Category Archives: Top of the TBR

Top of the TBR 7.27.20

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 SingsI 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 WatchOne 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 ButterfliesIn 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: StoriesI Hold a Wolf By the Ears by Laura van den Berg (Pub: July 2020)

How I found it: I’ve seen this cover getting some love, but it was Sarah’s and Hannah’s recent enthusiasm that drew me to this short story collection!

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 ObsessionUnspeakable 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 StarsThe 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 BetrothedThe 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 BronzefieldBreakfast 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 FuriesFates 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 FleshTender is the Flesh by Austina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses (Pub: Nov. 2017 – original, Aug. 2020 -translation)

How I found it: I read Rachel’s enticing review, and then Callum’s!

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 LoveTrue 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 LaughterThe 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?)

PrepPrep 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 PowerNeon 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: StoriesSo 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

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


Top of the TBR 9.16.19

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:

35487761. sy475 Tangerine by Christine Mangan (Pub: March 2018)

How I found it: Two of my friends read this book over the summer, and one of them (Naty) wrote this very appealing review!

Why I added it: Historical mystery is a subgenre I haven’t read much from, but two positive reviews from friends seems like a great way to wet my feet with historical fiction again. The relationship between the main women of this story looks intriguing, and I’m also attracted to the missing husband and the Tangier setting. Worth a try, I think!

Priority: Low. I’m sure my irl friend would let me borrow her copy, but I think I’ll wait until summer rolls around again, as it seems like a good warm-weather book.

42117622Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty (Pub: July 2019)

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

Why I added it: I like books that explore grief, and this one looks like it has a good blend of humor as well. I’m especially interested in the ways that this book tackles grief over a missing person- how does one grieve for someone that is still hoped to return at any moment? etc.

Priority: Low. This one’s available through my library, so I can pick it up whenever I’m ready, but I am planning to focus on unread books on my own shelves for a while. (I was also hoping to read Grief is the Thing with Feathers later this month, so I’ve already got some grief coming up.)

Gwendy's Magic Feather: (The Button Box Series)Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar (Pub: Nov 2019)

How I found it: I’m struggling to remember, but I think I saw a Goodreads ad for it? Maybe because I’d read the first book in this series last year?

Why I added it: This is a sequel to Gwendy’s Button Box, a Stephen King co-written horror that I liked but didn’t love. I’m mostly curious about the fact that this is still written in a fictional town that Stephen King frequently uses in his writing, though apparently he didn’t co-write this second novel. I’m interested to see where this series goes without King moreso than I’m interested in continuing with the plot, but if this is as quick a read as Button Box I’m willing to stick with it.

Priority: Middling. My library has the first volume, so I’m hoping they’ll pick this one up as well; it’s easy to prioritize free, short reads.

67697Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault (Pub: June 1969)

How I found it: After reading Frankissstein, I was talking with Rachel about fictionalized historical figures / biographic fiction, and she mentioned this title (part of a series) about Alexander the Great.

Why I added it: I’ve very much enjoyed reading about Mary Shelley in Frankissstein and Mary’s Monster (review coming soon) and would like to try reading up on other historical figures that catch my interest in a way that’s grounded in fact, but a bit more artistic/fictional than straight-up fact-reporting.

Priority: Middling. This is yet another title I’ve found conveniently free on Kindle Unlimited lately, so if I can get back into the habit of reading a bit at a time that way, this is one of the few titles that I’m really interested in getting around to there before my subscription ends.

18668483In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill (Pub: Oct. 2012)

How I found it: In a Netflix ad. ‘Tis the season for all things Stephen King- a Netflix film related to this short story is releasing next month!

Why I added it: I’ve been enjoying Stephen King adaptations lately. I loved both It movies, and earlier this year I watched a Netflix film of 1922, another short story adaptation that was very atmospheric and compelling despite how disturbing I find rats (thanks, 1984). Plus, Joe Hill.

Priority: High. This looks super short (less than 50 pages!) and the film is coming soon.

13416089Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught (Pub: Sept. 2012)

How I found it: I read Elysa’s glowing review!

Why I added it: It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA mystery, but I’m very intrigued by the way teen mental disorders are portrayed here- it looks like a cast of neurodiverse characters (the MC has schizophrenia), and Elysa says it’s written well!

Priority: Low. This is available at my library, but again, I’m trying to clear some unread books from my own shelves before I start picking up all the whims again.

39220683. sy475 The White Book by Han Kang (Pub: May 2016)

How I found it: I looked up all of Kang’s other publications after reading (and loving) The Vegetarian last year, but to avoid cluttering my TBR I usually try to add only one book by an author at a time, and then after reading I add the next book from the author that I want to read; I recently read (and loved) Kang’s Human Acts, and upon finishing that one, added The White Book.

Why I added it: Kang is a superb writer, I want to read all of her work that I can. This one looks like an excellent examination of grief, this time in the form of a woman mourning her sister, who died shortly after birth.

Priority: Low. I’ll probably buy a copy and read this one next year. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ll be sad to have caught up with Kang’s English translations.


Even though there are a lot of “low priority” books on this list, I am excited about all of these books; it’s just that familiar matter of too many books, too little time that makes it so hard to keep up with everything I’m interested in. But it’s good to have choices!

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


The Literary Elephant

Top of the TBR 9.9.19

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! 🙂

I had to skip this post last week to fit in my August wrap-up and some Booker Prize content, but I’ve added so many books to my TBR since the last time I posted a Top of the TBR that I’ll just be picking and choosing the titles that catch my eye right now. And so, here are some of the new books I’ve added on Goodreads recently:

43289181Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis (Pub: Sept 2019)

How I found it: I’ve been seeing positive reviews for this one on Bookstagram!

Why I added it: This is a historical fiction novel about queer women in the tumultuous political climate of 1970s Uruguay. The narrative spans decades, following five women’s lives as they find sanctuary both on an isolated cape and with each other. I can see why this is getting high ratings.

Priority: Low, sadly. It’s not currently available at my library and I’m trying to prioritize books I already own (and haven’t read yet) for the next few months.

35605474Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman (Pub: March 2018)

How I found it: I’ve seen this one before, but it wasn’t until hearing about it on a Reading Women podcast last week that I realized it was about endometriosis and doctor dismissal of female pain.

Why I added it: I’ve been talking with a friend for months about her belief that she has endometriosis, and her doctor’s unwillingness to take her requests for treatment seriously, so this sounds like a perfect way to learn more about a phenomenon I didn’t even know existed before this year.

Priority: High. I’ve got Three Women slated as my next nonfiction read, and I’m aiming to pick up this one after.

44142473. sy475 Milton in Purgatory by Edward Vass (Pub: Aug. 2019)

How I found it: I saw Kristen talk about this one in her August wrap-up!

Why I added it: I read Bottled Goods from this collection of Fairlight Moderns earlier this year, and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to pick up another title from the set. I’ve been slow getting around to it, as I haven’t heard much about the other books, but this one sounds mysterious and intriguing!

Priority: Low. Not available at my library, and I don’t want to buy right now while I’m trying to lower the percentage of unread books on my shelves.

46642254. sx318 Mostly Hero by Ana Burns (Pub: Oct. 2019)

How I found it: A friend and I discovered while browsing the current titles that Faber is soon releasing a new batch of Faber Stories.

Why I added it: I’ve just finished reading the final volume from the original set of 20 Faber stories (I’ll have the mini-reviews for my latest reads up tomorrow!) and am eager to see what more this collection will have to offer. I’ve actually added all 10 new titles to my TBR, but this is the one I’m most excited about, from the author of Milkman.

Priority: High. Since short stories don’t take much time out of my reading schedule (plus I had a goal to read more short stories this year), I probably will allow myself to purchase some of these and read them right away even though I’m trying to cut back on buying new books. Some exceptions must be made.

19194802Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (Pub: 1985)

How I found it: I just finished reading (and loved!) Winterson’s Frankissstein at the end of August, and wanted to pick up more of her work. Melanie recommended starting with this one!

Why I added it: Aside from the recommendation (thanks, Melanie!) this is one of Winterson’s titles that I’ve actually heard of, as well. I believe it’s semi-autobiographical.

Priority: Middling. I can read this for free on Kindle Unlimited; I don’t go for ebooks much, but free is convenient, so I’m hoping to get around to this one before my subscription ends in a couple of months.

44294958Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country by B. J. Hollars (Pub: Sept. 2019)

How I found it: I saw Ren’s enticing review!

Why I added it: I have lived in the Midwest all my life, and love all things strange! The legends Ren mentioned in her review didn’t sound familiar to me, which means I expect to find some fun new content here. I appreciate that it sounds like the author neither believes these tall tales nor is trying to disprove them- objective reportage of folklore and its place in society is definitely appealing.

Priority: Low, sadly. I’d love to pick this up in October, but again, I’m trying not to keep buying a ton of new books at the end of the year and this one’s not at my library.

36723245The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir (Pub: June 2018)

How I found it: BOTM put this one on my radar last year, but it seemed like it could either be very my taste or very not, so I’ve just been patiently waiting for some indication of whether I should read it or not. Finally an irl friend I trust read it.

Why I added it: My friend rated it 4 stars and specifically recommended it to me, which is a very good sign. It’s about a religious reality TV show, and a girl who rebels.

Priority: Middling. I will probably borrow this from my friend in the near future, and I prefer to read borrowed books right away (they give me anxiety if I leave them sitting around). So, not sure exactly when, but soonish.

24612419All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Pub: April 2014)

How I found it: I read (and quite enjoyed!) Toews’s Women Talking earlier this year and have been vaguely planning to pick up another Toews book but only recently remembered to actually add it to my TBR. I’ve talked with a couple of Toews readers now (including Karissa!) about where I should go next with her work, and this one sounds like the best first choice.

Why I added it: This is one of Toews’s most well-known works, from what I’ve gathered, and it features two close sisters- one a pianist, and one who wants to die. It sounds like it will make me cry.

Priority: Middling. This one is available at my library, and the synopsis sounds perfect for fall/winter.

39813948The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien (Pub: Sept. 2014)

How I found it: This one’s been on my radar for a long time, but I used to not read memoirs, and then I read The Glass Castle, which I liked but made me think I didn’t need to read more stories about women growing up in extreme families. Sarah’s recent review convinced me to rethink that assumption!

Why I added it: My parents were tough, but the synopsis states that Maude’s parents tried to “eliminate weakness” by subjecting her to awful tasks and keeping her isolated, so this will surely put my childhood into perspective.

Priority: Middling. Another title available through my library, and I am hoping to increase my nonfiction intake in the last few months of this year!

43261166Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur (Pub: Oct 2019)

How I found it: BOTM put this on my radar, as it’s one of their September selections.

Why I added it: From one difficult childhood memoir to another… I actually skipped my BOTM box this month because I didn’t feel the need to own this one or read it immediately, but I do think I’ll give it a try at some point. Complicated family dynamics appeal to me, and apparently The Glass Castle is not the only memoir out there with that sort of content!

Priority: Low. It might end up at my library, or I could add it to a later BOTM box if I see convincing reviews in the meantime, but right now I’m just not in a hurry. Interested, but patient.


I suppose ten titles is enough for now, but I’ve got plenty more in store for next week as well! I’m reading a few long books in September, so I’m looking forward to catching up on some of my tags and non-review content in the next couple of weeks.

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


The Literary Elephant