mix but it does defeat the purpose, doesn't it?


    I really enjoyed Reichl's writing when I read one of her books -- about her mother, I think -- so I asked my future DIL about Garlic and Sapphires and she pretty much said what you did. I'm really like you - not daring and, actually, I really don't cook, anymore. I keep hoping a cookbook or foodie book will end up inspiring me! :)


    I would argue that you're a great deal more disciplined than I am. I was just looking at my Books in/Books Out lis and realized I have not only fallen behind but also have shelved the various books in such diverse places that to photograph will be to go on a hunting/gathering mission. Yikes. Thanks. I'm planning to have fun with it. :)

  11. I adored Garlic and Sapphires! and I put claim to the True Grit if you feel it needs a home after you have read it. Feel free to claim a book from my shelf - I would be happy to 'trade' and thus make this a fair deal (and attempt to present myself as a nicer less-demanding person?) Actually, I already owe you a book, don't i? :)

  12. Care,

    You don't owe me something, merely because I happened to send you a book, ya know. :) But, sure, I'd be willing to trade. It may be a while but I'll try to push True Grit up as far as I can. I have a few buddy reads that must come first. The only book you've mentioned that I'm eager to read is the Dorothy Whipple book and I'm guessing you won't want to part with that one, so we'll just see. As I said, you don't owe me. It won't bother me if it ends up being a one-sided deal. LOL

  13. Topic fatigue - that's exactly what happens to me too! Good for you for setting up your own challenge and good luck. I'm trying to read more from my shelves this year too.

  14. I love the snapshot of your shelf. I think you should post all of them. (Why yes, I am that snoopy person who gloms over to your bookcase and starts perusing your shelves the second I step inside your home, why do you ask? lol)

    My personal challenge to not spend a dime on books last year did help me pick up and read 12 whole books off my shelves. I am easily seduced by the library and their enticing hold system.

  15. Iliana,

    You must crave variety, too, yes? I tend to burn out on a subject or genre pretty quickly if I read too much of the same thing. Good luck to you, too, and thanks! May our TBRs shrink in 2011!


    Unfortunately, I have so many books that it would actually be impossible to photograph them all, which explains why I got the "You're in trouble" look when FedEx showed up with 2 parcels, a little bit ago. Le blush. You'd love walking around my house. My mother used to tell me, "You have got to get rid of some of those books!" but they when she came for a visit she would spend hours just looking at them, pulling various titles off the shelves and perusing. Then she'd curl up, read for days and take home a box full.

    I almost consider myself fortunate to have a sucky library when I'm working on reading from my own shelves. At least I don't have to worry about being seduced by the library, very often (sometimes I still do bring things home).

  16. I I adore this challenge you've created for yourself. What fun!!!

  17. SuziQ,

    Thank you! I'm really excited about it. I'm not sure why I didn't get around to doing this earlier!

  18. Good luck with this challenge! I love the idea, but I know I wouldn't be able to stick to it myself. I would constantly be swapping the books on the shelf.

  19. Alyce,

    Ah, but that's the beauty of this challenge. If I want to swap, I can. At this point, though, I'm really happy with the variety -- although I did forget to stick a YA or two in there. But, I don't seem to have any trouble forcing myself to read those. :)

  20. Actually, my dear, I can't think of a better place I would hope for my Whipple! It's a deal. AWESOME!

  21. Care,

    Wahoo! Okay, so I'll move True Grit up the stacks (it's already by my bedside, but don't hold your breath -- I"m slow) and get that to you when I finish. :)

  22. Fire Bell in the Night has been on my TBR shelf forever as well. With this challenge, you'll for sure get to it before I will. I look forward to your thoughts.

  23. Joy,

    I feel bad about how long it's been on my shelf. Buddy reading should help me finally get to it!! :)

  24. Good luck, I can't wait to hear how it goes. A very varied and fun shelf for sure.

  25. I'm supposed to be reading True Grit right now for book club tomorrow. Haven't started it yet and it's not looking likely. Bummer.

    Look forward to your thoughts on Reichl. I enjoyed Tender at the Bone and would like to read more of her works. Future daughter-in-law, huh? ;)

  26. Amy,

    Thanks! I'm really enjoying the one book I've plucked off that shelf, so far. I forgot to add YA to the mix. Oh, well. I don't need a lot of prodding to indulge in that. :)


    I have a book club book I probably ought to get going on, too.

    Everyone seems to enjoy Reichl! Wahoo to that! Yeah, I have a future daughter-in-law. She has a ring and her relatives already held a wedding shower for the two of them, but they haven't chosen a wedding date.

  27. What a great idea! I should do the same, but I'm too fickle. I'd cheat and substitute one book for another. :)

    One that caught my attention is Never Shower in a Thunderstorm. Sounds like a fun read. Let me know what you think!

  28. Les,

    I don't think that would necessarily be a bad thing, substituting titles, as long as they're also from the TBRs. The objective is just to work on getting through some of the books that are sitting around, waiting on me. :)

    Funny, I wouldn't have expected Never Shower in a Thunderstorm to catch your eye! I'll let you know what I think when I get to it!

  29. I'm doing something similar. After the move I only brought one random box of books into the house, disregarding any out of order series books I can only read those until they are done. Well, and library books. It's been 6 weeks and I find it a lot easier, the choices aren't overwhelming me.

  30. Lisa,

    I know exactly what you mean about being overwhelmed by choice. Good idea, just choosing a random selection. I chose mine based on variety (trying to squeeze in as much variety as I could think of -- but I still managed to miss YA and . . . I think maybe history) and books that I need to get back to their real owners. I figured the ones I don't own will be the easiest to get out of my house, once I'm done! :)


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