TBR List Declutter, Issue 29

Welcome to another twenty-title TBR List Declutter blitz!

As promised in Issue 28, here’s some visual interest. This is a pill bug we befriended on our way home from the playground:


I fear that the feeling of friendship might have been a little one-sided. Also, I can’t look at a rolled-up pill bug without wondering what it would be like to crunch the little fellow between my molars. To date, I haven’t attempted to find out for real, but the wondering persists.

Speaking if wondering, if you find yourself wondering what this is all about, check out the introductory post.

Titles 291-310:

Title: The Gate
Author: Sōseki, Natsume
Date Added: 1/20/2013

Verdict: Keep. Based on the description, this novel is “one of the central masterpieces of 20th-century Japanese literature.” Seems like a good one to add to my new Cavalcade of Classics, which was pretty Eurocentric in its previous incarnation.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Flight Behavior
Author: Kingsolver, Barbara
Date Added: 1/20/2013

Verdict: Keep. Barbara Kingsolver writes a novel addressing climate change. How can I not read this book?

Project List: None.

Title: The Willoughbys
Author: Lowry, Lois
Date Added: 1/21/2013

Verdict: Keep, for two reasons: 1) It seems very, very different from The Giver, and that intrigues me; and 2) I think my son would like it (and probably my daughter, too).

Project List: None.

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: Green, John *
Date Added: 1/27/2013

Verdict: Keep. I think I’m required to read this in order to be considered part of the modern world. Plus, it’s exciting to think that I might read a YA novel before my daughter does!

Project List: None.

Title: Detroit: An American Autopsy
Author: LeDuff, Charlie
Date Added: 2/4/2013

Verdict: Go. I was actually planning to keep this one. The decline and fall of the Motor City has long been an uncomfortable mystery to me. It seems a bellwether for the demise of the American middle class and the partition of our culture into an Atwoodian separation between urban blight and suburban gated communities. I was interested to read LeDuff’s take on it and to get an idea of how to find a way back for Detroit, for other cities in similar decline, and for the American middle class as a whole. But after reading the reviews, it sounds like this is essentially a collection of anecdotes that paint a dim picture but don’t help in the search for answers or potential solutions. I want analysis and data, with anecdotes to illustrate the numbers. It sounds like this book has one without the other.

Project List: n/a

Title: A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story
Author: Ashford, Brenda
Date Added: 2/4/2013

Verdict: I already read this one! Or rather, listened to it on audiobook, which counts, too.

Project List: n/a

Title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Author: Roach, Mary
Date Added: 2/4/2013

Verdict: Go. I started adding a bunch of Roach’s books after I read Packing for Mars, but as time has passed, I find I’m not so interested anymore.

Project List: n/a

Title: The New Kitchen Mystic: A Companion for Spiritual Explorers
Author: Grieco, Mary Hayes
Date Added: 2/4/2013

Verdict: Go. I think I have enough of this sort of thing on my bookshelf that I have yet to read.

Project List: n/a

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club
Author: Schwalbe, Will*
Date Added: 2/4/2013

Verdict: Go. It’s an interesting idea—books bringing son and mother together at the end of the mother’s life—but the reviews suggest that it’s mostly a memoir about the illness and death of the author’s mother rather than about the way that books brought them together. I’m not sure I want to risk being disappointed about this one.

Project List: n/a

Title: Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship
Author: Clifford, Barry
Date Added: 2/5/2013

Verdict: Go, but I’ve just replaced it with the “grown-up” version by Kenneth Kinkor because I think my children and I would enjoy the detail of the one meant for an older audience. That sounds pretentious, but it’s just my expectation based on prior experience.

Project List: n/a

Title: How Literature Saved My Life
Author: Shields, David
Date Added: 2/10/2013

Verdict: Go. I don’t mind memoir. In fact, I really enjoy good, self-reflective memoir, especially if it chronicles the development of the author’s character and/or understanding. Good memoir, in my opinion, is told from the author’s perspective but doesn’t pretend to apply universally. I like this kind of memoir.

I also like good nonfiction, which to me is nonfiction in which an author explores a topic—baseball, maybe, or the pre-Socratic philosophy, or the history of the Twinkie—from an objective point of view (as much as a subjective being can be objective) for the purpose of investigating an issue more deeply for the general benefit of humanity (which assumes that education and exploration are in themselves benefits to society, which I suppose is debatable (see “pre-Socratic philosophy”)).

What I dislike is a hybrid of these two: nonfiction that takes an author’s individual experience and assumes that this personal perspective applies universally. This type of nonfiction seems very popular right now, perhaps because we’re being encouraged to think of ourselves as the star of our own show in which everyone and everything else is just the supporting cast. Based on the reviews, this is that hybrid type of nonfiction. I’m not interested. Out it goes.

Project List: n/a

Title: What Happened to Sophie Wilder
Author: Beha, Christopher R.
Date Added: 2/10/2013

Verdict: Go. I think I added this novel after reading a review by Elizabeth Andrew that described it as a book in which “faith is a dynamic force in the plot” (Andrew’s words). But after considering her review this time (maybe I never read the whole thing in the first place?) and reading reviews by others on Goodreads, I think I’ll pass on this one. It seems likely to disappoint me.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else
Author: Beha, Christopher R.*
Date Added: 2/10/2013

Verdict: Go. Actually, I thought I’d already taken this one off the list in a previous cull. I guess I’ll actually do it this time.

Project List: n/a

Title: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Author: Turkle, Sherry
Date Added: 2/19/2013

Verdict: Keep. This seems like a book that doesn’t rail against technology and social media, but rather looks at the situation as it is and attempts to see how it influences how we relate to one another and how it might be changing our relationships. Sounds like a good thing to consider, and I’d rather read about how a professor and researcher at MIT researches the subject than some random person with opinions. You know what they say about opinions… and if you don’t, you’ll just have to remain ignorant because it involves swearing and I’m not in the mood to swear in writing at the moment.

Project List: None.

Title: The Village
Author: Laski, Marghanita
Date Added: 2/21/2013

Verdict: Keep. Based on the description, this is a classic of British literature, a look at post-war Britain, and a critique of the British class system, as well as being an excellent novel.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Author: Cline, Elizabeth L.
Date Added: 3/1/2013

Verdict: Keep. I suspect I’m the choir to whom Cline is speaking, but sometimes it’s nice to have data to back up one’s existing opinions.

Project List: None.

Title: San Miguel
Author: Boyle, T.C.
Date Added: 3/1/2013

Verdict: Go. This one’s just not that compelling to me, and the reviews don’t change my mind about it.

Project List: n/a

Title: Lady into Fox
Author: Garnett, David
Date Added: 3/4/2013

Verdict: Keep. This one is just too bizarre to pass up.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics?

Title: Villette
Author: Brontë, Charlotte
Date Added: 3/7/2013

Verdict: Keep. Villette was on my original Cavalcade of Classics, and Villette will have a space on my new Cavalcade of Classics.

Project List:Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires
Author: Bell, Michael E.
Date Added: 3/7/2013

Verdict: Keep. Weird practices in New England meant to ward off vampires and/or cure tuberculosis…I’m game.

Project List: None.

10 more titles off the list for a total of 105 of 310 (14% of the original 750).

Any thoughts about which I kept and which I tossed?

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