2018: Facing the TBR

At the end of 2017, I realized that I have a serious problem: I own a lot of unread books. Usually I kick off January with some sort of TBR challenge, and 2018 is no different. This year, I am joining Roof Beam Reader’s Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. The rules are simple enough: in 2018, I have to read and review 12 books on my TBR that were published before 2017. I can also list two alternate titles in case a couple of my original choices don’t pan out. I can read the books in any order at any time before January 2019. Sounds simple enough, but truth be told I am not the best at challenges. I have great hope for this year, though. Here’s my list:

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Sunil Yapa
News of the World, Paulette Giles
The Good Lord Bird, James McBride
IQ, Joe Ide
Pleasantville, Attica Locke
Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry
Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
LaRose, Louise Erdrich
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick
Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson (alternate)
Wolf in White Van, John Darnelle (alternate)

But my problem goes way beyond 14 books. Way. Beyond. So, I’m setting up some rules for 2018, the first one being that I cannot purchase any new books until my birthday at the end of July, and then again at the holidays. If I want to read something that’s not on my shelves, I have to go to the library. I have only one exception, which is a book I pre-ordered in 2017, Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I was a fan of her blog, True Crime Diary, and her work on the Golden State Killer case (so chilling) and was happy to hear that her husband, the actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, was seeing to it that her book would still be published after her untimely death in 2016. That’s coming in February, so until July, that’s it for me. I also plan to limit myself to buying three books, which will be a total of seven for the year. To be honest, I’m actually hoping that I get to my birthday and decide I don’t want to buy anything at all.

I used to do the TBR Dare, committing to reading only books from the TBR every January through April, a tradition I plan to continue on my own since it doesn’t seem anyone is hosting it this year. I’ll use this post to track how many of these other unread books on my TBR I can get through in 2018. Mind you, these books have been purchased (most of them on Kindle sale, my weakness) over a period of more than five years, so no judging! (Or at least, not too much judging.) Most of these are also marked as “Shelved to read” on my Goodreads page, but I’m listing as many as possible here for double accountability. Here we go:

Elmet, Fiona Mozley
Marlena, Julie Buntin
Borne, Jeff VanderMeer
The Dark Dark, Samantha Hunt
The Fire This Time, Jesmyn Ward
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
Tomb Song, Julian Herbert
Gutshot, Amelia Gray
The Blue Fox, Sjón
Fierce Kingdom, Gin Phillips
The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld
The Dry, Jane Harper
The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough
Since We Fell, Dennis Lehane
The Late Show, Michael Connelly
Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke
Sunshine State, Sarah Gerard
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie
Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis
The Wangs vs. the World, Jade Chang
Girl Through Glass, Sari Wilson
This Is Your Life Harriet Chance, Jonathan Evison
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker
Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Slade House, David Mitchell
The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton
Love and Other Ways of Dying, Michael Paterniti
Dodgers, Bill Beverly
Remember Me Like This, Bret Anthony Johnston
Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow
Western Stories, Elmore Leonard
Made for Love, Alissa Nutting
Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Amy Stewart
Disclaimer, Renee Knight
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
The Master, Colm Toibin
During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, Joan Chase
The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard
The Observations, Jane Harris
The Report, Francis Kane
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
The Invention of Everything Else, Samantha Hunt
Doc, Maria Doria Russell
The Age of Wonder, Richard Holmes
The North Water, Ian McGuire
Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh
Regeneration, Pat Barker
The Illusionist, Colson Whitehead
Life Drawing, Robin Black
The Year of Silence, Madison Smartt Bell
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
Christodora, Tim Murphy
The Last Days of California, Mary Miller
Loner, Teddy Wayne
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse, Piu Marie Eatwell
Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian
An Unnecessary Woman, Rabih Alameddine
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Ed Tarkington
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, Kristopher Jansma
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe
White Oleander, Janet Fitch
Dissolution, C.J. Sansom
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
American Rust, Philipp Meyer
Q Road, Bonnie Jo Campbell
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo
The Shore, Sara Taylor
The Infatuations, Javier Marias
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, Anton Disclafani
The Map of Lost Memories, Kim Fay
Private Citizens, Tony Tulathimutte
Stone Arabia, Dana Spiotta
The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, Elizabeth Kelly
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
A Home at the End of the World, Michael Cunningham
The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta
Black River, S.M. Hulse
Is This Tomorrow, Caroline Leavitt
The Informationist, Taylor Stevens
The Irresistible Henry House, Lisa Grunwald
Eva’s Eye, Karin Fossum
A Better World, Marcus Sakey
Save Yourself, Kelly Braffet
Welcome to Braggsville, T. Geronimo Johnson
Lost Girls, Robert Kolker
The Patrick Melrose Novels, Edward St. Aubyn
Sick in the Head, Judd Apatow
Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks
The Cowboy and the Cossack, Clair Huffaker
Funny Girl, Nick Hornby
Thrown, Kerry Howley
A Partial History of Lost Causes, Jennifer Dubois
The Might Have Been, Joseph M. Schuster
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Cry Father, Benjamin Whitmer
Nothing Gold Can Stay, Ron Rash
Die a Little, Megan Abbott
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes
Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda
King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild
Nora Webster, Colm Toibin
Child 44, Tom Rob Smith
New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber
Blackbirds, Chuck Wendig
Long Division, Kiese Laymon
The Maid’s Version, Daniel Woodrell
The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock
Double Feature, Owen King
Battleborn, Claire Vaye Watkins
Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Megan Mayhew Bergman
The Thief, Fuminori Nakamura
Gun, with Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem
Troubles, J.G. Ferrell
All Things, All at Once, Lee K. Abbott
Civilwarland in Bad Decline, George Saunders
The Street Sweeper, Elliot Perlman
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow
HHhH, Laurent Binet
When It Happens to You, Molly Ringwald
The Nix, Nathan Hill
Ways to Disappear, Ivy Pochoda
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
Fobbit, David Abrams
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

2018 should be an interesting year!

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9 thoughts on “2018: Facing the TBR

  1. Both lists are so great! You’re gonna have an awesome reading year! Station Eleven is one of my all-time favorite books.

    I, too, will be trying to read one of my owned books per month, although I’m not formally participating in any challenges. But it’s time these books got some love!

  2. Laila, I am so full of shame! I really had lost track. I have enough that even a moody reader like me should be able to find something for every occasion. That list doesn’t even include all the physical books I have from almost ten years back. And Station Eleven–I had forgotten I even bought it! I am excited to read that one because I loved The Lola Quartet and think she’s such a great writer.

  3. You have so many great books on these lists! It should be a piece of cake, right? 😉
    I loved Homegoing, The Good Lord Bird, and Station Eleven, and I have so many of your others on my own list.
    I’ll be reading The Blazing World for Literary Wives as soon as it comes in at the library… (*nudge, nudge*)

  4. Naomi, I know, I definitely cannot complain about no good choices!
    Ha ha, I see your nudge, and I’ve already read a bit of The Blazing World and would definitely be willing to pick it up again!

  5. Your full list makes me think of mine – I have around 350 books on my TBR! Homegoing is one I’m really looking forward to reading. Enjoy your books – hopefully you can knock lots of these off this year!

  6. Kristilyn, oh gosh, that’s not the full list! I have lots of physical books I haven’t added to the list yet. I guess I’m somewhere in the range of 200? Good luck to you chipping away at your TBR pile, too!

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