Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Category: A Day in the Life of a Bookdragon

It’s August – time to not set a TBR

Did I stick to my tentative TBR last month? Let me see. I finished Godsgrave, Darkdawn, D3v1ate, These Broken Stars, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Glücklich die Glücklichen. I also finished The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Wordslut, Aurora Burning, Mexican Gothic, The Once and Future Witches, and several more ARCs from NetGalley.

Planned for August is Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, the Sceptre Buddyread. Other than that, Harrow the Ninth is out, which I might read in August. And, as always, I’m going to work through my electronic ARCs pile.

Why I cannot make a monthly TBR post

Welcome to my TBR Shelf of Shame. I won’t pretend to have even a tiny bit of control over the shelf, and I regret nothing. In fact, it makes me very happy to see my big shelf of unread books! I always discover something, and I know that even if everything goes to hell, I will always have something to read.

The only real problem is: WHAT DO I READ NEXT?! I am a total mood reader, so I simply cannot plan my TBR a month ahead. I can only talk about the direction my mood swings. Right now, I am of a mind to finish some series where the last book is hidden in there:

  • Shattered Minds by Laura Lam (Pacifica series)
  • The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley (Worldbreaker Saga)
  • The Toll by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe)
  • The Night Country by Melissa Albers (The Hazel Wood)

Instead of planning a TBR, I will talk about new releases now, books I look forward to, and my reading mood swings to.

This month, 2 new books will find a home in my lovely TBR shelf: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, which I am totally freaking out about, I need more Harry Dresden NOW!!! and Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio, last part (I think) of The Sun Eater series.

It’s that time of the year/month

Open the sparkling water, the first half of the year 2020 is over! We haven’t run out of toilet paper, we have mastered the art of wearing a face mask and looking stylish in it, and we’ve managed to get through some books during quarantine – though not as many as I had hoped for, because: homeschooling. It’s time to look back at what I have managed to read so far and take a look at the challenges that I’ve pledged to participate in, it’s also time to come up with the very tentative TBR for July.

My Goodreads Challenge says I’ve read 131 books out of the 200 I want to read this year. Not bad! Actually, it’s probably a few more that I just forgot to add because they were textbooks or non-fiction. Do I remember what all of them were about? I’d like to shout “Yes, of course!” Honestly though?! I remember the outstandingly good ones, I remember some really bad ones, and I know I read a lot of stuff in between. If you asked me what the best read of the past six months was, I’d probably say my re-read of the Veronica Speedwell series culminating in the most recent fifth book of this series A Murderous Relation – comfort read more than anything else. I knew what I was in for and I liked every letter of it. But, I might also point you to Gideon the Ninth, or The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, or Why We Sleep, and even the most recent ones Goldilocks and If It Bleeds stick out of the pile of read books.

At the beginning of the year I signed up for several bookish challenges, like read one book set in each of the 51 European countries, or read as many books by a certain author for a month, or following a set of prompts for the seasons of the year, or a prompt for each month, and so on. A few weeks back I decided that I don’t want to do any prompted challenges at the moment. The only goal I still want to stick to is read 200 books, which I think is an achievable goal for me. I even deleted all my records of the books I had already entered for the other challenges with prompts. It felt liberating, like that time I decided to pull the bookmarks out of books that had been hibernating on the shelves for too long. Not having to find books and read them because the fit a certain prompt in a challenge felt too constricting right now. This way I can pick what I fancy, which is just what I like doing so much.

As always, the tentative TBR is made up of the mountain of ARCs that I requested (why so many, though?!) and was approved for (Yay! Thank you publishers!). Add the mountain of books that I have started and want to get through – Godsgrave is among them, also Dev1at3, These Broken Stars (I’m not a fangirl, it’s pure coincidence), Dreyer’s English, Alphabetical, Sorry I’m Late, … I know I won’t finish them all, but a girl may dream.

The only solidly planned read for the month is the Sceptre Buddyread: M. John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again. Though, furthermore, there’s Glücklich die Glücklichen by Yasmina Reza (translation from the French) for my postal book club; and a possibly maybe read for the Terry Pratchett book club I’m hosting on Litsy (a very bookish app, the webversion can be found here: Litsy.com) is Johnny and the Bomb, which we’ll be discussing on July 7th, and from July 8th on we’ll be reading Pratchett’s Jingo. While we’re at it and since we’re nearly done with the Dev1at3 buddyread, TheLadyDuckOfDoom and I might follow that up with the just released final book in the trilogy, Truel1f3.

So much for a tentative TBR, this all sounds like a very well-planned adventure. Let’s see if I fancy sticking to it.

Are cultural sights about to go extinct?

This post is more about culture and memories than about books, but I feel that I have to get on a virtual soap box and make this speech. Bear with me, it might get soppy and long.

Right about 19 years ago I went to London on a university excursion, based, of course, on a Shakespeare seminar I was attending. I clearly remember not liking the coach trip at all, the driver was overly tired having just come back from Greece a few hours before we were scheduled to roll off towards England, and he was about to fall asleep at the wheel several times. Anyway, we managed to arrive in London and drive past the Palace of Westminster just as Big Ben was banging out at 8 a.m. Not being able to check into our hotel in a side street behind Piccadilly Circus until the afternoon, we started to roam the streets of London at a very early hour.

Having recently read Rutherfurd’s London and armed with my knowledge of previous visits to London, I went off towards Trafalgar Square, because in a side street between Piccadilly and Leicester Square there was a tiny café that served a marvellous English Breakfast. That day I managed to find exactly what I was looking for without ever having to consult a map, Trafalgar’s Square, Twining’s on Fleet Street, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Museum of London, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, and several bookshops on the way. Perfect day! About to be crowned with a theatrical performance.

Then my group of students met at The Globe Theatre in the evening to watch a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Definitely not one of my favourite plays. Add Groundling tickets, a slight drizzle, and a hurting back from ten hours of nearly constant walking through the city. I was so not up for standing around for three hours and watching the play, BUT Vanessa Redgrave, in her role as Prospero, made every aching muscle worth it. I’m not going to pretend she and the wonderful performance by all of the cast made me fall in love with the play, but I will never forget the fish that were flying into the audience at one point. And that is a memory I will treasure all my life and it’s the memory I share the most when being asked whether I have been to the Globe.

I promised you memories at the beginning of this post. I have fond memories of this visit to the Globe. Other friends have similar memories, Emily, for example, saw Love’s Labour’s Lost with her mother when she was eleven and got hooked so much that she’s now working at the Globe. But will she be able to be working at the Globe for much longer? World renowned ‘heritage sights’ all over the UK are suddenly under threat of closing FOR EVER due to lack of funding; see the arts funding plea. Do we really want this to happen? Everyone should get a chance at making such profound memories. It doesn’t have to be at the Globe, it could be at Jane Austen’s home, or any other literary and/or historically relevant place.

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How do you put together a TBR list (To Be Read) when you hate TBR lists?

First off, hate is a strong word and probably not right here. Still, TBR lists, far more than To Do lists, make me feel obligated to stick to the items listed. On the one hand I want to tick off the boxes on the list, on the other it puts me off reading, especially when I am stuck with a rather boring book. It’s like back in school having to work through a required reading list. So, what I’ve been doing for ages now is not to make a strict TBR list at all.

Sometimes I go weeks without any sort of pre-planned reading. I pick a book at random, sometimes off the physical shelves, sometimes off the virtual ones. I pick what takes my fancy; a sizzling hot romance, a YA fantasy novel, classic Sci-Fi, or the book that’s been staring at me the longest, daring me to take it off the shelf and read it. At other times, I put together a somewhat tentative reading list in my mind. And then there is the buddy reads list.

If you’re not familiar with the term, buddy read means reading a book at the same time as a friend/friends and maybe talk about it as you go through it. This has helped me actually read some of the books on my shelves that I might have continued to overlook, but it also made me get some more books that we might not be reading for some time yet. Anyway, it’s great fun sharing a book with a friend/friends, particularly since we don’t always like the same characters or aren’t annoyed by the same tropes. We discuss those books on the go through social media, sharing quotes and sometimes taking guesses as to which way the plot might twist next.

For June I have planned to make my way through some of the 68 Advanced Review Copies (ARCs, books that authors and publishers provide before they are officially published to get early reviews from readers), read the monthly Buddy Read book with my fellow Sceptres, maybe read one other physical book from my shelves, and listen to at least one audiobook. Why are there no titles mentioned here? As mentioned above, I’m picky, but also it’s only partly on purpose. The monthly Buddy Read, for example, is a new release that the bookshop is sending to the three of us each month. That said, we got a bit of a hint for the July book, but still haven’t entirely figured out who the book might be by. We might share our deductions here before the July book arrives. What I can tell at this point is that in June I might finish Mythos by Stephen Fry on audio; and that the ARC I’m currently reading is a book that was already published in August 2019, it’s called Britfield and the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart. For the long term I have planned to finish the Nevernight trilogy by Jay Kristoff, and all those books that I started to read and then put in hibernation (not cryo-stasis though) because another book looked better to me. I’ve also started to read a few books with my kids (like the Izzy Sparrow series and A Darker Shade of Magic series) and I would like to get them done so we can move on to new books. But my kids are just as polygamous readers as I am, they have several books started and never hesitate to insert a few comic books in between half a chapter of a novel. So it might take us a while to get those books read.

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