TBR List Declutter, Issue 48

Tangent: Missing, After Seven Months in California

Things I miss about Massachusetts:

  • Picking fruit throughout the summer and fall.
  • Snow sparkles.
  • Animal tracks in the snow.
  • The clean, sharp feeling of breathing in really cold air.
  • The first three times shoveling snow each winter.
  • Hiking through deciduous forests.
  • Our twice-monthly ecology classes at the wildlife sanctuary.
  • Being able to identify lots and lots of animals and plants.
  • Being only a seven-hour flight from Europe rather than twelve.
  • Our friends.

Things I don’t miss about Massachusetts:

  • Ticks.
  • Mosquitos.
  • Wearing thermal undergarments for six months of the year.
  • Driving everywhere.
  • Sharing the road with people who are very, very angry.
  • Finishing shoveling snow only to have the plow come by and push a two-foot-high wall of icy slush across the bottom of the driveway.
  • Humidity.

Visual Interest:

Late afternoon in Cain, Parque Nacional de los Picos de Europa, Spain

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


Titles 671-690:

Title: Blame
Author: Huneven, Michelle
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Go. I’m not sure what led me to put this one on my list in the first place, but it’s not particularly grabbing me now.

Project List: n/a

Title: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Author: Greenwood, Bryn
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. I like books that amaze half of the people and offend the other half.

Project List: none.

Title: The Sellout
Author: Beatty, Paul
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. 11/01/2016 must have been my day for adding titles that piss people off.

Project List: none.

Title: Hot Milk
Author: Levy, Deborah
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. I’m not sure if I’ll like this one, but…*shrug*

Project List: none.

Title: His Bloody Project
Author: Burnet, Graeme Macrae
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. Yeah, I think I’m just going to keep all of these 2016 Man Booker nominees on the list.

Project List: none.

Title: Eileen
Author: Moshfegh, Ottessa
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. I recently read about this title and added it to my holds list at the library, only to discover that I’d added it to my TBR nearly two years ago. So, keep.

Project List: none.

Title: All That Man Is
Author: Szalay, David
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep, B-list. On the one hand, like 98% of the literature written in English from Beowulf on, it’s a bunch of stories about heterosexual white men. On the other hand, these are stories about what it means to be a man written looking consciously and directly at manhood rather than written about men because men are the norm against which all the rest of creation is judged. So, it could be interesting, but I’m not sure it’s at the top of my list. Maybe my spouse and I can read it together (although he tends to enjoy novels written by women because he’s an enlightened 21st-century man).

Project List: B-list

Title: Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Author: Thien, Madeleine
Date Added: 11/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. My son is intrigued by Chinese history, and he’s gotten me interested in it, too. But since he’s primarily interested in the Taiping rebellion and the Sino-Japanese Wars, I know much less about the Cultural Revolution onward. Maybe this book will help give me some context from which to talk with my son as his studies of China move further into the 20th century. And it looks interesting, too.

Project List: none.

Title: Darkscapes
Author: Salzman, Anne-Sylvie
Date Added: 11/2/2016

Verdict: Keep. I added this one when I was deep into my attempt to find literary horror stories and novels. It still looks good, and it will be interesting to see how eerie stories read in sunny Southern California.

Project List: none.

Title: The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings
Author: Slatter, Angela
Date Added: 11/2/2016

Verdict: Keep. Another scary one. Also a good chance to get a feel for the kinds of books Tartarus Press publishes.

Project List: none.

Title: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
Author: Jay, Francine
Date Added: 11/20/2016

Verdict: Go. I’m always struggling to find the balance between getting rid of stuff and getting more stuff, although the metaphor of a balance leaves me puzzling over a scale with nothing on one side and a whole lot of stuff on the other side. Where would I place the fulcrum to get it to balance? I guess it would have to be so close to the stuff that there would be little room for the stuff itself. Which I guess is the point. At any rate, I want to minimize, but at this point, I think I’d be better served finding my own minimalist path than reading yet another minimalist how-to.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Captive Mind
Author: Miłosz, Czesław
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep, with reservations. I can’t quite get a handle on what this one is about, but I suspect it’s valuable at this point in history to think deeply about how the intellectual class responds to a totalitarian government. Best to be prepared, I think.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics.

Title: The Origins of Totalitarianism
Author: Arendt, Hannah
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep. Likely even more urgent a read than the Miłosz book above.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia
Author: Pomerantsev, Peter
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Go. I would find it very valuable to see how a government uses television to mentally, intellectually, and emotionally enslave a population for its own benefit, but this one seems heavier on personal anecdotes than on research. I’m not sure this one would be as helpful as a re-read of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Power of the Powerless
Author: Havel, Václav
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep. This appears to be yet another primer on how to gird ourselves against creeping totalitarianism.

Project List: none.

Title: The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt
Author: Camus, Albert
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep, but on the suggestion of a Goodreads review I’m going to read At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell for background first. So not only am I leaving this one on the list, I’m also adding another to supplement this one. Two steps forward…

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Billiards at Half-Past Nine
Author: Böll, Heinrich
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep. I’ll probably regret populating my Classics list with so many books on totalitarianism, but at least this one’s a novel.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: The Seventh Cross
Author: Seghers, Anna
Date Added: 11/29/2016

Verdict: Keep. Ugh. I want to get rid of another, but this, written two years before the US entered WWII, just seems like such a great addition to my Cavalcade of Classics.

Project List: Cavalcade of Classics

Title: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Author: Desmond, Matthew
Date Added: 12/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. Pulitzer-winner, well-researched plus personal stories from both the landlords and those they’ve evicted. Crap, I’m going to keep this one, too.

Project List: none.

Title: The Vegetarian
Author: Han, Kang
Date Added: 12/1/2016

Verdict: Keep. There are many reasons I might cut this one, but the description of this novel as “strange” by both those who love it and those who hate it really intrigues me.

Project List: none.

Three (three! I’m losing my edge. Or maybe I just got more selective as time went on) more titles off the list for a total of 261 of 690 (34.8% of the original 750).

Any thoughts about which I kept and which I tossed?

4 Replies to “TBR List Declutter, Issue 48”

    1. Thank you for sharing your review of Eileen! It’s one that’s high on my list and which gets some pretty intensely opinionated reviews both for and against it. Always a plus, in my estimation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The humidity! It’s killing us today! A nice below 80F temperature outside, but the humidity makes it feel like 120! Why do we have to hide inside even in summer? Why?


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