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  • Writer's pictureKara C White

The TBR Stack: January 2020

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

First, let me just say that my TBR stack, which is perched precariously on top of my nightstand, rates somewhere between totally doable and completely unrealistic, depending on how you look at things. I admit that it would be an ambitious, and perhaps overly-optimistic, reading tower if I planned to knock out all of these titles in the first month of the new year.

However, given my professional, scholarly, and personal commitments in the first few weeks of 2020, it is much more likely that this to-be-read stack will last me for quite some time. I'm OK with that because it still fits into my overall reading goals for the year (more on that in another post). So while I tend to collect books I want to read faster than I can actually read them, I believe my current TBR stack is, in fact, something I can lovingly and enthusiastically dismantle over the next few weeks and months. Also, while a pile of unread books might overwhelm some readers, I actually find great joy in seeing the TBR stack on my nightstand each day. It reminds me of my reading goals, gives me a visual sense of accountability on my progress, and excites me with the promises of good stories, inspiring accounts, and stimulating knowledge. I even like the way the vibrant colors of the cover art brighten up my otherwise clean, white nightstand!

Here are few highlights from my TBR stack:

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A quick confession about this title; I actually started reading it in December 2019. I became very interested in this book, which contains both tough realities and a touch of the supernatural, after seeing the celebrated Coates talk about his first novel in several TV interviews aired around the time of the book's Fall 2019 release. I've made slow progress in this book so far, but not because of any problem with the writing or the story itself. I'm actually captivated by the characters and plot. The holidays disrupted some of my normal routines and reading times. While I could have grabbed a few minutes here and there to work toward the end, I felt the book was written too beautifully to snatch up in bits and pieces. Instead, I let the story rest in my mind until I could indulge in the longer reading sessions which I thought would do the novel more justice and give me more pleasure in reading it. This is the first book I plan to finish in 2020.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I know I'm a little late to this particular Pulitzer Prize winner. I've heard nothing but good things about this book since it came out in 2008. However, I never managed to pick it up. Now with the release of the sequel, Olive, Again, I decided it was high time for this collection of stories to make it toward the top of my TBR stack.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Sharing stories and encouraging my children to become avid readers ranks high on my list of priorities. I read books aloud to my kids long before they were even old enough to turn the pages themselves. While both of my children are now accomplished readers and enjoy reading on their own, we still make read-alouds a regular part of our family life. I've wanted to read Trelease's classic work on the topic since I read Sarah Mackenzie's The Read-Aloud Family. I found Trelease's best seller at a church rummage sale last summer, and I'm looking forward to his advice and strategies to make our family read-aloud time even more effective and engaging.

I'll update you on my progress and share more from my TBR stack next month. Until then, happy reading!

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