Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 TBR Challenge

I started this blog because I wanted to read 52 books in one year. That challenge seems small now; I've read over 100 the past several years. It was that challenge, though, that pulled me back into reading for pleasure. I had not done nearly as much of it throughout my high school and college years. Through that goal, I rediscovered the passion I felt for books as a child.

Then, I took on the 100 Best Novels challenge. It took four years, but it felt amazing to accomplish. I feel much more versed in classic literature and have cultivated some strong opinions about what it means to be a classic anyway. It also opened my eyes to the importance of celebrating diverse authorship. 

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what will come next. I am a goal-oriented person; I like having something concrete toward which I am working. When I finished the 100 Best Novels challenge this summer, I mused about my next challenge. I floated several different ideas and the pros and cons of each. Now, at the start of the year, I'm ready to announce my decision. 

I'm going to tackle my TBR (to-be-read) list. Like, really tackle it. I started actively keeping the list in Goodreads in January 2013, although I've had an "On Reserve" page of books I want to read since I started my blog in January 2012. As of now, I have just under 350 books on my Goodreads list. I did a purge of it a few months back, so that number feels relatively solid. That is a whole lot of books.

I'll add this image to every post that falls under the challenge.
Now, the list is also always growing and morphing. New books come out or come to my attention. My interests shift and change. It's not a static list by any means. So, how is this going to work logistically?

I thought about laying out a bunch of rules for myself, but I still want to feel the freedom to add books as will. I know I won't get through 350 books in a year. That's a pipe dream. However, between reading and more intense purging as I go, I think I can get the list down to 200 by the end of 2018. That's a big goal, but a hopefully realistic one. I'd love to get closer to 100, but I have to have a life, too. 

I'll be marking my progress in each month's chapter update. Realistically, this means removing 12.5 books from the list each month. 12 books is a big reading month for me. Plus, figure in the fact that I usually add 5 or so books a month. Let's round up and say I'm dealing with 20 books per month. Wow, that's a lot.

Obviously, some of those will come off because I delete them from the list. I want to get serious about removing books from the list I just don't care to read any more. I want to be an intentional reader. This may mean quitting part way through some books, a practice with which I have a very hard time. 

As a part of this, I'm taking the natural step to join up again with the Roof Beam Reader 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. I did this challenge in 2015, which is the last time Adam hosted the challenge. I loved it then and was disappointed to see it go while he wrote his doctoral dissertation. His challenge, specifically, is to pick 12 books off the list that have been there for over a year. While I'm hoping to do way more than that this year, here are my official picks for that challenge:

My 2018 TBR Pile Challenge List
  1. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
  3. Beloved - Toni Morrison
  4. Out of the Silent Planet - C. S. Lewis
  5. The Monsters of Templeton - Lauren Groff
  6. We Two - Gillian Gill
  7. In Defense of the Fatherless - Sara Brinton
  8. Salt to the Sea - Ruth Sepetys
  9. Evolving in Monkey Town - Rachel Held Evans
  10. The Thousandth Floor - Katharine McGee
  1. Nine Parts of Desire - Geraldine Brooks
  2. A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab
So, there it is. My next reading challenge. We'll see how this goes. I'm cautiously optimistic. I hope at the end of this year, I feel good about the intentional reading I have done and also am more discerning about what I put onto the list in the first place!


  1. This is a great goal!! Last year at the beginning of the year I wanted to tackle my TBR list, too, but made very little progress. It's really hard without a library at my disposal. Every couple of months I do go through and purge my TBR list, though, and try to read books from it whenever possible. Good luck and happy reading. :)

  2. Anna Karenina is one of my favorites - I've read it twice. I also loved The Bell Jar, Beloved, and Salt to the Sea. Good luck whittling down your TBR list! I definitely understand what you're going through. The struggle is real!