In yesterday’s post on The Nun I mentioned bloggers who write and read with such amazing rapidity yet maintain high qualities of output. I’d like here to spend a bit more time on this.
Max first put me on to the Twitter and blogger phenomenon of #TBR20. Essentially it was a project whereby one undertook to choose 20 books (or some other total) from the to be read pile and work through them within a set time, while refraining from buying any new books (link to his piece below). I’ll start with the blogger who instigated this scheme, though:
Eva Stalker in a post from Nov. 2014: TBR20 project proposed HERE
Link HERE to her conclusions when finished (and plan for future similar ventures)
Among those whose blogs I follow (and who post with admirable frequency and read voraciously) and who took up the challenge:
JacquiWine’s Journal 15 May reflections on finishing:
I need to carry on with the spirit of #TBR20, of valuing the books I already own rather than allowing myself to be distracted by the next craving. I’m not sure if I can go another four months without buying ANY new books; it might be a little too soon after the first round.
Jacqui provides links to those who inspired or joined in the project subsequently, including
Emma (BooksAroundTheCorner): her views HERE
Max (mentioned above): link HERE with further links on that piece to related posts.
I’m reluctant to join in formally. I understand Max’s explanation that TBR20 can provide the impetus, focus and discipline to get stuck in to the backlog, and stop finding distractions or excuses – or other books that come to hand; but he does also point out that there’s no point going for it if it becomes itself a burden.
So I prefer to carry on picking out, from time to time, individual volumes that languish on my shelves (some have been there years, like The Nun), sitting patiently awaiting their moment in the sun. And I’ve just been sent another couple of novels for review, so need to prioritise reading them, and have John Harvey’s The Poetics of Sight looking at me reprovingly from my desk as I write this. I need to review it.
I recently had new bookshelves installed, which meant emptying many of the old ones and then putting all the books back once the new shelves were in place. This enabled me to introduce a little system in their placement (though much of it was determined by size of book and depth of shelf), and I’ve isolated many of the TBR books. I’ll keep you posted on the progress I make.
First I need to choose between books which were published some time ago, those that I bought fresh from publication (de la Pava, Newman, etc.) – but there’s another category: those I’d like to reread (the TBRR pile?).
One final reason for dodging the formal TBR20 challenge: I like to choose my next book, often, on the basis of a contrast with the one just finished (something old like Diderot followed by something recent, for example; something modernist and challenging followed by something more conventional; fiction/non-fiction, and so on).
So, in the spirit of self-discipline I’ll shut down my laptop now, ignore the siren call of social media, book bloggers and email – and the constant stream of bullfinches and chaffinches visiting the window-mounted bird feeder by my window as I type – and get down to some serious reading.
It’s been quite liberating, writing this piece, and not the usual book review. Must do it more often. No revising, redrafting or polishing: just the thing itself.