TBR List Declutter, Issue 44


No tangent today. This post is all business. And I can’t think of a tangent that interests me enough to write about it. See “Visual Interest” for a tangential photo of a flowering yucca.

Visual Interest:


Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.


Titles 591-610:

Title: Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex
Author: Reis, Elizabeth
Date Added: 10/17/2015

Verdict: Keep. Still interested in the topic, and reviews say it’s well-written and engaging.

Project List: none

Title: A Place for Us: A Greek Immigrant Boy’s Odyssey to a New Country and an Unknown Father
Author: Gage, Nicholas
Date Added: 11/8/2015

Verdict: Keep. I was going to scrap this one (in part because the cover looks like a screenshot from a 1990’s website), but the reviews are glowing and it would be interesting to read a memoir set in the city closest to the place in Massachusetts that I lived in for six and a half years.

Project List: memoir. (Do I have a list called “memoir”?)

Title: In the Time of the Butterflies
Author: Alvarez, Julia
Date Added: 11/8/2015

Verdict: Go. I added this one because my sister recommended it, but after How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, I feel no pressing need to read anything else by Julia Alvarez.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Wonder Garden
Author: Acampora, Lauren
Date Added: 11/9/2015

Verdict: Keep. I have a soft spot for story collections set in the same town.

Project List: Short Stories.

Title: Fortune Smiles
Author: Johnson, Adam
Date Added: 11/19/2015

Verdict: Keep. National Book Award, more short stories with glowing reviews.

Project List: Short Stories.

Title: Refund
Author: Bender, Karen E.
Date Added: 11/19/2015

Verdict: Go. I find I’m not that interested in a collection of stories around the theme of money, and I already have a lot of short story collections on my list.

Project List: n/a

Title: A Little Life
Author: Yanagihara, Hanya
Date Added: 11/19/2015

Verdict: Keep. Another book with an awful cover (2015 must have been a bad year for book covers), but lots of readers—including a friend whose opinion I value—reviewed this one positively, so here it stays. Maybe I can find an edition with a different cover.

Project List: none.

Title: A Cure for Suicide
Author: Ball, Jesse
Date Added: 11/19/2015

Verdict: Keep. This sounds too weird to cut.

Project List: n/a

Title: Mislaid
Author: Zink, Nell
Date Added: 11/19/2015

Verdict: Go. Novels of this time period aren’t generally of interest to me.

Project List: n/a

Title: Jesus for the Non-Religious
Author: Spong, John Shelby
Date Added: 11/26/2015

Verdict: Go. No longer interested in this topic.

Project List: n/a

Title: Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics
Author: Bishara, Amahl
Date Added: 12/4/2015

Verdict: Go. I added this one to my TBR because Amahl Bishara and I graduated high school together, and I’m interested in what she’s been doing since then, but I’m not sure an academic look at how Palestine politics both shapes and is shaped by U.S. news coverage is something that interests me enough to keep it on the list. I can always look her up again if I reconsider.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar
Author: Vendler, Helen
Date Added: 12/16/2015

Verdict: Go. A friend recommended this one to me, but the topic doesn’t really interest me.

Project List: n/a

Title: Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids
Author: Daum, Meghan
Date Added: 12/30/2015

Verdict: Go. As someone for whom motherhood is as close to a calling as I’ve ever had, it’s maybe strange that I feel as much support as I do for people who choose not to have children. Maybe it’s because even with how much I much I love (love) being a parent, I recognize how difficult it is, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone who’s not really into the idea, warts and all. Maybe I admire those who can state their desire not to enter into the intense relationship that is parenthood as emphatically as I can state my desire to do so. Or maybe I’m just feeling guilty that I’ve chosen to add to the world’s population by birthing more humans and people who choose not to have children are making up for my hypocrisy. It’s kind of like using tons of fossil fuels to jet around the world for fun and buying carbon offsets to even things out. Except that I’m not paying anyone not to have children. Anyway, as interested as I am in the premise, I’m not interested in reading a book about it. I’d rather talk to friends who’ve chosen not to have children about what drove their choice.

Project List: n/a

Title: Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
Author: Hari, Johann
Date Added: 12/30/2015

Verdict: Go. In the 1990’s my spouse and I were among the founding members of a group called the Drug War Alternatives Action Group, which engaged in activism to help educate voters and elected representatives about the many problems with the War on Drugs and, hopefully, contribute to its end. As far as I can tell, this book wouldn’t offer any information with which I am not already familiar.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary
Author: Nasr, Seyyed Hossein
Date Added: 1/2/2016

Verdict: Go. I bought this study Quran after reading and enjoying some of the analysis of one of the commenters (Joseph Lumbard) in a graduate-level course in the Quran that I took in 2015. I own it, and I plan to read it once I determine how I want to approach it (a reading schedule/plan, for example), but I’m not sure it needs to be on here in the meantime.

Project List: n/a

Title: Citizen: An American Lyric
Author: Rankine, Claudia
Date Added: 1/2/2016

Verdict: Keep. I heard an excerpt from this book on NPR and added it almost immediately. It’s still one I want to read.

Project List: none.

Title: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
Author: Kean, Sam
Date Added: 1/11/2016

Verdict: Keep. My daughter is learning about the history of science this year, and this one seems like it might tie in nicely. Maybe we can read it together.

Project List: none.

Title: The Way Winter Comes
Author: Simpson, Sherry
Date Added: 1/11/2016

Verdict: Keep. This book of essays about Alaska is as interesting now as when I added it to the list.

Project List: none.

Title: Beauty Before Comfort: A Memoir
Author: Glock, Allison
Date Added: 1/25/2016

Verdict: Go. I probably added this one because my maternal grandmother was from West Virginia, and I always wanted to know more about her childhood there. But really, I think I’d just liked to have had the chance to ask her.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God & Other Stories
Author: Keret, Etgar
Date Added: 1/29/2016

Verdict: Keep. I think I added this one after hearing one of his stories on NPR. NPR accounts for a ridiculous number of the titles on this list.

Project List: Short Stories.


Ten more titles off the list for a total of 229 of 610 (30.5% of the original 750, 37.5% of the 610 I’ve considered so far). Only 140 to go! And then I actually have to read them.

Any thoughts about which I kept and which I tossed?

Your turn! What's on your mind?

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