Last year was my first year participating in the Mount TBR challenge, a challenge in which you read your own books that you have accumulated over the years. It may seem odd to some people that you haven’t already read your own books, but hey, there are so many distractions to doing so, including buying even more books. All kidding aside, I find that the biggest challenge I have to reading my own books are the many recent books that can be found in the library, especially ones I discover after I read those top 10/100 lists or best new books of the season lists or best books at the end of the year lists. You know the ones that I mean.
Last year I chose to start with Mount Blanc—24 books—thinking that it would be easy peasy, and that I would far surpass that level. But no, I struggled with even completing that level! But I’m going to strive for Mount Blanc again and see if I can overachieve this year.
I have a bunch of recent books I got from the little libraries in the area—score!—that I saved for this challenge plus some that I barely made a dent in reading last year (less than 50% read counts). I look forward to devouring some and grazing others.
I wish you much reading bliss.
“The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau
From the book jacket: “A remarkable book that will both guide and inspire, “The Happiness of Pursuit” reveals how anyone can bring meaning into his or her life by undertaking a quest.”
There is so much goodness in this book that it’s hard for me to pick out just one quote, but I’ve decided to let you ponder this one:
“In quests of old, the hero had to travel across distant lands in search of reclaiming a grail or key. These days, we often have to recover something more intangible but no less important. Many of us undertake an adventure to rediscover our sense of self.”
A very cool book that has motivated me to think about beginning my own quest. First step: make my life list.
“The Kindness Diaries” by Leon Logothetis
Speaking about quests, this actually is a book about a quest.
I saw the author speak a few years ago and bought the book afterwards. I tried to read it a couple of times, but for some reason I never made it past a couple of chapters.
I wondered why that was after finally plunging past the first few chapters. It’s a very touching book, and I cried several times.
The book is about Logothetis’ journey to find connection to people. He attempts to do this by going around parts of the world and seeing if people will buy him gas for his yellow motorbike, as well as food and a place to sleep. In return he gives certain people generous gifts to help them fulfill their dreams.
“Because at the root of all our love, and the root of all our heartbreak, is that undying, unstoppable desire to be connected to each other. I believe we all want to live in that web of kindness, and not just because of what we receive by being a resident, but by what we are able to give.”
It’s been a great start to my reading year!
Only one book read this month, but plenty on the go!
“Africa Revisited: A Diary of a Sentimental Journey of Return” by H.J. Schueler
Written by my uncle, this book has a special place in my heart, as it not only is written about a return to his and my father’s homeland (Tanzania now but Tanganyika then), it also contains a lot of family history. My great grandfather was a missionary sent to the Nyakyusa Valley in 1893, and there’s a lot of family history in that area. It’s on my bucket list to visit the valley.
Still only read one book this month, but at least I am chipping away at it, bit by bit.
“Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process”; edited by Joe Fassler
In Fassler’s own words:
“…I ask working artists (many of them writers) to choose a favourite passage from literature, the lines that have hit them the hardest over the course of a lifetime’s reading. Each person looks closely at his or her selection, explains its personal impact, and makes a case for why it matters. Taken together, these pieces offer a rare glimpse into the creative mind at work—how artists learn to think, how they find inspiration, and how they get things done.”
It was hard for me to choose a favourite—there were so many takeaways—although the fact that Sherman Alexie chose just one line stands out for me.
For a sample of what the essays contain, click here.
“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong
This was a reread. I have this graphic novel in e-book form, but I reread it in hard copy form, borrowed from the library. I loved it every bit as the first time I read it. Having also suffered from postpartum depression, I could relate.
“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone
(English name=“The Temptation to be Happy”; originally in Italian)
I’m proud that I read this book in German. It’s not normally a book I would read but my cousin’s wife left it behind when she and her family visited one summer.
77 year old Cesare deals with life through sarcasm. Then he meets his neighbour Emma, a victim of domestic violence, who changes his life.
My favourite part of the whole book is the last few pages, when the main character lists all the things he loves. Just look at some of the things he says:
I love glasses of marmalade and the yellow light from the street lights.
I love to bury my feet in sand.
I like the colours of tomatoes and the smell of cream on my skin.
There are pages of this!
It reflects my current philosophy of looking for happiness in the small things in life. Maybe I will write some of my own down.
“The Global Forest” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
I’ve been following Diana Beresford-Kroeger for a while now. Besides being chock full of tree knowledge, the book follows an interesting structure. You can learn all about it and about some of her other books in this Youtube video.
“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben
I love this quote from this fabulous interview with Wohlleben: “It’s not really a book, but it’s a guided tour through my forest, and everyone can be a part of it.” Indeed, reading the book does feel like that. I highly recommend going along on the journey.
“Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin
Because this book was last updated in 2005, some of it is outdated, but surprisingly a lot of it is not, and it is still well worth a read, especially if you are a newbie children’s book writer. Everything from writing nonfiction to the types of juvenile fiction to rhyming. It has the best example of a query letter I have ever seen, and I plan to model my future letters on it.
“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
This Youtube video highlights one of my favourite parts of the book.
At least I am wrapping up the year with two.
“In-between Days” by Teva Harrison
You can read more about the book here.
“The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations” by Oprah Winfrey
More about the book in this video.
Well, I didn’t complete my challenge, but I got half way there! Kudos to me for making progress in my TBR list.