A quick recap: the TBR Challenge was set up to help those of us with too many books (can there be such a thing?) start to make a dent in getting some of them read. The idea was to pick 12 books from shelves not previously read and read them in a year's time. I chose 6 fiction and 6 non-fiction and got through all but 1 of the fiction, although I did read 1 of my replacement books so I still got 12 read in all.
I'm terrible about writing reviews (I write for a living and have never enjoyed writing for pleasure) but I'm going to attempt to give a quick overview of the books and my thoughts on each.
1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain: everyone knows this book, so I won't waste anyone's time recapping the story. I could not believe it when I realized that I had never read this one before. I've read other Mark Twain stories before, so I expected to like this one, and I was right. What a great story! Having grown up in the South, even the modern day version, much of the story felt comfortable and familiar. Highly recommended.
2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I'm sure everyone has also heard of this character, if not the book itself, so the only recap I'll offer is that this book is actually a collection of short stories involving the famous sleuth. A bit outdated, and in today's real life Holmes would no doubt be thought a whack job (somebody that smart has to be twisted in some way), but still enormously interesting. Would be considered extremely tame and/or lame by today's detective fiction standards, but a good read nonetheless.
3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll: another story that everyone knows -- including myself, pre-read, thanks to the TV mini-series from the 80's or 90's (the one with Sammy Davis Jr. as the caterpillar, Kojak as the Cheshire Cat, etc.). Turns out the TV version was right in line with the book, so no surprises for me. Unfortunately, I think I also read it too fast to catch a lot of the social commentary, so I may have to go back and try again in a few years. When I do, I've heard that a book called The Annotated Alice is the way to go. If anyone has comments on that one, I'd love to read them!
4. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe: I actually posted a review on this one, so no comments necessary.
5. Light in August by William Faulkner: the only book on my list I didn't read. Nothing against Faulker, I actually enjoy his books, but I have to be in the right mood for them and that just hasn't happened this year.
6. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell: a 19th century English society novel along the lines of Jane Austen and the Brontes. Here's the summary from Barnes & Noble:
"An enchanting tale of romance, scandal, and intrigue in the gossipy English town of Hollingford around the 1830s, Wives and Daughters tells the story of Molly Gibson, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a widowed country doctor. When her father remarries, she forms a close friendship with her new stepsister—the beautiful and worldly Cynthia—until they become love rivals for the affections of Squire Hamley’s sons, Osbourne and Roger. When sudden illness and death reveal some secrets while shrouding others in even deeper mystery, Molly feels that the world is out of joint and it is up to her—trusted by all but listened to by none—to set it right."
I love books from this time period, and found this one very enjoyable. I wouldn't rank it as highly as I do Austen -- it's a bit longer than necessary and some parts didn't ring as true -- but I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Regency-era English novels. The author wrote several other books which I may look into, so you might see future reviews.