My TBR goal for the year is to read any new books I’ve acquired by the end of the following month. We’re not quite halfway through the year yet, but I am seriously considering throwing this goal out the window, which is an unusual stance for me in general and especially after May, which was the first month all year that I’ve succeeded with this self-challenge. But May has also been the first month of my new Top of the TBR series, which I’m enjoying a whole lot more than these book haul TBR posts. And May has also been the third month in a row for me of no 5-star novels, which is seriously putting me in the mood to just reach for whatever I think is going to break this weird reading funk I’m in and skip the plans and lists.
But I’ve decided to stick with this set-up for the month of June, at which point the year will be half over- a nice round number that seems opportune for reassessment. So here are the new books I’ve picked up in May that my TBR goal says I should be reading in June:
- The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler. This was my BOTM selection for May, and it’s at the top of my list for the nonfiction binge I tend to partake in this summer. (List of probable nonfiction titles I’ll be reading coming soon.) I haven’t read Hessler before and I don’t know anything more about this book beyond what the title suggests, but I thought a regional history of a country I’m not especially familiar with would be a great addition to my summer nonfiction stack.
- The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. This was an extra nonfiction title I picked up from BOTM in May. I just watched the first season of Mindhunter recently (on Netflix), which is related content. I’ve succumbed to a serial killer / true crime fascination and am looking forward to continuing down that path in my reading life as well.
- A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley. This is a collection of short stories that was shortlisted for the National Book Award in 2018, and the author was one of my TAs in the creative writing program at the University of Iowa. I’m also trying to read more short stories this year, and as I near the end of the Faber Stories collection I’m looking forward to getting back into other collections of short stories.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston. I believe this is a YA novel about a high school cheerleader who is drugged and assaulted at a party. I haven’t been reading much YA this year but I do still appreciate hard-hitting books from that age range. This also sounds a bit like Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2018. The clincher was that this was only $1 on Book Outlet.
- Winter by Ali Smith. I own but haven’t read Autumn yet, though all signs point to me enjoying this seasonal quartet when I get around to it. I didn’t expect I would ever find it cheaper than I did this month, so I decided it was worth getting it now for my future self. I don’t really anticipate that I’ll be reading either Autumn or Winter this June, which means I’ve probably failed my TBR goal for the month before I’ve even begun. But who knows, anything could happen.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I actually read the titular piece from this book last year, and liked it enough that I wanted to pick up my own copy. This one matches my edition of The Waves (which I have not read yet). But it also contains a second essay, much to my surprise, so I will have to read that as well before I can count this as completed.
- Fever Dream by Samanta Scweblin. I was not expecting this one to be as small as it is, but I suppose that bodes well for my ability to get around to it right away. This one is the 2018 Tournament of Books winner, and I also remember it being described as something like a psychological ghost story? That sounds right up my alley. I will actually pick this one up soon. Probably.
Those are the books I’ve picked up in May and haven’t read yet. In the interest of inclusivity, I’m also going to mention that I picked up my own copy of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones for a good price this month, and am currently rereading it in preparation for a Women’s Prize shortlist wrap-up post (coming soon). I’m also working my way through another batch of Faber Stories that I’m pretty confident I’ll finish before the end of May- I’ve already read Akhil Sharma’s Cosmopolitan and will promptly be reading Samuel Beckett’s Dante and the Lobster and Djuna Barnes’s The Lydia Steptoe Stories (mini-reviews coming soon). All of these I’ve acquired in May but expect to finish before June begins.
Additionally, I’ve got a few library holds that have come in recently that I’ll be reading in the first half of June: Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test, Hanna Jameson’s The Last, and Melanie Golding’s Little Darlings.
Furthermore, I’m on a quest to finish reading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (as much of it as is published so far); I’ve got a few episodes left to watch from season 4 of the corresponding Game of Thrones TV series, and then I anticipate that I’ll be reading A Feast for Crows in June.
And in case that wasn’t enough, I’ve also agreed to a buddy read of Stephen King’s The Stand, his longest novel (we’re reading the uncut 1400+ page version), starting on the first of June. Which we aren’t even expecting to finish until early/mid July. I’ll only be reading about 200-250 pages of this per week, which is typically less than half of my weekly reading, so I will be reading plenty of other books in the meantime, but there’s no use denying that this is a substantial commitment.
So as you can see, my reading is all over the place and there’s no way I’ll manage to fit everything in unless I suddenly learn to speed read this month. But there’s a lot I’m looking forward to, and I’m hoping something here will break my sad no-5-stars streak. I have been enjoying most of what I’ve been reading, and I haven’t stopped reading so I wouldn’t say I’m in a slump, but something just has not been right in my reading life lately. (May wrap-up coming soon.) So if there’s anything I’ve mentioned in this post that you really want to see me review, let me know in the comments so nothing gets lost in this month’s shuffle! I really have no idea how much of this I might be reading in June, or what to prioritize. Send help.
Have you read any of these books? What’s your top-priority read for June?
The Literary Elephant