Category Archives: Book Haul / TBR

TBR 3.2.18

In case you missed it, I’m trying this new thing in 2018 where I set a 5-book TBR every time I finish the last one, rather than setting a monthly TBR and letting my anxiety grow for four weeks because of the time constraint. This is only my second TBR of the year so far, but I have been reading borrowed books and other things in the midst of working on my first TBR, so I have read more than 5 books since I started, never fear. In fact, in the time since I set my last 5-book TBR, I read 16 books.

Things like library books, buddy reads, and new subscription box books are not items I’m including in my TBRs this year– instead I’m only listing the books that I have no other deadlines for. So these won’t necessarily be the next five books I read, but I will read all five of these before setting a new TBR.

I don’t anticipate this one taking as long to finish because I think I’ll have fewer conflicts now that the year is farther underway, but the timing of finishing books isn’t bothering me as much with this new system anyway; I’m more focused on what I’m reading and whether I’m enjoying it, than how long it’s taking me to read something or finish a TBR list. It’s only been a couple of months, but I’m really loving this new system.

I’m currently finishing up the 5th book from my last TBR, and plotting what to read next. Here are the titles I’m looking at:

  1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It’s time that I read a true crime novel. The closest I’ve ever gotten to that genre is Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, which I loved but was not focused entirely on the crime. I want to branch out more this year, delve deeper into reading pools I’ve only skimmed the surface of. I’ve heard this one’s a classic of its genre, so this is where I’ll start. I believe it follows a murder case from the 50’s or 60’s in the American midwest.
  2. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Here is a new release from February that I’ve been really excited about. I have not yet read any of Kristin Hannah’s books, though I own The Nightingale, which has been gathering dust on my TBR shelf for a year. I’ve heard such great things about her writing, but I’m rarely in the mood for WWII fiction these days, and this new historical fiction book about solitude and abuse in the wilderness of Alaska sounds much more intriguing to me. And if I like it, hopefully I’ll get around to The Nightingale that much sooner.
  3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve had my eye on this classic Gothic horror novel since reading Bronte’s Jane Eyre at about this time last year. Somehow I haven’t gotten around to it yet, so I added it to my list of 12 classics to read in 2018. I did originally schedule my 12 classics month by month, but this is only the second book on the list and I was still reading my January classic in February so I’m a little off schedule. I’m still trying to figure out how to fit a few monthly goals in with this new TBR system, but I’m confident that I can catch up with my classics list. I’m eager to start this one, which features some sort of mystery about the male lead’s first wife, who is maybe haunting or hiding in his giant old house and terrifying his new wife? I’ve forgotten the exact synopsis, but it sounded creepy and psychological with a touch of romance.
  4. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. This is a YA sci-fi book that drew my attention with its unique narrative formatting. I like unique formats, and the inside of this book looks like artwork. Artwork with a focus on words. I’ve seen great reviews for this story and the third (and final, I believe) book in the series is releasing next week. I want to be on board that train, but I have to start by seeing if I like the first book.All I remember about the story is that two characters with some sort of shared history are awake on a spaceship that’s headed for disaster.
  5. The Power by Naomi Alderman. I’m working on my BOTM backlog, which mostly consists of “extras” that I added to my monthly boxes in 2017, but there are some (like this one) that I just didn’t have time to get around to in the month that I chose them and it’s time that I do. This was my October selection and I’ve been so curious to read it but just… haven’t. And that’s what TBRs are for. This one’s a lit fic novel about a swapped gender dynamic– women wield (some sort of electrical?) power through their hands.

TBR 3.2.18

I’m excited for this list, and I really don’t think it will take me as long as the first one did. But, timing aside, I’m anticipating some quality reads in my future. It’s really fun trying to prioritize my giant Goodreads TBR into bite-sized 5-book lists, even if they do end up with all the fall color vibes at the wrong time of the year. :/

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading next?


The Literary Elephant


Book Haul 2.18

New books for February! I set myself a hard goal this year of acquiring only 3 new books per month, and I suppose if I couldn’t make it happen in the shortest month of the year then I’d really be in bad shape. Fortunately, I persevered, and am now sharing with you my smallest book haul in over a year. I’m PROUD. (And also so very tempted to celebrate by buying new books.) But for this month, here’s what I got:

  1. King Lear by William Shakespearre. I’m on the hunt for my favorite Shakespeare play, so after a few recommendations I made sure to add this one to my list of classics to read in 2018. I was originally planning to read it in December, but I’ve changed my TBR system and I’m pretty interested in giving this one a try so I might pick it up early. In any case, I’m ready to read it now that I have a nice Pelican copy. I don’t know anything about the plot of this one, but that’s the way I like to read, so please don’t spoil me.
  2. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller. This one is my February Book of the Month Club selection, and I did manage to read it within the month! I had my eye on four of the selections this time, and I do have borrowed copies of a couple of the other choices in my possession at the moment, but I’m so proud of myself for facing the temptation head-on and sticking to my resolution of only choosing one in my BOTM box. I’m only supposed to be selecting one per month until I’m caught up with my BOTM backlog from last year, so this month was a success in that regard, as well. Follow the link for my review of this one, I had a great time reading it! It’s a sort of sci-fi/fantasy novel with historical and feminist elements, but mostly its a whimsical, wild ride about chasing dreams.
  3. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I guess I did buy a second BOTM selection, but not through BOTM. I bought a regular copy of this one after its release date for the cool cover details that BOTM generally doesn’t include, but also just because I was planning to get this one with a coupon through another bookseller before the February BOTM choices were announced. And I’m glad I did, because this book is GORGEOUS and will look perfect on my shelf next to The Nightingale, which admittedly I haven’t read yet. But I’m excited to read both! This one sounds like a hard-hitting story about abuse and the Alaskan wilderness, and I’ve seen nothing but good reviews. I’m planning to read this one in the next week or two.


That’s my entire list of new books for February. It’s short, but I think I made some good choices, and I’ll definitely read all of these within the year. I’ve only read one of three so far, but I did read four previously unread books from my shelves this month, so even though two of these are still unread I am actually down one book on my owned-books TBR this month, which also feels good. Success on so many levels.

Which new books did you pick up in February? And what’s good in new YA? I didn’t see much that caught my eye for YA in February, but I’m looking forward to some March releases!


The Literary Elephant

Book Haul 1.18

A new year means a new book goal– and I’ve already failed it. In 2018 I’m challenging myself to acquire no more than three books per month, with strong intent to read them within the month I acquire them. I’m determined to work hard at that this year, but apparently harder in the second month because January was a lost cause. I received 4 books as belated Christmas gifts on the 1st, and since that already put me over my goal I wasn’t as careful about exercising restraint. Here’s what’s new:

  1. Emma by Jane Austen. I love this edition (Vintage Classics) and maybe someday I’ll have more that match because right now I have five different editions between the six Austen novels on my shelf. I know absolutely nothing about the plot but that hasn’t stopped me from loving other Jane Austen novels. This is going to be my first of (at least) twelve classics for 2018, but since I revamped my TBR system those twelve might not fit neatly one per month, as Emma did not. I am planning to get to this one soon though.
  2. The Waves by Virginia Woolf. This one also found its way to my 2018 classics list, but it’s a bit farther down. It’s the same pretty Vintage Classics edition as Emma, a matching Christmas gift. All I know about the plot is that (I think) a child dies while a group of friends are playing at the beach, and the narration explores how the other characters are affected by the loss. I think I’m going to like it a lot, and I don’t think it’ll be sitting unread on my shelf in 2019, which is the real goal for new this year. I want to get as close as I can to reading every new book I acquire in 2018 before the end of the year.
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. A Christmas gift, again. I think this is the only Rowell book I haven’t read yet (along with its companion, Carry On, which I won’t read until after Fangirl). I’ve been saving these two for last, so I’m hoping to read and love them both this year. This one features a girl who’s starting college and trying to find her (metaphorical) feet through fanfiction after a family tragedy. She feels more at home participating in an online fandom than out in the real world, but now that she’s in a new place she needs to reconcile her online life with the changes around her.
  4. A Poem for Every Night of the Year ed. by Allie Esiri. This is the last of my Christmas gifts. I have been reading a poem per day, as the title suggests, and it’s been interesting. I’ve recognized a few of the poems for January already, and I like how some of the poems are connected to their significant dates– different celebrations and commemorations of writers from around the world, etc. It’s just a little something calm and interesting to wind down with at the end of the day, and I do intend to keep up with these throughout the year.
  5. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner. This is my BOTM choice for January. I didn’t read much historical fiction in 2017 but I want to dip my toes back into that water. So I chose this heart-wrenching book about Spanish Influenza in 1918 Philadelphia, a subject I knew next to nothing about when I chose it. I want to pick up more books this year about new-to-me subjects. This is my current read, so I’ll have a review up soon.
  6. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This was BOTM’s book of the year winner for 2017, so I had to add it extra to my box. I’m making it a rule in this year not to add extras, but I couldn’t skip “book of the year” from my favorite subscription box. This one’s another historical fiction; it looks hefty and wonderful and I just know it’s going to be a quality read, which was my intent for 2018 reading: quality over quantity. All I remember about the premise is that the protagonist travels between Ireland and the US in recent history, trying to reconcile his personal and national history with present society.
  7. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. I mean, it’s Pierce Brown. I love his Red Rising books. This one came out on the 16th, and I’m planning to pick it up as soon as I finish As Bright as Heaven. I bought a signed copy and I’m beyond excited to see how it’ll turn out for Darrow and crew (ten years later plus new characters) as they struggle to rebuild a better society on the bones of the one they ripped apart in Brown’s first three books. I hope this new installation is as beautifully chaotic as the rest of the series has been.
  8. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. True crime has been piquing my interest for a while now but I haven’t really delved into the genre yet. This will be my first true crime novel (a sort of classic of its genre, I think) and I expect to like it a lot. It seemed like a good place to start and I expect it’ll show up on my next TBR in February. I think the murders it covers take place in the 1960’s, but I really like going into books as blind as possible so I didn’t look into details. (I’m sorry if a lot of my descriptions are vague on books I haven’t read, but I really don’t want to know more before I read them.)
  9. Aramada by Ernest Cline. I read and loved Cline’s Ready Player One in 2016, and I’ve heard over and over that that’s the better book, but this one’s got a gorgeous cover and I need to see for myself how well Cline’s writing transfers to another novel. It’s clear from the cover that this one has something to do with space invasions/battles but I don’t remember if it also involves a game, as well. I’m getting Ender’s Game vibes, but I really don’t remember the premise. It was on sale and my previous appreciation for Cline’s writing was enough of a motivator for me to pick this one up.
  10. Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while, but I bought it on a whim. This is the kind of un-pre-meditated book shopping I’m aiming to eliminate in 2018 by limiting myself to 3 books per month (It’s not that I regret buying this book, it’s that I regret buying any books on a day when that wasn’t in my plan). If I end up loving this one I do intend to read more of Albertalli’s books, but since I think they’re companion books, I want to read them in publication order and this is the first. In this one, something private of Simon’s is sent in an email to all the kids at his school, which causes his love/social life to blow up. I think.


So those are my new books. New BOTM selections will be posted in mere hours and I already know of one more that will be arriving in my mailbox in February, but I’m going to try really hard to stick to my 3 book goal. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I am pleased that I’m already currently reading 2 of these, and planning to pick up at least 3 more within the next month. But still, that’s only half of the list, and I want to be eliminating unread books on my shelves this year, so here’s to doing better as the year progresses.

What new books did you pick up this month? Do you have book-buying resolutions? Have you read any of these?


The Literary Elephant


TBR 1.9.18

*Announcer’s Voice:* Welcome to Literary Elephant’s new and improved TBR system for 2018! Monthly TBRs are a thing of the past, because all year I’m going to be trying something new: the five book TBR.


It’s hard to predict how much a person will actually read in a month. And what’s a month when it comes to reading? No more than an arbitrary number of days. By the end of my first year of using monthly TBRs (which I reached in mid-2017) I found myself routinely facing one of two problems: 1) either putting too few books on my monthly TBR so that I could succeed at crossing everything off the list, which left me picking up random books at the end of the month that didn’t help me work toward my reading goals, or 2) putting too many books on my monthly TBR so that everything I read was pre-selected, but I didn’t get to feel good about finishing my list by the end of the month. For me, it just seems impossible to pre-select the actual number and titles of books I will be reading in the span of a month. It made me feel bad about my reading, which shouldn’t ever happen. Reading is always good.

So what am I doing about it?

I’m implementing a new TBR system for myself in 2018. Instead of creating a new TBR every month, I’m going to be setting five-book TBRs, to be created every time I finish the previous five books. No deadlines. I’m not even going to try for a no-straying-from-the-TBR rule. If I want to pick up a new book I’ve never heard about before in the middle of my five TBR books, that’s totally acceptable. I’ll just wait to set a new TBR until I finish those original five books. This way, I get to finish my TBR list every time, in the amount of time that works best for me and my current schedule.

Since this is an all-new system for me, I’ll probably be experimenting with it for a while to see how I might want to subdivide it. In my 2018 reading goals, I have a couple of challenges that involve reading 12 books of a certain type throughout the year, which might not fit as easily in this five-book system. I don’t know yet how many of my five books should be reading challenge books on each TBR, or if I’ll want to intentionally set a mix of genres, or make my choices some other way. We’ll see. All I know is that it’s going to be a whole new adventure for me this year.

I’ve already decided I won’t put every book I read in 2018 on these lists. My five-book TBRs are not for books I pick up on a whim, books I’m not as serious about finishing, books I’ve already started and have vague hopes for finishing within the time of the list. My TBRs are goal lists, the highest priorities and most important books of the moment. For example, right now I’m buddy reading Stephen King’s It (1,153 pages) with a friend, but you won’t see that on this list. I don’t know when exactly we’ll be finishing It, I’m reading other books at the same time, and I don’t need that extra push to make sure I’m picking It up this month, so I’m saving my TBR spaces for other things I do want an extra push for. (But I will still review just about everything I read, regardless of whether it was on a TBR, including It.)

Here’s a look at my first five books, which I will read in whichever order I feel like picking them up:

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This was my Book of the Month selection from December, and I’ve been dying to start reading it. I actually have started reading it between the time of starting to draft this post and finally publishing it, so I’m already at work on my TBR and I’m loving this first selection. Eleanor is definitely not fine, but she thinks she is. She just doesn’t know yet that life is about more than being fine. She’s a unique and compelling narrator though, and I can already tell I’m going to rate this one highly.
  2. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. A new release. This one doesn’t come out until January 16, but I know I’ll be receiving it within the month, and I want to be reading it right away. I’ve been waiting over a year for this fourth book in the Red Rising series, so there’s no way I’m procrastinating on it now. Morning Star left off on a good note (ending what should have been a trilogy), so I’m a little wary about what will happen to this series as it continues. I trust Brown’s writing though, so I’m going to dive right in as soon as I can get my hands on it.
  3. Emma by Jane Austen. A classic from my Another Year of Classics list. I have these set up to read one per month, and I am going to try to stick to that goal even though it might not fit perfectly in my five-book TBRs. I’m not sure how many of these TBRs I’ll be posting per month– last year I averaged reading 9 books per month, so I’m thinking I’ll have 1 or 2 TBRs every month, though they won’t always appear at the same time of the month. Anyway, I received a nice copy of Emma as a Christmas gift and it’s going to be my first classic of the year. I’ve read three other Austen novels but I know absolutely nothing about this one yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it as much as the other Austen novels I’ve read.
  4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I like reading an Atwood book at the beginning of the year, and I’m trying to catch up on BOTM books, as I mentioned above. This was an extra BOTM book from several months ago and while I do also have a backlog problem, this is one I’ve been holding onto specifically for this time of year when I like to read one of Atwood’s novels. I just never know what to expect from them and January is a great time for exciting surprises. This one looks pleasantly chunky and mysterious, but I no longer remember the synopsis. Which is good for me, even though it means I can’t give you any hints of what it’s about before I review it.
  5. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. A YA sequel. I read four of Bardugo’s books in 2017, including this one’s predecessor, Six of Crows. I was too busy trying to catch up with my 2017 reading challenge at the end of the year to get back into the world of Ketterdam and find out what happens with Inej, but I’m so ready to return to this duology. I’m tentatively planning to read less YA in 2018, but only in that I’m going to be more selective in which titles I pick up, which I think will end up meaning I’m reading fewer YA titles but getting more enjoyment out of the ones I do pick up. Crooked Kingdom definitely makes the cut, though. No way I’m missing out on this one.

TBR 1.9.18

(Morning Star is standing in for Iron Gold, which hasn’t arrived yet. Also I’m not especially impressed with Iron Gold’s cover, but it’s the contents that count, right?)

I’ll be reviewing each of these books as I read them, and when I reach the end of the list, I’ll post a new TBR, labelled with the specific date when it’s set rather than the month (because I’m anticipating some months having multiple TBRs). This will help me track what a comfortable reading speed is for me, and push me to read the books that are most worthwhile rather than the easiest books to fit in a certain month. I’m so excited about this!

I will still post monthly wrap-ups so that I have a way of putting all of the books I’ve been reading recently in one place. My wrap-ups won’t necessarily fall at the end of a TBR anymore, but they’ll probably include more than the titles on these TBRs, which is why I want to continue them as usual. Monthly wrap-ups will also help me keep track of those bigger reading goals for the year: the twelve classics, the new releases, backlog BOTM books, etc.

What are you reading to kick off the new year?


The Literary Elephant

Another Year of Classics

In my 2017 Wrap-Up I mentioned meeting my goal of reading at least 12 classics throughout that year. (Check out A Year of Classics for last year’s titles.) I want to do the same for 2018.

In 2017, I read 15 of 12 classics, although I only read 10.3 of the classics I originally designated. Nevertheless, having a classic planned for each month did help me reach that goal of 12, even if I did make some changes to it as the year progressed. So I’m here to designate another 12 classics for the months of 2018.

Here are the titles I’m hoping to read this year:

January- Emma by Jane Austen. (I read two of Austen’s books last year and loved them. Now I’m on a quest to read the rest of Austen’s novels– not too fast, because I want to savor them, but Austen is the only author with two books on this list.)

February- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. (My enjoyment of Jane Eyre last year sent me in the direction of this mysterious Gothic romance. It sounds like exactly the sort of intrigue I like to read to get me through the long tail-end of winter.)

March- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson.
(I read Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and it wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy the plot enough that I wanted to try another of his books. I’m hoping that I’ll like this one better.)

April- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. (A Christmas Carol was the first and only Dickens novel I’ve ever read, but even though I knew the plot going in, the writing and the characters drew me in and made it such a fun experience– especially during the holiday season. I have no excuse to put off trying another Dickens title this year.)

May- The Odyssey by Homer. (I haven’t finished The Iliad yet, so putting The Odyssey in the top half of this list is meant to encourage me to keep working at it in a timely manner. I always intended to read the two of these close enough together that The Iliad is still fresh in my mind when I read The Odyssey, so I’m aiming to wrap up the whole endeavor in 2018.)

June- The Waves by Virginia Woolf. (There are several Woolf titles on my long-term TBR, and while I’ve read lots of excerpts and shorter pieces of Woolf’s, I’ve never read any of her full-length books. If this one goes well, I’ll probably pick up more of them in the future.)

July- The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (It’s been years since I read The Great Gatsby, and I still haven’t picked up any of Fitzgerald’s other works. My opinion of The Great Gatsby has fluctuated over the years, so I’m not sure what to expect from picking up another of Fitzgerald’s novels, but I’m ready to find out.)

August- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. (I switched this one out of my classics list last year because I was starting A Game of Thrones again that month and didn’t want to read two really long books in a row. That’s a poor excuse and “epic revenge story” still sounds pretty fantastic, so I’m more determined to actually read this one this year.)

September- Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. (My knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is vague at best. I have yet to read any of Doyle’s stories, which means I also haven’t watched any corresponding films or TV shows or read any retellings. It’s time to change that, I think. From what I’ve heard, Sherlock sounds like someone I’d be very interested in reading about, so that’s what I’m going to do.)

October- Dracula by Bram Stoker. (This is the other title I switched out of last year’s classics list, and if I’m honest, I’ve been meaning to read it for several Octobers in a row now and always procrastinated until it’s too late. I don’t know why, but here’s to giving it another go.)

November- Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. (As noted above, this is my second Austen title of the year, which will leave only one of her novels for me to read in 2019. I like the idea of spacing them out a bit, to keep the stories and characters from melding together in my mind and also because it’s so sad when there can’t be forthcoming novels by an author you appreciate– I don’t want my first experiences with Austen’s books to be over too soon.)

December- King Lear by Shakespeare. (I wanted a short classic for the end of the year, in case I’m busy trying to wrap up other reading endeavors. It should prevent me from shirking on my classics. I picked this one specifically because it was recommended to me multiple times after I posted my review for Macbeth last month. I’m still on the hunt for my favorite Shakespeare play, and I’m hoping this one will be a contender.)

classics 2018

(p.s I know it’s Macbeth in the picture instead of King Lear. I haven’t bought my copy of King Lear yet but I’m planning to do that later in the year.)

I love classics, but I know I don’t reach for them as readily as I do modern works. A challenge like this helps me to pick up books that might take a little longer to read but will (hopefully) be worth the time they take in the end. I tried to assemble a good mix of genres and authors for 2018 while also selecting books that I genuinely believe I will enjoy. I’m looking forward to reading these, and I hope I’ll have just as much success (or more) with this challenge as I did last year.

Do you read classics? Do you see any favorites on this list?


The Literary Elephant


2018 Reading Challenge

I’m still fighting to wrap up my 2017 challenge before the end of the year, but as I’m focusing on that, I’ve also been thinking about what sort of reading goals I want to strive for in the new year. For a number of reasons that will be listed in a review at the end of my 2017 Reading Challenge Wrap-up (coming next week), I’ve decided to construct my own reading challenge for 2018.

As with many reading challenges, some of the categories I’ve chosen are much more specific than others because there are some books and some types of books that I really want to push myself to get around to this year. But there are also other categories that I left more open so that I can pick up unexpected books throughout the year without sacrificing progress on my challenge.

If you want to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Just link back to this page or any of my updates throughout the year so I have a chance to follow your progress, too. 🙂 I tailored this one to fit me, but it’s absolutely acceptable if you want to adapt it to your own reading needs– change author names, titles, or genres from my list to best fit your own reading goals of 2018. Anything counts!

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017
  2. A book with a blue cover
  3. A Stephen King book
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long
  7. The last book in a series
  8. A book recommended by a friend
  9. A prize-winning book
  10. A non-fiction book
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  13. A book with a strong female lead
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies
  16. A Shakespeare play
  17. A book that takes place in space
  18. A book by a new-to-you author
  19. A new book by an author you already love
  20. A book of short stories
  21. A memoir
  22. A true-crime book
  23. A book with a five-word title
  24. A book set in another country
  25. A book of poetry

And for the second set: the big categories. Books that count for this part of the challenge can also be counted for a category in the sets above or below.

  1. Twelve classics
  2. Twelve books within a month of their publication dates
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
  4. My backlog of Book of the Month books
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab

Final set: some specific titles I definitely want to read in 2018. These can also count in the sets above.

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  6. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  7. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  8. The Martian by Andy Weir
  9. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  10. Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman

That’s the Literary Elephant Reading Challenge, 2018. There are 40 categories in total, and books can be used in multiple sets though not in multiple categories within the same set. If you like the structure, feel free to change titles, authors, genres, series, or whatever you like to create your own challenge list. I wanted to set goals that fit my own reading preferences, with challenges that will help me branch out of my comfort zone and work through some unread books on my shelves. Some of the categories will require reading multiple books, but I hope that allowing books to fill multiple categories will keep that from being too overwhelming. I don’t know if I will actually be able to read all of these books within 2018, but I did intend to challenge myself and I think this list will help keep me motivated and on track with what I really want to read this year. I’ll post updates on my progress every three months.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges for 2018? Which ones?


The Literary Elephant







December Book Haul

I done good. So far. I know there are a few days left in December, but I’m not anticipating buying any more books in that time and I have lots more updates and 2018 plans to share with you in upcoming days, so today is Book Haul Day!

My goal for most of 2017 has been to acquire a maximum of five books per month (I usually fail, so I’m lowering that goal for next year, yikes) and even with Christmas this month I managed to add only five books to my shelves! That seems like an odd thing to be excited about, but 2017 has just been out of control for me when it comes to buying books (no regrets) so I’m glad to end the year on a more successful note. My new books:

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This is my BOTM selection from December, and I have not read it yet but I’m planning to get to it (and several other BOTM books that I fell behind on) first thing in January. I’m proud of myself for only choosing one book for my December box even though most of them looked great. All I remember about this one is that Eleanor Oliphant is not fine, that she has a strange relationship with her mother, and that the way she interacts with the world tends to alienate her from the people around her. I’ve heard good things, and I can’t wait to see for myself.
  2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve read the first three books in Maas’ ACOTAR series. Even though my interest in those is waning, I wanted to check out her other big series. I’ve seen mixed reviews for the Throne of Glass books, but even though I didn’t like A Court of Thorns and Roses much I was interested enough to read the entire novel and continue the series anyway; so I’m planning to read at least Throne of Glass and decide from there how far I want to go in the series. I think the final book comes out in 2018, so if I do end up wanting to read them all, now’s a good time. All I know is that there’s a female assassin, maybe on a mission from the king, and there’s a love interest once she’s in the castle. Fingers crossed for ACOMAFquality writing.
  3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. My one Christmas gift book, and I picked it out myself. (No one buys me books because they’re afraid I will already have, have read, or not like the ones they pick.) I found a signed copy on sale at Barnes and Noble, and I thought this would be a great way to complete my 2017 reading challenge without having to read the Pulitzer Prize winner that I fell out of the mood for, so I asked a family member to stick it in my Christmas box. I haven’t completely finished, but I’ve read a lot and I’m loving it. One of the most intriguing aspects for me has been seeing the Underground Railroad as a literal train, but of course there’s a lot more to love about this one. I fully intend to finish this novel within the week.
  4. It by Stephen King. I’ve been meaning to read It for years, and the interest definitely increased around the time of the new film adaptation in 2017. But I was busy, and It is extremely long, and excuses, excuses. I’m tentatively planning a buddy read for this one in January, which should be fun because 1) it will be my first buddy read and 2) it will be so satisfying to cross a book this giant off of my TBR so early in the year. I know there’s a scary clown and maybe it’s targeting a group of kids in the town and maybe the adults secretly know what’s going on because of something that happened when they were kids. I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers, so most of my knowledge is pieced together from the movie trailers and really I don’t know much about the book yet. But I’m excited to change that.
  5. Great Tales of Horror by H. P. Lovecraft. No real reasons or excuse for this one– I knew I wasn’t up to five books yet, and I found this short story collection on sale for less than $4. For a 600 page hardcover book, that’s a deal too good to pass up (for me, anyway). I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get around to reading this one, but I do like Stephen King and Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe, so I think I’ll definitely find something to enjoy in this collection. Some of the titles look familiar, but these stories will be my first foray into Lovecraft’s oeuvre.


That’s a wrap. December’s been a pretty good reading month, and I’m working on my reading wrap-up already even though I’m still in the middle of a couple books I hope to finish before the end of the year. I’m so pleased with my book haul this month, even though I haven’t actually finished reading any of the books on it yet. It just makes me more excited for what comes next. Stay tuned this week and next week for updates on my reading/buying/writing/blogging goals and more good stuff, because that’s coming up pronto. I can’t believe it’ll be 2018 in like, three days. So much to read. So little time.

What new books did you add to your shelves in December?


The Literary Elephant