Yes, I have finished reading my 20 books. The full list is as follows:
1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
2. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
3. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
4. The Years by Virginia Woolf
5. Flush by Virginia Woolf
6. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf
7. Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson
8. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
9. Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
10. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
11. Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
14. Behindlings by Nicola Barker
15. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
16. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
17. School for Love by Olivia Manning
18. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
19. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
20. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
If you recall from this blog entry I made a cracking start on my TBR and by early January I was already half way through. So I decided to make it harder. Then I made it even harder on myself by going stir-crazy over library books so my TBR reading has taken about 3 times longer than it had to. And whilst this is no excuse whatsoever, I have to admit that when I stalled on my last 3 I totally caved and bought 4 books. Yes, I am a terrible cheat. Mea culpa.
So, what have I learned from the process? It's been great. I may have cheated towards the end, but by that point it had been over 3 months since I'd last bought a book which is probably the longest I've managed without book buying in the last 10 years. I think, whilst not being 100% successful, it has gifted me a better relationship with book buying. Now I only want to buy books I intend to keep. I'm using the library much more, which is no bad thing, and whilst I haven't completely quashed my acquisitive spirit or the compulsive curiosity that makes me want to immerse myself in random themes (right now it's islands and cyber crime. Don't ask) I am in a lot better shape. One of the things I've done is to create a spreadsheet where I can note down books I want to read, then I research what I can source at the library and which I really want to buy. I find writing them down helps to quell the desire to impulse buy, and by spreading out my planned acquisitions it gives me time to decide I don't want to read them after all. Sounds crackers, I know, but it helps.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. In fact once I've got my initial need to acquire some new books out of the way (by the end of this weekend, then) I will select another 20 from my to read pile and implement a new book buying ban. Next time I'll go a little easier on myself, and perhaps pick a selection of books which is not quite so mentally challenging (or at least I won't save all the long ones to the end).
In the meantime, I have a lovely book about Tove Jansson to reward myself with...