Five Things Make a Post: It Came from the TBR!

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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May 15, 2013

Like most avid readers, I have a To Be Read pile. Oh, do I ever. Here, have a picture of part of it:

TBR, 5/15/13

TBR, 5/15/13

This is, of course, not all of it. There’s also an electronic component as well as books stashed in other bookcases throughout the apartment.

So what are the top five books on my TBR? Not necessarily the five I’ll get to first–I am too scattered to make a reading plan and stick with it when I’m reading for fun–but the five I’m most looking forward to reading eventually? In no particular order…

Shattered Pillars, Elizabeth Bear. This is the second book in Bear’s epic fantasy set, more or less, in a fantastic cognate of Central Asia. There are horses and magic and terrible sacrifices and I really loved the first book. There’s something about Bear’s writing which really connects with me and she seems to be getting better with each new book that she writes.

Grail of the Summer Stars, Freda Warrington. The third book in the Aetherial Tales trilogy, this is just the kind of urban fantasy I love. Not the new definition where there’s a kick-butt woman in leather pants, but the earlier kind typified by the writing of Charles de Lint and Emma Bull. I suspect that this sort of thing is called contemporary fantasy and I also suspect that it doesn’t sell particularly well these days which is why there’s not a whole lot of it.

Untamed, Anna Cowan. Holy crap has there ever been a lot of discussion about this book in Romancelandia. People seem to either love it (with caveats) or loathe it (I have not read any of these reviews, so really don’t know what they say apart from the general opinion). From what I can gather, there are some serious issues with Cowan’s interpretation of gender roles in the period as well as with her understanding of the Corn Laws–and since my knowledge of the period is gleaned mainly from other romance novels, I suspect that I will fall into the love it (with caveats) crowd.  I am planning on reviewing it here sometime soon, so I’ll be sure to let everyone know what I think. One of the reasons I’m so excited to read this particular book is that, from where I am in a not-having-read-it-yet perspective, Cowan appears to be pushing at the boundaries of what romance is and even if her attempt isn’t wholly successful, she gets points from me going in.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, Joseph Lambert. I can’t remember where I heard about this one, but I’ve had a fascination with Keller and Sullivan for many years and I am interested to see how Lambert translates Keller’s disabilities into graphic novel format. Based on what I’ve read about this, though, it doesn’t talk about Keller’s social activism and perhaps centers Sullivan’s story over Keller’s. I also find the title problematic–Keller was so much more than just a trial. But nonetheless, I am looking forward to reading this.

The Steerswoman’s Road, Rosemary Kirstein. I have heard so many good things about these books from lots of different people. And I have started reading this volume but it’s been so long since I’ve picked it up I’m going to have to start over again. I am, however, totally happy that there will be e-book editions of these soon! Maybe I’ll throw this in my bag for my Memorial Day weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains (I’m taking a train–I’ll have plenty of time for reading).

What’s in your To Be Read pile? Or what are you looking forward to reading? Let us enable each other!

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  1. Brie

    I don’t even know what’s on my TBR anymore (mostly because I try to ignore it so that I can buy more books without guilt) but I know Ilona Andrews’ last Edge book is on it, so at least we share that 😉

    • Natalie

      I didn’t even LOOK at my e-TBR because I know there’s at least 80 things in it other than Untamed

  2. Merrian

    I love the Steerswoman books and am sorry the series seems to have petered out unfinished. I hope digital and may be self publishing, helps us and the author to a good end for these characters and their world

    • Natalie

      My understanding is that Kirstein is still working on the next book in the series, it’s just that she’s a slow writer and has a demanding day job. As someone who worked 11 hours yesterday, I can understand the demanding day job part of things.

  3. Jorrie Spencer

    On my TBR pile:
    1. A reread of The Rifter by Ginn Hale
    2. Afterhours by Cara McKenna
    3. King’s Dragon by Kate Elliott. (I really enjoyed her Crossroads series and Cold Magic.)
    4. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

    I’m toying with buying The Untamed Duke and I’ve been reading all the reviews and discussions about it. So…not sure.

    • Natalie

      I really loved After Hours! I am a bit on the fence with Untamed, too–I’m planning on reading it this weekend.

  4. Rosary

    Looks a bit like mine. I have the Cook Omnibuses to read, In your picture above, I’d push for reading the Throne of the Crescent Moon. Saladin Ahmed’s writing is excellent, and the world he’s starting to build is not the usual fantasy world we see. I think I read it in a day or so, and cannot wait for the next one.

  5. Victoria Janssen

    I love TBR posts. They are so tasty.
    And thanks for the pointer on the Warrington! I had not heard about that one before!
    Yay Kirstein!

    • Natalie

      Warrington is great. Elfland is seriously a perfect old-timey urban fantasy novel. So, so, so good.

    • Jessica

      I have a copy of Elfland on my shelf, loaned to me a year ago by Kristen of Fantasy Cafe. I had no idea it is UF! I really need to read it. I love the idea of an older UF predating the leather clad, tramp stamp, dagger wielding kick ass heroine (although I have enjoyed my share of those as well).

      I’m not interested in the Cowan, especially now that the hype is so magnified by the controversy, but I am very interested in your review of it. This has become one of those books I will read anyone;s commentary on, but never the actual book.

      And on that note, I really try to separate the real life person from the book (because I’d be depriving myself of a lot of good reads otherwise), but still there are a few authors I can’t bring myself to read due to online drama, and I am sorry to say Elizabeth Bear is one of them.

      On my TBR? Making my way slowly through Caitlin Moran’s very funny How To Be a Woman, and reading a whole slew of Harlequin Medicals because I am working on a project.

      Happy reading everyone!

  6. Liz Bourke

    My TBR shelves… er. Take up slightly more than one double-stacked six-shelf bookcase. I mean, slightly more. We’re not really counting the nonfiction, are we?

    From the nonfiction shelf in front of me, I have:
    The History Written on the Classical Greek Body, Robin Osborne
    Space and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds, Michael Scott
    The Cuisine of Sacrifice Among the Greeks, M. Détienne and J-P Vernant.

    In fiction? I really ought to read The Seven-Petaled Shield by Deborah J. Ross, King’s Dragon by Kate Elliott (technically a re-read, but it’s been about fourteen years) and I want to read Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone.

    From the electronic forest, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sidelines, Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court trilogy, and Joanne (Jo) Anderton’s The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories.

    Did I mention that the TBR stacks are developing their own ecosystem?

    • Natalie

      I’m surprised they aren’t sentient, to be honest. I have more stuff on the TBR than in that picture but that probably is the bulk of the physical TBR. The e-TBR is much, much larger.

    • Liz Bourke

      There are GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE.

      I think my TBR shelves are reading me…

    • Natalie


  7. DrMM

    Started putting my books on goodreads a few months ago. Currently my TBR on there is 318 books and I’m not finished cataloging them yet (I’m sure I have a few more hanging around I haven’t read yet). I have so many I can’t even remember everything I have to read, although I know there are a few Loretta Chase books on the kindle, Georgette Heyer and a ton of random YA fantasy. Donna has been giving me ideas about new mystery authors to try too (I really don’t need more books, but it’s too late).

    TBR piles breed exponentially. One book is always replaced by at least two more.

    If there was a Bookworms addiction group, I should probably join.


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