Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Sunday Salon: It's All Over

The TBR Dare is history, and even though I didn't get through the huge pile of books set aside, this has been a wonderful experience. It brought me back to Richard Yates, introduced me to Barbara Pym, and prompted me to finally pick up a Eudora Welty novel.  I finished books received as Christmas gifts (in 2009!) and read from several short story collections already on my shelves. It has been an outstanding three months of reading. Thanks so much for hosting, James. If this becomes an annual event, you can be sure I'll sign on again.

So what lies ahead? Although I haven't been reading newly acquired books, the TBR Dare has not kept me from accumulating them. Between my London book haul, our Borders store closing, and a couple of gifts, the TBR dare has actually resulted in a net loss of bookshelf space. Now I must decide where to begin. Pym? Whipple? Contemporary novels? Classics? After finally finishing Wolf Hall (accomplished with a week of blog silence), my next selection will most certainly not be historical fiction.

As I was perusing a stack of possible choices and about to settle in with Barbara Pym, a package from amazon arrived. Along with birthday presents for the twins (18 this week!), was A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey. It's been some time since I read a literary biography and this was highly recommended by Rachel. After an initial surprise at the 600+ pages, I was totally hooked by the end of the prologue. The first chapter shed new light on both The Easter Parade and Revolutionary Road, so I will read the entire biography before continuing with the rest of Yates' novels.

Did you make it through the TBR Dare? What will you be reading this week?


  1. Wish I had the fortitude to stick to a TBR dare but continue to flit around.

    Speaking of Eurora Welty, one of my current books is "What There Is To Say We Have Said", a collection of the correspondence between Welty and The New Yorker editor/writer William Maxwell. The introduction liberally quotes Welty's own intro to the "Norton Book of Friendship" and it is completely quoteworthy.

    The Yates bio sounds great and you know how I love Pym. Happy reading!

  2. I tried to listen to Revolutionary Road as an audio, but it just didn't grab me (I blame the reader). Do you have a suggestion for which Yates I should start with?

    Are dreaming about reading outside yet? The weather keeps teasing us and acting Spring-like, and then it snows. *Sigh* Hope the weather is better where you are!

  3. I did make it through the dare but barely. I've bought a ton of books since the dare started and I've just started slowing down. Happy reading!

  4. I did make it through the dare, and like you, loved the experience. I've never had so much fun in my life, with just a few anxious moments when I couldn't impulsively pick up anything I wanted. I will most definitely sign on again next year!

  5. The Yates biography sounds good...I loved Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade. Would love to know more about the man.

    I've been wanting to read something by Eudora Welty, as well.

    Thanks for your intriguing post.


  6. I love how reading can take us to so many different places and directions!!

    I will be reading review copies during my spring break and hoping to finally get some breathing room to enjoy books from my own shelves!

  7. I must attempt this TBR at least once. Well done on finishing your Christmas books though (even if they were from 2009) You have achieved so much more than me!

  8. So many people enjoyed the TBR Dare that I just may do it again next year. I had no idea when I started that it would be so much fun for so many people.

    I'm leaning heavily towards doing it again.

  9. Your twins are 18? wow, big college year then I'm sure. I do recall your traveling everywhere to see schools last summer.

    Glad you enjoyed the TBR Dare, and enjoyed some new authors in the process.

    Have a great week JoAnn.

  10. Congratulations on finishing the TBR Dare! It's awesome that you have more books now than when you began the challenge! I'm a firm believe in acquiring books, though! I will definitely participate next year if C.B. or someone else hosts the TBR Dare.

    A Tragic Honesty sounds wonderful! I'm putting that on my TBR list to read after I've read a few more of Yates books. I was given a biography of Wallace Stegner a couple of weeks ago which I'm looking forward to reading!

    Happy 18th Birthday, Twins! A milestone in life. Best wishes for a fantastic year for them.

  11. Oops, I had to bail relatively early in the TBR dare, releasing as I read Audrey Niffenegger's Book Mobile in Barnes and Noble that it was Too Late. I'm hoping to get to my edition of Excellent Women by Pym, and even Revolutionary Road by Yates. Apparently, I'll need to join this one again!

  12. Lynne - What There Is To Say We Have Said sounds interesting. Think I would read it for the intro alone. How do you find such unusual books? I'll probably end up staring the Pym and have a couple of books going at once. Can't read all Yates all the time ;-)

    Read the Book - I listened to Revolutionary Road and it took me a little time to get used to the reader, but once I did he seemed perfect. Funny, I'm listening to The Big Rock Candy Mountain now and he narrates that one, too. Again, it took some time to adjust. If you don't want to give Revolutionary Road another go, I'd suggest The Easter Parade. I loved it! Yes, I'm dreaming of reading outside, but spring is taking its sweet time here, too.

    Vasilly - Ha ha! That sounds just like me!

    Sandy - Me too! So glad I got to read such great books (I knew I bought them for a reason), but still so many more to go. I'm definitely in for next time.

    Laurel-Rain Snow - This is a very well-written bio. I know I'll be reading all of Yates books eventually. Will you be reading more?

    Staci - Hope you have a great break! Also hope you get some spring weather soon.

    Vivienne - The Christmas books from 2009 were making me feel guilty. I actually still have one more to go!

    C.B. James - Oh good! This has been such a great experience, thanks again.

    Diane - Eighteen sure is a milestone! One twin has decided to go to school nearby and live home. We are going to a couple of accepted students open houses over the next week or two to help the other make a final decision. Will be glad when it's all settled...

    Amy - If you like Yates, you would definitely enjoy this book. I can't believe how much his fiction mirrored his life. Will look forward to your thoughts on the Stegner bio, too. I'm past the 2/3 mark in The Big Rock Candy Mountain now. It's supposedly the most autobiographic of his novels... would be curious to know how much actually happened. Eighteen is definitely a milestone. I'm secretly glad one of the girls will be living home and going to college nearby - delaying 'empty nest' for at least another year, lol!

    Bellezza - I went into the dare VERY determined to go the full three months. Still wish I could have read more, but loved most of the books I pulled off the shelf. I knew I bought them for a reason;-)

  13. Happy 18th to the twins! Such an exciting time for them.

    I am delighted that you got the Yates biography! It's a chunkster but such a rewarding read - I LOVED it and the parallels between Yates' life and his fiction are eye opening. I actually cried in several places. It's a fantastic book, and very moving, too. Enjoy! I can't wait to read your thoughts.

  14. I laughed at your finishing books from Christmas 2009! A sick feeling then ensued as I bought Peter Ackroyd's 'London' while on a trip there in 2007 and it still sits unread.

    Last night I finally turned the cover on The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens and I am loving it!

  15. Well done! I may need to attempt this dare if it is offered again. I can imagine how hard it must have been when new titles are thrown about in blog land on a daily basis. :) Enjoy your new freedom to pick up fresh titles!

  16. I did cut back on my book purchases but it's the library that is my downfall -- it's tough since I volunteer twice a week. And curse all those coupons from Borders!

    I did read a Pym and a Whipple from my bookshelves like you and loved both. I also have two by Eudora Welty who keeps popping up on my reading radar so she may be up soon.

    My oldest just turned fourteen and it's breaking my heart to know she'll be going off to college in a few years. Where does the time go??

  17. Rachel - After just a couple of chapters, I love this bio! It's so well-written and completely readable... such a sad life though.

    Darlene - That makes me feel better about the Christmas gifts from 2009! :-)

    Kim - The dare really wasn't as hard as I was expecting... just wish I could have read a few more from my shelves.

    Karen K. - It's been fun to check books out of the library again! Today I picked up The Warmth of Other Suns, but am a little nervous because I know there will be no renewals, and the Yates bio is calling. Today is the big double birthday. Just can't believe 18 years has gone by...the high school years have flown!

  18. I've been rereading your posts on make this biography sound fascinating. I'll have to check it out!


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