The Next Chapter: My 20 TBR for 2020

Last year I was disappointed that I only read 16 books. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the majority of the books I read last year. I found at least 10 I connected with.  I also know it sounds paltry to people who read 150 books a year but I’m a slow reader plus I only read one book at a time. I noticed that some people are doing the 20 books in 2020 challenge and I thought it’s only 4 more books than I read last year.  So I think I  will give it a try, without the annoying hashtag that comes along with it.

This also comes at a good time in my life.  I am turning 60 this year and I decided I want to shake things up. Yes, I could do a TBR entirely made out of my favorite authors but I want a bit of a challenge.  If I don’t do it when I  turn 60, I probably won’t.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had themes that I mostly stuck to.  In 2018, I decided to read more classics and I was happy to read books like Little Woman, Mansfield Park, and Brave New World. Last year I decided to read authors I hadn’t read before and I got introduced to great writers like J.M. Coetzee and Wallace Stegner.  This year though, I would do things a bit differently.  I would pick out 20 books that I wanted to read this year. I tried to set up a calendar schedule for each book but it drove me crazy. So here is a list of books I want to read this year:

1 and 2) The Call of the Wild/White Fang by Jack London:  I actually read these two books in January.  I never read anything by London and I wanted to read Call of the Wild before the film came out.  I liked both books. I think The Call of the Wild was the tighter novel.  I found animal abuse by the hands of humans to be very upsetting but I enjoyed both books and want to read more by London.

3) Beloved by Toni Morrison:  Toni Morrison is a legend and her death last year made me realize I should read more books by her. I was originally going to read The Bluest Eyes but I thought it was time to read her masterpiece.  It’s not an easy book to read and I’m sure I will be a hot mess when I finish it but I know I will get a lot out of it.

4) A Year in Provance by Peter Mayle: I have a feeling I will need to read something cheerful after Beloved.  Also, by this time of year, I want a book that makes me forget about Winter. This book sounds like a perfect escape from Winter.

5) Persuasion by Jane Austen:  This is the only major book by Austen I haven’t read.  There seems to be a lot of love for it on Bookstigram.  Some people say it’s their favorite Austen novel.  I didn’t care for the last novel I read by her, Mansfield Park, so I hope this is a better book

6) A Gentleman From Moscow by Amor Towles: I’ve been obsessed with this book for a while now.  I need to push myself to read current fiction.  My mom read it for her book club and loved it.  What better recommendation can you get?

7 8 and 9) The USA Trilogy by Jon Dos Passos:  I never read a whole series or trilogy before.  As much as I liked the first Harry Potter book, I don’t think I’m going to read the entire series.  The USA Trilogy consists of 3 books: The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money. The books have different bios and “newsreel ” sections, so hopefully, it will read fast. I’ve had my copies for a long time and I think now is a perfect time to read them.

10) The Naked Civil Servant by Quinton Crisp: I think by the 10th book I might be in the middle of June and Pride month. I’ve had my copy of this book for years.  I know it is the memoir of Crisp, who created a sensation in England by being out in the ’30s, despite the laws on the books criminalizing homosexual sex acts. It should be an interesting read.

11) Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson:  I haven’t read much in the way of lesbian fiction.  I’ve heard lots of good things about this book and I like oranges.

12) Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham:  I talk a lot about my love for her novel Tether’s End but I’ve never read anything else by her. This is another Albert Campion mystery.

13) Death of a Peer by Nagio Marsh: I  usually read just one mystery novel a year.  I don’t know why because I  love the genre.  I read a couple of years ago Marsh’s Night at the Vulcan, which was an excellent backstage who done it. I want to read more by her

14) Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys:  My friend Jennifer sent me recently a package of books and this was among them. I posted a picture of the books she sent me and this one got the most comments about. It’s a prequel of Jane Eyre, focusing on Rochester’s crazy wife in the attic.

15) Dune by Frank Herbert:  I used to read science fiction when I was a teenager.  I was a fan of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Then I remember reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke and felt there was too much science.  Another film adaptation with Timothee Chaletmet is coming out later this year. I’m going to really try to read this, otherwise, I will see the film and not bother reading the book.

16) The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: This will be my only reread this year. I read it as a teenager and all I remember is the locusts. Time to jog my memory.

17) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy:  I was going to read this the first time I  did #victober.  However, I spent the whole month of October reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  Hardy is one of my favorite authors even though his books are very dark and somewhat depressing.

18) The Bell by Iris Murdoch:  Last year I bought 3 of her novels at a Knight’s of Columbus sale. They were Penguin Classics editions and I felt I hit the jackpot.  I’ve only read Under the Net, which I loved and A Severed Head, which I hated (I would love to see the film with Joan Collins). The Bell is supposed to be a good book, so I will read it.

19) Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves: I’ve always wanted to read this memoir.  It’s about his life after WWI and why he moved away from England.

20) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier:  I’ve seen the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock film based on this book but I never read the novel.  Netflix is coming out with a film at the end of the year with Lily Allen, who seems to be in every British film lately.  Hopefully, I can finish it before it’s released in theaters.

Of course, I think of my TBRs like a road map.  But sometimes you want to take a detour.  There are so many other books I also want to read like Stoner by John Williams, Nana by Emile Zola, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I might wind up not finishing a book or two on the list. Nothing is etched in stone. Still, this gives me a plan to work off of. Wish me luck!