It's the most wonderful time of the year! The announcement of the short list for this year's ToB! This year's tournament has 17 books (I explained the play-in round to Darrell and he was cracking up.) and I've only read one of them! But, since I have the quarter off of grad school, I feel pretty sure I can get through a good number of them before March. And, even better, so many of the books sound interesting and I'm looking forward to reading them. And, in a fit of fantastic planning on my part, I hoarded all my gift cards from students and was able to purchase a bunch of these the ones that we didn't have in the school library. (Although my librarians are awesome, and I bet they will order lots of these.)
Let's take a look at the field.
You and I have both read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I was certain this would make the short list. It was just the big, buzzworthy book of the year. We've discussed this a lot already, so I'll just go ahead and say that I think it will be great for discussion.
I downloaded The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz. We talked a bit back and forth about this one. Apparently this was only released as a digital book, and that first version was available on kindle for $4.99. But you discovered they had also published it as a hardback, and that version is $10.99 on Kindle. The world is a confusing place, Kelly. So far, I can't really figure out what makes it interesting as a digital only publication. It's weird. Might require some research on what the story is there. As for the actual story, it is told in alternating voices: Jim, who dies suddenly but is experiencing some sort of afterlife. And his wife, Jane, who is pretty upset that Jim contracted with some nutball group to cut off his head after his death in order to bring him back to life. So. Yeah. Interesting premise for sure.
I got two books from the school library. The Sellout by Paul Beatty and The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. I read the first page of each of them, and they are both first person narrators. I'm a little burned on that right now. So I'm going to wait on those for a while.
As a thank you for the Fates and Furies book talk, I got a $50 Amazon gift certificate! Perfect timing. I also had some other Amazon credit I had been hoarding. I ordered Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. My guess is that I'll read the Anne Tyler after The New World. Obviously the play-in round is first, and we're already in the middle of another John Irving. So maybe save Avenue of Mysteries until later in February? I really like Anne Tyler and read a bunch of her books in college and my early 20s. At some point, I stopped reading her, I remember feeling like she had a shtick and I was tired of it....but, I can't remember what that shtick was anymore. I hope it will feel like hanging out with an old friend! I also ordered The Invaders and Bats of the Republic, and I know nothing about either of them except for the descriptions on the ToB site. Finally, Oreo by Fran Ross. I am super interested in this one, and if I had to make a prediction from the long list, I was hoping this one made it in. I have a feeling this will be pretty high up in the batting order, too.
My local independent bookstore
I had a $100 gift card left, and I really wanted to support my local independent bookstore. I went there this afternoon with the plan of just getting whatever I could find on the list. And they had Our Souls at Night, The Story of my Teeth, The Tsar of Love and Techno and The Book of Aron. Can we talk about how freaked out I am by the cover of The Story of my Teeth? Teeth freak me out. I'm worried about that one. But, look at this interesting bookmark that was inside of it! I guess that should inspire me to read more literature in translation. The only recent read that I can think of that qualifies is the Ferrante quartet I just finished.
And because I just spent the whole day at that superbooktalk, I also got The Wrath and the Dawn, a retelling of the Shahrazad story for a YA audience. I'm lucky I got away with only one non-ToB purchase. Bookstores=danger.
Already Own It and Dreading It
A Little Life. Obviously.
Coming out in Paperback
Both The Whites and The Turner House come out in paperback by early March. I can wait for that.
Beg or Borrow
Ban en Banlieue. I just couldn't get the Powell's site to load. I'll figure out how to get it from someone.
Is that all 17? What about you? Any sound interesting? Any audiobook insights?