Haven’t I Read This Before?

I seem to have made the mistake of giving Jillian the idea of a reading challenge for next year. Well, no, that’s not true; the mistake would have been offering to host it myself, as that would be a guarantee that I wouldn’t get a thing read next year. Instead, Jillian’s off and running with her “Books I Started but Didn’t Finish” Reading Challenge. (See the link for details.) I’ve already broken my self-promise to not join any year-long challenges for next year with the TBR Challenge, but here I am again, joining in. Last one, I swear.

I think the original idea for this is all those books that we try so desperately to finish before a New Year begins but don’t quite make it. Instead of stressing over it, the challenge invites us to finish them next year. I’m not gonna do that. (Rebel!) I’m in the middle of four books right now. One I should finish today or tomorrow, another next week, and one has a high probability that it will simply be ignored and returned to the library next week after my renewals run out. Which leaves Walden—I’m really hoping to finish it before the end of the year because I do want a clean slate, but if I don’t I won’t fret over it and will finish it in January. I’m just not going to count it for this challenge.

No. We must go further back than that. Much further back.

The List

Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) – There’s an added layer of guilt here: DQ was assigned summer reading for my high school sophomore year Spanish class. I read about half of it before school started and I ran out of time.

The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien) – When my brother and I were little, our dad read to us almost every night. To avoid frequent “what to read” questions, he liked to choose long books, or series. Thus, he chose The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings even though he hadn’t liked them when he read them previously. Not only did my dad discover that he actually liked Tolkien, my brother and I became devoted fans. I read (or does it count as my first reread?) the series in seventh grade and the following summer discovered that there was another book set in Middle Earth. Published posthumously, the opening of The Silmarillion is not as engaging as the earlier books and I abandoned it due to a combination of dryness and school starting. (Common theme.) This has the oldest start date for the books on my list.

The Italian (Ann Radcliffe) – Another book started in high school but never completed. I don’t remember why for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that my copy is part of a volume which also contains Northanger Abbey—I’m guessing I decided to read the Austen instead!

The Prize

It seems like it should somehow be bookish, doesn’t it? Buying myself a book doesn’t quite seem right, as I seem to do that too often anyways, so it won’t really be a good reward. However, successfully completing this challenge seems like the perfect excuse to buy a bookish related TV adaptation. I’m thinking the first series of Sherlock, a contemporary adaptation of the famous detective stories.

The Manifesto

You may notice that two of my titles are also on my TBR challenge list (and for anyone who might wonder, I’ll be starting all of the books from the beginning—no cheating on the TBR Challenge). So step one is doubling the reasons I have to read some of these. Step two: just read them!

2012 TBR Pile Challenge & Other Notes

I can’t believe we’re halfway through November already! Of course that could be in part thanks to the unseasonably warm weather of late, although that should be changing—overnight. I also can’t believe that I’ve barely read a word since my last post. I don’t know what’s gotten into me… But Tea with Transcendentalists started today, and I am determined to read Walden and “Civil Disobedience” by December 15th. I’ve decided not to worry about the library books I have out now, so I can focus on these instead.

It’s the time of year I’m beginning to see challenge lists (terribly fun to read!) all over the place. Personally, I wasn’t going to sign up for any challenges, especially year-long challenges, really I wasn’t. I simply have done horribly in recent months at anything for which I’ve signed up in advance, so I didn’t (don’t) think it a good idea. But then Adam at Roof Beam Reader posted his TBR Pile Challenge and I kept seeing all of these TBR posts, and I got to thinking about it—I’ve already decided for the coming year that need to focus on what I really want to read, and what I’ve had piling up. (I’m planning some organized theme reading as well—more on that in a later post.) This challenge will hopefully help me focus on my goals for next year, while at the same time working through my very, very lengthy list. I’ll probably have other books I read next year that have been on my list(s) for a while as well, but some of them I’ve already read (no rereads on this list) and others I haven’t made my mind up on yet. So…

My 2012 TBR Pile Challenge Official List:

  1. The Iliad – Homer, c. 8th cent. BCE (Greece)
  2. The Aeneid – Virgil, 1st cent. BCE (Rome)
  3. Beowulf – Anonymous, c. 8th-11 cent. CE (Anglo Saxon)
  4. The Lusiad – Luís Vaz de Camões, 1572 (Portugal)
  5. Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare, 1602 (England)
  6. Coriolanus – William Shakespeare, 1607 (England)
  7. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605 & 1615 (Spain)
  8. Bleak House – Charles Dickens, 1853 (England)
  9. Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell, 1853 (England)
  10. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins, 1860 (England)
  11. Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges, 1962 (Argentina)
  12. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien, 1977 (posthumous, England)


  1. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell, 1877 (England)
  2. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke, 2004 (England)

I will track these on my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge Page. If I get through all of these, plus some other books I’m hoping to read next year, 2012 will be the best reading year I’ve had in a long time!

I’m also planning to participate in Allie’s (A Literary Odyssey) January Shakespeare month, so Twelfth Night and Coriolanus will do double duty nicely. Other possibilities for January include Much Ado About Nothing and Othello. Or pretty much any play Shakespeare wrote that isn’t Romeo and Juliet (I’ve had my fill of that one) or Macbeth (let’s just say high school senior English killed any interest I have in that one). The last time I read any Shakespeare (a year ago), I was reminded how much fun he is to read, so I’m really looking forward to this month.

Now, to just get the books finished that I wanted to read this year!

R.I.P. and Other Thoughts

I’m working on a post on the recently completed The Sign of Four for later this weekend, but first I wanted to pop in and commit myself (perhaps foolishly!) to this fall’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge. I say “perhaps foolishly,” as I’m currently not actually sure what my fall schedule is going to be like. I know that at the minimum, however, October will be freer than September, so that should allow some time for seasonally appropriate reading. That, and I seem to be on a bit of a mystery kick, and mysteries fall under Carl’s guidelines. Of course, there’s also the upcoming Classics Circuit on pre-Victorian Gothic that I’m considering participating in, so everything seems pointed towards a rather suspenseful reading season.

Due to the aforementioned schedule uncertainty, I’m only going to commit myself to Peril the Second (two books), although I’m hoping I’ll have time for much more. Peril of the Short Story is also a possibility, as I have a short Edgar Allan Poe collection I’ve been meaning to get to.

Now, what to read? Some possibilities from my shelves:

  • The Italian (Ann Radcliffe) – qualifies as pre-Victorian Gothic
  • Dracula (Bram Stoker)
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  • The Moonstone OR The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)
  • The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)
  • Short Stories – Edgar Allan Poe

Add to this the infinity of possibilities from the library. I already have Death at La Fenice (Donna Leon) checked out, so that is probably the one book I’m certain to read for this challenge. I have some other thoughts in mind as well, but I need to check availability first. And of course, final determination of books read will almost certainly be whim based.

Some miscellaneous other news:

  • It looks like we will have a new bookstore to replace the departing Borders! I still need to check out the newish Independent, too, but I’ve heard second-hand that it doesn’t stock much in the way of books I’m interested in. Maybe. This is why I need to visit.
  • I’m almost finished with my Architectural Registration Exam, thank goodness. I’m sick of studying, so I scheduled out all the rest of the tests and will be finished Oct. 1 (thus the less busy October than September).
  • I’m still reading in Spanish! Although slow-going, the challenge is fun, and I’ve started keeping a list of words that I just plain like. I’ve also been a bit surprised at how much meaning I can gather in a paragraph only knowing with certainty a handful of words. (Others I recognize but hesitate at the translation, and some are related through a common Latin origin to English words I know.)

Back soon with the next Sherlock Holmes post!