Thursday, 29 December 2011

Off The Shelf Challenge for 2012

I'm signing up to this challenge from Bookish Ardour as, due to reviewing and studying, I keep neglecting some books that I've owned for years. They sit on my bookshelves, languishing and gathering dust, despite the fact that I'm actually really looking forward to reading them! I'm going to aim to read 15 books (Level 2 - Trying) that I already own physical copies of. No ebooks for this challenge! And if you're interested, check out the sign up page here for the challenge.

Here's my provisional list and the reasons why I feel I should read these particular books.

1. Oklahoma Brides by Vickie McDonough
WHY: My mum bought a set of ten novella collections from CBD almost a year ago because they were ridiculously cheap. I've yet to read any of the books in this set and I think she's already read half of them, even though they've been on my bookcase! My mum raved about this book and since I read a novella by Vickie this Christmas and loved it, this seems like a good way to break into this stack of books. And by stack, I really do mean stack - I can no longer place books the usual way on my bookcase. That's how bad my bookcase situation is...

2. A Promise for Ellie by Lauraine Snelling
WHY: This is another book that my mum bought me, except this time she bought me the entire boxed series. I feel especially guilty for books that I haven't read when I actually own all of the sequels, and this is one I've even taken to university and placed on my bookcase there to convince myself to read it. These books actually look pretty good and it won't be as taxing as some other books on my list.

3. Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore
WHY: Okay, I'm starting to see a theme here. I think it may have been last year? My mum bought a set of Helen Dunmore books from The Book People (like me, she can't resist a sale when it comes to books!) and gave me five of the books for my Christmas. And sadly I've not got around to reading any of them, even though the covers are gorgeous and I do really enjoy historical fiction. I've picked this one as the story appeals to me and because I'm sure I once checked it out the library but never finished it.

4. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
WHY: I swear, I didn't get this book from my mum! Just my mother-in-law. Seriously, my fiance has a mum and stepmum and both of them love to read just as much as I do, so getting married is not going to put a  stop my reading at all! My MIL got me a lovely set of Harper Perennial books for my Christmas this year, ten books in total. I went through the synopsis for each book and decided to add this one to my challenge.

5. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
WHY: My copy is actually the Penguin Modern Classics edition, but it's close enough. As I said, my MIL does not help my bookshelves at all, and for my 20th birthday she and my fiance's stepdad got me a set of ten Penguin Modern Classics. I've picked this one to be part of my challenge partly because I liked the sound of the story and had heard good things about it, and also because I quoted E. M. Forster's opinion of Northanger Abbey in my History project and figured I should read one of his books.

6. When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall
WHY: I bought this book sometime in 2010 with an Amazon voucher I got for my birthday but for some bizarre reason, never got around to reading it. A while back I discovered that my local library has the other books in the series so figured I should take this chance and read all the books in the series at once...but now that I've checked again, they only have #2 so I might have to get #3 from Audible. An excuse to get more audiobooks? Yes, please! Also, I've only ever read Cindy's Christmas novellas but have heard good things about this series. 

7. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
WHY: Partly because I discovered the TV show Sister Wives this year and find polygamy quite fascinating, and partly because my mum recently read this book and recommended it. That encouraged me to hunt in the box of books under my bed (yes, I've ran out of shelf space that badly that I keep books in boxes!) and find my copy of this book. It's quite long so may have to wait until the summer when I have more time to read. But I've been wanting to read this book ever since it was first published, which I've now realised was in 2008...

8. The Memory Garden by Rachel Hore
WHY: I couple of years ago, my mum bought me Rachel's first three novels for my Christmas. Yes, it was a Book People offer. My MIL is addicted to these as well. I read The Dream House sometime last year and loved it, but have neglected to read the other two even though I know I'll enjoy them as well. I love dual-time narratives and it's refreshing to read books set in the UK, so this is definitely going to be part of this challenge.

9. Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge
WHY: A friend of mine managed to get this book for me on a bookswapping website back in 2010 and while I was super thankful for her getting hold of the book for me (Thanks, Kate!) I've still not read it! Instead, I think it sat inside a box of books in the bottom of my wardrobe and got forgotten. It is most sad, especially as some of my friends have loved this book.

10. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver 
WHY: My copy is actually a giant airport edition (even more reason why I need to read it, it takes up more shelf space than other books) but I can't find a decent picture of my edition. A lot of people have raved about this book and said that it's a "must read", especially now that a film has been made about it. I've owned it for quite a while, long before there was all the hype so I really should get around to reading it.

11. Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
WHY: Again, I own a different edition. I can find picture of the cover, but only foreign-language editions, which will just confuse everyone! I'm a massive "Anne" fan but, with the exception of LMM's short-story collections, haven't read any of her other works. Since I own the entire Emily series (varying editions, including one 1930s hardback) this seems like a good place to start.

12. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
WHY: Three reasons! I read Valerie's Property a few years ago and loved it; a friend sent me this in the post as she knew how much I'd enjoyed it (Thanks, Anne!); and I kept putting this off until I read the original story of Jekyll & Hyde, on which this book is based. Well, GoodReads tells me that I read Stevenson's original back in October 2009 so I've put this book off for too long. It's not exactly a long book so this should be an easy addition to my list.

13. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
WHY: I'm also a massive fan of the Little Women series and have owned this book since I was about 11. I'm sure I started reading this book as a child, and even have a memory of falling asleep while reading this book and waking up with it on my chest. I also own a lovely 1950s illustrated (and sadly abridged) hardback of Rose in Bloom, the sequel, so would love to finally get around to reading this book.

14. The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
WHY: This is another one that there was a lot of hype about several years ago, including from my own mother! I actually managed to get hold of a copy of it on a bookswapping website back when it first became popular, but it's languished for a while on my shelf. I get the impression that the synopsis is ambiguous, in the style of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which is another book I really appreciated, so I hope to read this book in 2012 as well.

15. An Accidental Woman by Barbara Delinsky
WHY: I truly do love Barbara's novels and own quite a few of them that remain unread, but sadly only read a couple in 2011. My love of her books was revived when I downloaded Not My Daughter from Audible, and I've decided to start working my way through those books that she's written that I actually own copies of - and there's quite a few! Why start with this one? It's a giant hardback and takes up a LOT of space!

"Reserves", in case any of these books are disappointing and end up unfinished. Or in case I become ambitious and want to aim higher:
16. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (giant airport book and has been on my shelf for two years)
17. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (a lot of hype about this book but yet still unread)
18. Ice Trap by Kitty Sewell (given by a friend as it was on my wishlist years ago)
19. My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson (loved Marshmallows for Breakfast and am a failure as a chick-lit reader if I haven't read this book by now)
20. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond (went to all the effort of getting a copy of the from the US when it was virtually unheard of over here)
21. Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard (I used to really like her books, and another book about Mormonism)

Anyone else fancy signing up to this challenge? Or have any recommendations of which books to start with?


  1. I will be interested to see what you think of "The Other Hand' (Chris Cleave) as I read it twice - second time for a group read - and both times I just could not stand it. My friend felt exactly the same, but some people love it. I won't go into why i don't like it, I'll wait and see what you say when you've finished it!

  2. The 19th Wife is excellent, both a modern day story interwoven with interesting historical fiction.