Down the TBR Hole #6

Week six of “Down the TBR Hole” from Bookmark Your Thoughts wherein I de-clutter my Goodreads to-read list! I can’t tell if I’m actually putting a dent in anything, but at least I’m having a good time doing it!

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: Rain of Gold

The Blurb: In Rain of Gold, Victor Villasenor weaves the parallel stories of two families and two countries…bringing us the timeless romance between the volatile bootlegger who would become his father and the beautiful Lupe, his mother–men and women in whose lives the real and the fantastical exist side by side…and in whose hearts the spirit to survive is fueled by a family’s unconditional love. 

The Verdict: Keep. I ❤ magical realism.

Book 2: Freeman

The Blurb: At bottom, Freeman is a love story–sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient–about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold Mountain, Freeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise–and the terror–of their new status as free men and women. 

The Verdict: Dismiss… I just have a feeling I wouldn’t reach for it.

Book 3: The Gifts of Imperfection

The Blurb: Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?In The Gifts of Imperfection, Bren頂rown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living–a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

The Verdict: Dismiss. Just not really looking for self-help books too much.

Book 4: The Madman

The Blurb: Thought-provoking and inspiring, the book is a collection of memorable, life-affirming parables and poems, many of them casting an ironic light on the beliefs, aspirations, and vanities of humankind — and many reminiscent of the work of Tagore and Nietzsche, both of whom were strong influences on Gibran. Among the 35 poems and parables in this volume are “How I Became a Madman,” “The Two Hermits,” “The Wise Dog,” “The Good God and the Evil God,” “Night and the Madman,” “The Three Ants,” “When My Sorrow Was Born,” “And When My Joy Was Born,” and many more.

The Verdict: Keep, because I want to expand my Gibran repertoire.

Book 5: Sand and Foam

The Blurb: A book of aphorisms, poems, and parables by the author of “The Prophet” – a philosopher at his window commenting on the scene passing below.

The Verdict: Keep, same reason as above.

Book 6: The Underground Railroad

The Blurb: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The Verdict: Dismiss…. I am sure this is an amazing book, as everyone has said it is, but it just is not the kind of book toward which I gravitate.

Book 7: Rules of Civility

The Blurb: On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire, and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets. 

The Verdict: Dismiss… I didn’t love A Gentleman in Moscow enough to keep this one around, unfortunately.

Book 8: Dark Matter

The Blurb: Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters. It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness. When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!” Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And someone is hunting him.

The Verdict: Dismiss. It sounded cool at the time, but I’m just not a big sci-fi reader.

Book 9: Perfect Little World

The Blurb: Written with the same compassionate voice, disarming sense of humor, and quirky charm that made The Family Fang such a success, Perfect Little World is a poignant look at how the best families are the ones we make for ourselves. 

The Verdict: Dismiss. I added this when it was a Book of the Month selection, but I just don’t think I’ll miss it.

Book 10: The Night Ocean

The Blurb: A tour-de-force of storytelling, The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story The Night Ocean); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan — the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself. As a heartbroken Marina follows her missing husband’s trail in an attempt to learn the truth, the novel moves across the decades and along the length of the continent, from a remote Ontario town, through New York and Florida to Mexico City. The Night Ocean is about love and deception — about the way that stories earn our trust, and betray it.

The Verdict: Dismiss. Not an era or genre that really hooks me.

This week’s tally: 3 stay, 7 go

Removed so far: 26

Have any of these inspired you to clear some things off your list? Keep an eye out for the next installment next week!

Xx.

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