Down the TBR Hole, #1

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia on her blog Lost in a Story, which I first encountered on another blog, Elle’s excellent Elle Thinks.The idea is to clear up your ever-expanding TBR list by following this procedure: on your Goodreads profile, arrange your To-Read books by date added in ascending order, and then go through the list 5 to 10 books at a time, deciding which book you should keep and which you should discard. Repeat the process weekly until you reach the end of the list.

This feels like a useful meme to me at this point. I’m in therapy for anxiety, and one of the main problems we’ve identified is all the rules for living I impose on myself. One of them (admittedly a minor one, but hey, I have to start somewhere) is “Thou shalt not do blog memes because they are lazy and self-indulgent”, and it’s time to let go of it. Plus my TBR list remains so huge it makes me feel like a failure every time I look at it, so I welcome the opportunity to attack it. Here are the first 5 books on my TBR list.

1/ NEEDFUL THINGS, by Stephen King

The cover of the book Needful Things: a deserted street at night, with shop fronts lit up on each side. Dark cloud hover above.

Needful Things is the one Stephen King book whose premise always intrigued me the most. Some dude/demon/thingy comes to town and stirs up enough shit to cause the legendary Castle Rock to go up in flames. Oh yeah, baby. I just can’t wait to see the web of manipulation and deception in which King will trap his characters, bringing out the worst in them in the process. Before you know it they’ll be bringing chainsaws to their neighbours’ limbs, and eating their own newborns. And I’ll be cackling maniacally.

The only reason I haven’t read it yet is its brick-like size, and the concern that I might miss out on references to previous Castle Rock-based novels I haven’t read. But I’m pretty sure I can get over these reasons easily. And the book is already sitting on my shelf.

Verdict: not going anywhere.


2/ STARDUST, by Neil GaimanThe cover of the book Stardust: a shooting star sketched across a navy background that shows the branches of a tree.

At the time I started my TBR list, I had just realised that my knowledge of fantasy literature was very limited, and in an excess of zeal (or a frantic desire to make up for my perceived deficiency), I decided to read EVERYTHING NEIL GAIMAN HAD EVER WRITTEN. Stardust, being so slim, felt like an easy start, but there’s nothing about its synopsis that really interests me. Plus I’m now familiar with Gaiman’s style, having read Neverwhere, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Stardust is no longer needed.

Verdict: it’s going.


3/ THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The cover of The Shadow of the Wind: a street is represented in the yellowish-brown shades of old photographs. There is a lampost in the centre of the image, towards which a man walks from the right.

This book was recommended to me by at least three reader friends. This was just after finishing my postgraduate course, at a time when my mind was shot and my taste in literature put into question. So I added it to my list with the hope that it might help me find my reader self again, but without real conviction. Still not convinced.

Verdict: go.




4/ THE HUNGER GAMES (trilogy), by Suzanne CollinsThe boxset of The Hunger Games. The box is solid black, with a golden mockingjay emblazoned on the front. It flies through a golden circle holding a golden arrow in its beak. The box is placed at an angle, so you can see the spine of the three individual books on the right. There is a variation of the mockingjay at the top of each spine: the golden one is repeated on The Hunger Games; Catching Fire sports a red one, while Mockingjay has a silver blue one.

A friend of mine got obsessed with this series a few years back, and I trusted her judgement. My better half also read the first book and called it “clever”- quite the compliment coming from him. And the series felt topical. And I enjoyed the films. Mm. The hype got me, didn’t it? I’m sure they’re good books, but the truth is, I’m not interested enough to devote three books’ worth of reading time to them. Or even one book’s worth of reading time. I got all three of them off the damaged pile at work, but I’m content seeing them look pretty on my shelf for now.

Verdict: go.


The cover of 'Salem's Lot: a blurry black and white image of a white woman wearing a dark cloak. Her hood partly obscures her face. On the left of her face, a question is printed: "do you believe in vampires?"5/ ‘SALEM’S LOT, by Stephen King

It’s strange this book should be on my list, when the Ultimate Authority on All Things Stephen King (that’s my dad) once told me it was one of King’s scariest. You see, the trailer of the original IT film was enough to scar me for life, so I know to stay away from his hardcore stuff. But I read the first chapter of ‘Salem’s Lot in 2012 anyway, safe on the bright and busy shop floor of the bookshop where I worked, as a sort of dare. I was sucked in. From the first lines, King creates a legend –mysterious, terrible- that only the anticipation of fear could persuade me to resist. But one day, friends. One day, I won’t be chicken anymore, and I will find out what happened at ‘Salem’s Lot.

Verdict: stay.


Well, that was strangely therapeutic. Like decluttering your house to star afresh.


You can find me on Goodread here.


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