2018 TBR Challenge #TBR2018RBR

Adam at RoofBeamReader is back with his TBR Pile Challenge and I’m on board because I also tend to buy books that I don’t get around to reading.

2018 TBR Challenge (WildmooBooks.com)

The challenge is simple: choose 12 books that have been on your TBR (To Be Read) list for more than a year. Participants can also include two alternates as backups.

The last time I took this challenge, in 2013, I only managed to read three of the twelve books on my list. One of those books read was A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, which was outstanding. I still think of that book four years later, so that read alone was worth the whole challenge for me.

In no particular order, here is my official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge list:


#TBR2018RBR WildmooBooks
They’ve been given a place of honor in my office.


  1. The Swarm (2004) by Frank Schatzing. This was on my list for the 2013 challenge and the only title I’m carrying over. If I don’t read this in 2018, I’m giving the book away because it’s a chunkster that has been mocking me from the bookshelf for way too many years (881 pages).
  2. Middlemarch (1871) by George Elliot. No TBR list of mine is complete without a great 19th century novel on it (708 pages).
  3. The World of Willa Cather (1951) by Mildred R. Bennett. I have a copy of the new 1961 edition. I’m told this one is a bit skewed, but still a worthwhile read. Bennett did much to preserve and grow Cather’s reputation after her death but, apparently, she was a bit of a homophobe and therefore did not embrace Edith Lewis, Cather’s partner of 40 years. What a loss of information and insight that was (304 pages).
  4. Willa Cather: A Critical Biography (1953) by E.K. Brown completed by Leon Edel. This was to be the first authorized, full-length critical biography of Cather, but Brown died unexpectedly before he finished it. I understand he had many conversations with Cather’s partner, Edith Lewis (266 pages).
  5. Look Homeward, Angel (1929) by Thomas Wolfe. I want to read this book primarily from reading about it and Max Perkins’s work on it as described in Berg’s book mentioned above (644 pages).
  6. Free Food for Millionaires (2007) by Min Jin Lee. I remember the splash this book made when it first came out, but never got around to reading it. After loving Lee’s Pachinko so much this year, I can’t wait to read her first novel (624 pages).
  7. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (2003) by Anna Funder. I enjoyed Funder’s WWII novel, All That I Am, and have a long been both attracted to and repulsed by communist East Germany. Will also qualify for #AWW2018, The 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge (288 pages).
  8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn* (1943) by Betty Smith. I fully intended to read this classic in 2017, but it kept getting pushed back. I’m on in 2018 (624 pages).
  9. The Crippled Tree (1965) by Han Suyin. I came across this autobiography at a used bookstore. I read the first page to get a sense of it and didn’t want to stop reading (448 pages).
  10. Grotesque: A Novel (2003) by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Rebecca Copeland. A psychological thriller revolving around the murder of two Japanese women. The blurb calls it a “classic work of noir fiction” (530 pages).
  11. The Chosen (1967) by Chaim Potok. This is one of my wife’s favorite novels and I’ve been meaning to read it for, like, seventeen years (304 pages).
  12. Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992) by Peter Høeg, translated by Tiina Nunnally. I love snow and have heard this is a great thriller. Do I read it in the summer when I’m melting from heat or in winter to enjoy the complementary atmosphere? (649 pages).


  1. Don Quixote* (1605) by Cervantes. This will make me think twice about a casual DNF, won’t it? DNF = Did Not Finish (948 pages).
  2. Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany (2014) by Marie Jalowicz Simon, translated by Anthea Bell (368 pages).

Check out Adam’s signup post for the challenge and if you’ve got a pile of books waiting to be read that keeps getting put off for those shiny new books that catch your eye, consider joining us!

* Signifies a book that’s also on my Classics Club list, a five-year challenge which I have woefully neglected. I’ve read 21/50 and, for me, that challenge was supposed to have been completed by October 2017 (finish date is based on when you sign up). I’ll revise that list/page soon.

p.s. I also created a bookshelf for this challenge on Goodreads to help keep me organized.


  1. Your list is wonderful, especially the Cather bios. Don Quixote, I thought, was brilliant and hilarious (especially the first book — the second was kind of a necessary evil, from Cervantes’s perspective anyway). I started Middlemarch a couple of years ago but had to stop; it was the wrong time to be attempting a book like that, although I do love George Eliot. I’ll get to it again someday. Look Homeward, Angel…. I don’t know what to say about that book. I was supposed to love it, but it irritated me. The writing is beautiful, but…. well… I’ll look forward to your thoughts. 🙂 Good luck with your list! Glad you’re with us!

    • Thanks! And thanks for sharing your experience with some of these books. I keep putting off Middlemarch for that very reason, waiting for the right time…which I envision as being a not too busy/stressful chunk of time. Part of me thinks I should just start it in January and get on with it. I have a feeling I might not like Look Homeward, Angel. When I move to a new state I like to read books by folks from that state. Considering that I lived in North Carolina twice and never got around to Thomas Wolfe speaks volumes. 🙂 We’ll see. And Don Quixote is one of those bucket list must reads. Really looking forward to connecting with everyone in the challenge.

  2. What an interesting list you have! I love how you have a good blend of classics, translated works, and more recent novels. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Delighted that you’ve got an Aussie book in there for your AWW challenge as well – as an editor for one of the AWW pages I’m thrilled to see so many overseas bloggers joining in 😀

  4. Interesting list. I also have a bit of a fascination with Eastern Germany/Communism/Iron Curtain but haven’t read Stasiland. I read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by le Carre last year which was written at the time when the Berlin Wall went up. Chilling & bleak!

  5. I have been wanting to read more Willa Cather. I recently bought ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ so hoping to get that one read soon. ‘Don Quixote’ is on my list for this year. I’m determined to conquer it! Best of luck on accomplishing your reading goals.

    • So happy to hear you want to read more Cather. Death Comes for the Archbishop is an excellent read and beautiful historical fiction. I look forward to tagging along for your reading of Don Quixote. Good luck to you!

  6. It looks like you have an intriguing collection to get through in 2018. 🙂 Don Quixote Don sounds like a good one — maybe I will try it, one day. Good luck with all your TBR reads!

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