Down the TBR Hole #34

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?

Checking in on my master TBR this month, it’s down to 549 books–last month it was 571. I read a few things that prompted me to cut books by the same authors from the list–why commit to Anna Karenina when I didn’t like War and Peace, for example?

Let’s keep that train rolling, shall we?

#1 – Parable of the Talents, by Octavia E. Butler

It’s been long enough since I read Parable of the Sower (2017) that I’d forgotten this was still hanging out on the list. It should have been included on my list of unfinished series!

Despite my mixed feelings about Butler’s canon overall (Kindred was okay and I couldn’t finish Wild Seed,) I did enjoy Sower and simply rereading my three-year-old review brought most of the plot back to me. I’ll keep this. Now that I remember I read it at all, I want to find out how the story ends.

#2 – The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, by Mark Forsyth

I love words, I love reading words, I love reading about words. Which is undoubtedly why this landed on my TBR, even if I don’t remember where I heard about it.

I’ve been disappointed or delighted in almost equal measure by past “books about words”–they’re incredibly hit or miss for me, no matter who recommends them glowingly. I know every book is a risk, but it hurts when an apparent slam dunk turns out to be a waste of my time. I’m not feeling as adventurous about nonfiction as I used to be; this one goes, even if I’m wrong and I’d actually love it.

#3 – Ulysses, by James Joyce

What exactly the hell was I thinking?

Almost 800 pages of The Odyssey fanfiction when I couldn’t even get through the original?

Why is this here? What madness possessed me?

Was I thinking it was a different book entirely when I added it? This goes. This never should have been on the list in the first place.

#4 – The Physician, by Noah Gordon

I don’t remember where I heard about this book. I know I say that a lot, but my tendency to look at a recommendation list and throw anything remotely interesting on my TBR is at fault, not my actual memory. I hope.

I’m sure this intrigued me because it’s historical fiction on an era I’ve rarely seen–11th century England, with a journey to Persia. While it’s well-reviewed overall, the poor reviews are damning, accusing the text of racism and Orientalism, stereotypical male-gaze sexualization, prejudical handling of religions, and if that’s not enough to warn me away, also it’s too long, has too many unnecessary details, boring characters, middling research at best, etc. Bye bye, this isn’t my cup of tea.

#5 – The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic, by Leigh Bardugo

This is on my TBR at all because I added it shortly after its much-hyped release. I read (and loved) Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom in 2016, though I haven’t read the earlier Grishaverse books. This seemed like something I’d want to tackle eventually.

But it’s been three years, and I’m haven’t reached eventually. I’m always less inclined to read story collections than novels, so I think I’ll pass on this, thanks. I have another Bardugo novel on the list I’m more excited about, and I simply can’t read everything.

#6 – Vermilion: The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp, by Molly Tanzer

Credit where credit is due, the premise of this still sounds as wild and interesting as it did when I put it on the list: queer supernatural western steampunk adventure mashup.

But even the positive reviews admit the book shows signs of strain trying to do so much at once, and I’ve moved on from my steampunk phase, which was not that long nor that impassioned. As before, this book sounds like a risk; I could love it, but it seems more likely I’d be confused by its bizarre blend of genres. This one goes.

#7 + #8 – Love on the Tracks and Seduction on the Slopes, by Tamsen Parker

I’m so behind keeping up with my favorite romance authors, and aside from one very-bad-awful blip on the radar, Parker is one of my faves. I added both of these when I found out she had a new series in progress, and since then the other three books have come out. Yay! I skimmed the blurbs and review for all of them, and I’m confident they’ll be worth my time, so they stay on the list. Bonus: some of the books are queer pairings, and I’m all about supporting a series that includes both m/m and f/f couples.

#9 – The Rogue Not Taken, by Sarah MacLean

Oh, boy. I put this on the list specifically because one of my reading challenges back in 2018 (yes, we passed over from my 2017 TBR during this post, now I’m only two years behind) required “a book with a pun in the title.” This was easily available from my library so it was my intended read for that task. I never got to it because another book took its place, but it lingered on the list.

Since then I’ve come to not-enjoy most historical romance, Regency era in particular (though certain authors’ style triumphs over genre.) I’ve never read MacLean and she comes highly recommended, but this book probably isn’t the best place for me to start–the blurb is clearly indicating scandal and enemies-to-lovers, which is so easy to do wrong (by me, at least) and the top-rated reviews are all decrying the hero as the worst kind of asshole. Yikes! This one goes.

#10 – Rhapsodic, by Laura Thalassa

Added this because I saw an overwhelmingly positive review of it, and it’s romance, dark/urban fantasy, and I was getting into that genre at the time (via the gateway drug of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.) Others have likened it to Sarah Maas’ work but better, and I enjoy her novels despite their flaws, so this seems like an obvious choice. And it’s got sirens!

This stays. I’m tempted to buy it right now, in fact. I won’t. Bonus: there’s two more books and a novella in this series, if I like it, and the author has several other completed series under her belt if I need more of her.

Okay, this month I cut 6/10. Perfectly reasonable. As always, if you’ve read anything on this list and want to share an opinion or even try to change my mind (in either direction,) leave a comment and we’ll chat!

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