Okay, here’s the deal. At the end of May, I talked about why I occasionally do book buying bans and how they’re actually really helpful for me. At the beginning of this year, I threw away my handwritten TBR list that was organized chronologically by when I’d bought something. It was bringing me a lot of stress because I kept feeling guilty for not reading the books I’d purchased earlier, and then I started falling behind on preorders because I was trying to “catch up”, and all of it was just this weird mess of anxiety that just does not belong with reading. But, these two things combined mean something. Since I’ve stopped worrying about exactly when I bought a book, I’ve freed myself to reading whatever I want, whenever I want, which has somehow translated into buying more books since hey! It doesn’t matter if I haven’t read that book from 2018! And it doesn’t, it really doesn’t, but another thing has happened–I’ve been buying a lot of books. I can say that I was supporting diverse authors all I want, but I could have done that without buying ten books at a time. And, circling all the way back up to my previous post, I have a very, very small room. I can only fit four eight foot bookcases in there, which I’ve had to seriously get crafty about how I store in order to fit more books, and I recently got rid of a lot of books I’ve been holding onto for nostalgia because, drumroll please, I have finally reached the place I promised I would never get–
There are books on my floor. This wouldn’t be a problem if I had any damn space for books on my floor, but I don’t. I barely have space for the TBR cart that’s contained most of the overflow from my two shelves. But between buying way too many books to support Black & AAPI authors, as well as twenty godsdamn books for Pride (this is what I’m talking about, it’s way over the top), and telling myself I deserved birthday books, well. My owned unread books is currently at, good grief, just over 120 books.
I’m less concerned with the number than the fact that there is a towering stack of books on my floor next to my TBR cart, which already has more books on it than can technically fit. Thus, we’re here with The Great TBR Challenge. There is no world where I can read 120+ books in six months, so that’s not what I’m about to propose, but there is a world in which I can read 50 books in six months, and that’s where I’m at. I’ve been averaging 8 books a month anyway, 10 when I’m feeling really feisty, so maybe I can even push that envelope a little. The goal, then, is that when 2022 rolls around, I want this TBR to almost be cut in half, and I want to have not bought any books outside (1) Christmas gifts for myself and (2) a single spontaneous shopping. I’m allowing myself this one because it’s bound to happen, so might as well plan for it. No matter what, I want to be under 100 owned unread books by the end of the year, so we’ve got to get cracking. Pride is over, which is the last of my themed months of reading (I know, I know, I know, Halloween is coming up, and I’m probably going to throw caution to the wind in half a second, but I don’t have any books currently planned–this should seem absurd, but iykyk, because I planned my Halloween TBR in July last year–and I’m feeling pretty lowkey about Halloween this year), so I can really focus.
I’m not going to set a specific TBR for myself because that’ll just cause anxiety chaos all over again, but I do want to prioritize preorders (not listed here) and series. And, not gonna lie, there are just straight up some books that I’m not going to read. I need to come to terms with these and eventually unhaul them because they probably make up 10 books in total. There’s also some adult literary fiction that I’m still holding out hope for, but we’ll see. Thus, the books going on this challenge are the ones that I’m most likely to read in the next six months. Which means that this is an insanely long list (not quite 120, but close), and I’m drafting this before I’ve finished my Pride reading (though I tried to guess which ones I’d read for the rest of the month), so there is a possibility that I’ve already finished some of these.
I’m going to try not to ramble on about these for too long since there are 74 books on this list, and if you make it all the way to the end, you’re my hero!
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison is so up my alley that I’m not sure why I haven’t read it yet. This is probably going to be something I say a lot because truly all of these are exactly my type of book because duh, I bought them. But this one has Jon Steele vibes that I’m excited about!
I keep telling myself that I’m going to read more Becky Albertalli books, and then I don’t, but I did one better with Yes No Maybe So–also by Aisha Seed–by buying it and then just ignoring it for ages. Though, to be fair, I did buy this right around when everything was hanging on a precipice in the US, and it still might be a while before I’m ready for a political book.
The first series book! Nexus by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings is something that I know I’m going to love even though everyone else rolled their eyes big time at this duology. It’s been a while since I read the first one, though, and while I do vaguely remember it, it’s pretty vague, and I may need to reread the first one before I dive into this, so that might set this back a bit.
I’ve got less series books on here than I’d expected, but The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is probably one of the oldest ones. This one confuses me so much because I loved The Bear and the Nightingale, but the more I think about it in recent months, the more I just loved the first one on its own, and while I’m definitely going to read the rest of the series, I think that’s what’s holding me back, is that the first one felt complete.
I’ve actually been eyeballing We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett a lot recently, not because I’m excited about its content because I remember absolutely nothing of what it’s about, but more just the general aesthetic of it. I’ve been loving fantasy way more than normal, which is bordering on excessive, and this just looks like everything I’m going to like. Or, you know, it could also turn into too standard YA fare that makes me want to crawl under my bed.
Another series! Surprisingly, I remember a lot of Passenger, so I’m ready to dive into Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken whenever I can get my act together. That said, I do think this will be the last of Bracken’s backlist that I’ll read because while I’ve really enjoyed her middle grade series & Lore, I wasn’t freaking out over Passenger, which has made Wayfarer a bit unappealing because it’s the same as everything other YA of its time, and I think I’ll just stick with Bracken’s new releases moving forward.
I think Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown might be the most recent purchase so far on this list, and it’s good to know that there’s a lot of that in the following books. Some of these are from way far back, but many of them are 2021 purchases, and that gives me a little less stress.
Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender was something I said I was going to read immediately because duh Kacen Callender, and then I just didn’t. Honestly, put that on my tombstone–meant to read this book right away, and then didn’t. I’m probably going to love this, too, and I’m hopeful that I can get to it sooner rather than later.
There are a few astronaut biographies on here, and all of them are old. We Seven: By the Astronauts Themselves by Scott Carpenter was one that I was really excited about, and I had full intention to have read it way before now (like, in early 2020), but nonfiction just kept getting pushed farther and farther back the more I fell into read whatever I want territory. I do think I’m at the end of reading astronaut biographies, though, because I’ve read almost everyone I had an interest in, so I’d like to get these squared away.
Why haven’t I read The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco yet? I know that I had it on my Halloween TBR last year, and that cover gives me such Madeleine Roux vibes that I should have devoured this. And I really like Chupeco as a person! Okay, that’s it, you’ve got me convinced, Halloween 2021, let’s go.
Oh, are we surprised there are Shadowhunters books on this list? I’m not! However, the thing that’s different this year than any other damn year is that I’m actually going to finish reading all the currently published Shadowhunters books. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare was a preorder, too, but I’m not counting it that way for this list because one of my biggest 2021 goals was to freaking finish up this universe.
Which means that yes, Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare is also on this list. Don’t read me wrong, I love Shadowhunters, and I’m so excited to be carrying on through the series, but there are so many, and I’d like to be current rather than constantly behind, so aiming for this one very soon.
I’m so mad at myself that I haven’t read Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare yet, and you should be, too! I was so close to finishing up TDA, and then I just didn’t. Granted, I do know what happened–I switched into Women’s History Month mode and set this aside, and then I went wild in April & May and didn’t feel like reading a 900-page tome after I’d read several 500+ page books, and then Pride hit. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, though, so it’ll hopefully show up in July.
And Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare is the last outstanding Shadowhunters book that I have. Given that I started this year with four other books in the universe not read yet, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at on this goal.
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke was purchased during a “read all the witch books ever” mood, and while I’m still definitely going to read it, I need to space my witchy books out because there are a lot now. Maybe I should setup a schedule. Pick out all of them and drop one in for each month left in the year.
While I was working on researcher & librarian, I wanted books that were similar, and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman sounded like it would have a similar aesthetic, and I meant to read it while I was writing Freddie’s story, and then, guess what, I just didn’t. I’m going to be in that kind of vibe again toward the end of the year, though, as I get farther along in my vampire story, so will hopefully read this then.
Another witch story! However, I am saving Labryinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova for when I’m next working on sister witches. I still need to revise the third book, and I’m going to get revisions for the second book back from CP in the next few months, so I will be diving back into that story and need to maintain the witchy atmosphere eventually.
Freedom in Exile by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama XIV is probably one of the oldest books on this list, and I know why. I am so afraid of this book. His autobiography, My Spiritual Journey, really did a number on me, and while I know that I’m going to cherish this story, I also know it’s going to break my heart, and I’m just not ready for it. But I also really want to read it, and I’ve been wanting to rewatch Kundun lately, so it might be time for it.
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett sounded amazing when I bought it, and I’m so mad that I didn’t read it, especially because I think this was a 2019 purchase. A reviewer that I like recently loved it, though, enough that they picked up the second book, so that’s got me looking at it more often, so hopefully soon!
I’m a little uncertain about The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. A reviewer that I really trust had some things to say about it that left me feeling like I might not enjoy this one, and it’s definitely put it on the back burner for me while I decide if I actually want to read it. I think I still will, but it may be a bit.
Real talk, though, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke is actually the oldest book on this list, and while I did get rid of a bunch of unread middle grades recently, I kept this one because I love Funke’s Inkheart series, and I will die for The Thief Lord, so while I probably won’t buy anything new from her, I’d like to finish up what I’ve already got.
An ex-friend advised that I should read Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey when I was working on the second book of my vampire story, so I’ve been saving it for that. Eventually, he becomes a detective, and she said the vibe of this book was very similar to what I had in mind. I don’t think I’m going to be anywhere near writing that this year, but we’ll see.
Annnnnd another witch book! I’m seriously going to have to create a schedule because although I love witchy books, sometimes it’s a bit much, especially because many of them aren’t quite right. I’m excited about When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey, though, and I really hope it’s better than the ones I’ve been reading lately!
I meant to read These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong last month after I read another Romeo & Juliet retelling, but I wound up not having enough time. I’ve been thinking about this pretty consistently, though, so hoping that means I end up reading it in July.
There’s been so much hype about The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and while I did definitely fall prey to that hype, the concept of this book sounds wonderful, and I’m really curious to see all the magic unfold. Plus, I’m trying to get more into adult magical fiction since the writing style fits what I’ve been working on for the past several months.
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer has been, much like Freedom in Exile, a book that I’m studiously ignoring because I know it’ll break my heart. I’ve seen the Brad Pitt adaptation of it, and that made me ugly cry, so there’s a 100% guarantee that the book will be even worse.
In support of all the insanity that’s going on with Joan He, I bought Descendant of the Crane from one of the approved places they listed, and I’m so excited to finally read this! I want to read He’s new release, too, but I try to only have one unread book at a time by an author I haven’t read before, so this’ll just have to make an appearance sooner rather than later.
Havenfall by Sara Holland is definitely one of the older books on this list, and it’s also definitely a cover buy. I still vaguely remember the setting, though, and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to love this based on that, so I need to get my act in gear and read this soon.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is one of the few recommended books that I own! I know what I like, and people generally don’t buy within those parameters very well, so unless I’ve hand-picked a list for you, don’t buy me a book. One of my friends, however, has been observing my reading habits for years now, and she bought me this book, so I’m really curious to see if I’m going to like it.
And A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova was on a hand-picked list, so while it was bought for me, it was basically bought by me. Look, it’s just easier when people are asking me eight million times what I want for Christmas or my birthday to hand them a list of books and tell them to go wild. I usually do a list of 20 so I’ll be surprised no matter what, but I also definitely put this on a specific friend’s list because I knew she would buy it.
Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz is me trying to still read within the Apollo generation while also having read most of the astronaut books that I care about. Kranz is involved in a lot of the Apollo astronauts stories, though, for good reason, so I thought it’d be cool to see everything from the other side.
I have some doubts about whether or not I’m actually going to read Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger. It sounds fantastic, and like something I’d really like, but after everything came to light about his behavior, I’m not sure that I want to even crack it open. Part of me just wants to unhaul it because I’ve never read anything else by him, and I have no ties to him, but the other part me is like, well, I already have it, so why not? I dunno, we’ll see.
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer is another one of those formula titles, so feels like it’s gotta be amazing! If it’s not, I’m really going to be bummed out because this formula title has never let me down before.
Under Shifting Stars by Alexandra Latos is, somehow, the first book from my Pride list. I’ll be honest, I had 20 books on that TBR, so I knew I wasn’t going to finish any of them, but then the first four books I read were absolute shit, and it slowed my reading down big time. Thus, I didn’t quite get to this one during Pride, and I’m not sure how soon I will read it given I’m now angry at contemporary, but we’ll see.
Lightbringer by Claire Legrand has been on my TBR for almost three months now, and I really, really want to finish out this series. Both because I’m so UGH about it that I don’t want it outstanding anymore and because I have a hate/love relationship with it where I desperately want to know how it ends, but I’m also going to three-star it. I am as confused as you about why I’m still reading this.
I was iffy on Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim for a while because the concept didn’t sound like it’d catch my attention too much, but then people were freaking out about it, so I figured I’d give it a whirl!
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones was so many things–a cover buy, a title buy, a necromancy buy, and I can’t even actually remember if there’s necromancy in it. I think there is? I don’t care either way, it’s got skulls, and I’m here for it. I should probably save this book for Halloween, too. Maybe that’s how I’ll get my Halloween TBR, just slowly wandering through this list and putting it together.
Another space book! Somehow, I’ve never seen or read Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell, and I refuse to see it now until I’ve read it, but I just haven’t been in a nonfiction mood for a while, despite being in a space mood, so I’m in this weird middle ground of wanting to read this so I can watch the movie, but also choosing fantasy over and over again.
Another Pride book! Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald was one of the two middle grades I got for Pride, and I was really eager about them, so I’m hoping that I’ll actually have read one of them by the time this post goes live. We’ll see, but fingers crossed!
Circe by Madeline Miller is probably going to end up read sooner rather than later. As you’ll see below, I’m cheating a bit because I’ve started TSOA, but Miller’s writing style and the time period of her books is perfect for the book I’m currently writing, so it’s A+++++ reading material for me right now.
Not gonna lie, as I’m drafting this post, I’ve started The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, so I could take it off the list, but I’ve got a perfect amount of books on here that every line is four books, so I just truly cannot take it off. But rest assured that I’ll have definitely finished this by the time this post goes live!
Annnnnd, another witch book. The Ravens by Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige sounds like it’s going to be terrible good. Like, I’m going to unabashedly love it, but it will also probably belong as a CW adaptation, so I’ll hate it a little at the same time. You win some, you lose some, and I’m done pretending I don’t like CW-style books.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan is not only another witch book, but another rec’d book. It’s by the same friend as above, so I’m hopeful that this’ll turn out good. A reviewer I like was also a fan of Morgan’s books, so the next time I’m in the middle for adult magical fiction, here we go.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is–gosh, honestly? This book has been on here forever, and I bought because I was getting a lot of “how can you not have read this yet??” flack from the community and from my friends, so I let myself be peer pressured into buying it, and I think I want to read it? But I’m not sure because everyone compared Caraval to it, and I hated that, and I know this is meant to be way better, but all the things combined just have me very meh about this book. Maybe I should revisit all of my unread owned books by the end of the year like you do with clothes and decide, truthfully, if there’s any hope for them.
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy is from my Pride TBR for last year, which is making me feel a little ashamed about the fact that I still haven’t read it as I’m adding books from this year’s Pride TBR that I also haven’t finished. Hm. Someone recently posted about this on Instagram, though, which means it’s entered my sphere of awareness again, and I’d like to say maybe soon, but I think I’ve said that a lot recently.
My sister normally doesn’t buy me books, but she did get me All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven after she watched the Netflix adaptation. I really need to read it since she bought it for me for Christmas, and I’d hate to let the whole year go by, especially because she it’s possible this is the first ever book she’s bought me?
Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to read every Alice Oseman book ever. I managed to find something of a chronological list, and then it was time to buy them all and stack them next to my bed so they’d stare at me. Truthfully, I’m not 100% sure what I Was Born For This is about, but it’s Oseman, and that’s good enough for me.
A reviewer I like absolutely died over Loveless by Alice Oseman, and I know it was super hyped when it came out, so I’m really excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman seems to collectively be everyone’s favorite of the Osemanverse? Again, not totally sure what this one is about, but enough that it sounds like it’s definitely going to appeal to younger Mary who definitely would have freaked out over this as a teenager.
I’m pretty sure Solitaire by Alice Oseman is about Charlie’s sister? Wow, I can’t even remember her name, and I would be mad about that if it wasn’t also hard for me to remember MC names sometimes. Oh! Tori! I think this one is about her? And it takes place right after Heartstopper? Which would explain why it’s next on my stack?
Talk about a title buy–please don’t ask me what The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is about because I really don’t know. I think the MC’s mom turns into a bird, but I also think this is about mental health, so that may just be a metaphor? Truly no idea, but I’m ready to find out!
Way back when I was writing Saintsverse (jfc, this has got to be almost two years old now, then), I wanted more books about pirates because I’d just started the spin-off that takes place on a ship, so I bought Seafire by Natalie C. Parker, and then I abandoned my book seven or so chapters in and never read this. But I still really want to!
My goodness, if y’all have lasted this long of me just repetitively saying “I don’t know what this is about”, you’re a true champion because I also don’t know what The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk is about. I know that I want to read it, and I know that one of my friends bought it for me, but I also know that the cover is gorgeous, and that may have swayed me.
I’m having such a hard time with The Good Omens by Terry Pratchett because I really want to read it, and I won’t watch the show until I do read it, but I also just never feel like reading it? Like, it’s there, and it’s constantly eyeballing me, and it’s probably one of the oldest books on this list, and I know I’m going to like it, but I just keep not reading it, and I don’t understand.
Uhhhhh, not gonna lie, I picked up Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie a few months ago, read the first few pages, decided I wanted to read something else, and put it back. But those first few pages kind of made me want to unhaul this because this shit is dramatic af, but in the first draft Extra YA kind of way that I’m not sure I can handle. I’m going to give it another go because it does sound really interesting, but we’ll see.
It shouldn’t be surprising to me that most of these books are contemporary or lightly magical, given how much high fantasy I’ve been reading lately, and I feel bad because I want to read The Black Kids by Christina Hammond Reed, but I also don’t think it’s going to happen soon. Pride burned me for anything less than high fantasy, and I was already in that mood anyway, so.
Who, me? Buying books off of the B&N Pride table in 2020 like I was actually going to open Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards anytime sooner than not right now? Nahhhhh. I am going to read this, but I also find it a little hilarious that I definitely bought this because of the B&N table and because I was still obsessing over the movie.
I truly was not sure whether or not to include Escape from Asylum by Madeleine Roux on this list, and I probably shouldn’t have. There is a very low chance that I’m ever going to read this. I think I three-starred the entire trilogy, and I really didn’t like the novellas, and I just don’t know if I can survive another book in this series. But I also know that I love Roux as a horror writer, and I can’t quite convince myself to unhaul this, so here it lies.
One of the very few preorders on this list, Salvaged by Madeleine Roux is here because I preordered it so long ago that the sequel is now out, so this is officially me calling myself out to read this damn book.
I meant to get to Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore in the last week of Pride, and who knows, maybe I got my shit together and actually did it, but I’m putting it here just in case I didn’t. There’s so many things that look just wonderful about this, and I need it in my life soon.
I truly cannot say how long I’ve been trying to read We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez, except that this better be one of the first books I read from this list because I’ve been hyping it up in my brain for over a damn year now.
I watched a really terribly sad gay movie about AIDs earlier this year, and I’m currently watching a few people in my life go through illnesses, and while I’m excited about The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, it’s dropped down my list because I don’t think I can handle all of that together.
I’m uncertain about Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve after a review I saw citing some of its harmful trans rhetoric, but I’ve also seen trans people feel very seen by those same instances, so I’m not really sure how I feel about reading this. I think it may be a case of a single book not being able to represent an entire community, but I’m going to do some more research before I commit to this.
Oh, WHY MARY WHY! The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud should not be on this list. I love this series! I enjoyed the first one so damn much! Every time I put this on a list to shame myself into reading it, I just keep not reading it! I am so mad at myself!
This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura has one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen, and even though I do vaguely remember what this is about, it was, like, 98% a cover buy. Don’t even come for me, this is just so beautiful to look at it, and I really hope the inside is as gorgeous.
I think I may be the only person in the entire book community that hasn’t read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas yet, and it’s not for lack of availability! My sister has it upstairs, and she even offered to hand it off to me when she was finished, and I was like “nah I’m reading fantasy right now”. Story of my life.
A Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner is on my Pride TBR for this year, and even though I told myself I was going to squeeze it in at the end because it’s urban fantasy, and that should make me happy, I backed away from it a bit after I read a self-published urban fantasy that began this whole Pride fiasco, and now I’m pretending I’m not avoiding this.
I’ve said it every time I mention this book, but A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer looks and sounds like it’s going to have Zebulon Finch vibes, which I am HERE FOR wow I wish I could forget that duology so I could read it again for the first time, but it’s also a million pages long, and I am not here for that right now.
Oh my gosh, we’re almost at the end! This post has truly taken me days to draft. Hungry Hearts: 15 Tales of Food Love by Various is one of many short story collections that I want to read, and one that I will hopefully read very soon. I’ve been enjoying dropping into a collection in the middle of huge fantasy tomes, so hopefully I’ll grab this one and the one below next month.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Various sounds fascinating, and I would have been sold on just retellings in general, but there’s a very high likelihood that I don’t know any of these original stories, so this is going to be even more amazing for me.
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth has the most Sleeping Beauty retelling vibes ever, and I still haven’t read it?? I remember picking this up in the store, too, and deciding I was going over my spending limit so I could take it home because I was that excited, and yet, here it sits.
And last, but certainly not least, is The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. I’ve seen the very long movie, and it only made me want to be an astronaut more, and I’m sure to love the book. It’s just a matter of getting myself back into the mood for a nonfiction.