08 March 2013


Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 11

One of the really popular reading challenges I have never been attracted to at all is the "TBR challenge". For those who aren't part of the book blogging clique, "TBR" stands for "To Be Read" and refers to all the books you own but haven't read yet.

A short Internet search yielded a link to the 2013 Mount TBR Challenge hosted at My Reader's Block. The levels are named after different peaks, which I think is cute--although it boggles my mind that anyone could have accumulated as many as 150 unread books, which is the highest level, named after Mount Olympus of Mars. (I have about forty, at the last count, and that seems scandalous enough to me!)

Yet while my ideal "TBR" number is 0, the idea of plowing through my own pile just to get them read doesn't appeal to me. As a reading challenge, it lacks both the thematic quirkiness and openness to synchronicity that I look for in a project. That is, it's too systematic and straightforward, even for someone who wants to CLOSE.

But I blog about it now because I've found a fantastic way to put a twist on it . . .

"TBR" Promise:
If someone brings up a book I already own but haven't read yet,
I will take that as my cue to start reading it!

And of course, I came up with this rule after I had already started doing it . . .

Last January, Jenny posted a review of Beth Revis's Across the Universe on her blog Alternate Readality. In the combox, I mentioned that I happened to have a copy of the novel and noted that if I read it, she and I would finally have a book other than Jane Eyre in common. (We don't have opinions of Jane Eyre in common, though: she hates it as much as I love it--LOL!) Although Jenny hadn't liked Revis's novel very much, she encouraged me to go ahead "and tear it to pretty pieces, please" . . . and I was happy to oblige in my Reading Diary entry.

So you see how it works, right? I happen to have the book; someone happens to bring it up; I happen to say I have it handy; the other person happens to want to know what I'd think of it . . . And what happens next is the reading of it!

There's an element of gaming to it as well. I know what cards I'm holding, but the other person doesn't. The other person may not even know I'm we're playing a game! =P Unless, you know, I write about it publicly on my blog or something . . .

* * * * *

Thanks to another unwitting buddy, I already have a second book for this new game of "reading roulette."

Last weekend, an old friend whom I love discussing books with, although we have precious few titles in common (and even fewer favourites), asked me an unexpected question about Roald Dahl's children's books. And despite having read a decent bit of Dahl, of course I hadn't got to the only one my friend had tried. (Yes, it's really like that with us two.)

"If you ever try James and the Giant Peach, let me know what you think," she said--nay, commanded, with all the powers of destiny in her voice.

And that is why I'll have another Reading Diary entry to send her a link to soon.  =)

In the meantime, I wonder what the next book I'll be dealt will be . . .

Image Sources: a) Across the Universe by Beth Revis, b) James and the Giant Peach


love the girls said...

It looks like the artist who did the cover design hasn't read the book either. The peach is too small.

Charlie comes from a family who loves him and ends up a capitalist exploiting third worlders. Where as James has aunts who are less than kind and ends up befriending strange creatures on his way to academia.

Enbrethiliel said...


Don't forget the "drugs" James gets from a friendly stranger! =P

The peach is too small in nearly all the illustrations. =/

love the girls said...

It's not so much drugs from a stranger as it is magic that transform poor Jame's life from a loveless life among humans into a life of being loved by strange bugs.

And afterward rewarded with a life of leisure adulated by his lessers in central park.

But where are the loving adults? There are none. This didn't strike me as strange when I had the book read to me as a child, but upon reading it as an adult, it was rather noticeable.

Or take poor Charlie, Willie Wonka is the ultimate modern day capitalist. He fires all his workers who were expected a living wage, imports dirt cheap foreign labor whom he exploits as he pleases defending the indefensible with the usual defenses we see used.

And as usual is adulated by all for his fine products, and proves his merit by seeing the goodness in Charlie and rewards his goodness by giving him a company far worse than the the toothpaste factory.

love the girls said...

Adding on, compare those adventures Of James and Charlie to that of Max.

Max is sent to his room for the indiscretion of telling his mother he's going to eat her up.

Goes off for a year and a day on a wild adventure among the wild things and in the end finds himself homesick for those who truly love him.

A well ordered home with an adventure among more gruesome creatures and loving creatures that ends with supper waiting at home that is still hot.

Jenny said...

Oh, I like this idea. Have fun. Now I'm thinking of books to suggest. ;-) I wonder if any would be on your tbr shelf.

Enbrethiliel said...


LTG -- I confess that I don't mind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that much. It hits the right mythical note that James and the Giant Peach absolutely fails to--and while I find it easy to take the poor Oompa-Loompas in stride, I can't say the same about the giant bugs.

The contrast you've just drawn between James and Max is actually supporting my "drugs" theory! =P Is James's story one of escape or merely escapism? The adventure does not feel weighed properly.

Jenny -- I've got a bunch, but they're pretty eclectic! Are you feeling lucky? Place your next bet any time! ;-)