Down the TBR Hole #12

Since I haven’t made good progress on my reading this week, I think it is time for a good TBR cleanup. I managed to remove 6 out of 10 books during my last TBR cleanup, which was a feat and a half. This session, I am feeling slightly less ambitious.

A while ago, I discovered this meme, Down the TBR hole, from Confessions of a YA Reader, which is created by Lost in a Story (now Sunflowers and Wonder). Down the TBR Hole revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go.

This project has been incredibly helpful to organize my thoughts, since a lot of the books I am slogging through on my TBR were added almost a decade ago. I don’t know about you guys, but my 20-year-old self was a bit of a twit. I have averaged at 2.5/5 book removal (50%) rate, which I think is healthy but not insane.

My Goodreads: Sam Sigelakis-Minski
Current TBR: 1,334 (Yay I managed to keep it lower than last time!)

1. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose

  • Date added: March 1, 2012
  • Synopsis: In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart – to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue and to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail. And, most important, Prose cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which all literature is crafted. 
  • Real Talk: I have been accused of being pretentious, and I think most Lit majors have experienced that criticism, rightly so. However, Francine Prose apparently takes the cake on pretension as an art form. Her “need to read” list contains mostly 19th century white men, and her awakenings to being a writer mostly occurred when she was on some far-off vacation or sabbatical that the rest of us couldn’t imagine experiencing. My personal writing motto is “Fuck up 100 times, maybe come out with something acceptable 1 time,” and it has served me well. Practice has to make adequate eventually.
  • Verdict: Goodbye.

2. Undone, by Rachel Caine

  • Date added: March 1, 2012
  • Synopsis: Once she was a powerful Djinn. Then Cassiel defied her ruler, Ashan, who tore her very essence away and reshaped her in human flesh as punishment. Forced to live among mortals, Cassiel has found refuge among the Weather Wardens–whose power she must tap into regularly, or she will die. Cassiel earns her keep by assisting the Earth Warden Manny Rocha on his missions–which she finds much easier than coping with the emotions and frailties of her human condition, especially her growing affection for Manny’s brother, Luis. But when Cassiel encounters a malevolent force that threatens the Rocha family, she discovers that her perceived human weakness may be her greatest strengths… 
  • Real Talk: This has a couple of red flags for me. First, this is apparently an offshoot of a different Rachel Caine series, which I haven’t read. Second, I am always wary of white people writing about djinn. Third, Rachel Caine one of those odd writers who I know I *should* like based on my general obsession with other UF women writers, but I could never get into her stuff. To be fair, I have only tried to read two books. However, this doesn’t seem like the one to win me over.
  • Verdict: Sorry to see you go.

3. Wizard’s Hall, by Jane Yolen

  • Date added: March 1, 2012
  • Synopsis: An inept wizard-in-training is the only one who can save his classmates from the terrible sorcery that threatens to devour their magical school. Acclaimed master fantasist Jane Yolen imagines an academic world of wonders where paintings speak, walls move, monsters are made real, and absolutely anything can happen—as she introduces readers to a hero as hapless as the legendary Merlin is powerful. It was Henry’s dear ma who decided to send him off to Wizard’s Hall to study sorcery, despite the boy’s apparent lack of magical talent. He has barely stepped through the gates of the magnificent school when he is dubbed Thornmallow (“prickly on the outside, squishy within”). Still, regardless of his penchant for turning even the simplest spell into a disaster, Thornmallow’s teachers remain kind and patient, and he soon has a cadre of loyal, loving friends. But there is something that no one is telling the boy: As the 113th student to enroll in the wondrous academy, Thornmallow has an awesome and frightening duty to fulfill—and failure will mean the destruction of Wizard’s Hall and everyone within its walls.
  • Real Talk: Jane Yolen was an author who I never got into, but always admired as a young reader. I loved how she incorporated some different non-western mythologies into her books, and wrote great fantasy for younger readers. However, I fear my time may be past for this book.
  • Verdict: Goodbye for now, maybe I will read you to my future children.

4. The Legend of Kimberly: Inheritance, by J.R. Leckman

  • Date added: March 1, 2012
  • Synopsis: When Kimberly finds a magic sword, she is taken away from Earth and her abusive father to a world called Auviarra, a place she thought her grandfather had invented. Striving to become the kind of hero she has always read about, Kimberly soon discovers a growing darkness inside, a darkness that is being cultivated by the evil creatures she is hunting. Will she stay human, or succumb to the magic? 
  • Real Talk: Eh, this one is another book I am sure would have appealed to me as a middle grade reader, but now sounds formulaic and young. This isn’t to say it isn’t a good book, just not something I plan on reading.
  • Verdict: Another one for the kiddies.

5. Writer’s Retreat: New York City Edition: Cafes, Restaurants & Coffee Shops for Writers, Bloggers & Students, by Juliet C. Obodo

  • Date added: March 1, 2012
  • Synopsis: A short and well edited guide to the best places for writers, bloggers and students. The locations are loiterer friendly with great food, coffee and staff. The list of over a hundred establishments are organized by the neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. A collection of Inspirational Itineraries are also included to aid in ridding you of that pesky writer’s block all for less than the cost of an espresso.
  • Real Talk: I am torn on this one. On the one hand, it has great reviews, and it is very relevant to me as someone who is constantly trying to find a writing spot for my lunch breaks (when I actually have lunch breaks and not WFH). On the other hand, this was written in 2012, and I am sure a lot of the places referenced are sadly closed or unrecognizable. However, I did also buy the eBook a while back, so…
  • Verdict: Keeping it because I own it, but I will probably flip through it to find which places still exist.


Four out of five!!!!!! Holy guacamole! I am proud and sad because I love all books but I think a TBR above 500 is, to say the least, excessive. One day, ha. Thoughts?!


2 thoughts on “Down the TBR Hole #12

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