Down the TBR Hole is a (very) bookish meme, originally created by Lia @ Lost In A Story. She has since combed through all of her TBR (very impressive) and diminished it by quite a bit, but the meme is still open to others! How to participate:
- Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
- Order by Ascending Date Added
- Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or let it go?
My owned-and-unread book total is down to 136! And most of that is digital, finally, I had a serious “bought too many books at library bag sales” problem for a few years. However, my master TBR is still hovering in the mid 400’s, and I’m sure not all of those books need to be on the list anymore. What can I do about that today?
#1 – Dance with Me, by Alexis Daria
I don’t specifically remember adding this to the list, but based on the last book examined last month, and the next few up for debate, odds are this came from a recommendation list, because it’s a bunch of titles I don’t really remember adding, but I added them all on the same day.
Rereading the blurb: ummm there are some red flags. Everything about the plot listed there is screaming “flawed power dynamics”: he’s a judge on the reality show she stars in, she’s living with him in an emergency on the condition they won’t get horizontal, he pushes her for more anyway.
I must not have looked too closely at this when I added it, because it’s also the second book in a series and I didn’t add the first instead. Scanning the reviews, many people liked this book, but most of the ones who didn’t loved the first one and found this disappointing. (A few middling or poor reviews also validate my squeamishness about the power issues.) This can go.
#2 – Empty Nests, by Ada Maria Soto
M/M romance, I wasn’t expecting that, since my treacherous memory forgot all about this book.
Reviews warned me of an abrupt cliffhanger ending, so the first order of business to find out if the conclusion has been published. It has, which means I’m not automatically setting myself up for an unfinished story.
However, looking into the second book as well, a lot of readers seemed disappointed by the latter half of the story, and this isn’t a situation where I’m okay with reading one but not the other.
Maybe it’s nitpicky, too, but this cover? Most of it’s fine, but those bumper stickers are so obviously fake, poorly integrated into what’s otherwise a decent Photoshop job. As soon as I noticed, I couldn’t un-see it, and now when I look at that cover they’re like flashing neon lights grabbing my attention. This can also go.
#3 – Her Perfect Affair, by Priscilla Oliveras
Once again I’ve added a not-first-in-series book, and some of its reviews say that it really can’t be read as a standalone, because they tried, and it seemed like at least some of the romance was dependent on setup/events from the first book.
So this title goes, but should I replace it with His Perfect Partner instead and give the series opener a try?
Okay, looking into it…
No, no, I don’t need to read either one. There are red flags aplenty in the reviews, even the good ones, that are telling me to stay away, based on tropes I already know I don’t care for, writing-style issues, and various other minor complaints that add up to me not being interested. This can go without replacement.
#4 – Pride, by Ibi Zoboi
Well, this one’s easy. It goes.
I added this before I tried (for the third time) to read Pride & Prejudice, and at least that time I did finally finish the book.
But I’m not a fan, and I don’t need to subject myself to any type of retelling, no matter how the cultural context has been changed.
I’m glad it exists for the people who want it, but you could retell P&P with Muppets, my favorite thing in the world, and I still probably wouldn’t want to experience it, so this is in no way the fault of the book itself, just my total lack of appreciation for the source material. I got through it on the third attempt, but I had to make myself finish and that frustration would shadow my experience reading any reworked version.
#5 – Stripped, by Zoey Castile
Okay, a rom-com that starts off with a dry-cleaning mix-up between two neighbors, a teacher and a stripper? Yeah, I see why I added this, it’s got “hilarious premise” written all over it, and sometimes I’m in the mood for an unusual concept.
But what do the reviews think?
There are a few DNFs and a few “I finished it but barely” one-star ratings, but on the whole, readers really seem to dig this one, and I’ll admit, I’m intrigued by the idea of peeking beyond the muscular stage persona of a male stripper. I don’t know if there’s enough of that type of hero out there to have their own profession-based subgenre like cops and firefighters and CEOs, but I think I’d like to give it a try.
Bonus: it’s available in ebook and audiobook from my library. This stays! (Wow, I finally kept one this month!)
#6 – The Victoria in My Head, by Janelle Milanes
Let’s get this out of the way: great title, terrible cover.
But I’ve read plenty of good books with bad covers before, so let’s see if I can recapture whatever interest made me put this on the list in the first place. (This is the last title that came from that recommendation list, based on the date I added it.)
Clearly the rock-star vibe and aspirations of the main character. But somehow I managed to miss that this is YA, and let me tell you, YA has been disappointing me enough lately that I think it’s my age showing. That’s not this novel’s fault, but between my growing lack of connection to that age group and its fiction, and the red flags of “instalove” and “great at music with basically no practice and no explanation,” I think it’s safe to give this a pass. Clearly it’s right for other people, but not for me.
#7 – A Land So Wild, by Elyssa Warkentin
I didn’t remember this by the cover–which is pretty but not particularly informative. I don’t remember where I came across this title, and possibly never will.
But once I reread the blurb, I went, oh yeah, highly praised m/m historical fiction about sailing to find a lost ship that was looking for the Northwest Passage.
I’m still 100% sold on this. Glad this purging exercise reminded me it existed!
I’ve read about this subject, this period of history, before in both fiction and nonfiction forms, but the fictional ones didn’t have two guys falling in love, so this will be new in that respect, and hopefully wonderful.
#8 – Elevation, by Stephen King
Oh, Stephen King.
So I added this right around the time of its publication, just on the strength of the author, without actually reading the blurb. Once I did read it just now, I thought, “Hmm, this seems weird but not in a good way.”
The reviews are all across the spectrum, as they always are with any widely-read author’s novels, because you can’t please everyone all the time, and more specifically because King has gone in so many different directions over the course of his career that even his Constant Readers aren’t going to like every book.
But there’s a big, huge, giant red flag on this one that some reviews hid behind spoiler tags and others did not. Because this is still a relatively new release of King’s, I’m not going to say myself what that red flag is, but it’s enough that I think I can skip this one. As always, I’ve got enough of King’s backlog on my shelves (as well as a few I don’t own that made the cut last month) that I don’t have to read everything the man has ever written.
#9 – The Power, by Naomi Alderman
For once, I know exactly how I came across a title and why I added it. I follow Maggie Steifvater’s reviews on Goodreads, though she only posts them rarely, and only when she thinks a book is outstanding. Since I’m a fan of her work, I listen. And that’s how The Power ended up on my list.
Since then, however, I’ve lost my taste for dystopias for their own sake (gee, I wonder why?) I’m far less inclined to read that genre overall, and this apparently new “feminist” take on the concept appears to have horseshoed itself so far around that many of the reviews I skimmed believe the book is anti-feminist.
I acknowledge this could be a great book that I might love if I actually did read it–some people obviously do–but wow, do I just not have the energy or interest necessary right now to give it a try. This can go.
#10 – The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
When I read The Nightingale and loved it (5-star rating!) despite being burned out on war fiction in general and especially on WWII-era stories, I knew I had to read more by the author. I haven’t yet, but The Great Alone was her new release at the time, so on the list it went.
Most of that reasoning still holds true, and she’s got another book out more recently that I’ve been hearing great things about. So I’m inclined to keep this around without further investigation.
Still, I reread the blurb anyway, and a friend’s glowing review, and yeah, I’m keeping this on the list. It’s odd, in some ways, the premise reminds me a lot of The Shining, despite obviously not being the same story (and also not being horror,) but I dig the isolationist vibes it’s giving off. I may not get to it anytime soon–still chugging through the backlog of books I own–but it sounds promising, and that’s enough for now.
So I cut more than average, this month, with 7/10 getting the axe. I’m okay with that, though, given that over half of these books came from a single recommendation list, and I’ve just got to be better in the future about adding books willy-nilly when I’m only a little interested. Rec lists are great, but they’re not mandates, I don’t have to read everything on them!
As always, if you’ve got a different opinion on any of these titles and want to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. With that, let’s set my TBR aside for another month, to see how much progress I can make on it and how few new books I can add to it!