Down the TBR Hole #37

In mid-2017 I was inspired by a post on Bursting with Books to start tackling my TBR shelf on Goodreads and see if these were books I still wanted to read. The title and premise come from Lost in a Love Story. I eliminated quite a few books, but still have a massive TBR of over 2500 books. This year I’ll be tackling 10 books per week to determine if I am still interested and want to keep them, or if I’m ready to remove them from the list.

How does it work?

  • 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?

This week’s selections:

Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life, No Matter What!

Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck
Nonfiction; Self-Help
Added August 4, 2012

“The poet Mary Oliver did this in one of her poems, brazenly asking, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” If you’re afraid you’ve come to this question too late, you are wrong. Ask your Stargazer self. It will tell you what my fallen-noble friend Marianna told me in one of my darker hours: that the world is re-created in every instant of time, and this moment is always your life’s beginning. No matter how many years have been stolen from you by your own ignorance, by cruel fate, or by the acts of others, you have a clean, broad slate before you. In this instant—this one now—you can begin steering by starlight, and if you do, the rest of creation will conspire to guide, teach, and help you.”

Verdict: Keep

Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself

Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk
Nonfiction; Spirituality; Self-Help
Added August 4, 2012

Long ago before the patriarchal period, in many places on Earth, the Goddess was worshipped. Circle of Stones draws us into a meditative experience of the lost Feminine and creates a space for us to consider our present lives from the eyes of women’s ancient culture and ritual. Incorporating the most ancient symbol of spirituality- the circle of stones- Duerk weaves stories, dreams, and visions of women to lead each reader into a personal yet archetypal journey, posing the reflective question, “How might your life have been different if . . .”

Verdict: Remove

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Nonfiction; Memoir; Food
Added August 5, 2012

A delightful and unexpected collection of pieces by writers, foodies, and others-including Nora Ephron, Marcella Hazan, and Ann Patchett-on the distinctive experiences of cooking for one and dining alone.

If, sooner or later, we all face the prospect of eating alone, then Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant provides the perfect set of instructions. In this unique collection, twenty-six writers and foodies invite readers into their kitchens to reflect on the secret meals they make for themselves when no one else is looking: the indulgent truffled egg sandwich, the comforting bowl of black beans, the bracing anchovy fillet on buttered toast.

From Italy to New York to Cape Cod to Thailand, from M. F. K. Fisher to Steve Almond to Nora Ephron, the experiences collected in this book are as diverse, moving, hilarious, and uplifting as the meals they describe. Haruki Murakami finds solace in spaghetti. Ephron mends a broken heart with mashed potatoes in bed. Ann Patchett trades the gourmet food she cooks for others for endless snacks involving saltines. Marcella Hazan, responsible for bringing sophisticated Italian cuisine into American homes, craves a simple grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich. Courtney Eldridge, divorced from a fancy chef, reconnects with the salsa she learned to cook from her cash-strapped mother. Rosa Jurjevics reflects on the influence of her mother, Laurie Colwin, as she stocks her home with salty treats. Almost all of the essays include recipes, making this book the perfect companion for a happy, lonely-or just hungry-evening home alone.

Part solace, part celebration, part handbook, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant offers a wealth of company, inspiration, and humor-and, finally, recipes that require no division or subtraction.

Verdict:  Keep

Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir

Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg
Nonfiction; Memoir; Reference
Added August 5, 2012

In her first book to focus solely on writing since her classic work Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg reaffirms her status as one of the foremost teachers by redefining the practice of writing memoir.

Verdict: Remove

Famous for Thirty Seconds (Commercial Breaks #1)

Famous for Thirty Seconds by P.G. Kain
Fiction; Middle Grade; Contemporary
Added August 5, 2012

Brittany Rush is the face of Gotta Have It candy bars, the hands of Write On pencils, the hair of Knot Me Not detangle spray and the voice of Mom, It’s Delicious! soups. Brittany has been appearing in commercials and print ads since her backside was the official derriere of Simply Dry Diapers. When Brittany showed up at a callback some girls would actually just get up and go home since they knew it was almost impossible to compete with her. However, a month after her twelfth birthday, Brittany’s mother tells her that the entire family is moving to Hong Kong for a year. Brittany is forced to take a brief but agonizing break from her commercial career. After a year of being just an anonymous kid in a foreign country, Brittany is more than ready to return stateside to her steady diet of go-see’s, auditions, callbacks and bookings in NYC. Within 48 hours of landing at JFK Brittany’s agent Judith Lister of the A Lister’s Agency has three go-see’s for Brittany. When she shows up to the first go-see, she expects the spotlight to start shining on her again but instead she finds that, in the year that she has been gone, she has changed from being the cute kid to watch out for to just one of the many pretty girls waiting her turn. Will Brittany be able to steal back her spotlight? Or will she discover there’s more to life than being a commercial success?

Verdict: Remove

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
Nonfiction; Self-Help; Memoir
Added August 5, 2012

In the spirit of her blockbuster #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place.

One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.

And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.

So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.

Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.

With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.

Verdict: Keep

A Kiss In the Rain

A Kiss in the Rain by Dacia Wilkinson
Fiction; Young Adult; Christian
Added August 9, 2012

A love lost. Danielle Cotton is sent to her grandmother in disgrace where she withdraws from life. Content where she is, she’s devastated when her grandmother dies and she’s forced to move back to her hometown with her daughter. While there, she mets Adeline, sixty years her senior who drags her back to the living world with gentle nudges and out and out bossiness. She reconnects with her family and soon discovers the love lost isn’t as lost as she’d thought.

Every woman … mother, grandmother, friend … deserves love in her life. Love and friendship.

Verdict: Remove


Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie
Fiction; Romance; Chick Lit
Added August 9, 2012

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead–and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to re-create her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who assumed her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice her job, her relationships, and everything else she worked so hard to build?

Verdict: Keep

Turning Pages

Turning Pages by Tristi Pinkston
Fiction; Young Adult; Contemporary
Added August 9, 2012

When the arrogant Blake Hansen steals Addie Preston’s promotion at the library, he pretty much rubs her nose in it. But Addie, who dreams of being a full-fledged librarian, decides to stick it out. She loves surrounding herself with books and keeping her father’s memory alive in the building where they spent so much time together.

Soon, Addie learns that her beloved library will be torn down to make room for a larger facility, and she has to make a choice. Fight, or let go?

To complicate things, she finds herself attracted to Blake, who is engaged to someone else. Will Blake and Addie ever resolve their differences?

Verdict: Remove

Beach House Memories (The Beach House)

Beach House Memories by Mary Alice Monroe
Fiction; Chick Lit
Added August 9, 2012

“Pride of one’s work is not improper, unladylike, or vain. We can all take a lesson from the sea turtle. She does not travel thousands of miles or risk all for her ego. She has an instinct for greatness — one that I believe is found in all living creatures. ”

Verdict: Remove

This week’s stats: Keep 4; Remove 6

2018 stats: Keep 28; Remove 72

**All covers link to Goodreads; all titles link to Amazon {affiliate}

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