Category Archives: Top of the TBR

Top of the TBR 2.10.20

Top of the TBR is a (now biweekly) post that showcases some of the books recently added to my Goodreads TBR, with a short explanation of why each caught my interest. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re looking forward to reading! 🙂

Here are some of the books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

49223060. sy475 Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (Pub: Mar 2020)

How I found it: I’ve seen a lot of anticipation for this one among thriller readers, but wasn’t really paying attention to it until I saw it on Kristen’s list of her favorite mysteries and thrillers!

Why I added it: I haven’t been reading as many thrillers the last couple of years, but I’d love to find more that can really surprise me and/or give me some commentary to sink my teeth into. I thought this one was in good company on Kristen’s list, which bodes well!

Priority: Low. This book comes out in March, but my focus at that time will be on the Women’s Prize longlist, which means this will have to wait for now!

45730892Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison (Pub: Dec 2019)

How I found it: Melanie posted an excellent review of this one on her blog!

Why I added it: I don’t often (okay, ever) read self-help or health books, but I found myself so interested in the details of this book- about the history of dieting and its place in society, and modern wellness crazes as dieting. It sounds like there’s interesting info here for anyone with an eye toward body image, good or bad.

Priority: Low. It’s not currently available through my library.

47364233Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Pub: Feb 2020)

How I found it: I think I’ve seen other readers anticipating this one, but it was Emily May’s review on Goodreads that hooked me!

Why I added it: This is a 1980’s story of a young Scottish boy with a distracted father and alcoholic mother, whose older siblings find their own ways to escape and leave him to hold the family together. It looks like a hard-hitting story that I could love.

Priority: Middling. This one is available at my library, and I am trying to keep up with as many new releases this year as I can. But again, I’m trying to keep my reading schedule open until I can plan around the Women’s Prize.

45553633. sy475 The Truants by Kate Weinberg (Pub: Jan 2020)

How I found it: This one has been on my radar for months, but comparisons to The Secret History had me keeping a cautious distance- then I read Karissa’s wonderful review and my optimism was restored!

Why I added it: If it can live up to the Secret History comparisons, this could be absolutely brilliant. It’s a campus novel about a group of students and a teacher who becomes perhaps too involved in their lives. Of course the synopsis also promises a tragedy, a secret, a mystery…

Priority: Middling. This one is also available at my library, and a recent release that I’d love to pick up soon. Once the Women’s Prize list is announced in March I’ll have a better idea of where I can fit this into my reading schedule, and hope to bump it up to high priority as soon as possible.

42119168. sy475 Anna K by Jenny Lee (Pub: Mar 2020)

How I found it: This one’s a BOTM selection for February!

Why I added it: This is a young adult contemporary romance marketed as a Gossip Girl-esque retelling of Anna Karenina. I actually read the sample on BOTM’s website (I’d link it, but I don’t think you can see anything on the site without a membership) and hated it, and yet I’m so morbidly curious that I couldn’t walk away. This will be an interesting experience for sure, and very possibly a miss for me, but I was in the mood to give it a chance!

Priority: High. I’d like to keep up with my BOTM choices this year (as I say every year, before failing miserably), and it would also give my romance reads some more variety this month, in preparation for my romance Spotlight post coming up later in February.

826846The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (Pub: 1951)

How I found it: Wyndham was an author I missed in my recent Spotlight on Sci-Fi post, who came up in the comments (thanks Callum)!

Why I added it: I was thrilled to add several sci-fi books to my TBR based on titles and authors that different commenters had mentioned there, but instead of turning this into a sci-fi TBR post I’m sticking to mentioning this one title I’m excited about: a post-apocalyptic classic in which plants walk about, wreaking havoc on humanity.

Priority: Low. This is available through my library, so it’s ready when I am; but I’m now realizing a downside to my spotlight series this year: it’ll be harder to pick up fresh recommendations promptly while I’m focusing on the next upcoming genre.

38599259. sy475 Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown (Pub: Jan 2020)

How I found it: Booksandlala has been mentioning this one on various social media!

Why I added it: Sometimes I agree with Lala’s recommendations. This looks like a fantasy/magical realism YA book about a black teen girl in New York who “travels between two worlds,” which seems both literal as a magical element but also may serve as a commentary on culture? GR calls it “heavily autiobiographical.” I don’t read a lot of YA these days, but this would be perfect for Black History Month and sounds like just the sort of story I would still enjoy from the YA age range.

Priority: Middling. My library doesn’t seem to have it, but I’d be happy to pick up a copy.

45046574You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce (Pub: Apr 2020)

How I found it: Hadeer briefly mentioned this one in her January wrap-up post! This is kind of comical actually, as she had only a sentence or so about it in her post and wasn’t finished reading it at the time, but I was attracted to the cover (not this cover) and went looking for the blurb, and was sold on the premise of a maybe-dead novelist who left behind a final manuscript full of secrets.

Why I added it: Hadeer calls it a “very creepy supernatural thriller.” Goodreads likens it works by Gillian Flynn and Neil Gaiman. What’s not to like?

48128302. sy475 The Snow Collectors by Tina May Hall (Pub: Feb 2020)

How I found it: This has been on my radar, but it wasn’t until reading Laura’s appealing description in her recent review(s) that I realized this might be a great fit for me! Even though sadly it wasn’t for Laura.

Why I added it: It looks like a gothic historical novel about a solitary woman thrown into an old mystery. GR has this to say: “Suspenseful and atmospheric, The Snow Collectors sketches the ghosts of Victorian exploration against the eerie beauty of a world on the edge of environmental collapse.” It sounds right up my alley.

Priority: High. I just put a hold on this one through my library, letting it jump the queue in my TBR because with a title like The Snow Collectors I know I won’t get to it until next winter at least if I don’t pick it up now.

1012204. sx318 Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp (Pub: Apr 2003)

How I found it: Gil mentioned this one as a favorite in her nonfiction wrap-up for January, and for a book 17 years old it still sounds (frustratingly) timely.

Why I added it: Knapp asks (and attempts to answer, I’m sure) “How does a woman know, and then honour, what it is she wants in a culture bent on shaping, defining and controlling women and their desires?”

Priority: Low. This is available through my library, so it’s ready when I am! But again, Women’s Prize.


Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?


The Literary Elephant

Top of the TBR 1.27.20

Top of the TBR is a (now biweekly) post that showcases some of the books recently added to my Goodreads TBR, with a short explanation of why each caught my interest. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re looking forward to reading! 🙂

Here are some of the books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

36365112. sy475 Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park (Pub: March 2018- UK)

How I found it: I read Rachel’s excellent review!

Why I added it: I’m very curious about this book as a driving narrative; driving in poor conditions is something I’ve experienced but not really read about, and I’d be interested to see how well Park captures it (very well, according to Rachel!). I’m also interested in the grief angle.

Priority: Low, because I don’t have a copy on hand and by the time a Book Depository order would arrive I think I’ll be less inclined to read a snow story- perhaps next winter!

10560393The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier (Pub: Jan 2011)

How I found it: Callum mentioned this one in the comments of my recent review for du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel.

Why I added it: I’d like to pick up some short story collections this year, and I definitely want to read more of du Maurier’s gothic/horror fiction this year. In particular I’m very attracted to the idea that these are “lost” stories published before her Rebecca fame and gone out of print for years.

Priority: Middling. It doesn’t look like this one’s at my library so I’ll have to find a copy, but I’d really like to read this in 2020.

46263943Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Pub: Feb 2020)

How I found it: I’ve seen this one around, mostly in anticipated releases posts but also a couple of advance copies. But I hadn’t really looked into it until I came across it again in the Goodreads list of Feb. releases.

Why I added it: It’s LGBTQ+ fiction about an African-American man at a Midwestern university whose encounters with other various other people “conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community.” It sounds like a potentially fantastic read.

Priority: Middling. This one doesn’t seem to be on my library’s radar yet, but I’m making a point to keep checking on 2020 releases that I’m interested in. If I find it there, I’ll definitely pick it up. If not, I’m not sure when I will get to it.

41933195100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism by Chavisa Woods (Pub: May 2019)

How I found it: I read Karissa’s compelling review!

Why I added it: This is a book in which the author recounts a hundred times that she’s encountered/experienced sexism. I suspect it’ll have a similar effect on me as Not That Bad did, though the subject matter is slightly different.

Priority: Middling. I want to read this very badly, but again, it doesn’t seem to be available at my library so I’ll have to keep an eye out for it elsewhere.

36429751. sy475 Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak (Pub: 2016)

How I found it: Gilana mentioned this one!

Why I added it: Gilana’s post was a First Line Friday meme, but even just the first line managed to catch my interest. I wasn’t sure right away after reading Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World whether I would venture into more of the author’s work, but something about this one appeals to me. It takes place in one evening, the narration apparently split between present terrorist attacks and memories of a scandal in the narrator’s past.

Priority: Low. This one is available at my library so I should be able to pick it up easily- my reading schedule is packed already for February though, and the Women’s Prize longlist will be coming up in March, so I’m not ready to focus on this one yet.

43352954. sx318 This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar (Pub: July 2019)

How I found it: I’ve been seeing this one around for months, but it first caught my interest based on Naty’s wonderful review!

Why I added it: In all honesty I am not really sure what this book is. I’ve read the synopsis, I’ve read reviews, and something about it remains elusive. But I keep seeing it come up with rave reviews and high ratings, and I love a good genre-bender, so I think I need to give this one a chance!

Priority: Middling. I’ve been reading (a little) and thinking (a lot) about sci-fi this month, in preparation for a post I’ve got coming up this week, so this one fits my current reading mood. However, I’ve been reading slower than I’d like and I don’t have time to pick it up in conjunction with that post. It is available at my library though, so I’m hoping to pick it up later this year! It’s a short book, so it should be easy enough to squeeze in somewhere.

26883528Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (Pub: March 2016)

How I found it: This book was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2016, which is probably what put it on my radar. I recently read another Levy book (The Man Who Saw Everything) and highly enjoyed it, so I went looking for more info on this one!

Why I added it: Liking another one of the author’s books is generally enough to convince me to pick up a further title. This one’s about an anthropologist who travels to Spain with her mysteriously ill mother, seeking a last-chance cure.

Priority: Low. Available at my library when I’m ready for it.


This might be the first time there were no high priority books on the list! That’s not because I’m not highly interested in these books, but because I call a “high priority” book something that I’m trying to pick up immediately, which is hard to do when I’ve got my February TBR already planned and am expecting to read the Women’s Prize longlist in March and April. Still, I’m looking forward to picking up these books when I can!

Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?


The Literary Elephant


Top of the TBR 1.13.20

After an unexpected 3-month hiatus from this series, I’m finally bringing it back!

Top of the TBR is a (now biweekly) post that showcases some of the books recently added to my Goodreads TBR, with a short explanation of why each caught my interest. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re looking forward to reading! 🙂

Here are some of the books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

49649443. sy475 Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (Pub: Feb 2020)

How I found it: This was one of the BOTM selections for January! Kidd has been on my TBR but I haven’t actually picked up any of her work yet, so I didn’t know she had a new novel coming out until I saw it there.

Why I added it: All of Kidd’s books sound pretty good to me, and this one’s no exception. It’s a historical mystery with a fantasy element- and, it’s gothic.

Priority: Middling. I don’t have a specific plan yet as to when I’ll pick this one up, but it would be easy to add it on to my next BOTM box!

48333823Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty (Pub: June 2020)

How I found it: I read the first two books in this trilogy last year, and have always known it’s set to be a trilogy. I tend to add each book of a series to my TBR only after I’ve finished the last one, and I just read and quite enjoyed The Kingdom of Copper in December, so it was time to look this one up.

Why I added it: I didn’t get off to the best start with this trilogy, partially because I thought the beginning was a bit trope-y and partially because I just wasn’t as much in the mood for a fantasy as I thought when I picked it up, but after putting book two on hold I ended up having a much better experience with it and am very much looking forward to seeing how this will end!

Priority: High. I own books 1 and 2, so I’ll probably buy a copy of this one in June and try to read it promptly while I still remember where the plot left off.

48425934Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman (Pub: June 2020)

How I found it: On this excellent list of 2020 releases. (The Millions Most Anticipated.)

Why I added it: On a whim, really. It’s categorized on Goodreads as contemporary, which I’ve not been reading a lot of lately, and this sounds like it could be hit or miss. Yet something about this premise of a woman on a bus without any recollection of her life definitely appeals. It was this line from the synopsis that convinced me to give it a shot: “once a woman is untethered from all past and present obligations of womanhood, who is she allowed to become?

Priority: Low. This could change as the release date approaches and I find out more about it, but for now this is mainly a curiosity, and I want to focus my reading this year more on things I highly suspect I’ll enjoy.

27999638. sy475 The Iron King by Maurice Druon (Pub: April 1955)

How I found it: In Naty’s favorite books of the year post!

Why I added it: I suppose I knew George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones had been inspired by something, but I had no idea it was this book- in fact I’d never heard of this book. But Naty says it’s great, historical fantasy sounds great, and I’m going to need something to do with my time between A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter.

Priority: Low, only because I need to finish A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons before diving into another full fantasy series, especially a semi-related one. But I think the time for that is fast approaching!

43615778. sy475 Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha (Pub: Oct 2019)

How I found it: In The Morning News’ 2020 Tournament of Books longlist! In the meantime, it’s also been shortlisted.

Why I added it: I had a lot of fun watching last year’s TOB unfold and expect I’ll follow along again this year. The longlist is really long but there tend to be some really interesting titles included and this is one of the books I’m most interested in from the 2020 list! Even moreso since it made the shortlist cut. It follows two LA-based families in the aftermath of a shooting. I believe it’s a mystery with a diverse cast.

Priority: Middling. If I can find time, I’d like to pack in a couple more of the shortlisted titles before the tournament in March.

50158836. sx318 sy475 The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland (Pub: March 2020)

How I found it: In someone’s anticipated releases post, but I’m sad to say I don’t remember whose!

Why I added it: I’ve been growing more and more interested in ancestry tests lately but had not really considered the cons until I saw this book. It was close-minded of me not to consider that these tests could reveal very surprising or even traumatic truths, but I’m now very interested to learn more about this possibility.

Priority: Middling. This is one of the nonfiction titles I’m suddenly most interested in picking up this year, but since it’s coming out during Women’s Prize time I can’t commit to reading it immediately upon release. Hopefully soon after.

226868A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (Pub: Jan 1997)

How I found it: This one’s a previous Women’s Prize winner, the next I’m planning to read, and my next buddy read. Sarah has already read the book early and wasn’t thrilled so I’m going in cautiously, but am still curious to see why this might have won the Women’s Prize.

Why I added it: I don’t have all the Women’s Prize winners on my TBR yet even though I’d like to read them all, so I included it when we set the buddy read plan. This uninspiring cover is the one available at my library, so it’s the edition I’ll be reading.

Priority: High. I will for sure be reading this in February.

43982429. sy475 This is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences by Sarah E. Hill, PhD (Pub: Oct 2019)

How I found it: I think in a Goodreads ad or recommendation. The recommendations tend to be so off on Goodreads that it’s pleasantly surprising to actually find something I’m interested in there.

Why I added it: As a woman who has used birth control I’m beyond curious about those unintended consequences and would very much like to know how my brain might be affected by something that has become so commonplace.

Priority: High. I don’t have a copy yet but I must find one soon.

42785832The Possession by Michael Rutger (Pub: July 2019)

How I found it: I think I saw a review on Instagram. Not even a favorable one, but it caught my attention.

Why I added it: This is a sequel to a supernatural thriller that I really liked two years go, The Anomaly. The writing was a bit man-ish but nevertheless it was one of the most suspenseful and creepy books I had ever read and two years later I’m still v impressed with it. So, I’m definitely picking up this sequel. The main criticism seems to be that it’s unbelievable as a sequel and would have been better as a standalone, but as long as the premise is good and creepy I think I can overlook that flaw.

Priority: Middling. This is not available at my library so I will probably have to give in and purchase it at some point.

And a last minute addition:

24331526Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (Pub: 1935)

How I found it: I just finished reading My Cousin Rachel for a buddy read with Melanie and we both really enjoyed it! (Review coming soon.) I know Jamaica Inn was Melanie’s favorite fiction book of 2019 so it’s another du Maurier title I’m definitely looking forward to checking out.

Why I added it: I don’t usually add multiple books from the same author to my TBR, and I still have House on the Strand on deck as my next du Maurier, but I want to make sure I keep this one in mind, and having two in queue might help motivate me to pick them up faster.

Priority: Low, only in the sense that I still intend to read House on the Strand first and I don’t even have a copy lined up yet. But fresh on the high of My Cousin Rachel I am very much in the mood for another du Maurier!

Have you read any of these, or recognize them from your own TBR?


The Literary Elephant


Anticipated 2020 Releases

I’m still one review behind, but it’s the end of the year and that means it’s time for bookish lists! Let the fun begin!

As the title suggests, this one’s going to focus on upcoming releases for the new year that I’m most excited about! I’ll have another post coming up soon that’ll cover my 2020 reading goals (which won’t include reading every one of these books), but I’m sharing this list in the meantime because 2020 looks like it’s going to be an incredible reading year even if I don’t manage to pick up ALL of the new releases I’m looking forward to!  This isn’t a fully exhaustive list, just what’s looking good to me right now. Maybe something here will appeal to you as well. 🙂


New Books By Authors I’ve Appreciated in the Past:

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – Literary fiction tying together seemingly unrelated lives that are linked by experiences at a glass and cedar 5-star hotel on a British Columbian island. Pub Mar 24

The Glass Hotel

Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride – Literary fiction in which a woman returns to a hotel room she’s stayed in years ago, using the occasion to recount the hotel rooms of her life and “what it might mean to return home.” Pub: May 5

Strange Hotel

If It Bleeds by Stephen King – A collection of four horror novellas, at least one of which is a sequel to King’s 2018 The Outsider. (Sad side note: I hate everything about this cover. It’s my only anticipated 2020 release that doesn’t appeal visually.) Pub: May 5

If It Bleeds

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh – Literary fiction featuring a forced lottery for women to determine whether they will have children or careers. Pub: Jun 30

Blue Ticket

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – Thriller set in a possibly haunted house years after the MC’s father wrote a sensational horror memoir about it. Pub: Jul 7

Home Before Dark

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – Fiction about a Ghanaian woman studying neuroscience at Standford in the wake of her brother’s overdose, and grappling for the answers to her family’s grief between science and religion. Pub: Jul 14

Transcendent Kingdom

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi -Nigerian-set fiction that moves backward in time from the MC’s death. Pub: Aug 4


Sisters by Daisy Johnson – Literary fiction revolving around the darkening relationship between two teen sisters after they move to an isolated family home with their mother following a bullying incident. Pub: Aug 25


A Day Like Today by Sarah Moss – “A multi-voice narrative set in a Scottish holiday park over the course of one fateful rainy summer’s day.” This single sentence is all that has been posted about the synopsis so far, and there’s no cover or pub date yet, though it’s listed for 2020.

I’m also keeping an eye on Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins, both of whom are up for 2020 thrillers that don’t have any posted info up yet. These are less crucial to me at the moment, but I’ve read all of their previous books so the odds are good that I’ll end up reading both.


New-To-Me Authors That Have Caught My Eye:

The Seep by Chana Porter – LGBTQ+ science fiction about life after an alien invasion, mainly focusing on a pair of married women, one of whom finds a way to be reborn as an infant and the other of whom finds a lost boy and a surprising quest. Pub: Jan 21

The Seep

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown – Feminist fiction with a historical element, in which a modern woman finds notes in a cookbook left by the house’s previous owner from the 1950s that are surprisingly resonant to her. Pub: Jan 21

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford – Magical realism in which a young woman and her father possess healing powers that they use to cure sick villagers by temporarily burying them. Pub: Jan 21

Follow Me to Ground

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – Feminist historical fiction inspired by a powerful Norwegian storm and the 1620 witch trials. Pub: Feb 11

The Mercies

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – Contemporary fiction with a modern take on Nabokov’s Lolita, in which a young woman must determine whether a relationship in her teens with a much older teacher was consensual or not. Pub: Mar 10

My Dark Vanessa

The Deep by Alma Katsu – Historical horror set partially on the Titanic and years later on the Britannic as supernatural forces combine with naval disaster to terrorize passengers. Pub Mar 10

The Deep

The Keeper by Jessica Moor – Literary thriller about a death that looks like a suicide, though the women at the domestic violence shelter where the dead woman worked suspect that something (or someone) she was running from caught up with her. Pub Mar 19

The Keeper

Look by Zan Romanoff – LGBTQ+ fiction about a young woman coming of age between the end of one romance and the start of another, in the midst of social media drama. Pub Mar 31


All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad – LGBTQ+ fiction about a woman who returns home after her mother’s death to find her remaining family upset by letters left with her mother’s will, addressed to men they’ve never heard of. Pub: May 26

All My Mother's Lovers

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel – Historical coming-of-age fiction in which 8 children in a mixed-race family live in a “cursed house” in Appalachia, where they face poverty, racism, abuse, and violence- but Betty might be the first of her family to escape. Pub: Jul 14


The Island Child by Molly Aitken – Magical realism featuring two timelines of one woman’s life that weave together to tell a tale of motherhood and identity, rich in Irish folklore. Pub: Jan 30 (I believe this is the UK info and cover, the US release is possibly in July but I’m unclear.)

The Island Child


Some Nonfiction (a woefully small selection, I know):

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson – History and biography about Churchill and “London’s darkest year,” a political story and domestic drama combined. Pub: Feb 25

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Constellations: Reflections From Life by Sinead Gleeson – A collection of memoir-style essays about pain, illness, and women’s bodies. Pub: Mar 24

Constellations: Reflections from Life

Notes From An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back by Mark O’Connell – A humorous environmental travelogue that investigates the ways people around the world are reacting to what currently looks like a grim future for Earth. Pub: Apr 14

Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back


Those are just some of the 2020 releases I’m looking forward to getting my hands on! As I mentioned above, it’s not an exhaustive list (it’s gone on plenty long enough already, hasn’t it?). Since I tried to cap off this list at a reasonable limit before I even finished investigating new releases in some categories (there’s not much for genre fiction here, hardly any nonfic, and no YA!), I am planning to add a section to my monthly TBRs in which I mention new releases on my radar each month. This way I can mention anything I might have missed here, or which comes to my attention later.

What’s THE 2020 release you absolutely won’t let pass you by?


The Literary Elephant

Nonfiction November (Prompt 5)

Sadly, my busy season this year prevented me from taking part in most of the Nonfiction November prompts during the weeks they were going on (I might still participate late), but I couldn’t miss out on the final week now that I’m back! This week’s topic is from Rennie: New Nonfiction on My TBR (focusing on titles we’ve found through Nonfic Nov posts).

This is really the perfect prompt for me after my recent blogging/reading interruption, as I’m going back through the posts I’ve missed and adding plenty of recommendations from other bloggers to my TBR! A disclaimer: I’m not completely caught up yet, so I’ll still be checking out more lists and adding to my TBR after posting this, but I wanted to get to this prompt before the end of the week in case anyone else wants to join in before the end of the month.

And to share the love, I’ll be linking back to the posts I’ve gotten recommendations from so that if you’re looking for more nonfiction (or even just great bloggers to follow) you can find those here as well!

Let’s jump into the list.

68783. sy475 Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Posted by: Diana @ Thoughts on Papyrus. She’s written an excellent post about nonfiction books dealing with the mind and mental illness!

I first heard about this book in high school, but I had forgotten all about it in recent years until seeing it again in Diana’s post! It’s about a young woman’s experience at a psychiatric hospital; in her account, “she draws attention to the absurdity of the rules and to the embedded sexism.” (Diana’s words.)

40121993The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

Posted by: Hannah @ I Have Thoughts on Books.

I had seen this one when it was released but then hadn’t really heard much about it after the initial buzz of excitement faded. Hannah’s review makes it sound like essential reading from an important perspective, and very well-written as well! In fact, both of the nonfiction reviews in Hannah’s recent post sounded so good that I added the second one she talks about there to my TBR also:

40046084 Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

(Also posted by Hannah)

This is a memoir “about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager” (words from the synopsis). It’s also a story about family, loss, and forgiveness. All of that sounds good of course, but what sold me was Hannah’s insisting that the structure of the book is excellent, with a surprising and impactful ending.

32076678. sy475 The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Posted by: Portia @ The Owlery Reader (and others)

I had never heard of this one before, but it’s appeared on several nonfiction favorites posts this month, and it sounds excellent! It looks like the author, who was at the time against he death penalty, signed up for a summer job helping to (legally) defend men accused of murder, only to discover a man she does not want to live in the wake of his crime. As she digs into his case, she also delves into her own past, and realizes crime and its consequences are not as black-and-white as she had imagined.

43231095. sy475 American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Marueen Callahan

Posted by: Sarah @ Sarah Ames-Foley

I actually talked to Sarah about this one as a spooky read back in October, but was excited to see it appear on her nonfiction favorites list! I was getting a bit burned out with serial killer true crime earlier this year, but Sarah says this one is particularly haunting and the killer surprisingly unknown, and I’m looking forward to checking it out! It focuses on Israel Keyes, who  committed numerous murders completely undetected for over ten years.

38362811 The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Posted by: Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction?

I just added this one to my TBR today, after finding the link to Ren’s review in Sarah’s nonfic TBR post! This one had been on my radar but I was hesitant to add it since I’d never gotten around to West’s Shrill. After looking closer however, I think this one might be a better fit for me! At least to start with. It’s a humorous (and passionate) critical look at current issues and politics, which sounds right up my alley based on my recent nonfiction interests!

43726557 The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Posted by: Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction?

Much to my own surprise, I also added this one to my TBR today after seeing Ren’s review. (Seriously, are you followed Ren yet? Even- especially- if you think nonfiction isn’t your thing, her reviews are so detailed and interesting that you’re bound to discover you’re interested in more topics than you thought!) I don’t read a lot about nature or specific places (travel books), but the way Sciolino uses the Seine to explore history, culture, architecture, etc. sounds so intriguing, and provides the human connection I tend to need in the books I read.

25019 The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Posted by: Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books

I’ve got to admit, it was the Oxford English Dictionary detail tacked on to the end of the title that really drew my curiosity here. It looks like when the men who put together the OED were recognized afterward, it came out that one of them had been an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane. I’m so intrigued.

Know My Name Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Posted by: Rachel @ Pace Amore Libri, Karissa @ Karissa Reads Books (and others)

This one was already on my radar (though I realized a week or so ago that I’d forgotten to add it to my TBR), but I’m so excited about it and recently picked up a copy so I had to include it with links to a couple of great reviews! Chanel Miller is Emily Doe, whose witness statement against Brock Turner in a sexual assault case was all over the internet a few years back. Here she shares not only her identity, but reveals a flawed system and examines the aftermath of a trauma. I’ll be reading this one very soon.

Are any of these titles on your TBR, or books you’ve read? What did you think? Help me decide what to prioritize, please!


The Literary Elephant


Top of the TBR 10.07.19

Top of the TBR is a biweekly post that showcases any books recently added to my Goodreads TBR, with a short explanation of why each title caught my interest. I’ll aim for 5-10 books per post; in weeks that I’ve added more than that, I’ll hold some back, and in weeks that I don’t have enough, I’ll include titles I haven’t discussed yet. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further, as I’m not a fan of copy/pasting synopses. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re reading! 🙂

Here are some of the new books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

43268770. sy475 Girl by Edna O’Brien (Pub: Sept 2019)

How I found it: While browsing new releases on Goodreads.

Why I added it: I very much enjoyed O’Brien’s short story, Paradise, from the Faber Stories collection when I read it earlier this year. I’ve been meaning to look into more of O’Brien’s work, but hadn’t decided on what to pick up next when I came across this one, which looks excellent! Set in a Nigerian forest, this is a story of abducted women.

Priority: Middling. I’ve pretty much already decided what I’m going to be reading for the rest of the year and this one wasn’t on the list, but it’s very tempting!

867361Sybil: The True Story of a Woman Possessed by Sixteen Separate Personalities by Flora Rheta Schreiber (Pub: 1973)

How I found it: I remember discussing this book (and watching some of the film) in my high school psychology class. I always meant to pick it up at some point, and was reminded of it when Sybil came up in Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus.

Why I added it: I tend to enjoy reading about mental health and/or how the human brain works, and this nonfiction account is a classic. I’ve also had my perception of multiple personalities altered by reading Freshwater last year, which showed me how deeply culture can affect our perception of neurodiversity; I’ll be interested to pick this up with that in mind.

Priority: Low. This is available through my library, so it’s ready when I am!

6520929. sy475 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Pub: April 2009)

How I found it: I was only been vaguely aware of this one, but as it took the #1 spot on Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century it recently caught my attention.

Why I added it: Any such list is, of course, subjective, so I’m not rushing out to read all of the books featured that I haven’t read yet, but I am intrigued enough to check out what is *supposedly* the best book of this century! It’s historical fiction, which isn’t always my favorite, but I would like to find something new (to me, at least) to appreciate from that genre. Maybe this is it.

Priority: Low. Also readily available through my library.

33608721. sy475 Tell Me How it Ends by Valeria Luiselli (Pub: 2016)

How I found it: This one might also have been on the Guardian list of best books, if I remember correctly, but I didn’t know what it was until I suddenly started seeing it quite often on Bookstagram over the last couple of weeks!

Why I added it: I really liked Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, a fictional story about the US border crisis. This is a nonfiction piece about Luiselli’s real experience speaking with children at the border.

Priority: High. This is really short and just came in at my library. I’ll pause my October spooky reads to fit this one in soon.

43263520. sy475 The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Pub: Oct 2019)

How I found it: I’ve seen this one in lists of upcoming releases, but neither the cover nor the title really caught my eye. Then I saw two positive reviews for it on Goodreads that convinced me to look closer! I’ll link the reviews here and here in case anyone’s curious.

Why I added it: This is a YA dystopian in which girls are banished from their homes for a year in their teens when they are supposedly emitting a magical womanly power that’s considered dangerous to both men and women around them. The story focuses on the dangers these 16 year-olds face in the woods, from the elements, other people, and most of all each other.

Priority: Middling. This sounds like it could be hit or miss for me, but it’s already been optioned for filming so I’d like to get to it before it’s overhyped if possible.

43982054The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Pub: Sept 2019)

How I found it: This is everywhere lately, since Oprah just picked it up for her book club and the publisher has seemingly been sending free copies to every big bookish social media account

Why I added it: I actually think I’m more interested in Coates’s non-fiction, which I still haven’t read, but after skipping my BOTM box twice in a row I was just in the mood to order this time, and this was the best contender.

Priority: High. I’ve fallen behind on my BOTM selections again, so I’m going to try my best to read this one either in October or November to avoid falling farther behind!

43069290Unbelievable by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

How I found it: This book was previously published under the title A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America, which I had heard of but hadn’t really looked into. This story was recently adapted into a Netflix series however, and I’m very in the mood to watch it, so I finally looked closer.

Why I added it: A real story of a girl who reported being raped and was not believed by anyone sounds infuriating but also right up my alley. The fact that it kept happening to more and more women makes it feel like essential reading. I also saw that Rachel started reading it and said it was good so far!

Priority: High. I’ve put a hold on it at my library, but it’s currently checked out. I remain undecided on whether I’ll go ahead and watch the series in the meantime or hold out to read the book first. I find myself caring less which order I consume different formats in lately, so I’ll definitely get to both either way.

46344636The Keeper Jessica Moor (Pub: March 2020)

How I found it: Penguin just had an “influencer event” to introduce some of their upcoming titles, and this is one that I’ve seen Bookstagramers picking up and promoting!

Why I added it: This looks like a literary thriller featuring a murdered woman who worked at a domestic violence shelter; the crime is supposed to be shocking/thrilling but also speak more deeply about “violence against women and the structures that allow it to continue.” I definitely want to keep that on my radar.

Priority: Middling. I’ll keep an eye out for early reviews prior to release, and if it still sounds good I might want to pick this one up right away!

32758901. sy475 All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Pub: May 2017)

How I found it: This novella has been winning awards and making a splash in the sci-fi community, and I just saw an announcement that this series is getting a full novel next year. It just felt like time to get around to it.

Why I added it: I like sci-fi. I like novellas. This one’s about a security android that calls itself Murderbot. “Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.” It sounds hilarious but also insightful.

Priority: Middling. The length makes this really tempting to pick up immediately, and it looks like it’s in my library’s database. But I might want to try timing it so I can read all of the novellas just before the novel’s release. Tbd.

43232971The Vagina Bible by Jennifer Gunter (Pub: August 2019)

How I found it: I read Ren’s stellar review!

Why I added it: One of the things I was hoping to find in Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus was some general info about endometriosis and how it’s treated; though I ended up enjoying that the book was a personal story rather than a medical overview, this informational book about female health and debunking vagina myths came at just the right time. It looks like it covers everything I didn’t know I was interested in learning, and just seems generally very useful for any living person with a uterus.

Priority: High. I’ve already ordered a copy, and am planning to start reading as soon as it arrives. Ren says it’s not exactly binge material, so I can’t say for sure when I’ll finish and review, but I’m really looking forward to it!


Have you read any of these or recognize them from your own TBR?


The Literary Elephant

Top of the TBR 9.23.19

Last week was a doozy and I fell quite behind on my blogging plans for the week, so here’s to hoping this week will go better! I’ve got some exciting things coming up, including my review of The Testaments… In future I might use this Monday post as a place to also preview my reading/posting for the week, but my schedule is all over the place this time of year so now is not the time, sadly. In the meantime, business as usual…

Top of the TBR is a weekly post I created that will showcase any books added to my Goodreads TBR recently, with a short explanation of why each title caught my interest. I’ll aim for 5-10 books per post; in weeks that I’ve added more than that, I’ll hold some back, and in weeks that I don’t have enough, I’ll include titles I haven’t discussed yet. Each title will be linked back to its Goodreads page for anyone interested in exploring further, as I’m not a fan of copy/pasting synopses. Anyone who wants to take part in this series with me is absolutely welcome! Please link back to any of my Top of the TBR posts so I can see what you’re reading! 🙂

Here are some of the new books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

41817481Underland by Robert MacFarlane (Pub: May 2019)

How I found it: I’ve seen this one a bit on Bookstagram (I believe it won a prize that I don’t really follow), but it was Ren’s excellent recent review that made me look closer!

Why I added it: I haven’t read much (okay, *any*) nonfiction about nature / the environment… so far. But this one gives me Overstory vibes, which was a novel that left such a lasting impression for me that I think I should venture further into the topic. The way that humans have been using/destroying the planet has definitely been on my mind lately.

Priority: Low. This is something I want to read eventually, but am not in a rush for. The end of the year is a time when I like to finish projects I’ve already started rather than beginning new ones, which will probably become apparent throughout this list.

18770438Space Invaders by Nona Fernandez, translated by Natasha Wimmer (Pub: 2013)

How I found it: Every day last week brought the announcement of another category of National Book Award nominees; this is one title that caught my eye from the translated literature list!

Why I added it: I believe this is a story about a group of kids (now adults), who realize one of their friends may have been tied up in the politics of 1980’s Chilean dictatorship; they were old enough to sense that something wasn’t right, but too young to do anything about it. Plus some video game elements thrown in?

Priority: Low for now, because it’s not at my library, but we’ll see what happens with the award. I may add other nominees to my TBR as well as I find out more about them. Relatedly…

43152994Black Light: Stories by Kimberly King Parsons (Pub: Aug 2019)

How I found it: This is the only title from the NBA fiction longlist I hadn’t heard of, so of course I immediately looked it up.

Why I added it: It looks excellent. Here’s a bit from the blurb- “In this debut collection of enormously perceptive and brutally unsentimental short stories, Parsons illuminates the ache of first love, the banality of self-loathing, the scourge of addiction, the myth of marriage, and the magic and inevitable disillusionment of childhood.

Priority: Middling. There are a number of books on the NBA lists that are already on my TBR and I’m tempted to reach for some of them while the prize is going on. Or… I might stick to my end-of-the-year reading plans and focus on the NBA after the award announcements. I’m not sure yet.

12543Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Pub: 1994)

How I found it: I had to read part of this for a college class and always meant to pick up the rest of the book; I did a book tag recently that reminded me I wanted to read this and didn’t actually have it on my TBR yet.

Why I added it: Writing is something that interests me and fills a lot of my time, so I do like to read tips and experiences occasionally!

Priority: Low. This is available at my library, so I’ll pick it up when I feel like it. I don’t have specific timing plans.

227603Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel (Pub: 1994)

How I found it: The same book tag put this one back on my radar.

Why I added it: I’ve been wavering on this one since it came up in a college class, but a few helpful comments on my tag post made me realize that even if the age that it snapshots might be in the rearview now, it could still be a worthwhile snapshot to check out anyway. This focuses on depression among “America’s youth.” (Quotations because this refers to the youth of 1994.)

Priority: Low. Everything is low because I’m swamped.

33917. sy475 The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (Pub: 2003)

How I found it: I’ve been meaning to read some of Lahiri’s work for years, and Melanie’s positive review of this one made this the title I am now most interested in.

Why I added it: This is a story about a family immigrating from India. I’m interested in the immigration themes/commentary, but also on the identity aspect, which is something I always enjoy. Bonus- it was previously nominated for the Women’s Prize!

Priority: Middling. I see this one’s available on Kindle Unlimited, and I’ve been trying to get going there again (currently reading: Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, slowly). At Melanie’s recommendation I just read a short story of Lahiri’s last week and liked the writing, so I would like to get to this one!

497499. sy475 The Door by Magda Szabo, translated by Lex Rin (Pub: 1987)

How I found it: I’ve seen this one around during Women in Translation month (August), but it was Rachel’s intriguing review last week that really piqued my interest!

Why I added it: This is the story of a relationship between two women- a writer and her housekeeper. I have only a hazy idea of what to expect here, and honestly that is very appealing. I’ve seen mostly positive but vague reviews, so I’m proceeding with the blind hope of feeling the same!

Priority: Low. I don’t have a copy, I’m swamped, etc. I’ll get to it when I get to it.

40642333The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (Pub: March 2019)

How I found it: This is an adult fantasy that’s been on my radar since publication, but it was Naty’s good experience with this book recently that convinced me to look closer!

Why I added it: Fantasies in historical settings are perhaps my favorite type of historical fiction lately. This one’s set in 1490s Spain, which sounds excellent. I really don’t need to know more than that, though the mention of djinn doesn’t hurt!

Priority: Low. (Are you even surprised at this point?) This is available at my library, so it’s ready when I’m ready!


Have you read any of these books, or recognize them from your own TBR?


The Literary Elephant