I haven’t done one of these posts in months, and I miss them! I’ve been adding a ton of books to my TBR lately and want to showcase a few of them as well as shout out some wonderful bloggers who’ve put exciting titles on my radar this month.
One small change to this series: I’m going to stop linking the titles I list to Goodreads. I do still use Goodreads to keep track of my reading but I want to work on supporting Amazon (who owns Goodreads) less. I’m sorry if this makes finding these books inconvenient for anyone, but I do recommend copy/pasting the titles into any book site of your choice to learn more about the titles that catch your eye! They all sound excellent to me. 😉
Without further ado…
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Pub: 1969)
How I found it: Originally, I read an excerpt for a high school class. I liked the excerpt but didn’t feel the urge to pick up the rest of the book, until Karissa’s glowing review convinced me that it’s well worth picking up in its entirety!
Why I added it: This is an autobiography/memoir of a Black woman growing up growing up in southern US in the mid-1900s. I’m especially interested in reading about (racial) experiences that differ from my own right now, and Karissa’s remark about how timely some of the incidents in this historical account still feel particularly caught my attention.
Priority: Middling. I don’t own a copy and am trying to slow down my book buying for a month or two, but I’d love to have this among the ranks on my shelf and it fits my current reading interests.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-Landon (Pub: July 2020)
How I found it: I first saw this as a BOTM selection for June and was initially turned off by the Bachelorette comparison, but then I saw this encouraging review from Hadeer that made me change my mind!
Why I added it: I think I’d like a lot about this book even without being a fan of The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I do like a good romance and it sounds like the rep for a plus-size protagonist is worth reading for in itself.
Priority: Low. I would prefer to check this one out from the library but I haven’t been there in months so I’m just not sure when it will happen. I do like to read romances while they’re fairly new, so am hoping to manage it before the end of the year!
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Pub: Jan. 1994)
How I found it: I heard about this book while I was in high school, but didn’t pick it up at the time. Lately though, I’ve been hyped up by Naty’s experience with it, which put the book back on my radar after I’d completely forgotten about it!
Why I added it: This is a historical fiction tale set in the Dominican Republic, featuring four sisters who oppose dictator Trujillo’s rule. I was disappointed by Dominicana earlier this year and would like to follow it up with a more resonant story set in a similar time and place.
Priority: Middling, for the same reasons as above: I haven’t been using the library and am trying not to buy books for a little while. I’d really like to get to this while Dominicana is still firmly in my mind so I can do a bit of comparison though!
I Hold a Wolf By the Ears by Laura van den Berg (Pub: July 2020)
Why I added it: I’ve been trying to read more short story collections this year (and beyond, I hope) because I like short pieces but don’t reach for them often enough. I especially like short stories that are a little otherworldly and heavy in theme. The synopsis calls these stories “wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and mind like rotten, fragrant fruit,” which sounds perfect.
Priority: Middling. Same reasons as above. I think I will need to brave the library again soon!
Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit and Obsession by Sarah Weinman (Pub: July 2020)
How I found it: Ren posted a very balanced and intriguing review a couple of weeks ago!
Why I added it: Like many readers and watchers of television, I can’t turn away from a good true crime story. I’ve been utterly failing in increasing my nonfiction reading this year, but this anthology collects smaller essays/pieces on a variety of crime topics and themes that seems like it would be easy to digest in bite-sized pieces.
Priority: Middling. Same reasons.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (Pub: July 2020)
How I found it: I’ve read and enjoyed some of Donoghue’s work in the past, and this one looks poised to be a commercial success, so it seems to be making the rounds and generating a lot of excitement. I don’t recall where or when I first saw it- it seems to be everywhere lately.
Why I added it: This is a historical fiction novel with LGBTQ+ rep featuring the 1918 pandemic and set in Dublin. What’s not to like? Plus, Callum rates it 5 stars!
Priority: High/middling. I don’t have a copy and am not sure how/when I’ll get one, but everything about this appeals and I would like to read more pandemic fiction…
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (Pub: 1840)
How I found it: Diana’s thorough and exciting review brought this one to my attention!
Why I added it: I’m not sure I’ve read any Italian classics, to be honest, and I’d like to remedy that. I’m particularly drawn to this one because Diana ranks it so highly and because she notes that the “villain” of this piece isn’t exactly evil, but his neutrality causes many unfortunate repercussions. That seems like a pretty timely takeaway these days, and is not a theme I’ve seen much in classics so I’m highly intrigued!
Priority: Middling, same reasons. I suspect this one would be easier to find a cheap copy of than some of the newer releases I’ve listed so far, but it’s also long so I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be picking it up.
Breakfast at Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell (Pub: June 2020)
How I found it: I read Melanie’s excellent review!
Why I added it: For a few years I’ve had an interest in women’s prisons, but so far I’ve fed that interest mainly with Orange is the New Black and I know I need to expand because that volume didn’t quite satisfy. This one is both a nonfiction account of personal experience and the result of a lot of research, and it’s set in the UK so it’ll give me a new angle to consider. Also, Melanie’s interview with the author further excited me about the level of care and good intent that went into writing this book!
Priority: High/middling. This is a Black-authored book on a topic I’m particularly interested in and at a time when I’m wanting to read more books by non-white authors. I may ignore my book buying ban to pick up a copy.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Pub: Sept. 2015)
How I found it: I originally came across this title as a BOTM selection several years ago, and have been wavering on whether or not to try it ever since. It seems opinions are very divided.
Why I added it: Hannah recently posted a positive review, noting that she ended up loving this one even after a few false starts trying to get into the book. She notes that the structure/format is cleverly done, which is something that always appeals to me. I’m convinced that I just need to pick up some of Groff’s work and decide once and for all in my own experience whether she’ll be an author I like or not.
Priority: Middling. I know that my library has a copy of this one that I wouldn’t even have to use interloan services for (which is rare, my local library is small), but this one feels less urgent than some of the others on my TBR at the moment.
Tender is the Flesh by Austina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses (Pub: Nov. 2017 – original, Aug. 2020 -translation)
Why I added it: I started out the year intending to up my intake of translated fiction, which unfortunately fell by the wayside in March. I need to pick that goal back up again! Especially with August being Women in Translation month! This title in particular appeals to me for its dark premise (look away now if you’re easily disturbed) of humans being farmed for meat as animals become too dangerous to consume. It’s awful and I need to know more.
Priority: High. I’m planning to read this in August.
True Love by Sarah Gerard (Pub: July 2020)
How I found it: Marija included this one in her (incredibly fun) Judging a Book By Its Cover post for July!
Why I added it: I do not typically read a book just because I love the cover, but blue/purple combos really do it for me (see: Disappearing Earth). Luckily, I also like the synopsis. Here’s a bit of it: “Nina’s quest for fulfillment is at once darkly comedic, acerbically acute, and painfully human—a scathing critique of contemporary society, and a tender examination of our anguished yearning for connection in an era defined by detachment.”
Priority: Middling. This looks and sounds really good, but again, book buying ban, avoiding public spaces unless strictly necessary, etc.
The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes (Pub: July 2020)
How I found it: I saw this one on Fatma’s Mid-Year Freak-Out Book Tag post! She says it’s been her biggest surprise of the year so far, in a good way.
Why I added it: That’s strong praise. Also, I believe this is an Irish family tale with excellent characterization and dynamics that challenge the reader’s assumptions.
Priority: Middling, same reasons. (Am I a broken record yet?)
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (Pub: Jan. 2005)
How I found it: I read Sittenfeld’s Eligible (a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling) a few years ago, and had so much fun with it that I looked up the rest of the author’s work. Unfortunately, I picked up her short story collection You Think It I’ll Say It next, and didn’t like that as much, which made me slow to choose another Sittenfeld title! But they have all been on the periphery for me.
Why I added it: Laura recommended this one in a roundabout conversation we had about another author’s work; she likes Prep for its depiction of teen girls, and I suspect I will as well.
Priority: Low. This is another title I know is easily available at my library, but it doesn’t fit with other reading goals I want to work on at the moment so I’ll probably pick it up a little farther down the line.
Neon Girls: A Stripper’s Education in Protest and Power by Jennifer Worley (Pub: June 2020)
How I found it: I read Nirmala’s excellent review!
Why I added it: I’ve never read nonfiction about stripping or any sex work and I’d like to be more educated about it. This particular title appeals because it’s billed as a feminist account of organizing the world’s first strippers’ union; the author uses this memoir as a chance to talk about paying her way through grad school by working at strip clubs, and the toll that dancing has taken on her.
Priority: Middling. Very interested, but don’t have a copy yet and am not sure when/where I’ll get one.
So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith (Pub: March 2020)
How I found it: Melanie first mentioned this author to me, and Cross-Smith’s most recent release (this title) was the one that drew me in.
Why I added it: Melanie has posted a great review of this one in the meantime, but it was actually Hannah’s 5-star review that gave me the extra nudge to bump this book up in my priority list. I was so encouraged to see TWO *glowing* reviews for this book, including one from a blogger who hadn’t read Cross-Smith before. Now I must read this collection of short stories / flash fiction that “expose the glossy and matte hearts of girls and women in moments of obsessive desire and fantasy, wildness and bad behavior, brokenness and fearlessness, and more.”
Priority: High. This is a Black-authored book, and I’ve been doing better about picking up story collections lately. I have one more to get to first (Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man from my July TBR) and then I’ll be ordering a copy and reading this one soon, hopefully.
Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?
The Literary Elephant