Books I Need to Read in 2012

So, I’ve got this really philosophical post waiting in the wings about lots of things, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to post that just yet. Instead I’m going to announce the great TBR Challenge of 2012. You see, up until I moved away from my hometown, I was a library fiend. I read and checked out books like it was my job. In that time frame the amount of books I owned also grew. And grew. And grew. Yet, I still rarely read the books I own.

It’s a familiar story, yes? So familiar that there are TWO TBR Challenges going on right now. I haven’t participated in a challenge in a while, but this is one that I was planning on doing anyway, so why not participate in both? Is that allowed? I say it is. One is the 2012 To Be Read Pile Challenge over at Roof Beam Reader and the other is the TBR Double Dare over at Ready When You Are, CB. The rules are slightly different, so it’s safe to say I’ll have two different lists for each challenge. In the mean time, I’ll get all these books read and then cleaned off my shelves! Unless, of course, they’re too good and I have to keep the to myself.

I’ll be honest. I’m entirely freaked out by how many books are on this list. I decided to record all the books I have on my shelves right this moment. The rest are still packed away at my parents house from when I moved. This is not even a quarter of my books, not even close. How did I acquire so many?! It’s going to take me YEARS to read them all! Before book blogging I owned zero books that I hadn’t read, because I would go to the store, buy books, come home, read. Now look at me!

I’d like to read this entire list in 2012. That’s it. None of the books from home, just these. I’m sure I won’t get through all of them. I know me. I’d really like to try, though. Since I usually read around 100 books a year, give or take a few, that will still give me 35 books, give or take a few, to read outside of this list. I might get a head start on some of them, too.

I want to start 2012 out with a good one. Anything from this list that blew your mind?

Books for the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge

(Must be published before 2011, 12 books total)

1. Proust Was A Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
2. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
3. Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
4. Tokyo Cancelled  by Rana Dasgupta
5. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
6. The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor
7. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
8. The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric
9. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
10. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
11. Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson
12. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


1. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melvill

Books for the TBR Double Dare

(Only read books on already on your shelf before 1/1/12, except for exceptions. My exceptions: any book clubs, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, possibly all the books on this list.)

1.  What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
3. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
4. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
5. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
6. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
7. The Pattern in the Carpet  by Margaret Drabble
8. Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
9. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
10. Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
11. The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré
12. Memorial by Bruce Wagner
13. A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias
14. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
15. 13 edited by James Howe
16. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
17. I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
18. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
19. The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead
20. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs
21. Truth & Beauty by Anne Patchett
22. The Best of It by Kay Ryan
23. Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
24. The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus
25. So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
26. Emma by Jane Austen
27. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
28. Imaginary Homelands by Salman Rushdie
29. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
30. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
31.  Lions of the West by Robert Morgan
32. A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
33. Escape on the Pearl by Mary Kay Ricks
34. Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay & StoryCorps
35. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
36. An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy
37. The Best American Comics 2011 edited by Alison Bechdel
38. Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter
39. Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan
40. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
41. Matterhorn  by Karl Marlentes
42. A Death in the Family by James Agee
43. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
44. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
45. Possesion by AS Byatt
46. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
47. Exley by Brock Clarke
48. Vita Nova by Louise Glück
49. The Seven Ages by Louise Glück
50. Averno by Louise Glück
51. Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia by Blake Butler
52. The Wrong Blood by Manuel De Lope
53. Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
54. On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad
55. Native Speaker by Chang Rae Lee

49 thoughts on “Books I Need to Read in 2012

  1. Moby Dick was a delightful surprise for me. Definitely a keeper for my shelves. I wrote a review for it here if you are interested.

  2. Well, I’ve only read three books on your list. 1. Miss Peregrine – well, I’ll just say that it’s easily skippable. But also fast, so if you’re looking for a fun fast read that isn’t the best book in the world, that’s a good one. 2. The Lost City of Z – Fantastic book, especially on audio. 3. Possession – My absolute all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. I know most book bloggers have a hard time picking out a favorite book, but that one is mine, no question. People seem to either love it or hate it, though…

    I no longer have any unread books on my shelves. Well technically at present I have one that I just got from PBS, but I plan to have it read before 2012. 😀

    1. I’ve been really disappointed by the reviews of Miss Peregrine’s… I might leave it for another year or two and let all the hype versus disappointing reviews fall away. Or I might save it for RIP next year. I’m pretty sure it was your review of The Lost City of Z that made me pick it up in the first place. I’ve been waiting until I was in the right mood to read Possession; I want it to be perfect! As for Jane Austen… I’m decidedly meh about her. But I just read The Heroine’s Bookshelf, which made me more interested in her and her work!

    2. Loving all these great comments on Possession – such a brilliant book. It doesn’t get the attention it deserves (but I also think the “A Romance” portion of the title is misleading – most people, including me, didn’t really understand how incredibly complex the book is).

  3. Oh! Just saw Jillian’s comment and realized I must have skipped over Emma when I read through your list. I’ve read Emma too. It’s okay. If you like Jane Austen’s writing style, you’ll like it. Or if you’re a big fan of Clueless, which is based on Emma. I enjoyed it, mostly for the Clueless aspect since I’m not a huge fan of Jane.

    1. I don’t love it, if I’m honest. But I’d like to give her a second chance now that I’m a more “mature” reader. 😉

  4. Cloud Atlas is one of my all-time favorite books, and Kavalier & Clay is a wonderful read too. I agree with Amanda–Miss Peregrine is skippable.

    1. Cloud Atlas and Kavalier & Clay are books I’m sure I’ll love, but I want to wait until I’m in the perfect mood for them. I don’t want my reading blues to get in the way of fantastic books 🙂

  5. I love this idea – even if I don’t read them all, having a list where I actually mark them off might help me move through the shelves more easily. Hmmm…it might also coincide nicely with a return to my TPR Challenge in 2012. I sense a post coming.

    As for your list, there are several on here that I much-enjoyed. Trethewey’s Native Guard is beautiful. See my post here:

    I count The Secret Garden among my all-time favorites, Emma is a good but not amazing Austen, and Possession rocked my world a few Januarys ago, so maybe that would be a good one to start the year with. Oooh…and Chang Rae Lee: my favorite discovery from grad school. Native Speaker is excellent.

    1. I loved your review of Native Guard! I can’t wait to read it. Love seeing poetry reviews on blogs, too! 😀 That makes me so happy. Glad to see so many of these books are ones you love.

  6. I really want to do the TBR Double Dare, but the fact that so many of my favourite authors have books out in the first three months of the year is making it haaaard 😛

    You have some great stuff on your lists! I’d especially love to hear your thoughts on JS&MN and Possession. Both are among my all-time favourites.

    1. Totally agree with you about Possession! And I can’t wait to read JS&MN… it’s just sitting on my shelf taking up space (like so many other books), but all these positive comments make me want to get to it post-haste!

  7. I have a very similar challenge next year. I love being surrounded by books but it’s getting to the point where I no longer gave any space for extra books. 😦 I plan on reading some of the thinnest ones first. Hopefully it’ll make me more hopeful about narrowing down my tbr pile. Good luck!

    1. I am at the same spot! Well, I would be if I had all my books. Right now they’re taking up plenty of space in my room at my parents’ house, but I’d like to, eventually, create a collection of books that I’ve read and loved, with a *small* TBR. Once I read a book, I like to set it free, unless it’s one I really loved and want to hoard 😉

  8. I was totally enthralled by Proust was a Neuroscientist!! And I am going to join a Cloud Atlas readalong in March – join us? I own Possession and Moby Dick, too. Moby Dick scares me.

    1. I might be up for a read-along of Cloud Atlas. That’s been on my shelf since its release.

      Also, both Moby Dick and Possession are genius! Deifnitely hope you get to them in 2012. 🙂

      (P.S. Possession is a little bit scary too – no one prepared me for what the book is really like, so fair warning: its definitely literary).

      1. Hmmm… would you be interested in hosting a readalong for Cloud Atlas together if there isn’t already one going on? I’ll shoot you a tweet later about this in case you don’t see it!

  9. There are so many good books on this list! I’ve wanted to read Proust Was A Neuroscientist for awhile now (Lehrer has a great blog… I can’t remember the name now). Also, Matterhorn, but the size keeps putting me off. Read-a-long, perhaps?

    1. I would totally be up for a readalong of Matterhorn! The heft has been putting me off too, unfortunately. It’s just too heavy to carry in the subway! Maybe I’ll save it for weekend reading?

      1. Oh man, that would be such a hard book to read on a subway. You’d have to be sitting down! It might be a fun one to spread out over a couple months during the winter, although a book on the Vietnam War might be too bleak for March, which is the most depressing month (at least here in Minnesota!).

  10. I’ve read a whopping two of the books on your lists (although I own many more of them!). The two are: Moby Dick and Possession. Both books are SUPERB. I’m talking, unbelievably brilliant – BUT – they are also very slow paced and dense. They were difficult for me to get through (particularly up to the 67% mark) because they’re just so “much” – but they’re well worth it, in the end. I would say they’d make my ultimate “top 50” list – and, considering how many books I’ve read, that’s saying something.

    Glad you’re joining us for the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge – wish you luck & look forward to your reviews! (From the comments here, I’m definitely going to move J. Strange & Mr. Norrell up on my list – I’ve had it for a long time…need to read it!)

    1. I’m reading Moby Dick right now and I’m glad I’m reading it slowly. It is dense, but it’s lovely. I’m really enjoying it!

    1. I wanted to have a record of all these books on my shelves (they’re double stacked in a lot of places!) So I’m glad I have it. I need to get rid of some of these books! 😀

  11. I hope you do get to Possession in the TBR Challenge. I loved that book; read it twice, as a matter of fact. (I, too, want to read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.) You have a wonderful list!

  12. What an impressive list! There are a lot on there that I want to read (especially The Lost City of Z and Matterhorn) It took me about 9 months to get to the end of Moby Dick so I hope you manage to read it a bit faster than I did – good luck!

    1. Moby Dick is actually going a lot faster than I thought it would! I love it so far. The Lost City of Z is good, but it’s not exactly holding my attention. I’ll pick it up and read bits and pieces here and then forget about it for long stretches of time.

  13. OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOUR HEADER!!!!!!! It’s gorgeous Lu! 😉

    And I love how you have Moby Dick on the end of your list. I’m guessing it might fall off. But really, good luck!

    1. Thank you, Trish! 🙂 I thought Moby Dick would fall off the list, too, but so many people told me I had to read it, so reading it I am. And I love it so far!

  14. The House of Tomorrow, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, The Weird Sisters, and A Visit From the Goon Squad were all books I enjoyed. I’ve been meaning to read Possession and The Lost City of Z

  15. From your shortlist Lehrer blew my mind last year. I absolutely loved Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (a few years ago).
    Loved the Visit from the Goon Squad from your longlist.
    I hope you will enjoy them 🙂

    1. Proust Was A Neuroscientist was actually one of the first books I started reading this year and it’s great! Definitely fascinating.

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