Summer 2017 TBR

My spring TBR was surprisingly successful (I read 5 of the 6 books on my list), so here’s another one for Summer. I’m really hoping that I’ll get a crazy amount of reading done this summer, because I’m starting my Masters at the end of September and I feel like I have to make the most of not having assigned reading while I can.

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
The blurb on the back of this (at least the one on the UK paperback) doesn’t explicitly state that this is a novel about depression, and the impact that one man’s mental illness has on his wife and children, which I find pretty annoying. I’ve been wanting to read this for a really long time, and I think it’s about time I got around to it, because it sounds like it has some themes which are very close to my heart.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so, so much, and I can’t wait to get to her most widely lauded novel. I feel like I don’t have a super strong idea of what it’s actually about, but I’m pretty okay with that. I loved Purple Hibiscus so much that I almost picked this up immediately afterwards, but I’m always a little hesitant to read the same author back to back as I always feel like it reduces the impact of their writing if I’m too used to their style.

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
I want to read this before the sequel comes out in paperback (the date of which hasn’t been announced yet so probably not until next year), and I’ve also just heard so many good things about this book. I’m hoping it’s going to be funny and fast-paced and brutal.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
I requested this from the publisher through work, and I always feel like if they’ve been kind enough to send me a brand new hardback, for free, I should have the courtesy to read it and put a review on the website reasonably quickly. Embarrassingly, I actually haven’t read The Argonauts, but Maggie Nelson is one of those writers who I’ve decided is going to be a favourite author without ever having read one of her books.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
I bought this forever ago, pretty much as soon as it came out in paperback, but somehow I didn’t get beyond of a couple of chapters. It’s literally moved house with me four times (and moved countries twice) since I’ve bought it without me ever having read it. Ridiculous. It feels like it’s going to be a fairly easy read, perfect for summer.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
It’s been a while since I read a kids’ book, and I used to love the How to Train Your Dragon books when I was a kid, so I was super excited when this proof of her upcoming book turned up. It’s about an imagined version of England in the past, when there are wizards and werewolves and pixies roaming the forest which covers the British Isles. I’m so excited.


To be reread

Like a lot of booky kids, I was a huge rereader when I was growing up. I must have read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban over twenty times. But in recent years, I have reread less and less frequently, I think because there are so many new (or new to me, I should say) books which I’m excited to read that rereading an old one feels like a waste of time. However, there are a few books which I would like to return to.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
I’m pretty sure that I’ve only read this once, in around 2013, although I have seen the film multiple times. I remember loving this the first time around, but I think I read it on a solely surface level, and missed a lot of the undercurrent. I want to reread it with more analytical eyes, and I’m definitely a more considered reader than I was four years ago.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Like everyone else, I loved this as a teenager: there’s something about its melodrama which seems to deeply appeal to fifteen year old minds. That said, I have literally no memory of how it ends, which leads to me to suspect that I didn’t actually finish it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The main reason I want to return to this particular novel is that I would like to read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, but feel like I could do with a refresher on the source material first. I think I was about 14 when I first read this, meaning it was almost a decade ago, and I think I mix up plot points between this and Wuthering Heights. (As much as I do want to reread these two Brontë’s, I’m also loathe to pick up these lovely Vintage editions, which have never been read and are therefore in perfect condition, because I just know I’ll wreck them.)

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
For a long time I’ve claimed this as one of my favourite books, but I recently tried to summarise its plot and realised that I don’t actually remember it very well. I was pretty young when I read this, so I suspect that there are thematic elements which went over my head on the first pass.

Resistance by Owen Sheers
I first read this only two years ago, but I’m already feeling the draw to read it again. This is one of my favourite books of recent years, and one that I do still think about pretty frequently, so I know that I would love it on the second reading: my reason for wanting to reread it is no more complex than that.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I read this around the same time as I read Resistance and also adored it. We are now into the self indulgent section of this list, where basically I just want to return to books I love, for no reason other than that they make me happy.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
I’ve read this a couple of times before, and seen the BBC mini-series frankly a ridiculous number of times. I’m not the first person to say this, but Elizabeth Gaskell combines the wit and romance of Jane Austen with the social and political awareness of Charles Dickens, and she is brilliant.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
This is the only Austen that I have never reread. Come to think of it, it’s also the only one that I haven’t seen a TV or film adaptation of. I would like to though, as it’s the Austen which is most different to the rest. It was her last finished novel, I believe, and it has a more mature, cynical tone to it, from memory.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I read this before I had ever watched Parks and Recreation, and I just think I would get more out of this having seen the show, which is a pretty significant part of the book.

A Mini Spring TBR

I’m not a massive believer in TBRs: I think it’s just setting myself up to fail. I very much read by whim, so if I set myself a list of things I’m supposed to read by a certain point, I’ll inevitably fail. It’s hard to predict what I’m going to be in the mood for in advance, so I prefer to grab whatever I happen to be in the mood for from my pile of unread books, or something I’ve just bought and am very excited to get to. When I try to stick to a TBR, I tend to end up not enjoying whatever I’m reading because it’s the wrong time.

All that said, I recently watched Jean’s Spring TBR and the idea of a seasonal TBR makes more sense to me. It’s a vague enough, long enough period of time that I probably will get through everything on the list, and by only giving myself six titles, I’m leaving room for reading anything else which takes my fancy.

Dear Ijeawele – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I mentioned recently that I’ve only read one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels, but I have also read We Should All Be Feminists. This is another mini-book on feminism, this time on the idea of how to raise a feminist.

They Can’t Kill Us All – Wesley Lowery
This is a super-important book, especially at the moment. Wesley Lowery is a journalist who has been covering the Black Lives Matter movement since its inception, and this is his history of the movement. It’s pretty unusual for me to preorder a book, but I saw this on Penguin’s instagram and preordered it immediately.

Beware of Pity – Stefan Zweig
I’ve owned this for a while now without reading it. It’s Zweig’s only novel, and all I really know about it is that it’s about unrequited love.

Autumn – Ali Smith
I’m sure everyone and their mother already knows this, but Ali Smith is writing four books named after the seasons, inspired by events in the world around her. This is the first, written in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and I really want to get through it before the next one comes out later this year.

The Unaccompanied – Simon Armitage
Like a lot of people, I read Simon Armitage’s poetry while I was at school, and I vaguely remember quite liking him (or at least preferring him to Carol Ann Duffy). This is his first poetry collection in ten years, and I read one of the poems in the shop, loved it and decided to buy it. It also has a S T U N N I N G cover.

When in French – Lauren Collins
My boyfriend bought me this for Christmas, and I have promised him that I will read it soon. It’s a memoir about Lauren Collins’s experience of falling in love with someone whose mother tongue was different to her own, and learning French for her partner.

A Graduate’s TBR

So I finished my degree. That’s a big thing that’s happened recently. A massive thing. It’s also terrifying, but that’s not the point here. One of the things I’ve been really looking forward to is actually having time to read! For pleasure! Not books about feminism in post-colonial Senegal! (Kidding, I loved reading that book about feminism in post-colonial Senegal.) As of next week, I’ll be commuting half an hour or so on the train every morning and evening when I start my job (more on that later), which gives me a little under an hour a day to sit and read, which is a very exciting possibility. So, here are the ten books which I’m most looking forward to reading now I’m free. (It’s probably worth mentioning that I actually own all of these already because my book buying habits are out of control and I really should be banned from the Nottingham Waterstones.)

How to Be Both – Ali Smith
I have owned this book for about a year without reading it (a common problem for me), and I’m looking forward to finally getting on with it. I’ve only read one other Ali Smith book, Boy Meets Girl, which I love love love, and How to Be Both won basically all the awards when it came out. It’s set in two times, the 1460’s and the 1980’s (ish, I’m not entirely sure when the second setting is). Honestly, after reading a few reviews, I’m not really sure of what it’s about, but it’s so highly lauded that I can’t wait to read it anyway.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’ve never read any Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I know. Call myself a book lover. Well, I’ve read We Should All Be Feminists, but I don’t really feel like that counts. But this year I’ve been studying African literature and learning about what it means for African women to be writing their own stories, for African people to be writing at all. It’s a love story, I think, but it’s also about globalisation, Nigerian politics and immigration.

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest
I truly madly deeply love Kate Tempest. I’ve read both her poetry collections, obsessively watched videos of her performing, listened to her albums on repeat, all of it. Last month, she did a Q&A at Rough Trade Nottingham to promote her first novel The Bricks That Built The Houses, so of course I went along. She’s fantastic to hear speak, passionate and thrilling and fucking brilliant, and she made me want to write in a way that I haven’t wanted to in years. The book opens with three teenagers driving away from London, with a suitcase full of money, and I don’t know much more than that. I read the first fifty pages or so the night that I bought it, but I haven’t touched it since, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Moranifesto – Caitlin Moran
Another one that I know I’ll love, and a birthday present from my excellent uni mates. Caitlin Moran is brilliant and funny and wonderful. This is the follow up to Moranthology, so it’s a collection of her columns, as well as a few pieces that are new for the book, mostly about politics. This probably won’t be something I read all in one go, it being lots of short pieces rather than one overarching idea means that I’ll probably pick it up, read a couple and put it down. Also, I have the hardback so I can’t be bothered to lug it around with me.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
Ahh yes, light summer reading about death. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and this book is a reflection on death, from the perspective of both doctor and patient. Every review I’ve heard (particularly Michael Kindness’s on Books on the Nightstand) has made me want to read it more, as it’s apparently full of beautiful writing, which makes it clear that Paul Kalanithi is a real loss to the literary world.

Unspeakable Things – Laurie Penny
I’d been seeing this book in my uni branch of Blackwell’s for a couple of months before I bit the bullet and bought it. This book is about the need for outspoken, brave feminism, about being unafraid to be who you are and about social justice in the modern world. So basically everything I care about. I’m psyched.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a super important book. It’s written as a letter to Coates’s teenaged son about the realities of being black in America. I really want to inform myself more about racial issues, because I have the privilege of being white and I really don’t know enough about these issues, even though they continue to be so pressing. I’m not expecting it to be an enjoyable read, but it’s a necessary one.

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea – Teffi
Now we get into the subsection of this post which is books about Russia. I might have finished my Russian degree, but I’m still bloody obsessed with Russia, and I’m going back sooner than expected. Teffi was a hugely popular writer in pre-Revolution Russia, until she was forced to flee, and this is the story of her final journey through Russia to exile, which has only just been translated into English.

I’m Going to Ruin Their Lives – Marc Bennetts
Putin is almost always the first thing people ask about when I say that I study (studied, rather) Russian. Which is natural, because he is terrifying and fascinating in equal measure. The title of this book comes from a remark Putin allegedly made about the protestors on the day of his inauguration for his third term as president, a remark which he seems to have followed up on, and the book is an examination of how the Russian protest movement was destroyed.

Chernobyl Prayer – Svetlana Alexeivich
Last year’s Nobel Prize winner, this is another piece of required reading. This is an oral history of the Chernobyl catastrophe, and a warning for the future. I know almost nothing about it but it’s another massively important read, and another piece of translated literature (I’m fascinated by literature in translation, and I’m also too lazy to read things in the original Russian).