5 Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

Year of Wonders [2001] by Geraldine Brooks

I have been putting off reading this popular book for ages and this maybe because I have such high expectations of it. Unfortunately, it is now a “topical” book too since it deals with a plague spreading in the year 1666. We follow housemaid Anna Frith as she tries to come to grips with her town’s horrific situation and all the scapegoating and witch-hunts that are ongoing. The novel was inspired by a true case of the English village Eyam and boasts some 400 pages.

The Midnight Library [2020] by Matt Haig 

Perhaps I have not read this book yet because it is so popular and I am afraid to be disappointed. The premise appeals to me: “Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself?…Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision(Goodreads). In the past, such “magical” books as The Night Circus and The Book of Flying also fell well below my expectations.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [1943] by Betty Smith

This is a beloved American classic which I am almost sure I am going to love, not least because I like coming-of-age stories and New York City settings. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells of Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg” (Goodreads). At some 500 pages, the size is quite intimidating, but I am sure the book is a pleasure to read.

Hopscotch [1963] by Julio Cortázar

Translated from the Spanish, this story is about “Horacio Oliveira…an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves “the Club.” A child’s death and La Maga’s disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum. Hopscotch is the dazzling, freewheeling account of Oliveira’s astonishing adventures” (Goodreads). This 500+page book presents quite a challenge. It is supposed to be dense and quite philosophical, full of interior monologues, and drawing inspiration from such varied sources as Joyce, Zen Buddhism, New Wave Cinema and “riffing” aesthetic of jazz.

The Moor’s Last Sigh [1995] by Salman Rushdie

I find Salman Rushdie books quite an undertaking and something tells me that The Moor’s Last Sigh will not be an exception. In this book, Rushdie “combines a ferociously witty family saga with a surreally imagined and sometimes blasphemous chronicle of modern India and flavours the mixture with peppery soliloquies on art, ethnicity, religious fanaticism, and the terrifying power of love” (Penguin Random House). The story here concerns “Moraes…Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords…[who] travels a route…from India to Spain, [leaving] behind a tale of mad passions and volcanic family hatreds, of titanic matriarchs and their mesmerized offspring, of premature deaths and curses that strike beyond the grave“(Penguin Random House).

Have you read any of the books above? What were your thoughts on them? If not, do they sound interesting to you? What books do you have on your TBR shelf that you are (intentionally or subconsciously) avoiding reading? See also my first 2019 instalment of, in this case, “10 Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading“. From that list, I have already read Roberto Bolano’s 2666, Orhan Pamuk’s The White Castle, Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.

34 thoughts on “5 Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

  1. I’ve also read A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLY, but it was many years ago when it was part of the Canadian school curriculum probably in grade 7 (I would have been around 12). I don’t recall loving it back then, but I did remember it so it must have had some impact. However, I do love the 1945 film adaptation directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Joan Blondell as Aunt Sissy.

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  2. My you have high aspirations! I tried Year of Wonders and gave up even though my good friend told me it was a “must read.” I also tried The Midnight Library and just couldn’t get it off the ground.
    Go ahead an start A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I have read it three times, and it is a fast, easily finished read.

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  3. I put off The Midnight Library for a long time for the same reason! When I did eventually read it though I did enjoy it. It was not a 5 star read for me and didn’t quite live up to the hype but it was good and definitely worth the read!

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  4. I have the Rushdie book to tackle again a couple of decades after stalling on it. One of the characters was so much like my mother and so typical of Asian women, whether indigenous or Anglo-Indian as my mother was, that I found myself beaten down with personal memories. But I’m determined to go back to it, come was may, I just have to pick the right moment! My partner rates the Matt Haig title, but I have an earlier work of his to read first so haven’t got round to it. I’m sorry, but I’m not being very helpful, am I? 🙂

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  5. I think that there are some books that I read for pure enjoyment and some that I read out of a sense that they will be “good for me.” For the latter, I often start small, saying I will read a chapter a day or something like that. If at some point the book still does not speak to me or I feel that it is not teaching me something, I give myself permission to return it to the TBR pile. Of these I read A Tree Grow in Brooklyn but not recently. I was glad that I did.

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    1. That’s a good strategy! I may try something like that too. I find it so easy to just start picking up books that I know for sure I will enjoy and procrastinate with more “difficult” books. I realise that there is little to no personal or literary “growth” with that path…

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  6. I can wholeheartedly recommend Hopscotch; one of my favorite South American books. Not too dense or too philosophical, though it contains a bit of both. Mostly though, it’s a slice-of-life lost-love story dressed in the glitz and glam of an experimental novel – and all the more interesting for it!

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    1. I am so glad you mentioned Hopscotch! Thanks for your thoughts on it! When compiling this list I thought I would not receive any feedback or reply on it from any one! I love books from South American authors too and I think that Hopscotch will be my type of a read. I guess I simply need a little bit of courage to start it!

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      1. I do hope you’ll love it! 😀 I’ll be waiting to read your thoughts on it one day!

        Cortazar is artistically somewhere on the continuum between Llosa and Marquez for me, less painfully realistic and rabid than Llosa, but not as forcefully flimsy and poetic as Marquez.

        This discussion makes me want to revisit Hopscotch! 😉

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  7. I didn’t love Year of Wonders but it was memorable, which is how I define a good book.
    I had to laugh at myself though when I realised that most of the books I’m avoiding on my own TBR are long. Short books are so much more appealing.

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    1. I will bear that in mind re Year of Wonders, thanks! And, absolutely, long books require all sorts of “investments”. Short books can be very ease to breeze through and complete. I think I have one on my shelf – The Quincunx, which is…1221 pages and, needless to say, it already sits on my TBR shelf for over two years or so.

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  8. I love large books but I’m sure you won’t even notice how large A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is.

    Salman Rushdie is another kettle of fish, though. His books are quite a challenge. I have read Midnight’s Children and though I found it very deserving in the end, it was a struggle.

    I now plan to read The Satanic Verses as a buddy read-along in November, maybe you would like to join us?

    In any case, much luck with your books. Happy Reading!

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    1. That’s good to know about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! And that’s great that there is a buddy read-along in November of The Satanic Verses. The premise sounds good, thanks for the invite! I guess I will have to prioritise Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh for this year and then I will see. So many books so little time! I wish you a very happy reading, too!

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  9. The Matt Haigh is very readable, but in the end I felt I was being given a parable of how to improve on living the life I have been given. It didn’t quite live up to what I’ve come to expect of Matt Haigh, and nor were aspects of the premise tenable. At least it’s shorter than some of the doorstoppers you mention!

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  10. Fascinating books, Diana! I want to read Year of Wonders and Hopscotch. I got Hopscotch recently. I am fascinated by it because Julio Cortázar says at the beginning of the book that the book can be read in two ways – the first is the old fashioned way from the beginning to a particular chapter (not the end), and the second is to start with a specific chapter in between and then read the next chapter mentioned after that and continue in that zigzag way. I found that fascinating because there is a possibility that we might end up reading two different stories in these two different ways. So, I’m hoping to read it soon. As it will demand quite some time (because I’ve to read the book in two different ways), I’m waiting for the right time to get started. Hope you enjoy these books 😊 Happy reading!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I have heard that about Hopscotch, too, and it does sound like something rather unusual and mentally-challenging, I can’t wait! I think that’s why I have been putting off reading it too, not only it is long, but I bet it will require some patience in trying to understand the structure and ideas within.

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