TBR 8.19

I have way too many reading commitments stacked up for August, so the books I acquired in July that I’m *supposed* to be reading next month are probably going to take a backseat for now. Nevertheless, since reading my newly acquired books by the end of the following month was a goal I set for myself this year, I still want to track my progress even though I’m expecting it to be an utter failure this time around. So I’ll do a quick run-through here of the books I’ve hauled this month, followed by an overview of other books I intend to read.

New (unread) books on my shelves this month:

  1. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. My July BOTM selection, a new nonfiction about female desire I’m very intrigued about!
  2. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. I picked this up in an excellent secondhand bookstore that I visited with a friend on her birthday; it’s one of McEwan’s titles I’m most curious about, and strangely unavailable at my local library and bookstore.
  3. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I’ve yet to read anything from this author (regrettably!) and fortuitously came across this one in the same secondhand shop.
  4. After Dark by Haruki Murakami. I read and loved Murakami’s Norwegian Wood earlier this year, and have been wanting to try more of his work. I found this one at another secondhand shop.
  5. Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. (There aren’t any secondhand shops close to where I live, so when I had the opportunity I went a little crazy!) Beowulf has been on my TBR for ages, so this was a rather arbitrary time to pick it up, but perhaps having a copy on hand will give me the motivation to finally read it. This edition shows the full Old English text alongside the translation, which appeals to me because I studied Old English in college and want to see how much I remember!
  6. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. My last secondhand grab this month. I included this title in a Top of the TBR post this month and have suddenly been itching to start in.
  7. Wilder Girls by Rory Power. A lot of attractive new releases came out in July, but this is one that fascinated me the most. YA usually goes quickly for me and the synopsis looks great; I expect to be reading this one soon!
  8. The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller. This is a sequel to Miller’s The Philosopher’s Flight, which was one of the weirdest and most fun books I picked up from BOTM in 2018.
  9. Different Seasons by Stephen King. Barnes and Noble was having a B2G1 sale on SK material (plus discounts!) which I couldn’t pass up. This story collection includes “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body,” two SK stories I’m most excited to read!
  10. Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. I know less about this story collection, but I do find it easier to read thicker books when I don’t have a library due date looming ahead, so have been waiting for a good opportunity to pick up a copy of this one.
  11. Strange Weather by Joe Hill. I’ve not yet read any of Joe Hill’s work, but given my appreciation for Stephen King’s writing (SK is Hill’s father) and the similarities in style/content that I’ve heard the two share, I really need to remedy that situation. I’ve had my eye on this one since it was released, and like the thought of starting with a set of shorter pieces. (This is a set of four short, related novels.)


I’d like to pick up as many of these new-to-me titles as I can, because I am pretty excited about this month’s haul list, but I do also have a few other reading plans in mind.

First, August is Women in Translation month, so I want to be sure I’m supporting some translated women writers in my reading and reviewing throughout the month. The titles I’m going to aim for picking up in August are:

  1. Human Acts by Han Kang. I bought this after loving Kang’s The Vegetarian last year; I expect I’ll love this one as well, and it’ll feel good to tackle an owned-unread book that I’ve neglected too long!
  2. Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi. This is another owned-unread book, though much newer. I was hoping to get to this one in July, but it just didn’t happen. This is the 2019 winner of the Man Booker International Prize.
  3. The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. I recently rediscovered this book on my TBR, and feel that it’s time to finally pick it up.

August is also prime time for the Booker Prize longlist; I don’t think I’ll be able to read the full roster, but I am expecting to pick up these titles within the month:

  1. Lanny by Max Porter.
  2. An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma.
  3. The Wall by John Lanchester.
  4. Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson.
  5. Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry.

Additionally, as though I didn’t have enough to read, I’ve tentatively agreed to another Stephen King buddy read, which will necessitate my completing:

  1. Finders Keepers by Stephen King. This is the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. I own a copy, and enjoyed the first book, but have been slow to pick this one up.
  2. End of Watch by Stephen King. The third book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, which I also already own.
  3. The Outsider by Stephen King. A related follow-up to the Bill Hodges trilogy, and the actual title I expect to buddy read, if I manage to complete the others in time. They’re all of reasonable length, by King standards, and the first book was a pretty quick and immersive read, so I’m hoping I can fly through these pretty quickly.

And last but not least, I also have two books already checked out from the library that I was hoping to squeeze into the end of July, which didn’t quite happen.

  1. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I’m actually planning to start this one today, and am really looking forward to it!
  2. The Need by Helen Phillips. This is a short thriller that looks pleasantly disturbing, and is a new release I was really excited for. I’m not sure I want to read these two thrillers back-to-back, but they will be due for return soon and I expect to finish them both within a week or so.

All in all… 23 books. There’s no way that’ll happen, so I’ll certainly have to prioritize some categories here above others. I managed to finish 9 books in July (and am expecting to finish a 10th tonight- my wrap-up should be coming up tomorrow!), so I’m realistically hoping to complete about half of this absurdly ambitious TBR.

Have you read any of these? Anything you particularly recommend?


The Literary Elephant


21 thoughts on “TBR 8.19”

  1. An interesting and ambitious list. I have not read many Ian McEwan’s novels and probably seen more movie adaptations, but the ones I love are Atonement and The Children Act. Is The Cement Garden his debut? The synopsis reads like it could be an intriguing story that explores family dynamics.

    And, anyone who wants to read Yanagihara’s A Little Life I now consider very brave. That book emotionally drained me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m certainly overbooked!
      I don’t think The Cement Garden is McEwan’s debut, but certainly one of his early works. It does look like an interesting family story to me, but I think there’s more of a focus on the children? I’ve also loved Atonement both in book and film, though I haven’t gotten to The Children Act yet! I’ve only read a few of his titles so far, but love his prose and would like to read much more.

      Hopefully I’m brave enough to finally pick up the Yanagihara! Strangely, I’m very attracted to the tragedy aspect and more hesitant about the page count; I love hard-hitting books and am ready to sob through it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also love McEwan’s prose. I guess I picked up The Children Act because my background is law and I was curious to read about all the legal and moral dilemmas there. It was fascinating and the author presented a beautiful human story too.

        I think to say that A Little Life is hard-hitting is to put it mildly 🙂 I loved the book, but I also now know some people on goodreads who would love to see that book burn. Oh my.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am planning to read The Children Act eventually, it does sound good! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

        I have heard some claims that A Little Life can come across as gratuitously depressing, but burning is rather extreme! I love a good tragedy so I think it should work all right for me. But I’ll be interested to check out more reviews once I’ve read it! It’s always fascinating to see varying opinions on divisive books.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great list! A LITTLE LIFE is amazing and I would definitely recommend it, same with literally anything by Murakami!! I hope you get to read some great WIT books too; I’m hoping to finally finish Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels this month! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m really looking forward to the Murakami, and of course A Little Life! Even though it will probably destroy me emotionally, by all accounts…
      I’m glad to find another WIT month reader; Ferrante sounds like a great choice! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you like A LITTLE LIFE! Definitely very gut-wrenching and will most likely destroy you… <3<3 And yes, I wasn't even planning on participating in WIT month until I decided to read MY BRILLIANT FRIEND and now I'm hooked!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I think he chose to use Hill instead of King on his books to see whether he could make a career of it on his own, without the leg up the King surname would have given him. I think it worked fairly well for him before the secret came out, though it’s more commonly known now who he is! But you’re definitely not the last to find out, which is why I make sure to mention it when I’m talking about Joe Hill.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am planning on reading Human Acts as well for WiT-month! This is exciting!
    i am also excited to see you tackle Beowolf because I assume that this means you should read The Mere Wife soon after.
    I cannot wait for your thoughts on The Need!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, yes! It will be fun to compare notes!

      I definitely think your review of The Mere wife contributed to my sudden urge to grab a copy of Beowulf… and I would certainly be reading it with the intent of picking up TMW afterward!

      I’m so looking forward to picking up The Need!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great haul! Obviously A Little Life is my FAVORITE, but I’m excited to see Human Acts, Shanghai Girls, and After Dark on here too! I’m also super intrigued by The Cement Garden – I have a copy i’ve been meaning to pick up for a few years now. And I have an ARC of The Need that I should really pick up, it sounds so good and creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m really thrilled about this month’s list and already bummed that I’m not going to be able to read it all immediately. I’m trying not to plan too much for September so I can keep going with these… (and pick up Ducks!)

      Cement Garden looks so short that it’ll probably be one of the first I reach for from this haul, and library due dates are always a great motivator for me- and they both look so intriguing! I would love to see your thoughts on both, of course. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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