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The State of My Goodreads, January 2020 (Help Me Shrink My TBR!)

I don’t know how it happened, but it did.

I got Goodreads click-happy, somehow accumulating about 180 books on my TBR. 

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That’s about two years worth of reading for me, not including new releases and books I’m sure to discover. So it’s time to get serious and whittle things down. I’m going to need your help, though.

I’ve created a list of 20 books to kick out of my TBR pile, and I’m willing to save THREE of them. Since you are all the ones who read these reviews, please help me figure out which ones to save! Drop a comment with your top picks (or your thoughts) to help me out.

Ready?

When I Lost You1. When I Lost You by Kelly Rimmer

Do you ever wish you had the chance to meet someone again for the first time?

When Leo and Molly met and married, they believed they were invincible. Together they could take on the world. But Leo, a war correspondent, lives for life on the edge, and when he takes a step into the unknown, tragedy strikes and he loses his memory.

2. 27833670. sy475 Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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.

3. 14241The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr

When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr’s The Liars Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr’s comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger’s—a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all.

4.34330645. sy475 The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.

As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself.

5.35074096. sy475 Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

6.1618. sy475 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened.

7. 33916024Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favorite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.
Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.
When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

8. 36698525Hungover: The Morning After and One Man’s Quest for the Cure by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall

We’ve all been there. One minute you’re fast asleep, and in the next you’re tumbling from dreams of deserts and demons, into semi-consciousness, mouth full of sand, head throbbing. You’re hungover. Courageous journalist Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall has gone to the front lines of humanity’s age-old fight against hangovers to settle once and for all the best way to get rid of the aftereffects of a night of indulgence (short of not drinking in the first place).

Hangovers have plagued human beings for about as long as civilization has existed (and arguably longer), so there has been plenty of time for cures to be concocted. But even in 2018, little is actually known about hangovers, and less still about how to cure them. Cutting through the rumor and the myth, Hungover explores everything from polar bear swims, to saline IV drips, to the age-old hair of the dog, to let us all know which ones actually work.

361933169. Dracul by Dacre Stoker, JD Barker

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

10. 38255342The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

11.36636727  Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990’s Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.

The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.

12. 36448554Bring Me Back by BA Paris

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

13. 37766552. sy475 What Luck, This Life by Kathryn Schwille

The Columbia space shuttle and its contents rain down on the people of Kiser, Texas, in Kathryn Schwille’s imaginative debut novel that opens six weeks before the invasion of Iraq.

What Luck, This Life begins in the aftermath of the space shuttle’s break-up, as the people of Piney Woods watch their pastures swarm with searchers and reporters bluster at their doors. A shop owner defends herself against a sexual predator who is pushed to new boldness after he is disinvited to his family reunion. A closeted father facing a divorce that will leave his gifted boy adrift retrieves an astronaut’s remains. An engineer who dreams of orbiting earth joins a search for debris and instead uncovers an old neighbor’s buried longing.

14. 27834600. sy475 In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

15. 38355245Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia 

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared.

16.43522576Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

MAGINE…
Leaving your house in the middle of the night.
Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

IMAGINE…
Starting a new school, making friends.
Seeing how happy it makes your mother.
Hearing a voice, calling out to you.

IMAGINE…
Following the signs, into the woods.
Going missing for six days.
Remembering nothing about what happened.

17. 40046077Women Talking by Miriam Toews

One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

18. 43884183The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock

In a historical debut evoking the style of The Crown, the daughter of an impoverished noble is swept into the fame and notoriety of the royal family and Princess Margaret’s fast-living friends when she is appointed as Margaret’s second Lady-in-Waiting.

Diana, Catherine, Meghan…glamorous Princess Margaret outdid them all. Springing into post-World War II society, and quite naughty and haughty, she lived in a whirlwind of fame and notoriety. Georgie Blalock captures the fascinating, fast-living princess and her “set” as seen through the eyes of one of her ladies-in-waiting.

19. 44349541Violet by Scott Thomas

In the lineage of Peter Straub’s Julia, Scott Thomas’ Violet is the disturbing tale of a woman haunted by her long-abandoned imaginary friend.

For many children, the summer of 1988 was filled with sunshine and laughter. But for ten-year-old Kris Barlow, it was her chance to say goodbye to her dying mother.

Three decades later, loss returns—her husband killed in a car accident. And so, Kris goes home to the place where she first knew pain—to that summer house overlooking the crystal waters of Lost Lake. It’s there that Kris and her eight-year-old daughter will make a stand against grief.

20.42379216The Truants by Kate Weinberg

‘Where do I find Crime?’

‘Crime doesn’t have its own section,’ said the librarian without looking up, ‘it’s all under fiction.’

In this seductive coming-of-age debut, Jess Walker, a young and uninitiated first year student, falls in love with two great story-tellers. One, Alec, a journalist in exile, the other, Lorna, a charismatic literature professor. Starting out under the flat grey skies of an east Anglian university campus and ending up on an idyllic Mediterranean island, The Truants is about a group of clever and eccentric misfits who yearn to break the rules.

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Categories: Recommendations

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13 replies

  1. I haven’t read any of these! 😱

  2. I’ve only read a couple of them, so I’m not much help. However, I will say that I quite liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The look into the autistic boy’s mind was fascinating to me.

  3. I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog and really loved it. I haven’t read it yet but I’ve bought Mythos on Audible after hearing some really great things about it!

  4. I loved Dark Matter and Women Talking!!

  5. I’ve read Dark Matter and quite enjoyed it! I’d also choose Violet because the synopsis sounds interesting and In a Dark, Dark Wood because I’ve seen other readers enjoy that one. 😊

  6. Save Dark Matter and In a Dark, Dark Wood!

  7. The naturalist series is pretty satisfying!!

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