The Great TBR Purge

This weekend I spent around two hours purging my Goodreads TBR. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. At one point last year I was up to 800 books on my TBR list, which is more individual books than I’ve ever read (at least separate books, this is before rereads were a thing on Goodreads).

Over the span of a few days I culled it to around 400. It took ages, Goodreads glitched out and gave up on me once or twice so I had to go in batches of batch edit. But let me tell you, it was so freeing.

The drop this time wasn’t so massive – I’m sitting at a cushy 226 at the moment. That’s more manageable for me. I read around 80 books per year, though if I keep up at the rate I’m going in 2017 I’ll likely top 100. I’m more into graphic novels and middle grade these days which are much easier to get through than, say, Anna Karenina eighty times over.

Still, 200 is a lot of books. That’s too damn many books. There is a vintage meme that could better express how many books that is – I think you know the one.

Why the purge?

I read a lot – I’m at 20-something for this year already – but I only read from my ‘official’ Goodreads TBR maybe a quarter of the time. Maybe. A good portion is from something I saw someone post about on Twitter, looked up, and requested from the library without clicking the “want to read” shelf button. Another good chunk are ARCs or books from my shelves that I know I want to read, so I don’t bother putting it on the Goodreads TBR in the first place. My real TBR number is much higher.

Many of the books on my TBR were from when I was in high school and determined to be a ‘good reader’ and read the classics. And then I tried to read the classics, and I couldn’t get more than a few pages in most of them. I tried to read Anna Karenina every day for three years.

Is this a big deal?

No.

The challenge.

Okay, more of a series of questions – but boy am I having fun with this clickbaity Youtuber feeling I’m having right now.

I encourage you to go look through your Goodreads TBR. Hit the new tab button, pick up your phone, whatever. Now here are some questions I asked myself when combing through my list:

  • How many books are on your TBR?
  • Of that number, how many of those can you recall exactly why you wanted to read it in the first place? Do you have a vague recollection of why it’s there?
  • Are there some titles that make you think “huh? What the hell is this?”
  • If past years are anything to go by, how long will it take you to read all of those books if you touch nothing else?
  • Do you still feel as interested in these genres, authors or titles now as you did when you added them?

So, how big is your TBR? If you take the plunge and are willing to spend an hour (or a few) culling your TBR list, or if you have done so in the past, I would love to hear about it! Personally, I feel a bit trapped by large numbers so this was definitely a freeing experience.

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January Wrap-Up 2017

January was *knocks on wood* a kickass month for me, book-wise. Outside of books was not so hot. At all. But books were so good. Here are some review snippets of what I read in January, listed in chronological order. If I have a review on the blog, the title will link to it if you would like to read my extended thoughts.

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A Geisha’s Journey by Komomo – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

This was difficult for me to get ahold of due to its limited print run – I had to wait several weeks for an interlibrary loan to arrive, and it came from the next state over since no library in my state carried it. It was definitely worth the wait! If you are interested in learning about modern geisha, I highly recommend it! The photographs are stunning. According to Mylokoville, which is where I get all of my geisha book recommendations to try and make sure they aren’t problematic (looking at you, Memoirs of a Geisha), it’s a “must read” and I agree! I don’t have a full review and likely won’t since I don’t have too much more to say on the matter.


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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

Not a big fan of obnoxious love triangles (you know, I-love-my-best-friend-from-childhood-but-only-after-another-boy-loves-me flavor, very Gale/Peeta/Katniss in its annoying factor). I had a lot of issues with this (my review is linked above) and it just wasn’t for me, unfortunately.


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Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Šejić , Ed Brisson – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

I don’t tend to have much to say about graphic novels, really. My Goodreads review is basically just “I’m in love with Hannah and Dee,” which is true. If you like kickass girls, a bit of grit, and a lot of sex-positivity with your LGBTQIA+ and POC rep, check Rat Queens out.


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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

My review for this isn’t out yet and it won’t be for a month. However, I will tell you I loved this. There is very little romance, though it is hinted at in the future. It’s a bit of a slow build, but there are some really interesting parallels between asha (or witches) and geisha that I found really interesting.


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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

My second and final nonfiction read of the month, an autobiography about the author’s experience during the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami and the aftermath. I listened to the audiobook of this and really didn’t care for the narration. Even at 1.5x speed it was very slow and kept dragging me out of the story. I might pick this up at a later date in paper form because the audiobook was dreadful.


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Gilded Cage by Vic James – 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads

My review for this isn’t out either! However, it is out tomorrow, so stay tuned for that. 😉


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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

I was spitting mad at this one. I don’t want to talk about it.


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George by Alex Gino – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Some more ownvoices! George was so sweet. Definitely recommended if you like middle grade.


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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

This is the first sci-fi book and the first novella I’ve touched in a long time. And 100% romance free. Yay! Binti is a complex, peaceful heroine and pretty cool to boot.


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

The hype is real. I’m telling you. I am not one to buy into hype due to the number of times I’ve been disappointed, but hot damn did this live up to its promise. I’m counting down the days until my finished copy is here.


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Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Expands on the first Binti novella and gives her story a lot more context. So, so beautiful. It’s a bit longer than the first and really dives into the worldbuilding more. Definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first.


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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

I am in love with Roshani’s brain. My review is live on the blog on Friday, but my Goodreads review is just this: “Holy shit.” There was kissing. I liked it. I know, I’m shocked too. Plus it’s a standalone, which is even better!


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The Backstagers #1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh – 2.5/5 stars

Goodreads

I just didn’t connect with this and I don’t know why. I had the same problem with Lumberjanes. Still trying to puzzle out my thoughts before I put up a review, but expect it soonish.


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The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly – 3/5 stars

Goodreads

Another book I didn’t really connect with, though I did eventually get sucked in at about the two-thirds mark. Just finished this one this morning so my review isn’t quite finished yet, but do expect one!


Next Up

On my immediate TBR for February:

  • Adaptation by Malinda Lo (it’s due back at the library soon with no renewals left!)
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang (also due soon but I need more Korean lit in my life)
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Feb’s read for #DSFFBookClub on Twitter)
  • The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie (I’m just hype on this series, it’s not out until March)

Upcoming Reviews:

  • Gilded Cage by Vic James (live on February 1)
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (live on February 3)
  • The Backstagers #1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh (live ???, within the next fortnight)
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (also ???, probably within the fortnight as well)

Have you read any of the books I finished this month?

If so, what did you think?

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Top 10 Books of 2016 (sort of)

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I was on hiatus from the blog for the majority of 2016, and so it became a year of reading for me. Every choice I made was selfish and it was really nice, even though I missed the blog. I didn’t review much at all, so I figured I would share some of my favorite reads! Originally this was going to be a top ten, but 2016 was a year of kickass series and I couldn’t help myself so it’s more of a top 12.

The List

slammerkin1. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
I would marry the shit out of this book if I could. It was like being punched in the face with every page turn and I lived for it.

 

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2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Vasya Petrovna is a badass and I love her. The noise I made when I found out there was a sequel in the works was inhuman. More fangirling in my review. I’ll spare you.

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3. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
I got such a nostalgic kick from this that I absolutely wasn’t expecting. It felt so much like the horse books I loved as a child that I cried a couple of times. I am weak. Go read my review so I can persuade you into buying this into the horse person in your life.

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4-5. Saga (vol 1 + 2) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t manage anything more coherent than that, sorry. My boyfriend even liked this and he hates graphic novels. And most books that I enjoy.

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6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
2016 was also the year of the graphic novel for me (can you tell?). Nimona made my heart ache with its superb queerness. I so wish I hadn’t lost my copy.

 

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7-10. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
I hate romance. Hate it. Not interested. This series made me weep like the sad little girl I am. Blue and Noah were so cute that thinking about their friendship makes my heart ache. The only book I didn’t five-star was Blue Lily, Lily Blue and I don’t recall why, but I remember powering through the series since worrying about Gansey gave me actual anxiety. I will follow Maggie Stiefvater to the ends of the earth just to read her grocery list.

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11-12. Sabriel and Lirael by Garth Nix
These should be on the honorable mentions, but these were just so damn good. (And have ace representation!) They took a while for me to settle in to but I love this world so much, and I adore the Abhorsen.

The alternate title for this blog post is “Alex is in love with these women and here is why”.

Honorable Mentions

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  • Rat Queens vol. 1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
  • The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh*

*I know this is blasphemy, but I never handle books dealing with depression very well when I’m having severe depression as well.

2016 in Review (or, I’m in love with Slammerkin)

So… I’ve been gone. For a multitude of reasons I won’t go into, at least not in depth.

I may post reviews on this year’s reads in future (Slammerkin for sure), but to be honest, it was a pretty bland reading year for me. 2016 was the year I finally felt comfortable putting a book down and saying “no” and never looking back. As controversial as it may be, Truthwitch is what it took for me to tell a book to jog on. (Is this controversial? If you read it, did you like it? More on this in a future post, probably.)

I kicked Anna Karenina to the curb after three years. Gates of Thread and Stone, The Golem and the Jinni (I blame the audiobook narrator, honestly), Library of Souls, Dorothy Must Die, Scar Tissue, The Scorpio Races, and Where She Went followed into my dnf-for-good shelf.

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Slammerkin and Saga stole my heart this spring and I don’t know if I have it back yet. I read the Red Rising series, finished The Raven Boys quartet, rolled my eyes through Michelle Phan’s embarrassment of a webtoon, but nothing has captured my heart quite like Slammerkin did. I might write it a love letter, seal it in a bottle, and drop it in the Mississippi in the hopes that some twist of fate will give me the ability to love another book.

I loathe my illnesses for many reasons, least of which is stealing my ability to give a real and proper review of Slammerkin the first time around. If anything, Slammerkin was detrimental to my mental health given my vulnerable state, but I couldn’t put it down. I may never give another five star review again for that fact alone.

But- I’ll save that for my review. I’m giving it a reread as a treat after I finish this draft of my novel (which also took up a considerable part of my year).

Despite 2016 being a dumpster fire in nearly every regard, even with all the literary disappointments I faced, it can never take Slammerkin from me.