Cleaning up the TBR

I first saw this post idea over on Fictionophile, who herself had seen it on Lost in a Story and thought it was a really good idea.  I know I’m not the only one who thought the same as I’ve been seeing it everywhere recently so I am glad to jump on the bandwagon.  Hopefully no one will mind 🙂

The idea is you take your Goodreads TBR list, sort by ascending date added, and look at the oldest five to ten items on your list.  If you haven’t read them by now, are you likely to? Why or why not?  If you want to keep them, make the case.

The oldest on my list comes from 2014 (I actually deleted my Goodreads account for a while and this is when I started back up again because I couldn’t think of a better way to keep track of books I wanted to read).

LIfe itselfFirst up is Life Itself by Elaine Dundy, which I added right after reading The Dud Avocado.

Here’s what it’s about…

Elaine Dundy, a New Yorker born in the 1930s, is the author of The Dud Avocado, based on a year she spent in Paris. Here she presents her memoirs which begin in classy apartments on Park Lane before the Crash, include a wild and funny time as an actress in Paris and London, and reveal all about her disastrous marriage to theater critic Kenneth Tynan. Her literary and theatrical circle—which included Peter Finch, Tennesse Williams, Hemingway, and Gore Vidal—is presented along with poignant remembrances of growing up in America in the 40s, and a literary and theatrical life in Paris and London.

Here’s what I’m thinking…I don’t read many memoirs at the best of times so I don’t think I’m likely to read this one, it goes.

The Old Man and MeNext up is another by Elaine Dundy (a bit of a theme) – The Old Man and Me.

Here’s what it’s about…

Honey Flood (if that’s her real name) arrives in London with only her quick wits and a scheme. To get what she wants, she’ll have to seduce the city’s brightest literary star, no matter how many would-be bohemians she has to charm, how many smoky jazz clubs she has to brave, or how many Lady Something-Somethings she has to humor. But with success within her reach, Honey finds that in making the Soho scene, she’s made a big mistake. 

Here’s what I’m thinking…I loved The Dud Avocado and this sounds like it might be more of the same so it stays.

Saving GraceThird is Saving Grace by Jane Green, which I don’t even remember adding if I’m honest (but it was three years ago I suppose!).

Here’s what it’s about…

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker.

But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.

To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.

With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Here’s what I’m thinking…I have a lot of these books on my TBR (it’s a favourite genre after all).  This one has 3.46 stars so doesn’t feel like it’s a stand out book so it goes. 

Virginia WolfFourth on the list is Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Here’s what it’s about…

Clarissa Dalloway is civilised–without the ostentation of a socialite, but with enough distinction to attract them to her parties. She finds excess offensive, but surrounds herself with the highest quality and has an abhorrence for anything ugly or awkward. Mrs. Dalloway is as much a character study as it is a commentary on the ills and benefits society gleans from class. Through Virginia Woolf, we spend a day with Clarissa as she interacts with servants, her children, her husband, and even an ex-lover. As she plans and executes one of her celebrated parties, she reveals inner machinations incongruous with her class-defined behaviours, that ultimately enable her to transcend them.

Here’s what I’m thinking…I have only when one book by Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own), which I really enjoyed and she is an author I feel I need to read more of…it stays. 

Dear ThiefFinally it’s Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey, another book that doesn’t ring any bells at all.

Here’s what it’s about…

You were going to work your way into my marriage and you were going to call its new three-way shape holy,” writes the unnamed narrator of Dear Thief.

The thief is Nina, or Butterfly, who disappeared eighteen years earlier and who is being summoned by this letter, this bomb, these recollections, revisions, accusations, and confessions.

“Sometimes I imagine, out of sheer playfulness, that I am writing this as a kind of defence for having murdered and buried you under the patio.”

Dear Thief is a letter to an old friend, a song, a jewel, and a continuously surprising triangular love story. Samantha Harvey writes with a dazzling blend of fury and beauty about the need for human connection and the brutal vulnerability that need exposes.

“While I write my spare hand might be doing anything for all you know; it might be driving a pin into your voodoo stomach.”

Here is a rare novel that traverses the human heart in original and indelible ways.

Here’s what I’m thinking…despite not being able to remember it, I am quite intrigued by the summary.  BUT it’s only got 3.46 out of 5 and, as I haven’t given it a thought for three years, it goes.

So, that’s it for me.  Two books stay, three books go.  Not bad for a start.  Have you read any of these – have I made the right decisions?

Emma x









  1. I use Goodreads as a place to post my reviews…and I also click “to be read” on anything that catches my fancy…but i don’t take my TBR from Goodreads that seriously. The books I actually buy are tracked on my Curl up and Read blog. Those I have to be serious about, as I own them already.

    Still…it takes a long time to read some of them. Last week I read one from 2014…and, guess what? I loved it! (The Storied Life of AJ Fikry).

    I loved Jane Green’s Saving Grace…and I’ve been wanting to read Mrs. Dalloway. Someday. Sigh.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • I have so many books on my kindle I haven’t read. I challenged myself to read the five that had been on there the longest early this year but have so far made it through one. I would like to be better about Goodreads as a way to track what I want to read. It has become a book dumping ground though.


  2. I need to do this with books on my bookshelf….lol. I also need to clean up my goodreads so this is a good idea. I also have a bad habit of adding things I don’t even own. I have been trying to clean up my goodreads to reflect books I have actually on the TBR and then those on my wishlist (or ones I don’t own) It’s a work in progress! 🙂


    • I know – I do the same. I read a review, add the book then forget about it but I know there are good books on there. I want to use Goodreads to help me pick reads.


  3. oh thi sis a great way to go about cleaning your TBR!!!! I’ll keep it in mind as I’m trying to removed the last 20 books! My goal is 50 but I’m at 70 now. Sorry to see Dear Thief go! Love that cover!


  4. First of all, I love this post. What a great idea! I think I might so this.
    I have only read Saving Grace fron your list, but I really liked it. I guess if it has been sitting there for 3 years there is probably not much hope it will actually get read tho. I hope you find time soon for the two you chose to keep.


    • It was fun to do. I have a love and hate relationship with Goodreads but as I don’t have another way to keep a list of books I like the sound of – what do they about the devil you know?


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