Happy new year! As you might have seen in earlier posts, for the last couple of years I have been putting a bit more thought into what I read over the course of a year. In 2017, I did (most of) a reading challenge that I had found on the internet; and in 2018, I devised my own challenge intended to fill the gaps in my knowledge, with 18 different categories, which I (mostly) completed, in three parts: you can read about these here, here, and here.
So what about 2019? I came up with a lot of categories that I might want to complete, as with last year; but at the same time I am very aware of how many unread books I have on my shelves. Several years ago now, I counted and discovered that I had about 70! After giving a few away, I worked my way through them over several years, and discovered a few things that I wished I had read sooner; however, in the intervening period, I have of course gone and acquired a whole lot of other books!
A quick Ecosia search for reading challenges threw up this excellent blogpost by Tanya Patrice of GirlXOXO: a masterlist of all the reading challenges she could find online. This led me to the Untouched Bookshelf Challenge, by Dora on the Swift Coffee blog. The basic concept is simple: read all the untouched books on your shelf, and don’t pay for any new ones until you are finished!
Now, I have a couple of very long books on my shelves, such as Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (I’d been thinking of giving this one a go anyway, and then, just before Christmas, a copy magically appeared on my local book exchange stall). Also, my plan was to have 19 ‘challenge books’ for 2019, as I had had 18 challenges in 2018: seeing as my unread books currently number somewhat more than 19, this gives me a bit of flexibility. I also only count books which I do not currently have on the go; I do count if I restart, from the beginning, a book which I began a long time ago. For example, I read about three quarters of William Langland’s Piers Plowman as an undergraduate in the early 2000s, but never actually finished it, and would like to give the whole book a new start.
So I will try to read as many of my unread books as possible, and blog about 19 of them at some point over the year.
Dora encourages participants to post a list of their unread books; here are mine, minus a few I got for Christmas 2018 and which I expect to read soon anyway.
Acquired before 2008
William Langland, Piers Plowman (restart)
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (restart)
Acquired between 2008 and 2011
Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of Alfred and other contemporary sources
The Norton Book of Medieval Verse Romances
English Mystery Plays
C. S. Lewis, Preface to Paradise Lost
Patrick Süskind, Das Parfum
Janina Ramirez, The Private Lives of the Saints
Justin Pollard, Alfred the Great
Heinrich Böll, Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum
Franz Werfel, Stern der Ungeborenen
Simon Armitage, The Death of King Arthur
Jonathan Coe, What a Carve-up!
Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper
Christopher de Hamel, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
The Travels of John Mandeville
Carola Hicks, The Bayeux Tapestry
J. K. Rowling, tr. Peter Needham, Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis
Abigail Santamaria, Joy
Elif Shafak, The Flea Palace
Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
Italo Calvino, Marcovaldo
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography
Brian Jacques, The Long Patrol
Kate Atkinson, Case Histories
Jenny Diski, Then Again
Wolfram Eilenberger, Finnen von Sinnen
Walter Hooper and Roger Lancelyn Green, C. S. Lewis: a Biography
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Of course, I will read as much as I can of the others over the course of the year, so that by the start of the 20s I will have less of a backlog of books to get through. And I will blog about my discoveries here, of course, and keep an eye on #TheUntouchedBookshelfChallenge on Twitter.