The Intimidating TBR Tag

And now it’s time for the walk of shame. The beautiful and brilliant Renay has tagged me to talk about my TBR list, and I hang my head woefully and confess my TBR sins.

1. What book have you been unable to finish?

Future Crimes, by Mark Goodman. I started it a while back, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t into it, but you know how if you kept getting lice as a kid because that one girl in your class had a crunchy granola mother who I guess didn’t believe in Nix Shampoo and wouldn’t do anything about her daughter having lice so everyone in fifth grade kept getting it over and over again, you know how to this day if you talk about lice your head starts itching even though you know it’s psychosomatic and everything’s fine?

No? That’s just me? (My head itches right now y’all.)

Well, anyway, reading Future Crimes got too stressful for me. It made my brain itch. I’ll go back to it sometime! Swearsies!

2. Which book haven’t you read yet because you haven’t had the time?

All of them? Can I answer “all of them” to this question? I’m giving the very specific answer right now of The Madwoman Upstairs, which I checked out with a regular (okay, largeish) bunch of library books and then a ton of electronic holds on new books arrived at once. With a shiny new Crooked Kingdom, Three Dark Crowns, Tessa Dare romance novel, and this sports romance novel by an author called Ruby Lang I only just heard about, the library books that are currently on their last renewal are falling by the wayside. Sorry, The Madwoman Upstairs! I’ll come back to you someday!

3. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s a sequel?

Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. I got it at a book sale thinking “well I won’t like Wolf Hall for sure but maybe I’ll like this,” and then I tried reading Wolf Hall and really loved it. (Go fig.) So now I have this nice hardback of Bring Up the Bodies, and I haven’t read it yet because Anne Boleyn dies! And even though Mantel’s version of Anne Boleyn isn’t the world’s most ever sympathetic, still I do not want her to get beheaded.

Bring Up the Bodies

4. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s brand new?

All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths about Native Americans, by Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker. I read Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States a few years back and thought it was terrific. I’m also trying to be more aware of indigenous American history and lives generally, and I’m hoping to read more from Indian authors in the upcoming year.

5. Which book haven’t you read yet because you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?

White Teeth and On Beauty, by Zadie Smith. I quite liked her essay collection, Changing My Mind, but wasn’t wild about her latest-but-one novel, NW. I am hoping that I’ll love her latest latest, Swing Time, and then that will ease the way for me to get back to reading these two earlier novels, which have been on my list for like a decade now.

6. Which book haven’t you read yet because you’re just not in the mood for it?

Happy Families, by Tanita Davis. Let me revise that: I am in the mood for it. I will always be in the mood for it. I loved her latest book Peas and Carrots, and I am confident that Happy Families will be similarly thoughtful, emotional, and great. But I have been saving Happy Families for some kind of feelings emergency, and even though 2016 has been terrible, there hasn’t been anything so cataclysmic as to merit digging into my emergency reserve of books that feel like hugs.

7. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s humongous?

Don Quixote, okay, I admit it. I asked for it for Christmas probably over ten years ago, received it from one of my beloved aunts, and to this day I still haven’t read it. There’s a part of me that’s hoping Alice at Reading Rambo will host a readalong one time, but honestly it doesn’t seem like the kind of book she’d be excited to read along with other bloggers.

(But Jenny, couldn’t you just host the readalong? I hear you ask. Okay, yes, probably I could do that. Alice is just so much betterrrrrr at it and she’ll definitely keep dooooooooing it and I’m so laaaaaaaaaaazy and I’m just like not a leader I am really more of a facilitator slash sheep. So.)

8. Which book haven’t you read yet because because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?

Wow this is really specific. I don’t buy books based on the covers almost ever, because I want my library to be (I’m sorry to use this word but) curated. So I’ll do something closeish: I was very excited to read The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, because on paper it sounded perfect for me, all sciencey and accessible. But then I read a thing where apparently a bunch of scientists who study this stuff as their jobs do not think Mukherjee has a good handle on it at all. DILEMMAS.

9. What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?

My Uncle Napoleon, by Iraj Pezeshkzad, which is so intimidating it is now officially the oldest book on my TBR list. Not only is the book 500+ pages long, it’s also in translation, which is very intimidating to me. My track record with translated novels is not the greatest track record. Anyway, the good news is that in compiling this post, I discovered a super beautiful cover for the book that made me feel like three degrees less intimidated.

My Uncle Napoleon

10. Who do you tag?

Look, this tag made me dig deep into my TBR shame, and I don’t want to pressure anyone else to do that who doesn’t want to. Do the Intimidating TBR Tag if you wish! Maybe it’ll remind you that you should get off your butt and read My Uncle Napoleon already or else take it off your TBR list and admit it’s never going to happen.

Peas and Carrots, Tanita Davis

“But Jenny, you should read Tanita Davis! Perhaps this new one, Peas and Carrots!”

“Oh, gosh, it seems like she has a sort of middle-grade aesthetic going on, and I tend to prefer older-skewing YA, so I’ll maybe give her a miss.”

“Jenny, no really, Tanita Davis, she’s right up your–”

“Shhhhh, I’m busy.”

FOOLISH FOOLISH FOOLISH JENNY. Have I not yet learned that I should listen to bloggers and their wisdom? Even if I have reservations? Peas and Carrots is about two girls, Hope and Dess, who become foster sisters without either of them particularly wanting to be. In alternating chapters, they tell the story of how Dess is folded into the Carter family.

Peas and Carrots

Couple things. That are great about this book.

1. The foster care system has really, really serious flaws. The whole thing may need to be scrapped and started over at some point, that’s how serious I think the flaws in it are. At the same time, there are lots and lots of people trying to work within the system to make kids’ lives better. This second point can get lost sometimes in pop culture. Or always. It was refreshing to come across a book about a foster family who wanted, and worked for, only the best outcomes for their foster kids. PLUS, it’s one of very few books I’ve ever read that included child protection workers who weren’t evil.

2. Sister stuff. Neither Hope nor Dess was dreaming of having a new sister. Hope has enough going on in her life without adding a grumpy white racist teen sister into the mix, especially one who calls her fat and hopeless. Dess just wants to be with her baby brother again, even if he now calls Mrs. Carter Mama and barely remembers Dess. But they develop — what? Eh? What’s that you say? A grudging respect between sisters?

YES. THEY DEVELOP A GRUDGING RESPECT.

3. Appropriate boundaries! I love boundaries more than I love most people, places, and things. If ever you are wondering how to set a boundary, come talk to me. I am the Queen of Boundaries. Also great at setting boundaries is the foster family in Peas and Carrots. While the Carters are incredibly compassionate toward Dess, they also make their expectations clear, and they reiterate to her what kind of behavior (kindness first!) is valued in their family culture. A+ boundary-setting.

4. Nothing actually is resolved. Dess doesn’t get a permanency ruling. The sick baby doesn’t magically get healed. We don’t find out if Dess is in as much danger from her father and his gang as she believes she is. Peas and Carrots offers the possibility a better world to Dess, but it never promises her (or us) a perfect one.

Although (or because) the only stakes in Peas and Carrots are emotional ones, I couldn’t put this short book down. I sneakily read it on my lap when I was supposed to be selling books for work. Shhhh, don’t tell work.1 Now I will have to go out and read everything Tanita Davis has ever written.

What is your favorite book about BOUNDARIES, team?

  1. Work knows. I believe what I said to work was “I am finishing such a good middle-grade book, is that cool?” and they said “Sure, nobody’s even here to buy books yet! It’s so early!”