Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Rose City Reader is hosting a TBR Challenge. It is called the TBR 21 in '21 Challenge. The idea is to read 21 books from your TBR shelf in 2021. "TBR" counts as any book that was on your shelf prior to January 1, 2021. "Shelf" includes your ebook reader and audiobooks you own, but it doesn't include library books. 

The rules and sign up for the challenge are here. Rose City Reader's sign up post is here.

I love this idea -- I like picking a specific number of books and I like visuals. I went through my shelves pulling books for the challenge but I will have to put them all back because I don't have a shelf I can devote to this purpose. 

I was aiming at books on my TBR purchased prior to 2020. The only exception on my list is The Travelers by Chris Pavone, which I purchased in mid-2020. 

Here are the books I selected:

In case some of the titles are hard to read, here's a list:

  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • The Sirens Sang of Murder by Sarah Caudwell
  • Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
  • The Small Boat of Great Sorrows by Dan Fesperman. Second book in a series of two books. Set in Bosnia, Germany, and Italy.
  • The Travelers by Chris Pavone
  • Murder in the Place of Anubis by Lynda S. Robinson
  • Vanish by Tess Gerritsen. Fifth book in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series. I read the fourth book in 2011 and I have had this one on my TBR since then.
  • Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter. This book was the 2002 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction.
  • Bangkok 8 by John Burdette
  • Goodnight Sweet Prince by David Dickinson
  • The End of Your Life Book Club by David Schwalbe
  • Case for Three Detectives by Leo Bruce
  • Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum
  • Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
  • A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
  • Village School by Miss Read
  • Death Has a Small Voice by Frances and Richard Lockridge
  • Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris
  • Mad About the Boy? by Delores Gordon-Smith
  • Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders
  • Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith. The seventh book in the Arkady Renko series. I read the sixth book in 2008 and I have had this one on my TBR since 2010.

If you have any thoughts on these books, please let me know.


Cath said...

I'm almost certain I've read Vanish by Tess Gerritsen but can't remember it, one of these days I must return to that series. And any Miss Read book is delightful, I've read a lot of them. Good luck with challenge.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved BEL CANTO, PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, HUMAN CROQUETTE and DON"T LOOK BACK. Great list. I feel like doing it myself.

Kay said...

I've also read VANISH many years ago. Think I read all the Rizzoli and Isles books. And I've read BEL CANTO - very good. And WIFE OF THE GODS - a good series and not too long. Kwei Quartey has a new series now - first book is THE MISSING AMERICAN (I think) and a new one just out or just about to come out. Good luck with your challenge!

Margot Kinberg said...

You have such a great selection here, Tracy! I hope you'll get to them all. I'm very glad to see you have A Carrion Death in your pile. I like that series very much, and I thought the story had a real sense of place and local culture.

TracyK said...

Cath, I have heard at several blogs that the Miss Read books are good reads, and I thought it was time to try one. I have had that book for 2 years so this year I will really do that. So many books to read, and not enough time.

TracyK said...

Patti, I am looking forward to all those books you mentioned. DON'T LOOK BACK is another one I have had for a long time (14 years). I eventually got a copy of EVA'S EYE, the first in the series, that had not been translated until more recently. I liked that one a lot, so I am expecting DON'T LOOK BACK will be good also.

TracyK said...

Kay, I enjoyed the first books in Tess Gerritsen's series and don't know why I stopped reading them. Just too many new authors to try I guess.

I had read about Kwei Quartey's new series, which sounds interesting. I thought I should try this book by him I had on my shelves before I invest in the new series.

TracyK said...

Margot, I am very happy with my list. I think it is interesting that I have had two books with African settings that have sat on my shelves for 10 or more years. Now I will finally get to them. I actually like to start series when several books are available so I don't have to wait around for new entries.

bookertalk said...

Bel Canto is fabulous -the film doesn't do it justice at all
Wife of the Gods is interesting for the insight it gives into local culture

TracyK said...

Thanks for the feedback, BookerTalk. I am hoping that reading Bel Canto will motivate me to read more of Patchett's books... not that I need more books. And I don't know why it has taken me ten years to read Wife of the Gods.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I've created my own version of this. Instead of committing to reading twenty or so books from my TBR, I'm going to do play-or-pass with them.

TracyK said...

That sounds interesting, Deb. Any approach to getting cutting down the TBR pile is good, but but how do you do play-or-pass for books?

CLM said...

Are you planning to read them in this exact order? I tried putting some of my TBR in a box but I suspect I would dip in to pick something based on my mood or to contrast with whatever I had most recently finished.

I am a big fan of Bel Canto and also read The Travelers (preferred his book, The Ex Pats). I have read some Tess Gerritsen but none in ages.

A coworkers just told me how much she loved the Lincoln in the Bardo audio so I got it from the library a week ago, thinking it would be good to listen to while cleaning/organizing but it was hard to follow so I think will be better in book format.

The End of Your Life Book Club is written by someone I used to work with, although I only had one real conversation with him because we were in different divisions and on different floors. His mother was the college admissions director who interviewed me and it was memorable because she scolded me for dropping math after my junior year of high school. I explained that I preferred history and languages, and she said I would regret it. I went home and told my parents there was no way I was getting into Harvard after that but she must have softened because I was admitted. She was sort of right, however, because I had to take calculus for graduate school and regretted having to go back and take remedial courses in my 20s! When I met her son, I told him this story and he said, "Why do you think I went to Yale?" The book is about the books they read together when she was dying. I will be interested to hear what you think about it, when you get to that part of the pile!

TracyK said...

Constance, I don't have plans to read them in any order. I am looking forward to Bel Canto after all the good things I have heard about it. I liked both The Expats and The Travelers by Pavone.

How interesting about the author of The End of Your Life Book Club and his mother. And why did you have to take calculus in graduate school? I was a math major in college (graduated in 1971) but at the Univ. of Alabama, the major had to be in theoretical math which was no fun at all. I am good with numbers and logic, and was a programmer for many years, but I remember nothing about the math I learned in school.

CLM said...

When I applied to business school, I chose mostly programs that were case method based as I figured I could talk my way out of anything but did not get into my top choices. Duke admitted me conditionally if I passed Calculus before arriving and offered me financial aid, so I took a Precalculus class and then Calculus over the summer. The belief was that it would help us understand Macro Economics but it did not help me at all! I would cover pages and pages with calculations and wind up millions of dollars off. Some of my classmates were from India and were used to doing all their math without a calculator; they used to finish exams early and leave the room. It was far too quantitative a program for me and I should really have gone to law school instead (but wouldn't listen to any of the dozens of people who warned me). However, I did love Duke and made wonderful friends. And I sneaked off to the used bookstores often and found some treasures during my two years. It is a pity I was too busy studying to visit Kitty Hawk or Asheville but I did make it to Williamsburg.

TracyK said...

Well, Constance, that must have been an interesting experience. I am glad you enjoyed Duke, after all of that. I don't understand economics to understand how calculus would help. I can see you in law school more easily than in business school. A typesetter I worked with to define the format of serial publications we published used to tell me I should have been a lawyer because I was so detailed. I loved school of any type because I like to learn but computer programming kept me happy because, over the decades, I had to keep learning new languages and data bases.

Mary R. said...

This seems like a good challenge -- 21 isn't a ton of books, but is enough to be a good dent. I read and enjoyed the End of Your Life Bookclub and Bel Canto is amazing. Lincoln in the Bardo was definitely not for me, but lots of people loved it. Looks like a nice list of reading for 2021!

TracyK said...

I agree, Mary, this is a manageable challenge. I am looking forward to End of Your Life Book Club, I like books about books. So many people have recommended Bel Canto, it seems I cannot go wrong with that.

col2910 said...

Good luck Tracy. I'm hoping to clear the TBR challenge I started in either 2013 or 2104 this year!

TracyK said...

Col, I am still working on my 20 Books of Summer list from 2020.