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. Perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
The last regular installment of Tackling the TBR was on November 15, 2022. At the end of that post my Goodreads TBR list contained 880 books. Today it has 887. I’ve gone through 600 books.
#601. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Synopsis: Set amid the civil rights movement, this is the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘coloured computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.
Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.
Comments: I started to read this book a few years ago, but never finished it. I honestly would like to finish reading it eventually, but I don’t think I need to keep it on this list in order to remember.
#602. Only Gossip Prospers by Lorraine Tosiello
Synopsis: In late 1875 Louisa May Alcott spent a winter in New York City. Her journals give a rough sketch of the people she met, the salons she attended and a few outings that she enjoyed. She intended to stay “until I am tired of it,” but left abruptly in mid-January.
Filled with biographical references to Louisa’s family, New Yorkers of the time and Alcott’s literary works, Only Gossip Prospers intertwines the real people Louisa met, the actual events of New York City and a host of fictional characters who inhabit a world that Louisa herself would recognize. Written in a style reminiscent of Alcott’s juvenile fiction and short adventure stories, the book is part historical fiction, part love letter to the charm of 1870s New York and part biography of Louisa and her contemporaries. Only Gossip Prospers enters the debate that still hovers over Little Women as to what was “real” and what was “made up.” There are some twists and surprises, including one that will satisfy the greatest question left unanswered for fans of Little Women: what really happened between Jo and Laurie?
Comments: Does everything really have to come back to Jo and Laurie? My library doesn’t own this book, and I don’t want to spend money on it, so off the list it goes despite focusing on one of my favorite authors.
#603. Painting the Moon by Traci Borum
Synopsis: When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine. But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England.
When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost. Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.
Comments: This story sounds sweet. Unrealistic, but sweet.
#604. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Synopsis: Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young woman who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behavior becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the truth is revealed and the shocking details of the disastrous marriage she has left behind emerge. Told with great immediacy, combined with wit and irony, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful depiction of a woman’s fight for domestic independence and creative freedom.
#605. The Professor by Charlotte Bronte
Synopsis: The other day, in looking over my papers, I found in my desk the following copy of a letter, sent by me a year since to an old school acquaintance:—“DEAR CHARLES, “I think when you and I were at Eton together, we were neither of us what could be called popular characters: you were a sarcastic, observant, shrewd, cold-blooded creature; my own portrait I will not attempt to draw, but I cannot recollect that it was a strikingly attractive one—can you? What animal magnetism drew thee and me together I know not; certainly I never experienced anything of the Pylades and Orestes sentiment for you, and I have reason to believe that you, on your part, were equally free from all romantic regard to me. Still, out of school hours we walked and talked continually together; when the theme of conversation was our companions or our masters we understood each other, and when I recurred to some sentiment of affection, some vague love of an excellent or beautiful object, whether in animate or inanimate nature, your sardonic coldness did not move me. I felt myself superior to that check THEN as I do NOW. “It is a long time since I wrote to you, and a still longer time since I saw you. Chancing to take up anewspaper of your county the other day, my eye fell upon your name. I began to think of old times; to runover the events which have transpired since we separated; and I sat down and commenced this letter. What you have been doing I know not; but you shall hear, if you choose to listen, how the world has wagged with me.”
#606. Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
Synopsis: First published in 1853, Villette is Brontë’s most accomplished and deeply felt work, eclipsing even Jane Eyre in critical acclaim. Her narrator, the autobiographical Lucy Snowe, flees England and a tragic past to become an instructor in a French boarding school in the town of Villette. There she unexpectedly confronts her feelings of love and longing as she witnesses the fitful romance between Dr. John, a handsome young Englishman, and Ginerva Fanshawe, a beautiful coquette. The first pain brings others, and with them comes the heartache Lucy has tried so long to escape. Yet in spite of adversity and disappointment, Lucy Snowe survives to recount the unstinting vision of a turbulent life’s journey – a journey that is one of the most insightful fictional studies of a woman’s consciousness in English literature.
#607. Marcus: A Soldier’s Story by Laura Geunot
Synopsis: Marcus, a young Roman soldier in first-century Jerusalem, longs for peace…yet has no idea how to obtain it. After an encounter with an unusual prisoner, will his life ever be the same?
Comments: This indie-published book reminds me of Tessa Afshar’s,
#608. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Synopsis: Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow’s acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human animal, in both its goodness and frailty.
He began his search as a “pre-ministerial student” at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with “Old Grit,” his profound professor of New Testament Greek.
Comments: Wendell Berry has been recommended to be several times, and I’m told this book is a good place to start.
#609. Love Protects by Julia David
Synopsis: From a desperate yet useful childhood at the Lennhurst Asylum and School for Disabled Children, Anna is married off to a plantation baron, a man old enough to be her father. When he collapses on the frozen pond and drowns, could it be the freedom she’s never known? With barely a day of peace as a young widow, her cold-hearted step sons throw her from their father’s home.
William Gibbs thinks he knows desperation. With the death of their mother, he is left to raise his four younger siblings in their one-room cabin. One deemed a lunatic, who runs from home, he can’t find a moment to keep her safe and work their small tobacco farm. Without the crop, they’ll all be destitute. On a dark rainy night searching for his missing sister, Will turns to the local reverend for help. “A wife will cost you nothing.” The reverend’s wife points out.
Just as the new family finds care and acceptance for one another, Anna is arrested for the murder of her first husband. Moved with his ever growing feelings for his new wife, Will vows to protect her from the ludicrous charges. But what about the baby nursing at her breast? It’s not Anna’s first husbands or Will’s baby. And she did not give birth. What kind of hoax is it? Should her past and the innocent babe in her arms doom her to life behind bars?
Comments: I’ve enjoyed this author’s other books, but there is too much going on here.
#610. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Synopsis: Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.
Comments: This book was recommended by Goodreads’ algorithm when I read (and rated highly) Jane Eyre. It seems interesting, and I would like to read it eventually, but I know I’ll need to be in the right mindset to appreciate it.
Ending number of books on TBR list: 883
I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on any of the books from today! Have you read any of them? Do you recommend them?
Until the next chapter,
I have not read any of these. It seems like I am constantly adding and removing books from my TBR. I checked books out of the library a few weeks ago that was on my TBR, started reading them, flipping through them, and removed a few that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. Good luck!
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I read the Jean Rhys, and it was good, but not WOW, and some bits were confusing to me. Still, it is fairly short so you might want to keep that in mind.