Back in November, I did my first “Cleaning Up the TBR” post, something I first saw over on Fictionophile, who 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. I did the oldest five in November and plan on doing another five this month.
First up is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, an author I’ve read a lot of but not this one. I did actually get it from the library forever ago and started reading it but then didn’t finish it and the book had to go back. Here’s what it’s about…
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.
Does it stay or does it go? Given I have tried and failed to read it once, as much as I love Waters other books, it goes.
Next is The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, another book I started then put down, though I actually own this one. Here’s what it’s about…
In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror was uncompromising and brutal. English society was broken apart, its systems turned on their head. What is little known is that a fractured network of guerrilla fighters took up arms against the French occupiers.
In The Wake, a postapocalyptic novel set a thousand years in the past, Paul Kingsnorth brings this dire scenario back to us through the eyes of the unforgettable Buccmaster, a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world. Accompanied by a band of like-minded men, Buccmaster is determined to seek revenge on the invaders. But as the men travel across the scorched English landscape, Buccmaster becomes increasingly unhinged by the immensity of his loss, and their path forward becomes increasingly unclear.
Written in what the author describes as “a shadow tongue”—a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable to the modern reader—The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past. A tale of lost gods and haunted visions, The Wake is both a sensational, gripping story and a major literary achievement.
Does it stay or does it go? Although I struggled to get away with the shadow tongue with this book , as it’s sat on the Kindle, I might get to it one day so it stays.
Next up is a book I added as part of a challenge I think (seeing it on someone else’s blog). It’s old, written in 1836, and I remember nothing about it if I’m honest. It’s La Morte Amoureuse by Theophile Gautier. Here’s what it’s about….
He ceased to speak and commenced to regard me more attentively than ever, as though to observe the effect of his words on me. I could not refrain from starting when I heard him utter the name of Clarimonde, and this news of her death, in addition to the pain it caused me by reason of its coincidence with the nocturnal scenes I had witnessed, filled me with an agony and terror which my face betrayed.
A terrifying tale by Gautier written in first person. It narrates the story of a young priest, Romuald, who falls in love with a mysterious woman called Clarimonde. He goes through strange experiences after meeting her and she haunts him in his dreams. The author has captured the desires, emotions and feelings of the priest brilliantly. Spine-chilling!
Does it stay or does it go? I have to say, I like the sound of it and still want to read it. It stays.
Fourth on the list is Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas by Patrick Modiano , picked because I like short stories and novellas, especially when they are done well. Here’s what it’s about…
Although originally published separately, Patrick Modiano’s three novellas form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Modiano draws on his own experiences, blended with the real or invented stories of others, to present a dreamlike autobiography that is also the biography of a place. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers—each appears in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists. In this superb English-language translation of Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin, Mark Polizzotti captures not only Modiano’s distinctive narrative voice but also the matchless grace and spare beauty of his prose.
Shadowed by the dark period of the Nazi Occupation, these novellas reveal Modiano’s fascination with the lost, obscure, or mysterious: a young person’s confusion over adult behavior; the repercussions of a chance encounter; the search for a missing father; the aftershock of a fatal affair. To read Modiano’s trilogy is to enter his world of uncertainties and the almost accidental way in which people find their fates.
Does it stay or does it go? It stays, though for a time when I can copy with such heavy subject matter.
Finally, it’s Water Music by Margie Orford, another book I own and has sat on my iBooks forever (well, since 2014). I picked it because it was crime fiction. I’m not sure why I never read it. Here’s what it’s about…
When an emaciated three-year-old is found on an icy hillside on the brink of death, profiler Clare Hart discovers no one has reported the dark-haired boy as missing.
To further complicate matters, a distraught woman approaches Clare to find her granddaughter, a gifted cellist, who has abandoned her music scholarship and been lured in by a reclusive religious sect and its charismatic leader.
As Clare investigates these two cases, the murder of a young couple makes her suspect they are linked in ways she initially finds impossible to fathom. But as the case becomes clearer, she realizes even more is at stake than one girl’s life…
Does it stay or does it go? Well, as I own it, technically it stays but as this is number five in a series I’m not likely to catch up on, in reality it goes.
And that’s it, another five books down with three staying. Not bad. I feel a little lighter. Have you read any of these? What do you think of my decisions?
I haven’t heard of any of these except The Paying Guests, which I read…and enjoyed. But as I recall, it is a pretty hefty book, so if you’re not feeling it, it should go. Great project!
Maybe it was the size that put me off last time. I have loved all her other books so this one should be a winner for me.
Thank you for sharing Emma. I just cleaned my kindle yesterday. It wasalready full with the ones I knew I wouldn’t read. Some I struggled to let go though even though i’m Not sure when I will read them or whether I will. 🙈😁
The Kindle is so bad for me because I can’t resist a 99p deal. There are so many books I don’t know if I’ll ever read. It’s good to have a clean out I think.
Thanks for the mention. Funny… I bought a copy of “The paying guests” on the strength of how I loved “The little stranger”. BUT… I haven’t read it yet, and I’ve had it for several years now. Ummmmm………
No worries. I wonder what it is with The Paying Guests. I might have to look up some reviews and see if it is a dud?
I should do this as I have so much crap on my TBR on goodreads and I am sure I won’t ever read them. Unless I actually have the book or it’s on my kindle and then like you I am not sure when I would get to them. I need to clean out my freebies.
I am really enjoying it. I am going to do it once a month and hope it will make me make more use of goodreads too, or just give up on it, as I tend to have phases with it. When I first got my kindle I downloaded so many books for 99p or free and now I wonder why!
La Morte Amereuse appeals most. I have read Suspended Sentences and being perfectly honest wasn’t impressed. (Yeah, I know he won the Nobel… 😉 ) I actually gave up halfway through the third story if memory serves me correctly. But I’ve seen more positive reviews, so if you do read it someday, hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did…
Oh dear on Suspended Sentences. That doesn’t bode well. Maybe one to loan from the library vs. buying? I do get the feeling I will need to be in the mood as it sounds heavy.
Thank you – how generous of you to let us know your thought processes as you make the hardest decisions of all – which books to discard and which to hang on to… It was a fascinating read. I think I would have discarded La Mort Amoureuse and kept Water Music – but then, I simply don’t worry about crashing midway into series and the flowery 19th century language that has already been translated could be wonderful, but just now, I’m not in the mood:) Best of luck with trimming the rest of the pile!
It is a great thing to do and it makes me think about what I want in a book. La Mort may end up not being read but there was something that tweaked my interest. I never used to mind jumping in halfway through a series but I have to say I have so many series going on at the moment (not sure if it is just crime fiction but it seems like there are no standalone books anymore) that I can’t risk getting dragged into another until I’m caught up on some others.
I fully understand!
I like this game! I need to do this with my own TBR. I have several books by Sarah Waters on my TBR but I’ve been wondering if they were for me based on the reviews I’ve read. I hope you get to some of these that you’re keeping soon!
It’s fun I have to say. It’s also made me realise how rubbish I am at using Goodreads properly. I had books on there that I have read and reviewed but as a different version!