Category Archives: Book Haul / TBR

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



TBR 9.19

Another month, another book list! This one’s going to be a bit of a mess I’m afraid, so enter at your own risk.

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 August in the first half of this post (the books that my TBR goal says I *should* be reading in September), and then I’ll give a more general overview of my plans for the month.

New books I haven’t read yet:

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. I really want to read this adult fantasy trilogy now that it’s complete (sometimes I prefer to wait until the end so I can read the books back to back), but I have two other series to catch up in before starting something new so I likely won’t be reading this in September. I only bought it this past month because I came across a good-condition hardcover for under $5 and can’t resist a book sale.
  2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I’ve been looking at this one longingly for months and I finally had a coupon and went for it. But I think I want to read Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World first (which I already own) because I expect to enjoy this one more and I’m a save-the-best-for-last kind of person. So I probably won’t read this in September either.
  3. Dark Age by Pierce Brown. This is the fifth installment in the Red Rising trilogy, which I have been enjoying since the beginning (though it’s been long enough since I read the first book that I’m increasingly curious to reread and see if I still feel the same). This is one of the series I would want to catch up in before starting something new, so I am planning to get to this one very soon.

New books I’ve read already:

  1. Three Types of Solitude by Brian Aldiss. This is another short story from the Faber Stories collection, which I am now only one volume away from completing! I’ll review this one in my final round of mini-reviews when I get ahold of that last volume, but I’ll mention that I found this one really weird and fun, though I didn’t take much away from the read other than some quick entertainment.
  2. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. I read this one in July (from the library) and found it so powerful and unique that I needed my own copy. Just… all the stars.
  3. Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry. This was one of the Booker Prize longlist titles I was most excited about, so I purchased a UK copy in order to read it before the shortlist announcement, which comes a couple of weeks before this book’s US release date. Sadly the story didn’t quite live up to my high hopes, but the writing is gorgeous, at least.
  4. Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson. This is actually my current read, but I have only about 60 pages left and I am loving it so much that I’ll certainly finish before the end of the month. I want to review this one before the shortlist announcement, so it’ll be coming up ASAP and will be gushy. You’ve been warned.


I’m pretty happy with this haul. I’ve read a good portion of it, I’m confident that I’ll be reaching for Dark Age probably within the next week, and I’m 100% okay with letting the last two books wait a little longer. I am planning to concentrate more in these last few months of 2019 on books I’ve bought this year and haven’t read yet, so there’s a good chance I’ll get to the Arden and Moshfegh before the end of the year as well.

And on that note… a little more on my plans for September.

First, the Booker Prize shortlist will be announced on the 3rd, and that might slightly alter my reading plans going forward. Right now I’m planning to read both¬†The Testaments and Ducks, Newburyport in September, but I’ll post more concrete info about the shortlist and my Booker progress and reading plans after the 3rd.

Second, my buddy read for Stephen King’s The Outsider got pushed back from August to September, so barring further complications I’ll be starting this one in the coming weeks. I’m also anticipating a buddy read of Helen Dunmore’s A Spell of Winter, which I’ve got from the library and will probably start in mid-September.

Third, I have a very seasonal job right now, and fall is the busiest season. This is going to affect my ability to use the library, pick anything new up from bookstores, and stay as active as I have been on my blog. I will probably still have about the same amount of reading time, it will just be divided into littler pieces throughout the day rather than in one solid chunk at night, as has become my habit. For these reasons, coupled with the fact that my TBR system for this year has made it painfully obvious to me that I’m buying more books than I’m able to keep up with, I am planning to focus my next few TBRs on some of the unread titles I’ve bought earlier this year. I was particularly excited about my July haul / August TBR, which I didn’t end up having time for this month and still want to delve into.

Oh, and I’ve also got Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key checked out from the library!

All in all, I’ve got a weird mix of plans and anything could happen. I’m sorry I’ve been posting such unstructured TBRs the last few months, but I’ve discovered that if I plan my reading schedule down to the letter I feel too boxed in and also get really frustrated when reality turns out different and I have to readjust. So this is a general overview more than a strict list. Fortunately, I’ve still got a couple of weeks before my job gets real busy, so I’m going to cram in as much reading and blogging as I can in the meantime!

Happy September reading all around. ūüôā


The Literary Elephant

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


TBR 7.19

I set myself a goal for 2019 in which I aim to read all of the new books I acquire by the end of the following month. Recently, I’ve considered abandoning this goal, because my TBR for each month includes more than just the previous month’s purchases and it’s been disheartening to never reach the goal. But upon reflection, keeping track of which new books I read or don’t read right away is helping in the two areas I most intended it to: I’m more likely to resist buying books that I want to read¬†eventually¬†instead of¬†immediately, and I am reading a higher percentage of unread books from my shelves, rather than ignoring my own books to borrow more from the library. Of course, I still buy books that I don’t end up reading immediately, and I still use the library, but I’ve decided to at least keep tracking this goal through the rest of the year even if I’m not sticking to it as closely as I’d hoped, because I do want to see my end stats and be able to set more realistic goals for next year.

So I’ll continue to post my book haul / TBR list for each month, but at the end I’ll include a list of what I think my reading for the month might actually include.

These are the new books added to my shelf throughout June:

  1. Daughters of Passion by Julia O’Faolain. This is a short story from the Faber Stories collection. It’s about an Irish woman on a hunger strike who loses track of what’s real and what’s not (as far as I recall). This is one of only 3 Faber Stories I still needed to complete my collection, but the other two are still too expensive.
  2. Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, trans. by Marilyn Booth. This is the winner of this year’s Man Booker International prize, for literature translated into English. I believe this is a story about three sisters from Oman. I’ve heard mixed things, but I want to start making more of an effort to read current and past prize winners so I’m going to give it a try.
  3. Flight or Fright ed. by Stephen King and Bev Vincent.¬†This is a short story collection about the horrors of planes and flight, which is a topic one of my friends is very interested in and I’ve also become a bit attracted to by extension. I originally bought this for her birthday, and then found out she had unknowingly bought it for herself¬† right after so I’ll keep this copy and find a replacement gift. I’ll probably save this for a spooky fall read, if I get around to it this year at all.
  4. The Phantom of the Opera and Other Gothic Tales¬†by Gaston Leroux and others.¬†I bought this leather-bound classics edition on sale from Barnes and Noble. It’s 800 pages of relatively short Gothic stories from a variety of authors, some I know of and some that will be new to me. I’ve been wanting to buy this since it was added to the B&N classics collection last year, and ended up buying it this month just because I could get it at a good price. I’ll probably also save this one for fall.
  5. Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach.¬†I bought this from the same Barnes and Noble sale, a clean hardcover copy for only about $5. This book features a set of twins, one of whom is missing, and may be playing a game that only her sister can solve. This one’s been on my radar for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a go.
  6. Animals Eat Each Other by Elle Nash.¬†This book features a woman who enters a “three-way relationship” with another woman and his girlfriend, but essentially I believe it’s about a crisis of identity. It sounds really weird and highly intriguing, but my library doesn’t have a copy so I bought my own. I’m really excited to pick this one up!
  7. Recursion by Blake Crouch.¬†Here is my BOTM selection from June, which I’ve also been eyeing impatiently ever since it arrived, though I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with my June library books and my buddy read of Stephen King’s 1400+ page¬†The Stand that I haven’t had time to dive into yet. This is the new sci-fi thriller from the author of¬†Dark Matter, and it deals with memory. That’s all I know and all I want to know- I’m also really looking forward to this one!
  8. City of Omens by Dan Werb.¬†I chose this nonfiction about the deaths of women in Tijuana as a BOTM add-on in June. I’m trying to incorporate more nonfiction into my reading this summer (and beyond), so I picked this up just because it was a new release that caught my attention, and I’m looking forward to learning more.


Those are all of the new books I’ve acquired this month. I haven’t read a single one yet, and I’m not even going to pretend to expect that I’ll read them all in July. From this list, I’m most expecting to read¬†Daughters of Passion, Animals Eat Each Other,¬†and¬†Recursion.¬†I’m less certain about but still HOPING to also read¬†City of Omens, Celestial Bodies, and/or Dead Letters.

In addition, I’ll also have these library books for sure:¬†The Farm¬†by Joanne Ramos,¬†Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman,¬†Again, But Better by Christine Riccio,¬†A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing¬†by Eimear McBride, and¬†Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.

I should be finishing my buddy read of¬†The Stand within the first two weeks of the month also, which will feel like SUCH an accomplishment and will also free up a lot more reading time for me, though of course until it’s done it will still occupy a good portion of my reading time.

Last but not least, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction longlist will be announced on July 24, which I hope to be reading again this year (though in a more timely manner than I managed last year). I have no idea what the nominated titles will be or how available they will be to me, so I’m not sure I’ll get to any of these at the end of July, but it’s certainly a possibility.

And so, even though I’m tentatively planning to read more than 8 books this month, I’m sure they won’t be the 8 new books I picked up in June. Which is okay.

My June wrap-up will be up next week, featuring everything I read this month, and a look at how closely it followed my May book haul / June TBR.

Happy reading, all!


The Literary Elephant

TBR 6.19

My TBR goal for the year is to read any new books I’ve acquired by the end of the following month. We’re not quite halfway through the year yet, but I am seriously considering throwing this goal out the window, which is an unusual stance for me in general and especially after May, which was the first month all year that I’ve succeeded with this self-challenge. But May has also been the first month of my new Top of the TBR series, which I’m enjoying a whole lot more than these book haul TBR posts. And May has also been the third month in a row for me of no 5-star novels, which is seriously putting me in the mood to just reach for whatever I think is going to break this weird reading funk I’m in and skip the plans and lists.

But I’ve decided to stick with this set-up for the month of June, at which point the year will be half over- a nice round number that seems opportune for reassessment. So here are the new books I’ve picked up in May that my TBR goal says I should be reading in June:

  1. The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler. This was my BOTM selection for May, and it’s at the top of my list for the nonfiction binge I tend to partake in this summer. (List of probable nonfiction titles I’ll be reading coming soon.) I haven’t read Hessler before and I don’t know anything more about this book beyond what the title suggests, but I thought a regional history of a country I’m not especially familiar with would be a great addition to my summer nonfiction stack.
  2. The Killer Across the Table¬†by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. This was an extra nonfiction title I picked up from BOTM in May. I just watched the first season of¬†Mindhunter recently (on Netflix), which is related content. I’ve succumbed to a serial killer / true crime fascination and am looking forward to continuing down that path in my reading life as well.
  3. A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley. This is a collection of short stories that was shortlisted for the National Book Award in 2018, and the author was one of my TAs in the creative writing program at the University of Iowa. I’m also trying to read more short stories this year, and as I near the end of the Faber Stories collection I’m looking forward to getting back into other collections of short stories.
  4. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston. I believe this is a YA novel about a high school cheerleader who is drugged and assaulted at a party. I haven’t been reading much YA this year but I do still appreciate hard-hitting books from that age range. This also sounds a bit like Louise O’Neill’s Asking For¬†It, which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2018. The clincher was that this was only $1 on Book Outlet.
  5. Winter¬†by Ali Smith. I own but haven’t read¬†Autumn yet, though all signs point to me enjoying this seasonal quartet when I get around to it. I didn’t expect I would ever find it cheaper than I did this month, so I decided it was worth getting it now for my future self. I don’t really anticipate that I’ll be reading either¬†Autumn¬†or Winter this June, which means I’ve probably failed my TBR goal for the month before I’ve even begun. But who knows, anything could happen.
  6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I actually read the titular piece from this book last year, and liked it enough that I wanted to pick up my own copy. This one matches my edition of¬†The Waves (which I have not read yet). But it also contains a second essay, much to my surprise, so I will have to read that as well before I can count this as completed.
  7. Fever Dream by Samanta Scweblin. I was not expecting this one to be as small as it is, but I suppose that bodes well for my ability to get around to it right away. This one is the 2018 Tournament of Books winner, and I also remember it being described as something like a psychological ghost story? That sounds right up my alley. I will actually pick this one up soon. Probably.


Those are the books I’ve picked up in May and haven’t read yet. In the interest of inclusivity, I’m also going to mention that I picked up my own copy of¬†An American Marriage by Tayari Jones for a good price this month, and am currently rereading it in preparation for a Women’s Prize shortlist wrap-up post (coming soon). I’m also working my way through another batch of Faber Stories that I’m pretty confident I’ll finish before the end of May- I’ve already read Akhil Sharma’s¬†Cosmopolitan and will promptly be reading Samuel Beckett’s¬†Dante and the Lobster and Djuna Barnes’s¬†The Lydia Steptoe Stories (mini-reviews coming soon). All of these I’ve acquired in May but expect to finish before June begins.


Additionally, I’ve got a few library holds that have come in recently that I’ll be reading in the first half of June: Helen Hoang’s¬†The Bride Test, Hanna Jameson’s¬†The Last, and Melanie Golding’s¬†Little Darlings.

Furthermore, I’m on a quest to finish reading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (as much of it as is published so far); I’ve got a few episodes left to watch from season 4 of the corresponding¬†Game of Thrones TV series, and then I anticipate that I’ll be reading¬†A Feast for Crows in June.

And in case that wasn’t enough, I’ve also agreed to a buddy read of Stephen King’s¬†The Stand, his longest novel (we’re reading the uncut 1400+ page version), starting on the first of June. Which we aren’t even expecting to finish until early/mid July. I’ll only be reading about 200-250 pages of this per week, which is typically less than half of my weekly reading, so I will be reading plenty of other books in the meantime, but there’s no use denying that this is a substantial commitment.

So as you can see, my reading is all over the place and there’s no way I’ll manage to fit everything in unless I suddenly learn to speed read this month. But there’s a lot I’m looking forward to, and I’m hoping something here will break my sad no-5-stars streak. I have been enjoying most of what I’ve been reading, and I haven’t stopped reading so I wouldn’t say I’m in a slump, but something just has not been right in my reading life lately. (May wrap-up coming soon.) So if there’s anything I’ve mentioned in this post that you really want to see me review, let me know in the comments so nothing gets lost in this month’s shuffle! I really have no idea how much of this I might be reading in June, or what to prioritize. Send help.

Have you read any of these books? What’s your top-priority read for June?


The Literary Elephant

TBR 5.19

The usual spiel: my 2019 TBR goal is to read all of the new books I’ve acquired by the end of the following month, which means that my official May TBR is comprised of books I acquired in April.

But April was a bad month for me this year, even though it was my birthday month and therefore predisposed toward greatness; somehow I managed to acquire only one book that I haven’t already read. It was:

  1. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, my BOTM choice for April. This is the only book that my TBR goal “requires” me to read in May. I believe this is a legal/courtroom mystery about a woman who may or may not have murdered her autistic son, but I know there’s a lot more to it than that. Miracle Submarines and such, which I’m intrigued to learn about. People have been raving about this one and I’m looking forward to picking it up this month.

I also picked up a few of my favorites from the Women’s Prize longlist that I’ve already read but thought I would like to reread if shortlisted. None of them ended up advancing (a damn SHAME) but I’ll probably reread them soon anyway, just maybe not in May. These titles are:

  1. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, a powerful novel unlike anything I’ve read before or since that deserved a WIN, not only a spot on the shortlist. This is the exclusion I’m most upset about. This is a book about a Nigerian person who struggles with identity; there are cultural African elements (ogbanje spirits), and a challenging look at gender and mental health. Don’t let the shortlist fool you, this is absolutely a book worth picking up.
  2. The Pisces by Melissa Broder. I was less certain about this one making the shortlist because it has been very polarizing, but I found it fresh and captivating, despite its more disturbing moments. It’s about a woman struggling with her thesis on Sappho, searching for love and stumbling across a merman. It’s absolutely weird, but I marked so many great quotes the first time around that I ended up losing right after I sent the book back to the library, so a reread has been a long time coming (and I’m not taking any chances on the quotes disappearing from my computer file again).
  3. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I read this one only two months ago, but it’s so short and impactful that I’m already ready for another go… and I hardly ever reread, which is saying something. I wavered on buying this one because it’s rather expensive for a novella, but I love the artistic touches in this edition so I went ahead and bought it. This one’s about a teenaged girl whose family is taking part in an Iron Age reenactment that goes too far. It’s so atmospheric and horrifying and brilliant that I can’t recommend it highly enough.


And now I want to share a little about my reading/blogging plans for May, since this TBR isn’t giving much away. Right now, I have one library book checked out: Miriam Toews’¬†Women Talking; I have a couple more holds pending as well, but I’m not sure when they’ll come in. I want to catch up with some of my backlist BOTM titles, including¬†Lot by Bryan Washington,¬†A Woman is No Man¬†by Etaf Rum, and¬†When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry. At some point either in May or June, I want to reread Tayari Jones’s¬†An American Marriage in preparation for a Women’s Prize shortlist/winner post. But primarily, I want to catch up on Game of Thrones. I’m seriously missing out on one of the biggest stories in pop culture because I’m one of those weirdos who needs to read the book first and I’ve only read two books so I’ve only watched two seasons. (Please, everyone who is caught up with season eight, remember that spoilers are cruel.) I want to read at least¬†Storm of Swords (by George R. R. Martin) this month, and farther in the series if I can keep my momentum.


Since I’ll likely be starting with¬†Storm of Swords, which will probably take me around a week (or possibly longer) to read, and I haven’t decided yet whether to post a full review upon completion (I’m not sure whether anyone would be interested in reading more than a few spoiler-free sentences in my month recap), this will probably affect my posts for the near future. I have two tags to complete and another round of Faber Stories mini-reviews coming up, but depending on how much time I spend reading Game of Thrones (and watching the corresponding episodes) I might be taking a bit of a hiatus from regular posts this month. I still expect to be perusing my feed, and I have a new weekly series in mind that I’m looking forward to starting, so I’m not going totally MIA.

Stay tuned for my April wrap-up (including the completion rate for my April TBR) which is coming up tomorrow.

Have you read¬†Miracle Creek or any of the other titles I might be reaching for this month? I’d love to know what you thought in the comments!


The Literary Elephant

Book Haul 3.19 / TBR 4.19

My 2019 TBR goal is to read all new books I acquire by the end of the following month. Which means that I’m listing my March books here, which will double as my April TBR. This tactic has had a lot of ups and downs for me so far, but this month I’m excited: I’m pretty sure I’m going to succeed in April, with reading time to spare!

Part of the reason for this excitement is that I’ve already read a few of my March books before April is even upon us. Short books only, but I’m still encouraged.

I’ve already read:

  1. The Victim by P. D. James.
  2. Mrs Fox by Sarah Hall.
  3. A River in Egypt by David Means.
  4. Mr. Salary by Sally Rooney.
  5. Terrific Mother by Lorrie Moore. These first five are titles from the Faber Stories collection, a set of individually-bound short stories that I’ve been adoring. These are only about 40-80 pages each and so quick to read, but I’ve found them very thought-provoking and worthwhile. Here are some brief reviews if you’re interested in learning more: (part 1, part 2).
  6. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden.¬†I picked this one up because of its placement on the 2019 Women’s Prize longlist, which I’m trying to read in its entirety before the shortlist announcement; as that is only a month away, I did make an effort to pick up a couple of the titles in March. This one was disappointing for me (full review here) so I’m a bit bummed that I resorted to buying a copy, but it wasn’t available to me any other way and I did at least have a discount code.
  7. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn.¬†Another Women’s Prize longlister; this one I don’t regret buying at all. I’ve just finished reading it, so my review is still upcoming, but this was a captivating little gem.

Which leaves ->

To read in April:

  1. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. I picked this one up for half price in the Barnes and Noble book haul sale at the end of February, but it arrived early in March. It’s a historical fiction novel with magical elements that I’ve had my eye on for a while.
  2. Lot by Bryan Washington. This was my Book of the Month selection for March, a collection of connected short stories set in Houston that is said to read like a novel.
  3. When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry. A BOTM extra from March; they’ve had quite a few new YA and non-fiction extras the last couple of months, and I might pick up more extras when I’m more caught up, but for March I limited myself to this one title that was already on my TBR. It’s a sci-fi story about a group of friends who maybe witness a flying saucer crashing down in Ohio.
  4. Remembered¬†by Yvonne Battle-Felton. Another Women’s Prize longlist book. This one is historical fiction set in Philidelphia, featuring a freed slave trying to rewrite her own story to save her son.
  5. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott. Another Women’s Prize longlist book. This one is fiction based on a partially-written Truman Capote book that was meant to expose the lives of real women who had trusted him.
  6. Come Rain or Come Shine by Kazuo Ishiguro. This title and the following five are more Faber Stories. I had been limiting myself to 3 of these per batch, but I had a coupon code early in March and decided to just go ahead and pick up the titles I was most interested in, to save a bit of cash later on.
  7. The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes by Alan Bennett.
  8. The Country Funeral by John McGahern.
  9. The Forester’s Daughter by Claire Keegan.
  10. Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine by Thom Jones.
  11. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah.


It looks like a long list, but eleven of the eighteen books I picked up this month are short stories from the Faber Stories Collection; they’re so quick and engaging to read that they’re basically negligible. Of the eleven books here on my April TBR, six of them are those single short stories (I might even read a couple more this weekend before April begins), which leaves only 5 full-length books. I can definitely read more than 5 books in a month. Which is good, because I also have library holds on the two Women’s Prize titles that I haven’t accounted for yet (Ordinary People¬†and¬†Lost Children Archive). And as always, there’s no telling how the month will actually go.

But for the first time all year, I don’t have any doubts or exceptions already in mind before the month begins; I’m pretty sure I will actually read all of these books. The stack looks so¬†manageable, a nice change, and it reflects my current reading priorities: finishing the Women’s Prize longlist, and catching up with my BOTM selections. I hope this TBR will help me stay on track. I will report back at the end of the month.

And in the meantime, I’ll be posting my March wrap-up on Monday, which will reveal how well I did with my Feb haul / March TBR.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?


The Literary Elephant