Top of the TBR is a new series I’m starting with the intent of it eventually replacing my book hauls. Since my TBR goal for this year is tied to the new books I’m buying throughout the year, I will (probably) still be mentioning new titles I’ve acquired each month for a while yet. But by the end of the year, Top of the TBR should have completely replaced those book hauls. (See my first Top of the TBR post for more info on why I’m making this switch.)
But what is Top of the TBR? Good question. It’s a weekly post that will showcase any new books I’ve added to my Goodreads TBR recently, with a short explanation of why each title caught my interest. I’ll aim for 5-10 books per post; in weeks that I’ve added more than that, I’ll hold some back, and in weeks that I don’t have enough, I’ll include titles I haven’t discussed yet. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further, as I’m not a fan of copy/pasting synopses. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re reading! 🙂
Here are some of the new books I’ve added on Goodreads over the last week:
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (Pub: 1974)
How I found it: I’ve been hearing quite a bit about this book surrounding its recent film release, but I finally ended up adding it after Grab the Lapels recommended it based on my thoughts about An American Marriage.
Why I added it: It sounds like this one focuses more on injustice and social commentary than a dramatic love triangle; in essence, it sounds like everything I wanted from An American Marriage but didn’t quite find there.
Priority: Low. I don’t have a copy on hand and I just reread An American Marriage. I’m not sure yet when I’ll pick this one up, but I do know I’ll probably want to watch the film at the same time.
Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg (Pub: Jan 2010)
How I found it: Also recommended to me by Grab the Lapels, same situation.
Why I added it: Basically all of my prison knowledge comes from a few scattered pieces of fiction, and the TV series Orange is the New Black; this looks like it’ll be a nice overview from the inside, from a nonfiction perspective. I’ve been so interested in true crime lately that this seems like a good adjacent read.
Priority: Middling. I am planning to read more nonfiction this summer, and even though my list is overly full already it’s possible that I might decide to pick this one up as well.
Animals Eat Each Other by Elle Nash (Pub: July 2017)
How I found it: I read Callum’s highly intriguing review!
Why I added it: It’s hard to say just what exactly is appealing to me here, but there’s a specific brand of “weirdness” that just works so well for me that I think I’ll find in this one. A “three-way relationship,” an identity crisis, obsession, pain vs. pleasure… the synopsis is full of what seems like perfect ingredients.
Priority: High. My TBR is way too full to keep spontaneously letting new-to-me titles skip ahead of the line, but I’ve been struggling lately to find 5-star reads that really excite me so I want to make sure I’m reaching for more of the surprising and odd books that I think have a chance at breaking the cycle.
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (Pub: Feb 2017)
How I found it: Rachel mentioned this title briefly in her recent ARCs post; her focus was mainly on the author’s newest (upcoming) release, but Dead Letters had been on my radar since it was included as a BOTM selection in 2017 and that small mention was just enough to finally convince me to give this one a chance.
Why I added it: A set of twins, an uncertain death, family secrets? Sign me up. Better late than never. I’ve not had a great relationship with mystery/thrillers lately, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give up completely.
Priority: Middling. Summer and fall are my best times of year for this sort of story, and since I don’t have many lined up yet. I can see myself getting to this before the end of the year, but you know what they say about good intentions.
The Fire Starters by Jan Carson (Pub: Apr 2019)
How I found it: I read Rachel’s lovely review!
Why I added it: Rachel has great taste and I agree with her more often than not. Also, this just sounds really good! Two fathers who can’t trust their children, mysterious fires, Irish setting, community strife, magical element? I’m there. (If you’re not there yet, definitely check out Rachel’s review!)
Priority: High. This sounds like such a unique and compelling read, and might help me cross back into 5-star territory!
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Pub: July 2019)
How I found it: I read Elle’s wonderful review! (Clearly this has been a good week for recommendations, even if they weren’t specifically aimed at me…)
Why I added it: This is a feminist nonfiction book about three women in particular, with desire as a common theme. The synopsis calls the book: “a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power.” Hell yes.
Priority: High. This one’s on my summer nonfiction list for sure. I’ve already got a hold on this title through my library.
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (Pub: June 2018)
How I found it: I don’t remember. This one’s been on my list for months, and just got bumped up because I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it this week. (Still ongoing!) There’s always one.
Why I added it: I have not yet read anything from Tremblay, but I do like horror and suspense and have been meaning to give some of his work a go. I don’t remember any specifics about the synopsis, but the title succeeds at catching my attention every single time I come across it.
Priority: Middling. Hopefully I’ll get to this one in October, when I like to focus on spooky reads.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Pub: Sept 2014)
How I found it: This one’s been on my radar for a while, as a previous Women’s Prize Winner, though I hadn’t looked into it very thoroughly until this week.
Why I added it: I’ve been meaning to read some of McBride’s work, and I have her The Lesser Bohemians on my TBR already; I usually stick to one book per author on my TBR at a time, then add another after finishing the first if I’m still interested at that point. But I’ve been chatting about a potential buddy read of this one with some Women’s Prize friends so I want to keep it in mind.
Priority: High. I believe this will be happening in July, so I’m planning to pick up my library’s copy then.
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore (Pub: Jan 1995)
How I found it: I had to give this one a second look during my recent scroll through previous Women’s Prize winners.
Why I added it: This was the first ever Women’s Prize winner, in 1996 (back when it was the Orange Prize). This looks like historical (Gothic) fiction, featuring an intense sibling relationship complicated by family secrets and the woman’s “dark present and haunting past.” The synopsis on Goodreads doesn’t give much away, but I do enjoy dark and mysterious and odd family dynamics, so this sounds right up my alley.
Priority: Low. I would love to read more Women’s Prize winners, but having just reread this year’s winner and with plans to read A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing already in the works, this one’s on the back burner.
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (Pub: 1936)
How I found it: I just read Barnes’s inclusion in the Faber Stories collection, The Lydia Steptoe Stories, and went looking through more of Barnes’s oeuvre.
Why I added it: It was hard to tell from Lydia Steptoe whether this was going to be an author that I would appreciate more broadly (the stories in that volume were so short!), but the synopsis of this one sounds like it’ll tick some of the same boxes for me that Lydia Steptoe did, so I think it’s worth a try. Goodreads says this novel “unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe’s great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna- a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous,” which sounds wonderful.
Prioirity: Low. I’m really curious about this, but I’m not in a hurry. I think that’s getting to be the common catchphrase for me in these posts, but with 600+ books on my Goodreads TBR I just can’t get to everything immediately.
With exactly ten titles added over the last week, that’s a wrap. I’m really excited about basically all of these, so don’t be surprised to see reviews for some of the titles mentioned start popping up!
Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?
The Literary Elephant