It has become apparent that my TBR (to be read) list has gotten nearly out of hand. Therefore, I have decided to do a post featuring ten books from it approximately every other week. As I go through the list, I will evaluate each book and decide whether or not it still belongs. Who knows, perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
The last time I did this type of post was August 24th. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 724 books. Today it has 732. I have gone through 130 books.
#131. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Synopsis: A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Comments: Definitely something I would have enjoyed when I was willing to spend more time with a book, and had less emphasis on getting through a certain number in a particular amount of time. Now, it doesn’t sound exciting enough to draw me in.
#132. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Synopsis: “It’s never the disasters you see coming that finally come to pass—it’s the ones you don’t expect at all,” says Julia, in this spellbinding novel of catastrophe and survival by a superb new writer. Luminous, suspenseful, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles tells the haunting and beautiful story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in a time of extraordinary change.
On an ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia awakens to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer; gravity is affected; the birds, the tides, human behavior, and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world that seems filled with danger and loss, Julia also must face surprising developments in herself, and in her personal world: divisions widening between her parents; strange behavior by her friends; the pain and vulnerability of first love; a growing sense of isolation; and a surprising, rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker paints a breathtaking portrait of people finding ways to go on in an ever-evolving world.
Comments: Catastrophe, survival, and haunting are not the words I want to use to describe what I am reading now. I’m sure this book would fit in with those gaining a wider readership because of the current pandemic, but it’s not a genre that I want to spend time in.
#133. Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
Synopsis: Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)
Comments: Just not for me.
#134. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Synopsis: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Comments: This sounds much to heartbreaking. I can see the significance of a book like this, but it’s not one that I am ready to engage with at this time.
#135. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Synopsis: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Comments: I’m not really sure that this is a good fit for me, but I’m also not ready to rule it out yet. I’ll have to do more research about this one.
Decision: Keep…for now
#136. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
Synopsis: With a preface written by the author especially for this edition, this is the complete collection of stories by Eudora Welty. Including the earlier collections A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, The Golden Apples, and The Bride of the Innisfallen, as well as previously uncollected ones, these forty-one stories demonstrate Eudora Welty’s talent for writing from diverse points-of-view with “vision that is sweet by nature, always humanizing, uncannily objective, but never angry” (Washington Post).
Comments: I fell in love with Welty’s writing during my senior year of college, but I never came back and read anything of hers that wasn’t assigned for a class. Someday, I will.
#137. Moon Lake by Eudora Welty
Synopsis: Moon Lake is the story of a summer camp in Mississippi, a surly lifeguard, a rebellious orphan girl, and the fateful day when they learn the secrets of life and death. Pulitzer Prize-winner Eudora Welty’s extraordinary short story is a lushly atmospheric and acutely observed portrayal of the strange, surreal time between childhood and adulthood.
Comments: Keeping for the same reason as the previous book.
#138. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Synopsis: The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.
Comments: This book is on my list because it’s a classic, but the story doesn’t sound like one I would enjoy, and I read plenty of other classics. I don’t feel bad about passing on this one.
#139. Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
Synopsis: Hamlet told from the worm’s-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.
Comments: A friend of mine read this in high school and highly recommended it. I’ve seen it floating around a few times since then, but obviously haven’t read it. It could be interesting!
#140. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
Synopsis: The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O’Connor’s monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O’Connor put together in her short lifetime.
Comments: O’Connor is another author I discovered senior year of college. I’ve tried to read this collection once before, but ran out of time and only got through the first story.
Ending number of books on TBR list: 728
At least it’s down from where I started!
Until the next chapter,