Tag Archives: TBR

Getting Reacquainted With My TBR

One thing about moving – it’s given me the chance to get reacquainted with my TBR stacks.

While I was unpacking my books, I found myself creating three piles from my rather massive TBR stash. The first pile contained the books I really really really wanted to read. I decided to dedicate two book shelves to these books.

The second pile was made up of the books I wanted to read, but didn’t feel like they belonged on the “really really really” bookshelf. These books I stacked in the “someday” pile on the walk-in closet shelf (which is really now just a shelf, as it’s no longer a walk-in closet but my “bedroom”, although I’m still sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor, as I’m waiting until I get all unpacked before I buy my new bed).

The third pile? My reluctant giveaways. These were all ones it would be nice to get around to, but I didn’t have enough commitment to put on my “someday” shelf AND my library has them available in ebook format. So they got put on the ebook wishlist there. Here’s what this pile looks like:

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It’s hiding out under my desk at the moment. To the far right, where you can’t see them in the picture, are two stacks of art technique books which I’m hoping to resell at one of the bookstores in the city that buys used books that are in good condition. I also belong to a local Facebook books buy/sell group, so I will post my old TBRs on there first. Whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll donate to the library.

So, having now gone through my TBR with much thought, I’ve been finding myself getting reacquainted with my TBR. There are lots of books on my “really really really” shelf that look like fun:

I’ve even grabbed a book from my “really really really” shelf and started reading it—The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It’s good, but I had to put it down because the latest Gamache book, The Nature of the Beast, came in from the library so of course I have to get that read before it has to go back.

But it’s been fun getting to know all my TBR books again—there are some treasures in there I had long forgotten!

Wanting to read more middle grade novels … and A Game of Thrones

I know, I know, two totally different things. But for some reason, they’ve become interconnected in my mind. When I start thinking about what I’d like to start reading more of, I think, middle grade novels! And then for some funny reason, I head straight from there to A Game of Thrones. And then back to middle grade novels again. A very strange but now comfortable cycle.

A few years ago, I bought this from Costco:

Game of Thrones boxed set (Actually, it was the boxed set without A Dance with Dragons …) I was listening to A Game of Thrones in audio at the time, and realized it was going to be too gory for me to continue it in audio (because it’s impossible to listen with your ears half-closed, the way you can skim through the brutal bits with your eyes half-opened). But for some reason I’ve just never gotten back to the series, even though I had been so enthralled by what I’d heard so far in the audiobook. (I’d gotten as far as Bran’s fall.) I say “for some reason” but it’s mostly because I suspect the books are a lot like potato chips—you can’t consume just one or two.

So these books stare at me every day from their place on my TBR shelves. I need to just bite the bullet and start reading them. Amazon tells me, though, that all five books combined total 5,216 pages. That’s a lot of pages. A lot of reading time.

Anyway, swinging back to the whole middle grade novel thing, I really need to start reading more middle grade novels. I used to read them all the time, but in the past few years I haven’t added very many new titles to my TBR.

So to honour this yearning of mine, I recently made a list of middle grade reads to add to my TBR (I know. As if I needed to add more, right?). Here they are, in no particular order:

So that’s my list so far. Do you have any suggestions for good middle grade fantasies or mysteries?

{2015 Goals} Reducing the TBR Stash – The Last Five Books

A couple of days ago I shared the first five books I’m going to try and tackle from Mount TBR in 2015. Here are the final five.

 

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6. Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

Not that anyone really needs the blurb to this one …

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I started the series in audio, but then I realized from reading other people’s thoughts there would be a lot of bloody, gory deaths. Much better in print for me, then. I actually bought a boxed set of the first four books, so I have the other three to read as well.

7. The Man on the Balcony, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The chilling third novel in the Martin Beck mystery series by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Martin Beck investigating a string of child murders.In the once peaceful parks of Stockholm, a killer is stalking young girls and disposing their bodies. The city is on edge, and an undercurrent of fear has gripped its residents. Martin Beck, now a superintendent, has two possible witnesses: a silent, stone-cold mugger and a mute three year old boy. With the likelihood of another murder growing as each day passes, the police force work night and day. But their efforts have offered little insight into the methodology of the killer. Then a distant memory resurfaces in Beck’s mind, and he may just have the break he needs.

I’ve been meaning to read the Martin Beck series for a while. This isn’t the first book in the series, but it’s the one book in the series that I do have.

8. Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ned Marriner is spending springtime with his father in Provence, where the celebrated photographer is shooting images for a glossy coffee table book.

While his father photographs the cathedral of Aix-en-Provence, Ned explores the shadowy interior with Kate Wenger, an American exchange student who has a deep knowledge of the area’s history. They surprise an intruder in a place where he should not be: “I think you ought to go now,” he tells them, drawing a knife. “You have blundered into a corner of a very old story.”

In this sublime and ancient part of the world, where borders between the living and the long-dead are most vulnerable, Ned and those close to him are about to be drawn into a haunted tale, as mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, changing and claiming lives.

I have had Ysabel and Tigana in my TBR stash for a few years now. The only reason Ysabel is in this list and not Tigana is because I couldn’t find Tigana in any of the TBR piles. It’s there somewhere, though, I know!

9. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Another one that doesn’t really need the blurb, but to be consistent, here it is:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I haven’t read this one because I don’t really like dystopian novels. And then last year I read Divergent and realized I was, of course, wrong to use such a blanket assumption (as is usually the case with assumptions). I’m pretty sure I’ll like The Hunger Games, once I start reading it.

10. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

Another Neil Gaiman book in my list. Stardust is the other Gaiman novel I have yet to read (not counting his two recent fairy tale retellings, Hansel and Gretel and The Sleeper and the Spindle), but I don’t have a physical copy of Stardust, so it’s not on this list. But it would be, if it was actually in my TBR stash.

So these five plus these previous five are the ones I intend to read in 2015. It’s only ten books from my TBR, but it’s ten more than I read this year! I thought about doing twelve books, one per month, but when I went through TBR piles, only ten books called to me. Which might lead you to think, maybe I should get rid of the rest of the TBR books, right? But I just couldn’t. I already weeded it out three years ago when we moved. I don’t think I can bear to weed out any more books from it …

{2015 Goals} Reducing the TBR Stash – The First Five

Even though I haven’t bought that many new books since we moved from our house into the condo three years ago (I have indulged in the occasional book-buying binge – I admit it – but not many) my physical TBR stash hasn’t reduced in size. My TBR books are double and triple stacked on whatever surfaces I can afford to give over to them (which means closets and the tops of bookshelves).

So I thought I’d motivate myself and see if I can’t do something about the state of the TBR in 2015. As I mentioned in my previous post (A Short Story a Day), I just don’t do well with reading challenges – although I really get tempted. I know there are quite a few reading challenges aimed at helping us bookish types reduce our TBR piles, but knowing me, the moment I sign up for one of them, I’m doomed never to even look at my TBR stacks in the new year, much less take books off of them and – gasp – read them.

But there’s nothing wrong with a little quiet, informal self-challenge. I went through my TBR stash and picked ten books that I really really want to read. Why these books were still hidden away in my TBR stash beats me – it’s not like I was saying to myself, “Oh, I don’t remember buying this!”. Every book I pulled from my stash, I knew full well was there. Because, as I mentioned, these are books I really really want to read.

I think it’s about time I read them, don’t you think? I’ve picked ten books. Here are the first five:

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1. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completelyaccurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

What more can I say? It’s about time I read this, that’s for sure. I expect a lot of laugh out loud moments when I do.

2. Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different. A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde of hyena-like shades who herald an imminent catastrophe. Aided by his soul mate, Stormy Llewellyn, and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Odd will race against time to thwart the gathering evil.

I decided I wanted to read Odd Thomas after I read In Odd We Trust, the Odd Thomas graphic novel. The link is to the review I wrote of it – back in 2009. Uh, yeah, I may not have mentioned this, but I apparently have books that have been in my TBR stash for quite a while now. Quite a while.  

3. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe – in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

Another one I’ve been wanting to read for a long while. The blurb absolutely captivates me.

4. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova

No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home?

We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and in Mastermind she shows us how. Beginning with the “brain attic”—Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge—Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers. For Holmes aficionados and casual readers alike, Konnikova reveals how the world’s most keen-eyed detective can serve as an unparalleled guide to upgrading the mind.

I first saw this on Brain Pickings (2013, so aha! This one hasn’t been in the TBR stash that long!). It’s the only non-fiction book in this list – I think it’s because it was with some of my other fiction TBRs. Now that I think about it, I have a lot of non-fiction books I want to get to, too …

5. The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation . . . unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.

I LOVED The Passage  – as you can see from my review, I couldn’t stop raving about it. I was so excited about the sequel. So much so I even bought it in hardcover (I hardly ever do that). And then – I never got around to reading it! Partly it’s because I kept thinking I really should reread The Passage first, to reaquaint myself with the world. And when I start thinking like that, well, you know how it is. Now I have to find the time to read two big books. Big obstacle right there.

But I’m not sabotaging myself this time around. I’ll just plunge into The Twelve, trust that Justin Cronin will bring me up to speed relatively quickly and put me right back into the story.

So these are the first five books from my TBR that I plan on reading in 2015. Next five will show up tomorrow (because, you know, I’m blogging every day now …)

What’s the state of your TBR? Do you have any strategies for reducing your TBR piles in the new year?

Library Magic

One of the reasons I love reading book blogs:

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This is my latest library stash.

I have a very beautiful system set-up which keeps me well-fed with interesting reads, you see. As I browse book blogs, I check my library’s online catalogue to see if it carries the title – since moving to Toronto I’ve discovered the chances are often good that the library will carry the title I’m after (with the exception of middle grade fiction and non-fiction, which tends to be more hit and miss, unfortunately).

If the library does carry the title, I’ll put a hold on it. A few hours of book blog browsing will usually net me a nice collection of titles to add to my TBR.

And here’s where the magic happens.

Even if I happen to be first in line for a title, it will still take a week or so for the book to make its way through the system to my library branch. In cases where a book is popular, it can be weeks or even months before I get the email notification that the title has arrived.

So every time I go to the library to pick up my holds, I really have no clue what awaits me. And there’s nothing quite as magical as coming back with a stack of books, reading their blurbs and feeling my heart quickening with absolute delight.

I’m surprised all over again, you see. Surprised, delighted, excited, all in quite a magical way.

Like Jackaby, by William Ritter. I couldn’t remember why, exactly, I’d put it on hold – until I read the blurb, that is.

Jackaby

Jackaby sighed and drew to a stop as we reached the corner of another cobbled street. “Let’s see,” he said at last. I observed you were recently from the Ukraine. A young domovyk has nestled in the brim of your hat. More recently, you have picked up a Klabautermann, a kind of German kobold attracted to minerals. Most fairy creatures can’t touch the stuff. That’s probably why your poor domovyk nestled in so deep.”

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

How could I resist?

The other titles in the picture of my library stash at the beginning of this post:

Now I just have to find the time to read these before they’re due back …

Some Thursday Random

It’s been a while since I’ve written a “random stuff” post, but I woke up today to a whole pile of jumbled thoughts, so it seemed like a perfect time for random, you know?

Bookish Random

I’ve been having a blast filling my Kindle and Overdrive iPad apps with loads of interesting reads. In no particular order, here are some titles I added recently:

Avenging Angels, by Mary Stanton The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, by Alexander McCall Smith Dark Dreamer, by Jennifer Fulton The Dead Kid Detective Agency, by Evan Munday Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand, by Fred Vargas Three Doors to Death, by Rex Stout A Cold Day for Murder, by Dana Stabenow A Study in Sherlock, ed. by Laurie R. King

And the Kindle version of A Cold Day for Murder, by Dana Stabenow, the first Kate Shugak mystery, is free right now at Amazon!

Have you read any of these titles?

Drama Is The Interwebs

All I can say is, wow. People who think the world of books and reading and writing is low-key and well, boring, have never clicked on Twitter links tweeted by the bookish community.

There is a whole lot of drama out there, folks. Drama on Goodreads, drama on individual blogs, drama in tweets (although I haven’t actually caught any of that this week).

And I am pleased to continue in voyeur mode (is that the word I mean?), playing the observer and not dipping my toes in any of it!

A Pinterest Question

I’ve been wondering something. Here’s the way Pinterest plays at my house. I pin recipe links to my Muse in the Kitchen board on Pinterest, then email them to Ward. I keep my fingers crossed and lo! and behold! every so often he serves up a dish I pinned on Pinterest.

So, can I make the claim, “I made something I pinned on Pinterest”? What do you think? After all, the dish wouldn’t have ended up on the dining room table without my initial input. Right? Right???

I had a whole lot more random in my mind when I first started writing this post, but such is my memory, I’ve forgotten most of it. Maybe I should tell you about the dream I had this morning, where I found myself back in university again? Nah, I thought not.

Pinning My TBR (And Other Fun Bookish Ways to Use Pinterest)

I fell in love with Pinterest a few months ago, and have been madly pinning away ever since. In addition to lots of other, non-bookish things, I have a board called Bookish Things where I pin all the awesome bookish stuff that delights my little bibliophile heart.

But recently, I’ve discovered a few more fun bookish ways to use Pinterest. My favourite so far? Pinning my TBR!

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Check out my board, The Ever-expanding TBR Pile. Isn’t it a great little bookish board? What I love is being able to see my to-read list visually. It’s SO beautiful!

And best of all, I pin a lot of books directly from my favourite book bloggers’ review posts – this means when I write about the books I’m reading or have read, I can link directly to those who are to blame for adding to my TBR pile the reviews which persuaded me to add the book to my to-read list. I’ve tried many ways in the past to keep track of who recommended what, as I like to give credit where credit is due; pinning my TBR pile does this fabulously for me.

I also have a Pinterest board for books read (or currently reading) in 2012. It’s on the sparse side right now, but just being able to pin a book on my board once I’m done is proving to be very motivating when it comes to my reading goal.

And just yesterday, I started boards for Rave-Worthy Reads and Comfort Reads. I’ve only pinned a few books so far, but it’s been fun thinking about what books I’ve loved in the past few years, and what books qualify as comfort reads for me.

Bottom line? I think Pinterest is such a great way to spread the news about great books!

What about you? Do you use Pinterest for bookish pinning?