Down the TBR Hole #3

Moving into week three of the “Down the TBR Hole” series I found on Bookmark Your Thoughts! It’s been so cathartic to clean out some titles that have just been sitting defunct on my Goodreads lists, so I’m back again to go through five more titles!

The Rules:

  1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  4. Read the synopses of the books.
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week

Book 1: The Problem of Pain

The Blurb: For centuries people have been tormented by one question above all: If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain? And what of the suffering of animals, who neither deserve pain nor can be improved by it? The greatest Christian thinker of our time sets out to disentangle this knotty issue. With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C. S. Lewis offers answers to these crucial questions and shares his hope and wisdom to help heal a world hungry for a true understanding of human nature.

The Verdict: Keep keep keep. C. S. Lewis’s nonfiction *always* has a place on my shelf.

Book 2: The Brothers Karamazov

The Blurb: The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.

The Verdict: Keep! It might take me a minute to get here, but I definitely still want to read this.

Book 3: East of Eden

The Blurb: In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness. First published in 1952, East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.

The Verdict: Dismiss. Honestly, I don’t love a lot of mid-century American literature, so I’ll let this one go.

Book 4: The Grapes of Wrath

The Blurb: First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

The Verdict: Keep. I know I *just* said that I don’t really love mid-century American literature, but this one is an exception.

Book 5: Leaves of Grass

The Blurb: As Malcolm Cowley says in his Introduction, the first edition of Leaves of Grass “might be called the buried masterpiece of American writing,” for it exhibits “Whitman at his best, Whitman at his freshest in vision and boldest in language, Whitman transformed by a new experience.” Cowley has taken the first edition from its narrow circulation among scholars, faithfully edited it, added his own Introduction and Whitman’s original Introduction (which never appeared in any other edition during Whitman’s life), and returned it to the common readership for whom the great poet intended it.

The Verdict: Keep! Walt sure knows how to turn a phrase!

This week’s tally: 1 stays, 4 go

Removed so far: 7

Stay tuned for week four! I’m really enjoying going through these so next week will likely be a ten-title week as well 🙂

Xx.

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