Although it is entirely virtual, my TBR (to be read) list has gotten a bit out of hand. Therefore, I do a post featuring ten books from it approximately every other week. As I go through the list, I will consider 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 October 17. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 865 books. Today it has 886. I have gone through 590 books.
#591. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Synopsis: Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Comments: Despite the rave reviews of this book, I just don’t think it would be my cup of tea (or scoop of gelato). It sounds too much like Mamma Mia, which I don’t enjoy.
#592. The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum
Synopsis: The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is in trouble.
It’s late 2016 when Ariel discovers that her mother Mona’s animal sanctuary in Western Kansas has not only been the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes—but that it’s also for sale, due to hidden financial ruin. Ariel, living a new life in progressive Lawrence, and estranged from her mother for six long years, knows she has to return to her childhood home—especially since her own past may have played a role in the attack on the sanctuary. Ariel expects tension, maybe even fury, but she doesn’t anticipate that her first love, a ranch hand named Gideon, will still be working at the Bright Side.
Back in Lawrence, Ariel’s charming but hapless fiancé, Dex, grows paranoid about her sudden departure. After uncovering Mona’s address, he sets out to confront Ariel, but instead finds her grappling with the life she’s abandoned. Amid the reparations with her mother, it’s clear that Ariel is questioning the meaning of her life in Lawrence, and whether she belongs with Dex or with someone else, somewhere else.
Comments: This doesn’t sound like the kind of drama that I would want to read about.
#593. A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette
Synopsis: Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors–many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away. To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…
Comments: If I read murder mysteries, this would probably be at the top of my TBR list. I would watch this plot as a movie, but I don’t want to read it as a book.
#594. The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
Synopsis: Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.
Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?
So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”
Comments: I’ve actually checked this book out from the library at least once with full intent to read it, but I just haven’t gotten to it. Someday I will!
#595. American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt by Karen Harper
Synopsis: On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things.
At Blenheim Palace, Consuelo is confronted with an overwhelming list of duties, including producing an “heir and a spare,” but her relationship with the duke quickly disintegrates. Consuelo finds an inner strength, charming everyone from debutantes to diplomats including Winston Churchill, as she fights for women’s suffrage. And when she takes a scandalous leap, can she hope to attain love at last…?
Comments: The Vanderbilts are a fascinating family. If I can ever get ahold of a copy of Consuelo’s memoir The Glitter and the Gold, I would love to read that. Something about the attitude this synopsis is written with is a bit of an intangible red flag for me though. This isn’t an account I will be spending my time on,
#596. When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
Synopsis: Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.
For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:
1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.
But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.
Comments: This book must have either been nominated for an award or recommended to me in a conversation or context that I have now forgotten, because it’s not really along the lines of the YA fiction that I usually read. No big thoughts or feelings on this one, and that indifference is reason enough to pass.
#597. The Grand Energy Transition by Robert A. Hefner III
Synopsis: In this visionary book, leading energy industry executive Robert Hefner puts forth a convincing case about how the world can move beyond its current dependence on oil and toward a new era of clean, renewable energy.
Written with the knowledge and authority of a major player in this industry, Hefner relates how misguided government policies and vested industry interests have contributed to our current energy problems and proposes a variety of measures that could encourage the use of natural gas, solar, wind, and hydrogen.
Comments: Someone donated a very large number of copies of this book to the my library a few years ago and allowed them to be given away during the library’s annual book sale, so of course I picked one up. I’m not sure if it’s still sitting around somewhere, but it clearly is a topic that I know very little about and don’t have the patience to dive into.
#598. Ice Palace by Edna Ferber
Synopsis: This is the story of Alaska before statehood, in all its glory, beauty and bleakness…where men pitted themselves against the elements and the wilds, only to find the greatest threat is from “outside.”
Czar Kennedy came to Alaska for money and power, Thor Storm for a dream. This is the story of their struggle, over a long half-century, for the future of Alaska and the destiny of their beautiful, rebellious granddaughter, Christine, a courageous woman who must make a choice that will shape the destiny of a new generation. Above all, it is the glowing and eloquent tale of Alaska itself–the last, great American frontier.
Comments: Edna Ferber is one of my grandmother’s favorite authors, so I keep meaning to read something she has written but again haven’t gotten to it yet.
#599. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Synopsis: Oscar Wilde’s only novel is the dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.
In this celebrated work Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.
Comments: I don’t know if I will ever actually read this book, but it’s a classic that I can’t bring myself to remove from the list.
#600. Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones
Synopsis: Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations.
Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books—remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.
Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.
Comments: This is one for the “eventually, maybe, someday” category.
Ending number of books on TBR list: 880
Have you read any of these books? Is there anything that you would like to change my mind about?
Until the next chapter,