It’s been a while since I tried to get control of my Goodreads TBR list. If anything, my physical pile has been getting more out of hand. I may actually have to try and restrain myself over the next few months. Like actually do it this time.
The rules are simple:
- Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 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?
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
It’s 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of Playboy. Billy and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. For ever. But as Billy says, ‘No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.’As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they’re blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. For ever.
I read a short story by Jason Rekulak in a collection edited by Stephen Chbosky and I was really struck by the writing and the complexity of the character, so I’m interested in giving his novel a go. KEEP.
Winter Birds by Jim Grimsley
On a snowy Thanksgiving day in North Carolina along a stretch of rural highway, a dreamy eight-year-old named Danny Crell is caught in the middle of a violent quarrel between his parents. Danny’s father, Bobjay Crell, has been at the mercy of doctors, unforgiving landlords, and cruel farm bosses ever since he lost an arm in a farm accident. His subsequent fits of rage and drunken jealousy have taken their toll on his wife and five children. The two hemophiliac boys, Danny and his younger brother Grove, have been particularly vulnerable. Bobjay isn’t the same man that young Ellen Crell married years ago, but still she will go to terrible lengths to keep him home and sober and, failing that, to just hold the family together. In the midst of the worst violence, Ellen becomes a stranger to the children, as frightening in her own way as Bobjay in his worst rages. In a ramshackle cottage the children name “The Circle House” for its circle of rooms where one door opens on to the next in a dizzy escape leading nowhere, Ellen and the children must face at last the tormented man who terrorizes them all. Jim Grimsley’s brilliant first novel unfolds in a strikingly unconventional way – as Danny tells himself his own story – and brings to light a shattering story of heartbreak, violence, and the endurance of the spirit.
I don’t remember adding this to my TBR unsurprisingly and reading the blurb I honestly don’t think it’s for me. GO.
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . .
Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.
I missed Lisa McInerney at Hay Festival last year. I find the underworld lives of cities, the things most people don’t see or are completely oblivious to, really interesting so I think this might be a good read! KEEP.
Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh
Meet Sonny Anderson as he tips headlong into adulthood. Sonny doesn’t remember his mother’s face; he was kidnapped at age five by his father, Guru Bim, and taken to live in a commune in Brazil. Since the age of ten, Sonny has lived in Redondo Beach, California, with his guardian Thomas Hardiker. Brits think he’s an American, Americans think he’s a Brit.
When he turns 21, Sonny musters the courage to travel alone to the UK in an attempt to leave a troubled past behind, reunite with his mother and finally learn the truth about his childhood. With a list of people to visit, a whole lot of attitude and five mysterious letters from his guardian, Sonny sets out to learn the truth. But is it a truth he wants to hear?
Narcissism for Beginners is a fresh, witty and humane take on the struggle to make sense of growing up.
Five mysteries letters, I am sold. In all seriousness though I think this book sounds unusual and like it might potentially be a good future read! KEEP.
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
Bold, sexy, and daring, these stories portray a world twisted on its axis, an unconventional place that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. Bender’s prose is glorious, musical, and colloquial, an anthology of the bizarre. In ‘The Rememberer’, a man undergoes reverse evolution — from man to ape to salamander — at which point a friend releases him into the sea, while in another story a woman gives birth to her mother. A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library. A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows. A woman falls in love with a hunchback; when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him. A wife whose husband has just returned from the war struggles with the heartrending question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?
Short stories are my favourite, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a million times before. The more I read, the more I find myself drawn to the unconventional slightly surreal and comic. Miranda July and Simon Rich are two of my favourite writers and I think this collection by Aimee Bender sits well within that style. KEEP.