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Saturday Clean-Up: TBR Declutter #2

Saturday Clean-Up With What She's Read

Welcome back for another round of TBR Declutter. Last time I removed two books from my TBR, and kept like two others mainly for posterity’s sake, bringing the total of books on my TBR from 269 to 267. Is that a good benchmark for success? Is this just another way I may be a hoarder?

I don’t know, but I’m willing to try again to see. It isn’t even necessarily that I want to ultimately remove x% of books from this list—I mean, I added them there for a reason. I do think there is value in going back to books I wanted to read 5 or 6 or 7 years ago. I imagine I’m not alone, but I do tend to get consumed in certain book genres or specific types of stories, and forget about all those other stacks I spent so much time eagerly building up.

Anyhow! Credit goes to Lia @ Lost in a Story for this idea!

Just tuning in? The aim is pretty simple: to declutter your TBR shelf. Here’s how it 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. 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?

Last time I did 10, and I’m going to do it again.

Current TBR tally: 267 Oldest book added: 2009

Here they are:

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that “there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.” Kingsley Amis’s scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy.

More than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy postwar manners, Lucky Jim is an attack on the forces of boredom, whatever form they may take, and a work of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing, from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh. As Christopher Hitchens has written, “If you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice, and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin, you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable.”

Plead your case: Well I kept Kingley’s son’s book last week. This was another added in school (of course it’s such a school book), but I still really want to read this short imperishable romp!

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

Disillusioned and loveless, a chain-smoking art history professor who spends her spare time singing in nightclubs and tending to her young daughter finds herself pursued by an erratic, would-be librettist.

Plead your case: I blasted through a ton of Lorrie Moore books a few years ago, and feel pretty confident I’ve read this one too. Definitely worth a reread, at any case, as all her short story collections are.

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

Ellen Gilchrist: I Cannot Get You Close Enough & Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle

I Cannot Get You Close Enough

I Cannot Get You Close Enough by Ellen Gilchrist

Home for the summer in Alabama, Rhoda Manning seems blessed: her daddy is very rich, she is newly slim, and all of her friends adore her. But the passionate, independent Rhoda begins to realize that life is more than her comfortable, secure existence would suggest. As Rhoda strains against the confinements of home and family, she becomes reckless, flinging herself on a rebellious course toward destruction.

Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle

The fourth collection of stories by Ellen Gilchrist, these tales provide a mix of favourite old characters and the introduction of several new ones. She won the 1984 American Book Award for fiction.

Plead your case: Ellen Gilchrist is a goddamn master when it comes to writing short stories and other short forms. Shame on me for not reading these already!

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim - until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey's Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere - and to risk it all - in the name of love.

Plead your case: No pleading, just reading

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

The Conscious Cook by Tai Ronnen

Plead your case: I’m not going to include the synopsis here. It’s a vegetarian cookbook. I’ve since gotten 12 thousand of them plus Pinterest/the internet.

Should it stay or should it go: Go

The Golden Apples by Eudora Welty

Welty is on home ground in the state of Mississippi in this collection of seven stories. She portrays the MacLains, the Starks, the Moodys, and other families of the fictitious town of Morgana. “I doubt that a better book about ‘the South’-one that more completely gets the feel of the particular texture of Southern life and its special tone and pattern-has ever been written” (New Yorker).

Plead your case: I’m pretty sure I’d go to hell for removing Eudora Welty from this list. Please tell me this gets easier?

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

The Anatomy Lesson by Philip Roth

At forty, the writer Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious affliction—pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his spirit. Zuckerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line. Now his work is trekking from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. Zuckerman himself wonders if the pain can have been caused by his own books. And while he is wondering, his dependence on painkillers grows into an addiction to vodka, marijuana, and Percodan. The Anatomy Lesson is a great comedy of illness written in what the English critic Hermione Lee has described as "a manner at once...brash and thoughtful... lyrical and wry, which projects through comic expostulations and confessions...a knowing, humane authority." The third volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound , The Anatomy Lesson provides some of the funniest scenes in all of Roth's fiction as well as some of the fiercest About The Author: Award-winning author Philip Roth has made a career of confronting the heartbreaking dissolution of relationships, the absurdity of sexual neuroses, and the downside of his own literary fame. Many of his readers believe that Roth has been merely writing his own story for nearly fifty years. However, the author refuses to offer such speculators any simple answers, saying of his characters, It's all me. Nothing is me."

Plead your case: I’m not sure how I feel about fiction about fiction authors anymore, but I’m still pretty excited about “the funniest scenes in all of Roth’s fiction.” I’m pretty sure I own this one, and it’s not like I’m going to throw it away, but I’ll remove it from this TBR for now.

Should it stay or should it go: Go

Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benetar

Rachel Waring is deliriously happy. Out of nowhere, a great-aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city and she sheds her old life without delay. Gone is her dull administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. She will live as a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, expression, and love. Once installed in her new quarters, Rachel plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But as Rachel sings and jokes the days away, her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far.

Plead your case: I don’t even remember adding this to my TBR but I’m glad it’s there. It sounds incredible.

Should it stay or should it go: STAY

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime."

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

Plead your case: No pleading here, I’ve read this gorgeous book!

Should it stay or should it go: Mark as read!

And that’s a wrap for this round! I removed 3, but one was a cookbook and the other I’d already read.

Have any thoughts about what I’ve kept around what I’ve given the boot? Please let me know!

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