Down the TBR Hole #5

Welcome folks to the fifth round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my fourthmy thirdmy second or my 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:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on their. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Why is it there? completely miss the boat on this book/series – it was released when I was (what) primary school age and probably the right target audience for it. It’s a young-adult steampunk dystopia-y book about (I think) mobile/train city states that hunt each other and compete for resources. Like… why haven’t I read this already? It’s a mystery, frankly.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Keep

2. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Why is it there? I’ve never read any Susan Hill, but I think some of my school friends who were in a different English class to me studied I’m the King of the Castle when I did Lord of the Flies by William Goldman. Anyway, the point is, when the film of this starring Daniel Radcliffe started doing the rounds I was reminded again of Susan Hill’s existent so I added this book to my TBR. When it comes down to it, I’m not a fan of scary films or stories, so I’m getting doubtful that I will ever be brave enough to pick this up.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Ditch

3. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Why is it there? I’m not the biggest fan of Jane Eyre (I’m just not sure I “get it”, sorry/not sorry) and I’m not sure if Charlotte is the Bronte for me. I believe Shirley is set during the Napoleonic Wars and portrays social unrest in Yorkshire owing to a mill-owner introducing new machinery to his factory, despite protests from the workers. I’m getting Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South vibes (although no one will beat Mr Thornton, sorry) which isn’t altogether surprising given Bronte and Gaskell’s friendship but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get through that kind of story if Charlotte is the one telling it.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Ditch

4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Why is it there? This seems like required reading if you’ve ever read Hamlet to see what it does with the very minor characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I’ve never read a Tom Stoppard play, or seen one performed, so I have no idea what to expect from this… I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Keep

5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

Why is it there? A couple of Christmases ago, my parents bought me the complete Charles Dickens novels in the lovely red Vintage Classics editions, including (obviously) this one. The synopsis is also pretty damn promising – an exiled chap called John Harmon returns to England to claim his inheritance but then his body is pulled out of the Thames and his murder is a mystery that fascinates the city. It also has the buzzwords “obsession, death and rebirth” so I mean, yeah, this sounds pretty good.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

6. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Why is it there? As is the case with Our Mutual Friend, when I was bought the complete Vintage Dickens set, I probably added every title to my TBR shelf on Goodreads regardless of how interested I was in the novel itself. As far as Little Dorrit goes, I’m not exactly rushing to read it given the synopsis doesn’t exactly sound gripping, and I own it, so I’m not likely to forget it exists sooooo…
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Ditch

7. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Why is it there? I haven’t yet successfully finished a Thomas Hardy novel though I’ve tried out a couple of different ones. This one appeals to me because (whisper it) there’s a film adaptation starring Carey Mulligan (who I love) and one of the men in it is easy on the eyes… yes, I’m that shallow and easy. However, I know I need to read the book before I watch the film so here we are, I still haven’t read it and, as penance, I still haven’t let myself watch the film either.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep

8. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Why is it there? If you’re even slightly into Gothic fiction, someone will recommend Ann Radcliffe as a matter of course. As a forerunner of the genre (and a woman at that) she’s often studied as an example of how the Gothic romance developed in the late 18th century. On my Romanticism course at university, she was briefly alluded to (and we read an excerpt from Udolpho) before we read Frankenstein and Northanger Abbey as examples of the Gothic genre during the Romantic period. I made a note to read Udolpho but then never got to it – that’s a great shame.
Do I own it? N
Verdict? Keep

9. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

Why is it there? I was browsing previous Man Booker longlisted books lists on Goodreads and came across this book which a friend had read and said was very good, so I added it to my TBR shelf and even picked up a copy from a charity shop when I saw it one day. Since then, however, my desire to read this book has entirely diminished. Although I can read a book where not much happens and it’s more about the characters themselves, I also like a little bit of plot, and I have heard that this book mostly explores the inner lives of various characters who live on one street. Like that’s fine, I’m sure it’s very poignant and worthwhile to read but also… I’m not that interested any more?? Maybe I’ll re-add this later but for now…
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Ditch

10. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Why is it there? After you read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (or maybe even before) someone will tell you to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys too – that’s why this ended up on my TBR. Reminder: I didn’t love Jane Eyre (though maybe I was too young to appreciate it when I read it?) so I’m unsure how reading this kind of spin-off will go. Regardless, I still think I should read this.
Do I own it? Y
Verdict? Keep


This round:
Kept – 6
Ditched – 4

Kept – 31
Ditched – 19

Ok so that was the fifth round of my Down the TBR Hole project – I’m starting to see some rewards for my efforts now and that TBR is slowly getting whittled down to only books I’m interested in reading right now. But 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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18 thoughts on “Down the TBR Hole #5

  1. Lisa 20/06/2017 / 16:17

    Thanks to you I found this awesome meme, I really like the idea of it! Congrats to your overall success with ditching/keeping books! :)


    • Emma 21/06/2017 / 09:11

      It’s a great idea, isn’t it? :) Thanks, I’ve had a moderate success but it really has made me realise I’ve just lost interest in some books… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means my TBR now looks a lot less intimidating!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz Whitehouse 19/06/2017 / 20:25

    I really need to do this a few times to have a look what is actually hiding away in my TBR that I am never going to read!


    • Emma 21/06/2017 / 09:11

      I would definitely recommend it Liz. :)


  3. Emma's Library 19/06/2017 / 20:09

    I’m with you on not being a huge fan of Jane Eyre. I don’t really get it either and so I’m also not too bothered about reading Shirley. If you do want to read a Bronte novel, I recommend either Tenant of Wildfell Hall or Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. She needs far more recognition than either of her sisters and, in my opinion, her books are vastly better!

    I also need to get round to reading more Dickens. The only ones I’ve read all the way through are Oliver Twist and a Christmas Carol.

    And Mortal Engines sounds so cool! Definitely a series I should think about reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma 21/06/2017 / 09:13

      Thank goodness there’s another person that feels this way because I was beginning to think I was alone on Jane Eyre. Thanks, I’ll make a note of it – so many people keep recommending Anne’s books to me so I’ll definitely push those up my TBR now. :)

      As far as Dickens go though, those are good ones to start with, I think. He can be hit and miss with his books and just because you like/hate one Dickens doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t another one that’s more to your taste, you know? I need to explore more of his stuff though.

      It does, doesn’t it? I’m so glad I’ve remembered it exists recently because it sounds like something I need in my life. :)


      • Emma's Library 21/06/2017 / 09:41

        I can understand that with Dickens. And some of his books are chunky as well so it’s a case of finding the ones that are more suitable if you don’t like the huge tomes. I’m now looking at the likes of The Old Curiosity Shop, The Pickwick Papers, and Tale of Two Cities. I’ve been wanting to read more Dickens for years and I think during my current classics mood is the right time to start.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Emma 21/06/2017 / 09:46

          Exactly! I tried one of his shorter ones, Hard Times and didn’t really enjoy it to be honest. I felt like everything was rushed and I didn’t connect with any of the characters at all because of it. In terms of a book to examine social classes and the context, sure, it was great, but in terms of enjoyment, not so much.

          I can’t speak for the first two books (though they do sound intriguing!), but I would definitely recommend Tale of Two Cities, I loved that, but I may have been a tiny bit biased because I was using it for my undergrad dissertation to talk about portrayals of revolution. :P

          Liked by 1 person

          • Emma's Library 21/06/2017 / 09:51

            Hard Times is one of the others I do have on my shelf but it isn’t one I’m drawn to at the moment. Although I do quite like a social commentary so I might get something out of it.

            I’m currently looking at them on Amazon and since the Wordsworth Classic Editions are priced at £2.50 each, I’m sorely tempted to purchase the ones I want.

            Liked by 1 person

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