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As I mentioned in my last post, I will not be undertaking my usual book-a-month challenge this year as these commitments have recently seemed to be more of a chore than a challenge. My fellow book salon members are constantly reminding me not to beat myself up over these “should reads” and I have to agree with them that it’s rather silly to set myself these arbitrary book goals when I get so excited and ambitious regarding the various salon themes that I’m reading plenty of contemporary and classic books.

However, having recently had to analyze my bookshelves for Simon at Savidge Reads, I’ve decided that my bedside to-be-read (TBR) pile has gotten out of control. Not that there are hundreds of books there, but many of them are books I took from the free bookshelves at a job I left over 18 months ago and that’s just sort of ridiculous.

I should perhaps explain that there are plenty of unread books on my general shelves, but this pile is mostly for books that don’t meet the “standards” of the actual shelves (usually used paperbacks that I’ve picked up here and there from work, friends, or library sales rather than volumes I’ve intentionally purchased). I never intended to keep them, but there they remain as the months, and now years, pass. Something must be done.

And so, without further delay, here is the list of books I am committing to read by the end of the year or give away unread.

The Black Dahlia (James Ellroy)
Black Sheep (Georgette Heyer)
A Civil Contract (Georgette Heyer)
The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
The Good Thief (Hannah Tinti)
The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer)
Home (Marilynne Robinson)
Kaaterskill Falls (Allegra Goodman)
The Known World (Edward P. Jones)
Notes from Underground (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Octopus: A Story of California (Frank Norris)
Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow)
The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafón)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See)
Swamplandia! (Karen Russell)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
The Unknown Ajax (Georgette Heyer)
The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)

French Fiction
Au Bon Roman (Laurence Cossé)
La Duchesse de Langeais; La Fille aux yeux d’or (Honoré de Balzac)
Les Heures souterraines (Delphine de Vigan)
Stupeur et tremblements (Amélie Nothomb)

Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen)
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Bill Bryson)

The Barbary Coast (Herbert Asbury)
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (Michael Lewis)
An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England (Venetia Murray)
In the Heart of the Sea (Nathaniel Philbrick)
Passionate Minds (David Bodanis)
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (Stephen Greenblatt)

I’m not saying I’m going to read all of these, or that I won’t read some and decide to keep them, just that if they haven’t tempted me by December, I should admit that I’m just not that into them.

In an effort to get a jump-start on this pile, I have decided to sign up for the Double Dog Dare over at Ready When You Are, C.B.. I welcome anyone interested to join me. By signing up, you are making a basic pledge that, until April Fool’s Day, you will only read books that were in your TBR stack as of January 1, 2013 (including library books and hold requests).

Double dog dare

Exceptions can be made for book clubs, but I will try to limit my salon books to two per month, unless they are already in the stack. Given my reading rate of 5-6 books per month, I’m hoping this will mean clearing out at least 10 books from my TBR by April 1. As for the rest of the year, we’ll see. As I go, I will be posting the books I’ve read from the list above on my reading challenge page.

How about you? Do you have an official TBR pile? Is it manageable?

Are there any books you would particularly recommend on the above list? (Don’t worry Sunil, I’ve already started The Shadow of the Wind.)