Tag Archives: TBR

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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


TBR 10.19

Also to be known as: Spooky TBR! My favorite (reading, not weather) time of the year!

My TBR goal for 2019 was to read all of the new books I’ve acquired by the end of the following month. This hasn’t really been working out for me, but I’m continuing to track the info. So I’ll show you what new books came to my shelves in September in the first half of this post (the books that my TBR goal says I *should* be reading in October), and then I’ll highlight the spooky (and other) books I’m most likely to be reading!

New books I haven’t read yet:

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. This is a true crime novel about one woman’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer, whose identity was still unknown at the time. It won the Goodreads Choice award for nonfiction last year, and probably everyone interested in true crime has heard of it; I picked it up from the Barnes and Noble Book Blowout Sale at the beginning of the month.
  2. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. This is a YA book dealing with adoption; I’ve seen several great reviews, and also picked it up from the B&N sale.
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I had a coupon and decided I wanted to spend it on a former Women’s Prize winner- I picked this one from 2012. It’s a retelling of Homer’s The Iliad; while I enjoyed but didn’t love Miller’s more recent release, Circe, I think I’ll fare better with this one!
  4. How to be Both by Ali Smith. Another past Women’s Prize winner (2015). I found this one on Book Outlet, where everything is so cheap it’s impossible to only order what you came for… I’ve actually not read anything from Smith yet but I think I will love her writing! I want to be sure I read Autumn this season!
  5. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for this title’s US release. I’ve already read a few pages because I was too curious about the style to resist, and I’m liking it so far! It’s about an Ohio housewife ruminating on… well, everything.
  6. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Yes, this is the Canadian version, with a slightly different title than the US version. I saw the US edition on the B&N sale, but in the end I didn’t want to pay half price for the hardcover. When I saw this paperback on Book Outlet for $4 the week after, the price was right. I’ve seen mixed reviews for this reliving-the-same-day murder mystery, but above all it sounds bizarre and that’s my brand.
  7. Firestarter by Stephen King. I’ve heard recently that King’s new release, The Institute, might actually share a lot of similarities with this older publication of his that’s lesser known but popular among the Constant Reader (King fandom) crowd. I know this one involves a kid (or kids) with superpowers, and nothing else. I’m now planning to pick this up prior to The Institute.
  8. The Institute by Stephen King. The aforementioned new release. I was so excited about this one with its Stranger Things vibes (which is hilarious, considering Stranger Things was largely inspired by Stephen King books) and am kind of bummed that I’ve decided not to jump straight in. Again, kids with superpowers is all I know.


(I’m sorry this is such a low quality pic- I’ve never been great at photography but I usually at least try for proper daylight!)

Of these eight, the titles I’m most likely to read in October are: Ducks, Newburyport, which I want to finish before the Booker Prize winner announcement, and Firestarter, because I have to read at least one Stephen King novel for Halloween month- this title is now at the top of my King list. It’s possible that I might also reach for The Institute, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and/or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, all of which seem more or less in line for the fast-paced and/or disturbing sort of content I like to read in October.

I’d really like to get to both of the Women’s Prize winners before the end of the year as well, but I don’t think I’ll be picking them up this month unless I need a break from the horror genre.

And before we move on from the book haul portion of this post…

New books I’ve already read:

  1. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. 5 stars. I read this novella earlier this year and had such a fun time with it. It’s been nominated for several major awards, and though I never really expected it to win them, it is a book I think I’ll enjoy revisiting. Plus I had a coupon. I 100% will buy a book just to utilize a discount.
  2. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. 2 stars. I’ve always loved Atwood’s writing, including The Handmaid’s Tale (which this sequel follows), so I pre-ordered this one a while back. I read it promptly upon arrival, partially because of that prior interest, partially because I wanted to read it while it was on the Booker Prize shortlist. In the end, let’s just say I’m glad I was able to pre-order at a discount.
  3. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. (I rated this one 5 stars originally, but have recently begun a reread that I think will bump it down to 3. I’ll wait until I’ve finished to say for sure.) This is a romance/crime novel that was published the year I was born- I recently did a tag featuring books from that year, which was the final push I needed to order a cheap copy from Book Outlet for nostalgic purposes and start a reread. It’s not exactly my taste anymore, but it’s a quick and humorous read with a lot of memories for me.
  4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. This is one of my favorite King novels, and also one of the first of his books that I read, some dozen years ago. I’ve always wanted my own copy, and do plan to reread. I found this one on Book Outlet, and it matches several other King editions I already own, so the time was right. It’s a ghost story.
  5. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 5 stars. One of the ways I’m trying to keep my own-unread TBR down is to use my book-buying urges (and those pesky coupons) to pick up books I’ve already read and loved, and want to own. This was one of my favorite books in middle school and I’ve been wanting a copy for ages- I was happy to find the same edition I originally read! This one’s about a teen who’s been raped, who pours her trauma into an art project.
  6. Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman. 4 stars. I just heard about this nonfiction/memoir last month and was so excited about it that I picked it up on Book Outlet immediately and began reading the day it arrived. It turned out a little different than I was expecting, but it’s an incredible read and very eye-opening. Review coming soon.


Unfortunately, my unread stack is a bit larger than my read stack again, but I don’t expect I’ll be doing much book shopping next month, as my schedule is starting to go haywire and I have less time to spend both in bookstores and on the internet. Sadly, this means I’ll be less present on WordPress over the next month or two, but I’ll do what I can to keep up.

Other reading plans for October:

I’ve got Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore from the library, which means these will be my next reads. I’ll probably split time between these and Ducks, Newburyport.

Soon I’ll also have Hannibal by Thomas Harris from the library, probably my last library check out for the month. I’ve been slowly reading Harris’s Hannibal Lecter series at the rate of one book each October, and this being the third year I’m up to book 3.

I also want to focus on some other unread spooky books I’ve picked up earlier this year and failed to read in a timely manner. The titles I’ve most got my eye on right now are: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, The Phantom of the Opera and Other Tales by various authors, When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry, Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach, and Strange Weather by Joe Hill. Plus I’ve got quite a few unread Stephen King books and plenty of spooky stories from previous years on my shelves, as well as the books I’ve already mentioned in my September haul. So, as you can see, no shortage of choices.

I can’t guarantee I’ll get to everything I want to, of course, but despite the excessively long work days ahead of me, I should still have plenty of small breaks throughout the day- which I’ve learned does not work at all for me for writing (which includes blog posts, sadly) but allows me to read more during the day than I normally manage. The silver lining. In any case, I’m in the perfect mood for all the horror reads, and I’ll keep up with reviewing them in season to the best of my ability.

Have you read any of these, and/or want to put in a vote for what I should prioritize?

I wish you many spooks in the coming reading month!

(Unless you’re not a fan of horror, of course.)


The Literary Elephant



The Translated Literature Book Tag

Diana created this excellent tag post a couple of months ago and I immediately made a mental note to try it at some point! Then Callum helped me out by tagging me shortly after! To be honest, I’ve been putting this off a few weeks because I know my list of translated readings is not very substantial yet, and I’ve recently become more invested in trying to turn that around- but my life is so busy right now that I know I won’t be able to pick up all of the great translated titles on my TBR immediately just to do justice to this tag, so I’m going to try the tag now, and make a note to myself to return to it in a year or so and see how my answers have changed! These look like such interesting and versatile prompts that could be filled with so many different titles every time you try it (including some you haven’t read yet), and I think it’s important to any reader’s world perspective to keep picking up translated lit from countries and languages other than your own, so I don’t mind promoting a tag like this twice! I highly recommend checking out both Diana’s and Callum’s posts, and searching for others who’ve posted this tag as well, if you’re looking for some great translation recommendations!

And here’s my contribution:

1 – A translated novel you would recommend to everyone:

25489025Here are two, from the same author: The Vegetarian, and/or Human Acts by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith. I recommend them cautiously because they’re both experimental in style and deal with very difficult subject matter, but I think for anyone who is interested in learning about other cultures or pieces of world history these novels are absolutely worth the challenge. The Vegetarian, on the surface, is about a Korean woman who decides she will no longer eat meat; her family and friends cannot accept her decision. Thematically, I’d say it’s a more universal look at how society judges a choice that’s uncommon or hard to understand in cultural context. 30091914Human Acts depicts a student uprising in 1980s Korea and its tragic aftermath. Thematically, it’s an exploration of the cruelty and vulnerability inherent in human nature. Both are brilliant, eye-opening, gut-wrenching books, and I’m eager to read more from Kang!

2 – A recently read “old” translated novel you enjoyed:

22054577I’m going with the very old, and very classic, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Though I had to read big excerpts from both books for high school and college classes and was already fully familiar with the plot and themes of both, I only read The Iliad in full for the first time last summer, and The Odyssey this past winter. I liked the characters, plot, and story arc of the former better, but found the latter much more engaging and immediately entertaining to read. Though I appreciated both, I do not recommend this translation (by Samuel Butler, from the Greek); it resorts to prose rather than trying for anything close to Homer’s epic poems, and generally sticks to such a literal translation that any artistic flare is quite lost. I’m planning to try other editions of both at some point.

3 – A translated book you could not get into:

165035I don’t think this is a bad series at all, but I have to go with The Emigrants (and the entire Settlers series) by Vilhelm Moberg, translated from the Swedish by Gustaf Lannestock. The only reason I was able to stay invested in this series is that the story of a Swedish farming family emigrating to the US in the mid-1800s and establishing a new family farm in the American Midwest is also a chapter of my own family history. Even with that connection, I really struggled to stick with the writing style, which I found rather dry, and the characters themselves are not the most engaging. It was fascinating to me to see some of the challenges faced by Swedish emigrants, but there’s really not a lot of plot here and I can’t imagine anyone without a Swedish farming background finding this series very readable.

4 – Your most anticipated translated novel release:

42983724Technically this book is already released now, but I’m still anticipating reading it: Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (and longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize earlier this year). I’ve been so eager to get my hands on a copy of this strange little mystery ever since I first heard that brilliant title- I had the first hold in at my library before the official US release date, but it took so long for the library to get the book into circulation that I just got it recently. It’s either going to be my next or second-next read, and I can’t wait to see about this reclusive woman and her dying neighbors! (Could there be a more perfect time of year for this content?)

5 – A “foregin-language” author you would love to read more of:

21411194. sy475 I read my first novel by Haruki Murakami earlier this year: Norwegian Wood, translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin. I thought the writing was excellent and the story of love, loss, and grief quite moving, and I know Murakami’s other works tend a bit more toward the magical, which sounds potentially wonderful. After finishing this first book, I immediately added The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to my TBR, and have also since picked up a copy of After Dark from a convenient secondhand shop. I’m sure I’ll want to read more as well, but I’m looking forward to continuing with these two next!

6 – A translated novel which you consider to be better than the film:

I’m not sure I can answer this one properly. I don’t watch a ton of films in general, and can’t at the moment think of a single translated novel I’ve even seen an adaptation for! Perhaps I’d say that The Iliad is a better book than Troy is as a movie, but I actually thought Troy was a very interesting adaptation, though not perfect.

7 – A translated “philosophical” book you recommend:

36436073. sx318 I actually don’t like reading philosophy very much, but I did appreciate Albert Camus’s Create Dangerously, translated from the French by Justin O’Brien. Perhaps I appreciate it even more in retrospect than I did while reading- a common trend for me with philosophy (I appreciate the logic of it, but struggle with the circular nature and myriad loopholes). I think I’ll need to reread this one at some point because I think I can take more from it if I put more time into focusing on all of its points, but I do remember fondly some of Camus’s arguments about how and why we create art, and the need to fight for one’s freedoms, even the freedoms we’ve already won. There are three little speeches in this small volume, all worth the read.

8 – A translated fiction book that has been on your TBR for far too long:

2429135I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland, is the translated novel that’s been on my TBR the longest. I started reading it in 2012, but I picked it up right before I graduated from high school, and didn’t get far enough into the story to be excited about picking it back up that summer… so I never did. Since I own a copy, and am too stubborn to admit defeat, I’ll definitely try again at some point; I am currently more interested in reading this book because it’s firmly in my mind as an “unfinished project” than because I am excited about the story. In fact, I don’t remember anything about the story. Seven years is a long time to pause a book.

9 – A popular translated fiction book you have not read:

36739755. sx318 One novel I’m interested in that I see mentioned quite often and can’t believe I haven’t gotten around to reading yet is Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takamori. This is such a short book (just over 150 pages!) and focuses on one woman’s sense of identity and non-conformity. In theory, it sounds like something I would adore, and even if not, it would be nice to finally be able to weigh in on a title it seems like everyone but I have read!

10 – A translated fiction book you have heard a lot about and would like to find more about or read:

37004370Specifically, I’m going to mention The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa here, translated from the Japanese (I didn’t realize there would be so many authors from Japan on this list!) by Stephen Snyder. This is a brand new (to the US at least) dystopian release in which the “memory police” can make anything disappear; the MC is trying to save her editor and career. This one’s been getting some buzz lately and I would love to jump on board, partially because I’m very interested in this author in general; I have several of Ogawa’s books on my TBR now and still haven’t read a single one- an issue I certainly need to remedy!


Since I’ve done a few tags this month and have already tagged quite a few friends, I’m not going to list anyone specific to continue this tag- but I really hope that anyone who sees it and reads translated fiction will decide to take part! I love finding translation recs through these posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite translated novel of all time?


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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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


Choose the Year Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Laura Frey for this Choose the Year post! She’s got more info on the Booktube side of this tag on her post, and focuses on the books from 2000, so for more popular books from years past, check out her post and links!

After considering a few different years that were significant to me, I’m choosing to follow the “year you were born” trend and focus on popular books (according to Goodreads) from 1994. If you want to try this tag or are jut curious about he books from the year you were born, you can use this link to search popular titles by year on Goodreads:


The tag prompts:

  1. Choose a year and say why.
  2. Which books published in that year have you read, or if none, heard of.
  3. Are there any books published in that year that sound interesting and would you read them now?
  4. Most obscure sounding book?
  5. Strangest book cover

I’m going with 1994 because obviously I wasn’t reading in that year, so it’s interesting to me to see which titles I’ve been drawn to over the last 25 years. I’m just going to scroll down the list in order of popularity and mention where I stand with each title. Numbers correspond to their rank in the Goodreads list, and titles are linked to their Goodreads pages.

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)1. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. This was probably the first adult mystery book I ever read, very early in high school, and at that time I was absolutely obsessed with this series. I binged all of the books that were out at the time with a bestie- I think No. 16 was brand new and she bought the hardback with bonus stickers. Looks like No. 26 is coming out later this year, but after trying to catch up in college I realized this was no longer my reading taste and quit several volumes ago. It’s a trashy series (in a fun way) but I remember the first book having the best plot; I actually just bought a copy for nostalgic purposes, and am looking forward to a hilarious reread!

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This one is on my TBR. I just read my first Murakami novel earlier this year (Norwegian Wood) and loved it- I was planning to pick this one up next just because I know it’s one of his best-known titles, but I found a cheap copy of After Dark at a secondhand bookshop that I’m now planning on picking up next. I don’t remember anything about the synopsis of this one but I like reading that way.

3861873. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Another on my TBR. I came across this title a couple of years ago when I was trying to complete a reading challenge that required reading a book from the year I was born, and this is the one I was planning to go with until I accidentally read another title that I didn’t realize fit the prompt… This is a true crime novel set in Savannah, Georgia.

400245. The Alienist by Caleb Carr. This is the title I accidentally read for that reading challenge. I hadn’t heard of it until BOTM featured it as an extra and I decided on a whim to give it a go. It’ a historical fiction mystery following an early psychologist (before the term was coined) trying to solve the crimes of mutilated child bodies found in New York. I remember some of the gritty details but didn’t fully get on with the writing style and structure of the novel, if I remember correctly. I’ll link my review here, but the tl;dr is a 3-star rating and a series I didn’t bother continuing.

438938187. Insomnia by Stephen King. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read a lot of Stephen King and am slowly making my way through his entire list of publications. This one doesn’t seem to be a big crowd favorite but the synopsis does look interesting to me- a man who can’t sleep starts to see things around town and he’s not sure whether they’re hallucinations or not. It’s set in Derry, Maine, a fictional town Stephen King uses a lot and likes to cross-reference throughout his novels, which is a fun feature. This is one of his heftier titles though; this edition from my own shelf clocks in at over 900 pages.

8. Walk Two Moons 53496by Sharon Creech. This is a middle grade book I read when I was 13, at the same age as the main character. I remember that, and I remember really liking the story at that time, but to be honest I really don’t remember anything about it now and the synopsis is not ringing any bells. I did readย Bloomability by the same author a year or two later, so it must have made a good impression.

31843110. A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. This is just an “I’ve heard of it” book. I’ve never been big on reading nonfiction about history or politics so even though I’ve seen this one around and know it has a great reputation I’ve never had it on my TBR. But this year has sparked a renewed interest in nonfiction for me, so who knows, anything could happen.

1254313. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. This is a nonfiction book that I had to read an excerpt from in a college writing class, and have always meant to read the rest of. I just realized it wasn’t actually on my Goodreads TBR but it’s been on my mental list. Frightening to think that my 700+ title Goodreads TBR is not actually exhaustive…

22760318. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Another that I’ve heard of. This is a nonfiction/memoir about mental health among America’s youth. I’ve been on the fence about this one for a long time because it sounds very interesting, especially now that I’m more open-minded about nonfiction, but I also wonder if it’s a bit dated at this point? If anyone’s read this, please advise.

853577115. The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. I LOVED this book as a kid. It’s one of those underrated Harry Potter / Narnia type books with a secret magical world that most people don’t know about. I think I read this one before the HP or Narnia series and those have stuck with me more over the years, but I reread this one several times and still have my copy in reasonable condition for posterity.

7059131185. Cristallisation Secrรฉte by Yoko Ogawa. This is neat: the original Japanese edition of Ogawa’s very recently translated The Memory Police came out in 1994! I’ve not yet read any of Ogawa’s work, but a couple of her titles (including the English translation of this one) are on my TBR, and more are on my radar. This one’s about a world in which “memory police” can make things disappear, and one novelist at the center of the story hides her editor in an attempt to preserve literature. The Memory Police was just longlisted for the National Book Award’s translated lit category!

Those are all of the books that I’ve specifically read or been meaning to read from the 1994 list. I could go on with a few more children’s books I’ve possibly read and plenty of titles I’ve at least heard of, but I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time and I think I’ve already covered a decent mix.

So, the most obscure sounding book:58372

I think “obscure” is a matter of perspective, but here’s an interesting one. Whatever by Michael Houellebecq, translated by Paul Hammond, looks like a French novel about a thirty year-old man who writes weird animal stories. “A painfully realistic portrayal of the vanishing freedom of a world governed by science and by the empty rituals of daily life.” Maybe I should’ve saved this one for the strangest book cover prompt, but I’ll dive in again…

14288…And find this gem! (Can you tell that I find animal covers strange in general??)

Piercing by Ryu Murakami, translated by Ralph McCarthy, is apparently a “pulsating psycho-thriller.” I have actually heard good things about this author, but that’s definitely not a cover I would feel inclined to pick up. I’m not even sure what the red fibers in the top right are supposed to be? My gut reaction says blood, but if so that’s the strangest image of blood I’ve ever seen.

Quick disclaimer: I realize I picked foreign authors for both the strange and obscure prompts, which should in no way indicate that I think of foreign authors as strange and obscure… I’m judging based purely on the covers, brief synopses, and placement on the Goodreads list, not the content or quality of the books!


Kristen, Karissa, and Elysa. If this tag looks as fun to you as it did to me, I’d be excited to see some bookish highlights from a year of your choosing! If you’re not tagged and want to participate, please do!


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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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