One more challenge I’ve decided to join after seeing many of my dear blogger friends joining. The 2019 TBR Challenge at the Roof Beam Reader.
As one of you doing this challenged mentioned, I like its simplicity. It was another opportunity for me to give my books some love and attention. This year I’m shopping at my own shelves. I have many books I haven’t read yet. That doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy becoming more familiar with all I have, -read and unread-, and remembering why it is I bought my books, and deciding which of the unread ones I wanted to read, and which old friends I want to re-read.
I also wanted an excuse to photograph my books, and to focus on 12 titles, (that’s what this challenge proposes, along with 2 alternates), and to share why I’m determined to read those books this year. Since I’ve already picked 12 classics for the Back to the Classics challenge, I’m going to choose more recent books than classics for this challenge, along with some non fiction.
- How Should We Then Live? Francis A. Shaeffer
- A Briefer History of Time, Stephen Hawking
- Peace like a River, Leif Engle
- Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
- Washington Square, Henry James
- Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
Farewell Spain, Kate O’Brien.Adventures with a Texas Naturalist, Roy Bedichek.
- Speak Memory, Nabokov
- Eothen, A.W. Kinglake
- Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard
- Glaucus, or The Wonders of the Shore, Charles Kingsley
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
1. HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?, FRANCIS A. SHAEFFER
It’s my perception that Shaeffer has fallen from grace somehow. His popularity as a representative of the evangelical movement wave was at its height in the eighties. His son later revealing a more nuanced view of his father’s private life and his years at L’Abri, leaves us with much to ponder on him as a public figure. Maybe that’s not as important as to reading his books. I can say that his book Escape from Reason was short and quite an impact.
If his son is right, what mattered to him was art and culture, he was moved by beauty. I’m eager to see what he has to say about how art’s purpose has changed through history.
2. A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME, STEPHEN HAWKING
I know I couldn’t do the original, but this briefer one is thin and not intimidating, and the topic of time should be interesting to hear. I have no clue how Hawking fairs as a writer. I hope to discover it this year.
3. PEACE LIKE A RIVER, LEIF ENGLE
I bought this book 3 or 4 years ago. I even started the first pages and loved it. I have no clue to why I quit reading it. Like her who came up with this acronym, SNGATI (“somehow never got around to it”), mine should be NCWIQRI. Never mind, it’s too long for it to be successful.
The book received different awards, and I hear it mentioned as a possible future classic. Leif Enger was born in 1961. I’m seeing Peace Like a River a lot in diverse book lists since he published his latest book, Virgil Wander, in October 2018. He also published So Brave So Young in April 2009. (Peace Like a River came up in September 2002).
4. BLOOD MERIDIAN, CORMAC McCARTHY
McCarthy is another author I saw at the christian influence writers of our times. His book The Road, took me two attempts to read. I had to understand why it was written in such a simplistic style, and also I had to decide to trust the author. When I did that, I could read it. It’s actually an easy read when it comes to sentence structure. Pretty plain, straightforward. The difficulty resides in the story told. A father and his son wandering and trying to stay alive in a very desolate and cruel post apocalyptic world.
Listening to the Bibliophile Podcasts has stirred a desire to give another title a try. I’m going for no less than Blood Meridian. I heard it’s the book that signifies the end of all Western books. Don Quixote would be the same but in regards to the cavalierly books.
I’m glad, though, to have a couple of alternate books, since they also say the book has lots of blood in it, 🙂 and I may not be able to read it for that reason. Knowing a tad of what Cormac is trying to achieve, I may, though. I’m highly intrigued by this title.
5. WASHINGTON SQUARE, HENRY JAMES
Four years or longer I’ve been wanting to read Henry James. There’s no excuse for my neglect. Graham Greene speaks highly of him. To my embarrassment, I also haven’t read any Greene book yet. I wanted to pick Greene’s Monsignor Quixote for the classic comic novel category, but the book was published in 1982, and it didn’t fulfill the 50+ year old condition for that challenge. I wish this year sees me reading at least one book by each of these authors.
I have several blogger friends and Goodreads friends who love Henry James. I want to see for myself the qualities his books have.
6. MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN, SALMAN RUSHDIE
Rushdie was uber popular in Spain when he wrote his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, -quite a provocative title that surely granted him worldwide attention-. Muslims accused him of blasphemy. His style is magical realism. I’ve never read any magical realism set in the Eastern world, only Latin American magic realism. Rushdie got my attention over a year ago, when I heard Ishiguro say he didn’t write as beautiful prose as Rushdie, one of his favorite authors. Have you read any Rushdie? Please, do share.
7. FAREWELL SPAIN, KATE O’BRIEN
My British blogger friend Kaggsy, reviewed it, and I had to buy it, so I better read it. How can I pass on a book about my birth country, written at a time of great interest, during the early days of the Spanish Civil War, -which started in 1936-?
Over the years, I know I don’t like historical fiction when it comes to reading books on wars. I much prefer non fiction, –The Hidden Place, Life and Death in Shanghai, A.A. Milne’s Autobiography, The Boys in the Boat-, or fiction classics such as Catch 22, Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans, or my recent read Slaughterhouse Five, are preferred.
After preparing this post, I read the challenge requirements more carefully, and realized the book had to have been in my TBR pile for at least a year. Since the Back to the Classics has a category where this one can fit. I’m swapping it for this one instead. And this has been well over a year in my TBR pile.
8. SPEAK MEMORY, NABOKOV
After being fascinated by reading Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading, I bought this his unconventional biography intending to read it right away, which, of course, never happened. I’ve only read this and some of his fabulous articles on literature and about reading. I like him both as a professor who is also an author, -and who looks at other writers from this vantage point as an author himself-, and as a writer. His writing put a spell on me.
I read a review of someone who said that it took him some time to finish this memoir, and while difficult or demanding, you couldn’t stop reading either, -such was the mesmerizing effect-.
Nabokov’s mastery of different languages and the cultures in which they are embedded, make him an interesting person to read. I also had fun watching him in different interviews. It’s very enjoyable to hear him talk about language, books, writing, etc.
9. EOTHEN, A.W. KINGLAKE
This is another title from the shelves I have full of non fiction books on history, science, geography, biography, etc. The blurb at Amazon.com says this, ‘This delightful travelogue of a young Englishman’s journey through the middle east, in 1835 has become a permanent classic’, which sounds very promising.
10. FEAR AND TREMBLING, SOREN KIERKEGAARD
Another recent addition via recommendation from the same friend who told me about Spark. I’m embarrassingly only vaguely familiar with a bit of the life of Kierkegaard. I say this because after studying philosophy for five years, (in Spain bachelor degrees are five years long), I read almost no original books, just ‘re fried’ titles, as we call books on philosophers, and not by philosophers. I hope this counts, because I’ve been wanting to read Kierkegaard for many years, though I only managed to get this title for my kindle recently.
11. GLAUCUS, CHARLES KINGSLEY
Nice antique book I planned to have read with my daughters. It’s a naturalist walk on the shore. I know I’m going to love it. I needed this challenge to motivate me to read books like this, that are not seen much in anyone’s lists.
12. THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, MURIEL SPARK
This is the only book I don’t own. I’ve requested it at the library after seeing many people read books by her the past year. However, reading the challenge qualifiers, I’m going to move it to the alternates section, and probably find another book that has sat at my TBR pile for a year or longer.
I truly want to read this book. A friend who is studying to teach the book of Job at our congregation, mentioned it to me this past week. Apparently, Spark wrote a book in which the main character is writing about the book of Job. It’s entitled The Only Problem. The library book has these two, and a couple more? Let’s see how it goes. Some Goodreads reviewers speak about the difficulty with her prose.
- MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, ELENA FERRANTE. I got this book at one of our used books store book sale. It’s truly pretty to handle, nicely published, and I hear everybody raving about it. My fear is that it’s the first of a trilogy. But if I like it, -and I think I will-, I’ll pace myself, and savor the other two some time from now.
- THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, TIM O’BRIEN. What seems like ages ago, a friend of mine recommended me this title. I believe it will be a good fit for a reading about the war, the Vietnam War in this case. I know nothing about it.
My aim is to read all of them plus the alternates. I’m committed. Let’s see what life unfolds. It’s been great to focus on these fabulous titles, and remember why I bought them, or requested them from the library. If you see any favorite, -or any loathed- title among them, please do share. I love to hear your thoughts on these picks.