TBR 10.19

Also to be known as: Spooky TBR! My favorite (reading, not weather) time of the year!

My TBR goal for 2019 was to read all of the new books I’ve acquired by the end of the following month. This hasn’t really been working out for me, but I’m continuing to track the info. So I’ll show you what new books came to my shelves in September in the first half of this post (the books that my TBR goal says I *should* be reading in October), and then I’ll highlight the spooky (and other) books I’m most likely to be reading!

New books I haven’t read yet:

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. This is a true crime novel about one woman’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer, whose identity was still unknown at the time. It won the Goodreads Choice award for nonfiction last year, and probably everyone interested in true crime has heard of it; I picked it up from the Barnes and Noble Book Blowout Sale at the beginning of the month.
  2. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. This is a YA book dealing with adoption; I’ve seen several great reviews, and also picked it up from the B&N sale.
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I had a coupon and decided I wanted to spend it on a former Women’s Prize winner- I picked this one from 2012. It’s a retelling of Homer’s The Iliad; while I enjoyed but didn’t love Miller’s more recent release, Circe, I think I’ll fare better with this one!
  4. How to be Both by Ali Smith. Another past Women’s Prize winner (2015). I found this one on Book Outlet, where everything is so cheap it’s impossible to only order what you came for… I’ve actually not read anything from Smith yet but I think I will love her writing! I want to be sure I read Autumn this season!
  5. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for this title’s US release. I’ve already read a few pages because I was too curious about the style to resist, and I’m liking it so far! It’s about an Ohio housewife ruminating on… well, everything.
  6. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Yes, this is the Canadian version, with a slightly different title than the US version. I saw the US edition on the B&N sale, but in the end I didn’t want to pay half price for the hardcover. When I saw this paperback on Book Outlet for $4 the week after, the price was right. I’ve seen mixed reviews for this reliving-the-same-day murder mystery, but above all it sounds bizarre and that’s my brand.
  7. Firestarter by Stephen King. I’ve heard recently that King’s new release, The Institute, might actually share a lot of similarities with this older publication of his that’s lesser known but popular among the Constant Reader (King fandom) crowd. I know this one involves a kid (or kids) with superpowers, and nothing else. I’m now planning to pick this up prior to The Institute.
  8. The Institute by Stephen King. The aforementioned new release. I was so excited about this one with its Stranger Things vibes (which is hilarious, considering Stranger Things was largely inspired by Stephen King books) and am kind of bummed that I’ve decided not to jump straight in. Again, kids with superpowers is all I know.


(I’m sorry this is such a low quality pic- I’ve never been great at photography but I usually at least try for proper daylight!)

Of these eight, the titles I’m most likely to read in October are: Ducks, Newburyport, which I want to finish before the Booker Prize winner announcement, and Firestarter, because I have to read at least one Stephen King novel for Halloween month- this title is now at the top of my King list. It’s possible that I might also reach for The Institute, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and/or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, all of which seem more or less in line for the fast-paced and/or disturbing sort of content I like to read in October.

I’d really like to get to both of the Women’s Prize winners before the end of the year as well, but I don’t think I’ll be picking them up this month unless I need a break from the horror genre.

And before we move on from the book haul portion of this post…

New books I’ve already read:

  1. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. 5 stars. I read this novella earlier this year and had such a fun time with it. It’s been nominated for several major awards, and though I never really expected it to win them, it is a book I think I’ll enjoy revisiting. Plus I had a coupon. I 100% will buy a book just to utilize a discount.
  2. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. 2 stars. I’ve always loved Atwood’s writing, including The Handmaid’s Tale (which this sequel follows), so I pre-ordered this one a while back. I read it promptly upon arrival, partially because of that prior interest, partially because I wanted to read it while it was on the Booker Prize shortlist. In the end, let’s just say I’m glad I was able to pre-order at a discount.
  3. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. (I rated this one 5 stars originally, but have recently begun a reread that I think will bump it down to 3. I’ll wait until I’ve finished to say for sure.) This is a romance/crime novel that was published the year I was born- I recently did a tag featuring books from that year, which was the final push I needed to order a cheap copy from Book Outlet for nostalgic purposes and start a reread. It’s not exactly my taste anymore, but it’s a quick and humorous read with a lot of memories for me.
  4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. This is one of my favorite King novels, and also one of the first of his books that I read, some dozen years ago. I’ve always wanted my own copy, and do plan to reread. I found this one on Book Outlet, and it matches several other King editions I already own, so the time was right. It’s a ghost story.
  5. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 5 stars. One of the ways I’m trying to keep my own-unread TBR down is to use my book-buying urges (and those pesky coupons) to pick up books I’ve already read and loved, and want to own. This was one of my favorite books in middle school and I’ve been wanting a copy for ages- I was happy to find the same edition I originally read! This one’s about a teen who’s been raped, who pours her trauma into an art project.
  6. Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman. 4 stars. I just heard about this nonfiction/memoir last month and was so excited about it that I picked it up on Book Outlet immediately and began reading the day it arrived. It turned out a little different than I was expecting, but it’s an incredible read and very eye-opening. Review coming soon.


Unfortunately, my unread stack is a bit larger than my read stack again, but I don’t expect I’ll be doing much book shopping next month, as my schedule is starting to go haywire and I have less time to spend both in bookstores and on the internet. Sadly, this means I’ll be less present on WordPress over the next month or two, but I’ll do what I can to keep up.

Other reading plans for October:

I’ve got Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore from the library, which means these will be my next reads. I’ll probably split time between these and Ducks, Newburyport.

Soon I’ll also have Hannibal by Thomas Harris from the library, probably my last library check out for the month. I’ve been slowly reading Harris’s Hannibal Lecter series at the rate of one book each October, and this being the third year I’m up to book 3.

I also want to focus on some other unread spooky books I’ve picked up earlier this year and failed to read in a timely manner. The titles I’ve most got my eye on right now are: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, The Phantom of the Opera and Other Tales by various authors, When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry, Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach, and Strange Weather by Joe Hill. Plus I’ve got quite a few unread Stephen King books and plenty of spooky stories from previous years on my shelves, as well as the books I’ve already mentioned in my September haul. So, as you can see, no shortage of choices.

I can’t guarantee I’ll get to everything I want to, of course, but despite the excessively long work days ahead of me, I should still have plenty of small breaks throughout the day- which I’ve learned does not work at all for me for writing (which includes blog posts, sadly) but allows me to read more during the day than I normally manage. The silver lining. In any case, I’m in the perfect mood for all the horror reads, and I’ll keep up with reviewing them in season to the best of my ability.

Have you read any of these, and/or want to put in a vote for what I should prioritize?

I wish you many spooks in the coming reading month!

(Unless you’re not a fan of horror, of course.)


The Literary Elephant



17 thoughts on “TBR 10.19”

  1. Great selection! I’ve only read a couple of the Seasonal Quartet books by Ali Smith and was fascinated and frustrated in equal measure. But there’s something so alluring about her work that makes me want to try more! How to be Both is the one I’ve picked out to hopefully get ahold of as well, since it won the WP. So I’m very much looking forward to your thoughts on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ll be sure to check out your seasonal quartet reviews once I start reading. Every time I hear about another one of her books it sounds just brilliant, so I’m really hoping the writing lives up the synopses for me. But I’ll definitely keep my expectations in check! I’ll look forward to your eventual thoughts on How to be Both as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t wait for your review of Ask Me About My Uterus. I’m glad to hear you liked it so much. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is definitely one of the scarier books I’ve read, so if you want to read something spooky in October it’ll work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did really like Ask Me About My Uterus! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but still a quality read. I’m hoping to get my review up early next week!
      And that’s great to hear, I would really like to fit at least one nonfiction book into October, so it sounds like I’ll Be Gone in the Dark would be an excellent choice!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know everyone on Goodreads is fisticuffs about King’s new novel, The Institute, saying it’s a rip-off of Stranger Things, which more long-term fans then note seems like a rip-off of Firestarter. I just don’t know why people feel like we aren’t reusing the same plots repeatedly as it is. Let it go, folks.

    I am currently listening to Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson. Her nonfiction tends to be funny, with some biting remarks that demonstrate how her attitude could easily transition to horror.

    I read a review of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead a while back and just fell in love with the title. The blogger liked the book, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha yes, I’ve been trying to avoid most of the reviews but that does sound like what I’ve been hearing about The Institute! I think it’s really interesting to compare similar plots, but it does seem a bit different when you’re comparing two works from the same author… I haven’t read these yet, but I’m also very curious about King’s “mirror” novels, Desperation and The Regulators, which are apparently VERY similar and were published in the same year! (One of the benefits of using a pseudonym, apparently!) I think any proper King fans should know by now that he has a tendency to recycle his own ideas.

      That’s good to hear! I’ve only read some of Jackson’s fiction so far, but that sounds so appealing! I love seeing life and art overlap.

      It is a superb title, isn’t it?! I have such high hopes!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow I have so many thoughts!! I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is so good and I hope you love it. I’m also hoping to read The Institute, but am on the fence about buying it, so will probably go with a library copy. Same with Firestarter, which I’d like to read first. I very much disliked Evelyn Hardcastle and am interested to see how you get along with it. I LOVE We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I might even get a tattoo inspired by it. Wild Girls was pretty good. Dead Letters is also on my TBR. I really loved Strange Weather, but acknowledge not everyone will love it as much as me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve got me so excited about these books now! 🙂
      I will be very interested to hear your thoughts re Firestarter and The Institute, when you get around to those!
      Reliving the same day is a narrative structure that doesn’t always work for me so my expectations aren’t too high for Evelyn Hardcastle (hence not buying a copy for anything over $4, lol), but I’m hoping the mystery is at least entertaining.
      We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the “extra” book I REALLY want to get to this month, and am looking forward to even more knowing you loved it so much!! I’ve also had several people recommend I’ll Be Gone in the Dark to me lately, so that’s moving up my list as well. I’m definitely looking forward to comparing notes on more of these books as I read them, it sounds like we’ve got a lot of overlap here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Evelyn Hardcastle works better than most books like that in that respect just because there is a different perspective on each day, so it is less monotonous than others. My issues were mainly that I felt it was trying to cram too much in, and some pretty irritating fatphobia.

        I actually read We Have Always Lived in the Castle prior to The Haunting of Hill House and enjoyed the former a lot more. I’m intrigued to see your thoughts on pretty much everything you listed haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh that’s right, I forgot about the fatphobia with Evelyn Hardcastle. I’m sure that will bother me as well. I guess I’m just hoping for a mystery I can’t predict, and lowering my expectations about everything else.

        I really liked Hill House, but it wasn’t quite a favorite; I’m hoping I’ll enjoy Castle a little more! I’m encouraged to hear you liked that one better. I can’t wait to dive in!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a good way to go about it! Hope you get a decent amount of enjoyment out of it. 🙂

        I found that the writing styles of Hill House and Castle felt so different! It’ll be interesting to see if you feel the same.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So many good titles here! I did not realize the Stuart Turton book has a different title in the US. Why? Apparently she gets an extra half death in America? Ducks, Newburyport looks so interesting but so intimidating. I will probably have to read a few rave reviews to convince me it’s worthwhile! I loved Drive Your Plow – hopefully you do too! It’s a good one for October!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I’m so excited to read all of these!! I have no idea why Evelyn Hardcastle has an extra half death in the US title, I’m hoping that reading the book will shed some light! Personally I think that extra half makes the title a little too clunky and gimmicky, so I don’t mind having the other version!
      Ducks, Newburyport does look a bit intimidating in person as well, but I have seen a few rave reviews so I’m really hoping I’ll have a great experience with it!
      And I’m so glad to hear you loved Drive Your Plow, I’m starting it today and very much looking forward to it! It looks like a great way to start the month of spooky reads. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve heard great things about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark! I’ve listened to a podcast (Man in the Window) that covers the crimes which was fantastic, but has meant I don’t feel so desperate to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark now. Hopefully will get around to it eventually, but would love to know what you think when you read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve heard that the writer of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a big part of what makes this story interesting, so I’m hoping there’s another layer here on top of the crimes… I guess I’ll find out! I’m really hoping to get to this one within the month!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s