Tuesday, 13 November 2007

From the Stacks

"Last year, as a result of enjoying Carl's RIP Challenge so very much, Overdue Books created the From the Stacks Reading Challenge. We had an amazing response! So this year....it's back. The rules are the same: If you are anything like me your stack of purchased to-be-read books is teetering over. So for this challenge we would be reading 5 books that we have already purchased, have been meaning to get to, have been sitting on the nightstand and haven't read before. No going out and buying new books. No getting sidetracked by the lure of the holiday bookstore displays."
I have to admit that this does seem like the perfect challenge in the approach to Christmas. The "to be read" pile is threatening to take over on my bookshelves (all double stacked, oh horror) and, while I shouldn't really need an added incentive to start working my way through it, I have made in the last year or so a rather alarming discovery about my book addiction: I begin to feel quite panicked if the height of the pile sinks too low. I lie awake at night wondering what I will do if there isn't an unread book waiting for me. Or, more exactly, a choice of unread books. I don't think this is entirely healthy, though I do make excuses about the difficulty of getting to the library and the inadequacy of choice when I get there. One of the problems is the internet, of course - giving me access to the largest second-hand bookshop in the world is dangerous; combining it with book blogs, author sites, complete bibliographies and advance warning of new books is fatal. The government worries about online gambling, but they should be looking out for me. Where will the dogs sleep when I replace the pile of books I'm reading now? Will the chickens have to share their coop with the overspill of gardening books?

Here is my selection of books for the From the Stacks challenge:

The challenge requires five to be read, but I've included Austerlitz, Stamping Butterflies and Temeraire as alternatives, not least because I may get stuck with Cloud Atlas for a second time. However, I plan to tackle most of the reading over Christmas, when I have every intention of being utterly self-indulgent and doing nothing but read for two weeks. The wonderful thing about having grown-up sons is that they don't require entertaining (they will spend their spare time playing with and on computers), they help with the washing up, they will cook lunch if no-one else feels like doing it, and they regard reading and writing about books as relatively normal activity. So, if the dogs and I really apply ourselves to leisure, we may get through the whole pile. I've just realised, there should have been a box of yoghurt drops atop the stack.

The only thing wrong with this scenario is that, if I read these eight books, plus books for Outmoded Authors and the Canadian Book Challenge, and I start my first book in the Young Adult Challenge on January 1st - which is quite likely - that will have made a significant dent in the TBR pile. "Hurrah," I hear you cheer. Not so, Jon Courtenay Grimwood's
butterflies are stamping away in the pit of my stomach, and I can feel the urge to have just a quick look at Abebooks. I've been thinking of adding to the Barbara Pym collection, and I haven't got any Agatha Christie - oops, watch that pile of books, it's tilting alarmingly...


  1. I'm just sitting here smiling at your post about your book addiction! You're right you know, if you read all those books you'll certainly be in the market for some new ones!

  2. I really wanted to do the Canadian Book Challenge but knew I wouldn't get through it without buying books I can neither afford nor have the room to store so I'm doing the From The Stacks Challenge and will join up with the TBR Challenge on December 15th. Then maybe this time next year there will be room on the shelves to take on something different.

  3. I've abandoned the idea of there being room on the shelves! In the end I've only bought 4 books for the Canadian Challenge, and been promised one free. I was going to buy two of them anyway, so thought it not too profligate.

    I excuse the book buying addiction by remembering the very, very long time when I only bought books from charity shops, and then only rarely. I am, though, making greater efforts to order things from the library (with much gritting of teeth when things turn out not to be available).

    Ann, I infer from your comment that you might actually part with books when you've read them? Gosh!

  4. Yes, unless I am absolutely certain I'm going to want to re-read I pass books on either to friends or to Oxfam. I'm a great believer in books doing the rounds.

  5. thanks for leaving your comment on my blog! I'm new at this and am having fun 'meeting' other people who read! And I love your 'stack of books tilting alarmingly' description! which pretty well describes all my shelves. I feel much the same way about not having enough books to read. Most of the books on my 888 challenge I already owned, as I wanted to read some of what i have on my shelves so I could come closer to reading at least half of what I currently own. Can I ask where in Northumberland you are? I was in in York for a year, and we went via train to Edinburgh on one trip, and to Lindisfarne Island and Bamburgh Castle on another trip. The only reason I don't currently have more books/shelves is I gave over half my collection away when I moved to England in 2000. I have since learned to never do this again (give so many books away) since I end up rebuying many of them again to reread......I will keep in mind what your son said about Cryptonomicon, which is kind of daunting, but I do want to try it. It's mostly to keep me from reading all the latest books from my favourite authors that I put into the 888 challenge so have to wait til Jan 1 to read! The Tim Powers book you picked I've read - it's his first one, so it's a bit uneven, but I did end up enjoying it quite a bit. I've read most of his books. Anyway, I was surprised to see you were from an area of England I like - I miss York so much! it's hard to love two countries almost the same! adn hope your pile of books is never empty!

  6. Susan, we're in north Northumberland, a couple of miles from the Scottish border - can't quite see the castles, but can just see the sea! It's lovely, but is quite windswept. I know York quite well - I've got family there, and have run conferences there twice. I try always to go to the Minster when I visit, I find it very peaceful. I don't think I could bear not to live in Britain but, if I had to, Canada would be next choice.

    Ann, I wholeheartedly agree about circulating books and admire your resolve. I almost always re-read books, though - in my non-buying days I had to re-read everything, several times!