TBR 3.20

And so it begins again!

Every month for 2020, I’ll be setting my TBR with five of the books I expect to read throughout the month. I won’t mention extras even though I may pick up other things, and at the end of the month, finished or not, each of the five are barred from future 2020 TBR appearances.

This has been working perfectly for me so far, having completed both my January and February lists on time (monthly wrap-up coming soon!). I’m a bit more worried about March though, for two reasons: 1) the Women’s Prize longlist will be announced in just a few days, and I hope to read as much as possible from that list this coming month. Perhaps I could’ve waited to create and share my TBR, but what I read in March will be determined not only by what’s on the list, but which of those titles are most readily available; we could be halfway through the month before I have a clear idea of in what order I’m going to be reading the longlist, partially because 2) I’m also going on a trip this month! I will be in New York City for 6 days in the second week of March, which came up unexpectedly but I am very excited about it. I’ve never been and have long wanted to go, so I probably won’t be reading quite as much that week, and I expect I’ll order/library request the longlist books before I leave, which means I probably won’t know what will arrive first until I’m back. So I’m not sure a regular TBR will work this month on top of all that, but I’m going to try! If all goes well, here’s what I’d like to read in March:

  1. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. I have been majorly slacking on nonfiction this year (by which I mean, I haven’t read ANY yet, and I regret it!); this one’s on the list of 2019 books I wish I had read last year. It’s a very-hyped memoir about an abusive same-sex relationship, with experimental formatting. It’s the book I’m planning to take on my flight, so hopefully I’ll be able to read at least this one book while I’m gone!
  2. The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina- Separating the Myth from the Medicine by Dr. Jen Gunter. I started this nonfiction medical book back in January, and sadly haven’t made much progress in February. I am very excited that this exists even though I get more out of some chapters than others. I had to set it aside in a busy week and always struggle to get back into a book after I’ve done that, but I know I will appreciate this one and hope the extra push will help me finish it this month!
  3. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. This is a library checkout, and one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 (out this February). If it’s longlisted for the Women’s Prize I’ll get to it sooner, but I’ll definitely be reading this one either way. It’s a historical fiction novel set in 1600s Norway and focusing on witch trials. My genre spotlight post for March will feature historical fiction, so I’m using the rest of this TBR to keep me on track for that as well.
  4. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This is one of my own-unread “20 in ’20” books, in addition to being the right genre for my spotlight post. But it’s long, so I’m uncertain. It’s an Irish 20th century lgbtq+ saga of one gay man’s life, and I am very much looking forward to finally picking it up!
  5. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. Another historical fiction, this one featuring kidnapping and supernatural powers in Victorian London. It’s a library checkout and a February release I was very excited about. I’m hoping to squeeze this in before my trip and before longlist copies start coming in. (This is technically eligible for nomination as well, but it’s not one of my longlist predictions!)


February’s TBR didn’t bring nearly as many high ratings to my reading as January’s did, but it still helped keep me on track with various reading plans so I’m calling it a success. The real reward, honestly, was just the excitement of completing the list after I thought I wasn’t going to finish in time; I hope the prospect of doing so again will help motivate me to complete March’s list as well, even though I will probably be prioritizing the Women’s Prize longlist where I can. But anything could happen! Maybe March will be my best reading month so far this year. 🙂

Even though I don’t expect to get to many (if any) of these right away, here are the new releases this month that I’ve got my eye on! This is a list of releases on my radar that I’ll be watching out for this month in reviews and bookshops:

  • Anna K by Jenny Lee. A YA contemporary romance Anna Karenina retelling, in Gossip Girl style. Out Mar 3rd
  • The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Uncovering Secrets, Reuniting Relatives, and Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland. Nonfiction about the pros and cons of widespread DNA testing and its impact on families, communities, and culture. Out Mar 3rd
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Contemporary fiction featuring a woman who looks back on a relationship she had with a teacher as a teen and looks closer at whether it was abuse. Out Mar 10th
  • The Deep by Alma Katsu. Historical fiction horror centered around the sinking of Titanic and the subsequent use of a sister ship amidst plague and war. Out Mar 10th
  • The Operator by Gretchen Berg. Historical fiction about a phone operator in a 1950s Midwestern town who hears something shocking while listening in on a private conversation. Out Mar 10th
  • The Keeper by Jessica Moor. Mystery/thriller about a woman who worked at a domestic violence shelter and has turned up dead. Out Mar 10th
  • Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. Thriller about a woman who was victim to Munchhausen by proxy as a child, out for revenge. (I’m on the fence about this one, having seen some comments about the way mental health is handled.) Out Mar 17th
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Literary fiction following several lives connected to a five-star hotel in British Columbia. Out Mar 24th
  • Constellations by Sinead Gleeson. Nonfiction essays centered around female bodies and health, grounded in one Irish woman’s experiences with art, illness, grief, and more. Out Mar 24th
  • Look by Zan Romanoff. YA contemporary about a girl with a large social media following, finding the line between what she presents to the world and who she really is. Out Mar 31st
  • Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. Literary fiction about an Asian American woman in an interracial relationship who must choose where her career is heading and find her place in society. Out Mar 31st

There are several titles coming out in March that I’ve been looking forward to for months, and which have featured on my most anticipated releases of 2020 list. It’s a bit frustrating that I can’t pick them all up immediately, but there are so many great bookish things going on this month that I’m sure to find some quality reads no matter what I focus on! And surely I’ll be coming back to the titles I don’t manage to pick up within the month. I’m very interested to see what other readers will think about these books as they emerge into the world.

See anything on my lists that you’ve read or are looking forward to reading?


The Literary Elephant

22 thoughts on “TBR 3.20”

  1. All your picks are on my TBR, except The Heart’s Invisible Furies which I read when it came out! If it helps, I don’t remember it as a long book; it was a pretty quick read for me and the way it moves in time and plot will hopefully keep you reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, that does help! So many readers seem to love The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I’m hoping I’ll get completely drawn in and not notice the page count. 🙂
      I’d love to see your thoughts on the other books here too, when you get around to them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an ARC of The Lost Family and it’s excellent. Will be excited to hear what you think of it if you decide to pick it up!

    And I really hope you can get more out of The Vagina Bible. That’s definitely the case with it, there will be some chapters that are more useful or informative than others. But I think of any book I’ve read recently, it’s one that’s more ok to pick up and set aside. It definitely doesn’t require any kind of continuum, although I know that feeling of being harder to get into something once you’ve set it down.

    Enjoy your time in NYC! I just moved back here after many years away and I really feel it’s a city you get a lot of visiting in short bursts than perhaps being here always. Haha. Have fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I listened to the audiobook version of The Vagina Bible, and about 44% of the way through, I realized that Gunter was serious when she said way back at the beginning that her book is meant to be read as a reference work, not a narrative piece. I ended up skipping some chapters and still really enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, despite the lack of narrative! I remember seeing your updates for it on Goodreads and being impressed that you got through it so quickly, lol. I do find a lot of the info interesting so I’m trying to stick with reading the book in its entirety, but I am definitely a reader who prefers a good story arc!


    2. Ooh, I’m glad to hear The Lost Family is worth the read! I really want to pick that one up.

      It’s definitely a struggle that I have personally, coming back to a book I’ve had to set aside- even if I was enjoying it! I’m sure The Vagina Bible will get a high rating from me, I just needed that extra push to get back to it. I managed to read a few more chapters last night and they’ve sparked my interest again!

      And thanks so much! Living in New York used to be my dream, but lately I don’t think big city life would be for me after all. I’ve always wanted to visit though, it seems like such an iconic place. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s absolutely one of those must-visit places sometime in your life. It’s just so much dirtier and more crowded and expensive than I remembered, and I remembered all too well that it was all of those things. But to visit you can always find just the best in it, and there’s so much exciting stuff to do and see and eat. Enjoy it!!

        I’m trying to scrape together a review of the Lost Family, hopefully will manage it soon. It’s so worth the read, lots of interesting points to consider and such a fast-changing topic.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really interested in the DNA testing craze right now. I saw a news story about people who discovered lost family members, which is well and good, but there are just as many stories about families destroyed when they learned that their parents (pretty much always the father) were not really related to them. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to yearn to know more about family. My husband had a wacky journey that was all tied up in DNA, and I’ve several friends and family members who were adopted. It’s all traumatizing.

    I keep confusing The Deep by Alma Katsu with The Deep by Rivers Solomon. I want to read the Solomon version: “Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep.” I first learned of Solomon’s book when it was nominated for a Goodreads award.

    Your comment about feeling satisfied with finishing a list of TBR for a specific month reminds me of my post about blogger “homework,” which most people disagreed with, but I stand by. Here is the link: https://grabthelapels.com/2019/01/23/time-to-ponder-books-5/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to what The Lost Family is trying to address- that while some find DNA testing a helpful tool, it also has far-reaching consequences that aren’t all positive. It’s become popular enough that even choosing not to participate might not keep you safe from unwanted knowledge- suppose there is an extra branch to your family that you didn’t know about, and someone from it approaches you because they want to get in touch! I must admit I am curious about my heritage though; perhaps the difference is that I don’t personally know anyone with a complicated DNA history!

      I also keep seeing Solomon’s The Deep and having to double check which one it is. I like the title, but it is hard having two of them making the rounds at the same time.

      Great post! Blogger/booktube/bookstagram homework is a topic I always find interesting. It’s definitely something people disagree on, because we get started on our platforms from a love of constant reading, but then we get to a point where we have to question whether we’re still reading what we want to when we want to, or reading specific things because we feel we have to in order to keep up on our platforms. I am a goal-oriented person so I do plan my reading to an extent, but I learned the hard way that I also need to factor in days when I just won’t feel like reading more than 5 pages, and planning my entire month in advance makes me feel too boxed in. I have such a struggle finding the right balance between planning and freedom with reading because I CAN be very disciplined about it if I try to, but that inevitably takes a lot of the fun out of it for me! I have much admiration for you if you can make due dates for your reading work; even though a daily goal that specific wouldn’t work for me, I love the idea of having such a visual way to track your goal!


      1. Based on my work situation (I prefer to be part-time for mental health reasons), I have more time to read, so my goal is 75 pages per day. I know that people who work more or have more hobbies or children wouldn’t read quite as much, and it might even make more sense to set a time goal (maybe 30 minutes per day before bed, or something like that). I don’t think the “homework” has to be really pushy in terms of ambition, but it’s helpful if you’re a goal-oriented person. If I get ahead on my “homework” one day, then I’m ahead already for the next day and may slack off, so there’s some flexibility. I’ve noticed that you’re planning out your months now, too, and seem to be hitting the mark! Nice job!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That seems like a good way to think about it! I do like to have a benchmark, even though I’ve learned that I need room for flexibility in my goals. I’ve actually been trying different sorts of montly TBRs for years, and it’s never quite worked… until now!


  4. I’m going to an event with Kiran MH near Newcastle next month, so will probably pick up a copy of The Mercies then!

    I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies despite being EXTREMELY dubious about it before starting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I haven’t read any of KMH’s work yet, but from the synopses of her books alone I think she’d be a great author to see! I hope you enjoy the event, and The Mercies!

      That’s so encouraging! The length is definitely giving me pause, especially with Women’s Prize season upon us, but I’m hoping I’ll end up loving it as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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