Down the TBR Hole #3

Welcome folks to the second round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my second round or first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

Let’s get going on the 10 books… 

1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Why is it there? I’ve always wanted to read Madame Bovary, I’m never really sure why, perhaps it was once recommended to me by my English teacher and it stuck? All I know is I tried to read this whilst I was still at school and, though I was surprised by how readable it was, I never did get very far through it. Still, it left enough of an impression that I added it to my TBR once I got a Goodreads account. Definitely something I want to read in the future, if nothing else so I can see what this ‘Emma’ gets up to… I hear it’s scandalous! (Fun fact: this book was added onto my bookshelf on 24th October one year – my birthday! That says a lot about me that I’d logged into Goodreads on my birthday.)
Do I own it? Y (though I’m on the hunt for a better edition because mine is odd looking)
Verdict? Keep

2. The Adventure of English: 500 Ad to 2000 the Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg

Why is it there? Whilst I was doing my A Levels I took (and relished) English Language, as well as Literature. I will always advocate this for anyone doing A Levels because each informs the other and, if you have knowledge of the various language frameworks, it adds a lot of feathers to your cap when you switch over to the Literature side and do some close textual analysis. This book was added to my TBR whilst doing the history of the English language part of the course (my favourite bit!) and I continue to find it fascinating so I should probably get around to reading this book at some point soon.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

3. Tickling The English: A funny man’s notes on a country and its people by Dara O’Briain

Why is it there? I love Dara O’Briain’s comedy and when I heard he’d written a book it was an instant buy. However, like so many other books written by comedians, they have laid, languishing, on my bookshelf unloved and partly forgotten. It takes a lot for me to forego fiction for non-fiction so that’s the only reason I haven’t yet picked this up. Still, I foresee this being a really fun and fast read when I do get around to it.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

4. Mrs de Winter by Susan Hill

Why is it there? One of my all-time favourite books is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a book which was recommended (and gifted) to me by my English teacher when I left school. I will always have such strong personal feelings towards that book because of it which is simultaneously why I added this book to my TBR and why I am so hesitant about it that I still haven’t read it. For those not familiar with Rebecca, it tells the story of an unnamed girl who marries a widower, Maxim de Winter, and returns home to his estate Manderley, only to find that the memory of his late wife haunts the house and its inhabitants. This book is a sequel to that book, written by a different, but nonetheless highly regarded, author but there’s something in me that just instinctively knows it will pale in comparison to the original and I’m not sure I can bring myself to read that. (Plus, I’ve heard unfavourable reviews.)
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Ditch (ouch, that one hurt)

5. Urban Grimshaw And The Shed Crew by Bernard Hare

Why is it there? A friend of my mum’s is a big reader and she frequently recommends me books but our tastes are, I think, very different. Even so, I do make a note of things she recommends and this book is one of them. It’s non-fiction, a memoir of a guy in Leeds who ended up befriending some really underprivileged and messed-up inner-city kids. It’s probably shocking and heartbreaking, knowing that society has failed to protect kids like this in some way,and I think it’s part indictment of the Thatcher years but… the more I even write about this the more I know it just won’t be for me. I hear they’re making (/have made?) a film of this, though, starring Richard Armitage so I’m bound to eventually see this in one form or another.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Ditch

6. The Stories of English by David Crystal

Why is it there? Short answer: see my response to no. 2 and it’s basically the same reasoning. I like learning about English as a language, ok, and David Crystal’s name always gets brought up in A Level English Language so this book is practically a Bible for that course. But, of course, I haven’t read it… yet.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

Why is it there? I went through a Lord of the Rings phase and bought everything related to Middle Earth that I could get my hands on, including this. This is (sort of) the Creation story of Tolkien’s own mythology, as far as I know, which was (and still is) hugely intimidating to me so I’ve yet to pick this up. Although one of my school friends has read this in its entirety, she borrowed it from me and thoroughly read it so it looks very used but, alas, not by its owner!
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

8. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Why is it there? I think practically everyone goes through a phase of hearing about Trainspotting, trying to read the book and then realising you need to get your internal reading voice to do an Edinburgh accent in order to read it as it’s written down phonetically. I still haven’t seen the film (I know, I know) but I have, bizarrely enough, read the screenplay (I read an edition that included Trainspotting and Shallow Grave) so I feel as though I know enough now about Trainspotting to decide that I should probably give this a miss. It will mess me up, I’m sure of it, so maybe it’s time to let go of the book to someone who will appreciate it more.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Ditch

9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Why is it there? Everyone says you should read Zadie Smith, but I’ve yet to have someone tell me why I should read Zadie Smith. Maybe if that had happened I would have already picked up this, her debut novel. I think the main reason why I haven’t read this is simply because I’m just not that interested in reading about London… is that bad? I feel as though Londoners will be able to appreciate this kind of book a lot more than I can. I know that this opinion will be categorically wrong and, if I gave it a chance, I’d probably appreciate it as a novel. It’s just that, right now, I don’t see me ever prioritising this unless a close friend or family member urged me to read it.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Ditch

10. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

Why is it there? I had an epiphany around the autumn of 2010, whilst applying for university, that I hadn’t read much drama aside from what I had been assigned in school. That meant I’d only read Shakespeare and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In an effort to quickly remedy this I reached out for some examples of, well, more wide-ranging theatre… by which I mean basically reading any plays that weren’t Shakespeare or Marlowe, despite the fact I hadn’t even read much of that either. My teacher lent me her copy of Angels in America and I read that (weird, that’s all I remember about it), I randomly read Look Back In Anger by John Osborne (didn’t get it, at all), I devoured Medea by Euripides (really enjoyed that one!), and I added this to my list but never got to it. That’s a shame, because I think I’d actually really enjoy this, so must follow it up and procure a copy! (Side note: I still haven’t read that much other drama that isn’t Shakespeare, but at least now I’ve read enough early modern drama to be hold an informed conversation about that period of theatre, if nothing else.)
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Keep


This round:
Kept – 6
Ditched – 4

Kept – 19
Ditched – 11

Ok so that was the second round of my Down the TBR Hole efforts. Have I made a terrible mistake in ditching some of these titles? Or have I kept some that really aren’t worth my time? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 responses to “Down the TBR Hole #3”

  1. I had to read White Teeth for one of my final year university courses and it is a decent book. I wasn’t a fan of it when I originally read it, but now I think about it, it is better than I thought and it’s also an important book in terms of culture and integration. Really It’s more about that than it is about London – London is just the backdrop.

    The Adventure of English looks like a fascinating read. I stupidly didn’t study English Language at A Level but became really interested in linguistics and the evolution of language whilst studying French at university. I’m determined to read a lot of these books for my own pleasure!


    • Yeah I did wonder if it’s a brilliant book in terms of those contemporary issues, and it seems like it would be a great one for discussion on a university course. :)

      I feel like David Crystal is one of those names that is impossible to avoid if studying the evolution of the English language but I never actually got around to reading any of his books fully whilst I was at college. I guess I’m still nostalgic for those days because I found it fascinating to see how English had evolved over the centuries due to migration and invasion. Classic example from French – the amount of words absorbed into English following the Norman Conquest is really interesting, and the way that these tend to be (maybe understandably) relating to institutions such as military, law, government, the church, and food. My inner language nerd tends to come out at times like this and now I really want to read that book, haha! :P

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah it was interesting.

        I think I have heard of David Crystal and it wouldn’t surprise me if I do recognise some of his work as two of my best friends were English Language and Linguistics majors.

        I also know exactly what you mean. Whenever I see a word now in English, I’m always looking at its etymology and being fascinated by the connection between languages. It actually makes me want to learn more languages as well as use those I’ve not spoken in a while.


  2. Ooooh I hadn’t heard of this meme, I really want to do it!! Great post, I’ve had Trainspotting on my TBR for years, and yeah I’ve never even purchased it!


    • It’s a really fun meme to do – and it definitely helps to remind you of the books you’re super excited to read, as well as the ones you no longer have interest in. :P

      I can’t remember when/where/why I originally bought it but it’s always been one of those books that I’ve been told to read but have never had the drive to. I think it’s time to let go and just admit it. After all, so little time, so many books to read!


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