I was inspired by a recent post from Julia of Broke & Bookish and her recurring Top Ten Tuesday series to put together a quick list for you of the top ten books I’ve recently added to my to-be-read (or TBR) pile.
As all book lovers know, it’s nearly impossible to keep a handle on the number of books in your wishlist. It always seems like someone is recommending something new (or ancient) that sounds amazing, and I just have to read it! It’s impossible to keep up with everything, so I keep a long list, both in physical stack form and on Goodreads.
Today, I’m just going to highlight a few that I’ve recently added to my TBR list – since I haven’t read these, I’ve quoted part of the Goodreads descriptions.
I’m curious to hear if y’all have read any of these, and which ones you would recommend/not recommend! And of course, add your TBR list in the comments!
1. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
“San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries – memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense – one that leaves us shaken and changed.”
Reason I picked it: This is a bit of a classic, based in my homeland of the Pacific Northwest, and I need to read at least one Asian-American author for the #ReadHarder Challenge.
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
“On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.”
Reason I picked it: This won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and I’ve heard just so many amazing things that I have to pick it up!
3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
“In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.”
Reason I picked it: I honestly cannot remember. This does sound like something I would read in a weekend though…
4. The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani
“The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.”
Reason I picked it: This was included in a recommendation list that I read lately, although I genuinely cannot remember which one. Possibly best new releases in 2015? IDK.
5. The Librarian, by Mikhail Elizarov
“If Ryu Murakami had written War and Peace. As the introduction to this book will tell you, the books by Gromov, obscure and long forgotten propaganda author of the Soviet era, have such an effect on their readers that they suddenly enjoy supernatural powers. Understandably, their readers need to keep accessing these books at all cost and gather into groups around book-bearers, or, as they’re called, librarians. Alexei, until now a loser, comes to collect an uncle’s inheritance and unexpectedly becomes a librarian. He tells his extraordinary, unbelievable story. ”
Reason I picked it: Anything from Pushkin Press is genuinely awesome, and this translation of Elizarov’s 2007 release sounds fantastic (the original Russian can be found here). Also, I’m a sucker for the Russians.
6. Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance, by Daisy Hay
“Deep in the archives of the Bodleian Library lies a tattered scrap of paper with newlyweds’ scribbles on it. It is a table, listing the qualities of a couple. One column reads ‘Often says what he does not think’, ‘He does not show his feelings’, ‘He is a genius’; the other ‘Never says what she does not think’, ‘She shows her feelings’, ‘She is a dunce’. The writing is Mary Anne Disraeli’s: the qualities listed contrast her with her husband, Benjamin Disraeli, one of the foremost politicians of the Victorian age.”
Reason I picked it: I have no memory of this book, yet it is on my Goodreads list, and added within the last month. May have come from a recommendation list. I do believe that I would read this though, and probably enjoy it.
7. Devotion: A Rat Story, by Maile Meloy
“Hailed by “The New Yorker” as “a wise and astonishing conjurer of convincing realities,” Maile Meloy is one of our country’s most celebrated short story writers. In her scalp-prickling Byliner Original “Devotion: A Rat Story,” she shows how easily an everyday reality—a young woman’s struggle for an independent life— can become a nightmare, toothy monsters included.”
Reason I picked it: Definitely came from a recommended reading list – I think there was a 2015 best books you’ve never heard of list that included this. I’m actually looking forward to this a lot.
8. Terra Firma Triptic: When Robots Fly, by J.M. Ledgard
“Terra Firma Triptych begins in a wilderness in South Sudan. J. M. Ledgard is there in search of a still point, untouched by humankind–a goal complicated by the contingent of armed rangers accompanying him. Next, a trip through Rwanda–taking a borrowed car toward crocodile-infested lakes near the border with Burundi–a road trip that unexpectedly ends up at the site of the country’s proposed future in the sky. And finally Ledgard takes us straight into a vision of that very future, of a continent poised to take advantage of current and near-future technological advances–a vision that feels Star Trek fanciful at first, then not just practical but necessary.”
Reason I picked it: There is so much happening in the description of this book, I cannot help but be curious. I also think that this was on the New Yorker’s best books of 2015 list (or something, I can never keep recommendation lists straight, especially at this time of year).
9. Hall of Small Mammals, by Thomas Pierce
“The stories in Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals take place at the confluence of the commonplace and the cosmic, the intimate and the infinite. A fossil-hunter, a comedian, a hot- air balloon pilot, parents and children, believers and nonbelievers, the people in these stories are struggling to understand the absurdity and the magnitude of what it means to exist in a family, to exist in the world.”
Reason I picked it: Really trying to read more collections of short stories, since I enjoy them, but rarely actually pick them up. I have this on my list, as well as a book I received over the holidays.
10. Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight, by Margaret Lazarus Dean
“In the 1960s, humans took their first steps away from Earth, and for a time our possibilities in space seemed endless. But in a time of austerity and in the wake of high-profile disasters likeChallenger, that dream has ended. In early 2011, Margaret Lazarus Dean traveled to Cape Canaveral for NASA’s last three space shuttle launches in order to bear witness to the end of an era. With Dean as our guide to Florida’s Space Coast and to the history of NASA, Leaving Orbit takes the measure of what American spaceflight has achieved while reckoning with its earlier witnesses, such as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Oriana Fallaci. Along the way, Dean meets NASA workers, astronauts, and space fans, gathering possible answers to the question: What does it mean that a spacefaring nation won’t be going to space anymore?”
Reason I picked it: Umm, sounds amazing. I’m also having a little intellectual fling with space travel and astronomy this year, so I think this will fit in nicely. This also won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize in 2015, which if probably what made me take notice.
Again – cannot wait to hear your take on these, and any other recommendations you have!
Share your thoughts in the comments below!