Top of the TBR is a weekly post I created that will showcase any books 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:
The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn, trans. by Rosie Hedger (Pub: Sept. 2013)
How I found it: I read Rachel’s excellent review!
Why I added it: “Modern day Scandinavian Rebecca” was the real clincher, but honestly everything Rachel had to say about this book sounded pretty much perfect. I love suspenseful books that aren’t quite thrillers, and interesting character dynamics. Plus, bonus points for brevity at 185 pages.
Priority: Middling. This is going to be another week of repeatedly announcing I have too many books already on my plate this month to be picking up anything new, sadly. But I do want to incorporate more translations into my regular reading, which should help bump this one up the endless TBR list!
And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips (Pub: May 2011)
How I found it: I read my first Helen Phillips book, The Need, last week. After, I went looking for more of her work.
Why I added it: I really liked The Need, though I found I had an unexpected bias toward it in that I had already read a book with a very similar topic. I want to try again with Phillips’s writing, and this story collection looked as good a place to start as any.
Priority: Low. My library does not have any Phillips books other than The Need, so I will have to acquire a copy. I also have a ton of other story collections on my radar already.
The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (Pub: Feb 2019)
How I found it: Naty mentioned some time travel book recs that look really appealing in her Recursion review post!
Why I added it: I used to really love time travel stories, but haven’t been reading them much in recent years. I did read H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine earlier this year, which fascinated me, and the synopsis of this one sounds just like something the old time travel reader in me would have loved.
Priority: Low. This one is available at my library, but I want to let Recursion fade a bit in my mind before I jump into anything remotely similar, especially after struggling a bit with Recursion because of its similarities to Crouch’s previous release.
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (Pub: 1881)
How I found it: I recently read James’s The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I looked into reading more from the author.
Why I added it: I actually don’t know much about this one (it might be about a lady seeking a marriage?), but I really didn’t know much about the other two either and had a good time with both. This is, I think, one of James’s biggest classics, so I chose it mainly for that reason.
Priority: Low. I’ll probably want to buy my own copy because this looks like a hefty book, and I’d like to work through a few more classics I already own before I purchase another. (We’ll see how long this plan lasts.)
Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford (Pub: May 2018)
How I found it: Callum is apparently a wizard at finding the most beautiful book covers (I think this one is shiny irl) to match stories that also sound like brilliant reads.
Why I added it: Every sentence of this synopsis makes this book sound even better. Here’s just the start: “In house in a wood, Ada and her father live peacefully, tending to their garden and the wildlife in it. They are not human though.” You should go check out the rest now. It’s an Irish magical realism tale, with possibly some horror and feminism mixed in.
Priority: Middling. If my schedule wasn’t already so packed, I’d probably want to pick this up right away. As it is, I’ll probably wait to get my hands on a copy with this stunning cover, which I don’t think is quite out yet. (I’m noting the original pub date for each title in this post, not necessarily for the specific edition I want to read.)
The Bad Seed by William March (Pub: 1954)
How I found it: Melanie mentioned this one as a favorite when we got to talking about nannies that are afraid of the children they watch (in literature). The Turn of the Screw kicked off this discussion, though that story doesn’t quite seem to go in this direction. In any case, I was intrigued.
Why I added it: I can’t really think of any books I’ve previously read that fit this trope, but I do like a good psychological exploration and just horror in general, so it sounds like something that would interest me. Melanie also notes there’s a nice classic black-and-white film version that I’m intrigued to look into!
Priority: Middling. Though not available at my library and I (still) have a ton of other classics already on my radar, it would be fun to try and get to this while I still remember The Turn of the Screw clearly.
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, trans. by Sondra Silverston (Pub: Oct. 2017)
How I found it: I read Callum’s enticing review!
Why I added it: There’s nothing like WIT month to remind me that I really should read more translated books! I still have a few I intend to get to this month, but I am happy to stock up my TBR with more recs for the future. This one sounds so appealing, as it follows a wrongful sexual assault accusation and looks to explore the ways in which the blame game can backfire- without invalidating a system which works well for others.
Priority: Middling. Like The Bird Tribunal, I really want to get to this one soon, I just know it won’t happen this month. And again, this edition isn’t quite out yet in the US.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Pub: Aug. 2015)
How I found it: I just finished reading Porter’s 2019 Booker Prize nominated Lanny, and while the magical realism element didn’t entirely work for me, I adored the writing and was completely hooked by the themes (Review coming up this week). This previous title had already been on my radar; it was an oversight for it not to have already been on my TBR, and this seemed an appropriate time to correct that.
Why I added it: This looks like a short and impactful exploration of grief (and magic). I finished Lanny with an urgent need to pick this up.
Priority: High. It’s only 128 pages, and available through my library. It would be great to pick this up in September, largely because I have a couple of very large books I expect to read that month and could use a bit of balance.
That’s all for this week! It looks mainly like an extension of what I’ve been reading lately (or meaning to read in the case of the WIT books…).
Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?
The Literary Elephant