Spring Cleaning: TBR Edition – how I removed 100+ books from my to read list

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One thing I’m totally guilty of is adding books to my “to be read” list, and then not reading them for months (or years…) later. This leads to me feeling like a) I’m going to drown under a sea of unread books b) my TBR shelf is staring at me and judging me every time I add a new book to the shelf, and c) I’m having an existential crisis about the fact that I will never get through my TBR if I add 10 new books to it for every one book that I finish!

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the oldest books that were on my to read shelf on Goodreads and in going through some of those super old books, I realized there were definitely books on my “to read” shelf that I was no longer interested in reading.

That sparked some spring cleaning, and I removed more than 100 books from my TBR list. I know, I know, some of you read the books you already have before buying more or adding new books to your “to read” shelf, but alas, I am not one of those people. At the start of the year, I had around 800 books in my “to read” shelf, and I’ve narrowed it down to less than 650 now. I know that’s still a lot, BUT it’s progress! I want to share some of the ways I was able to clean up the list, because I’ve heard from a number of people that it’s hard to decide what to remove!

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The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

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After Lucy and her husband Owen get a little drunk at a dinner with friends, they learn that their friends have opened their marriage. They claim that opening their marriage reignited the passion they had for each other that had long been lost, and that they were happier than ever. Lucy balks at the idea, but after thinking on it for a while, decides to give it a try in hopes that she’ll stop feeling so invisible. She and Owen set ground rules, and add a end date to the experiment – 6 months, no questions asked, and no falling in love. When Lucy realizes she’s broken one of these rules, she has to decide if she wants to stay in her marriage or if this new romance is more intriguing.

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Books everyone loved that I…didn’t #unpopularopinion

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The other day I completed a book tag, and one of the questions asked me to name a book that everyone loved that I didn’t. I started thinking about it and realized that I actually could think of a few that I didn’t love the way it seems everyone else does, so I decided to write a post about it and share some of my unpopular book opinions. Please don’t shun me!! I also want to be clear that I have zero issue with anyone who did like any of these books – clearly I’m in the minority here because they are all highly rated! All titles link to Goodreads 🙂

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Book hoarding: what’s been on my backlist the longest?

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I know I’ve had this conversation with many of my fellow bloggers and book lovers before, but I am the WORST at buying books with grand intentions of reading them right away…and then letting them sit on my shelf for months years. So today, I decided to go through my Goodreads “to read” shelf and sort them by date. Below, I’ll show you the 10 books that have been on my list the longest, regardless of how embarrassing my choices were! This will also help me with my Beat the Backlist challenge, because if I can get through some of these this year, it will help me reach my BTB goal!

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The Circle by Dave Eggers

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Mae Holland is thrilled when she gets hired at the world famous company The Circle. The Circle is the leader of technological advances and has basically monopolized the use of the internet and social media. In addition, they strive to streamline daily activities, so they found a way to integrate all social media accounts, payment options, purchase history, etc to create a single online identity.

In this new age of transparency, Mae is excited to see what else The Circle comes up with…until she has a strange interaction with a coworker who talks of the problems the lack of privacy can cause. The Circle is a book full of technological innovations, suspense, and moral questions, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

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Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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Manipulated Lives is not a book I’d normally read, however I was approached by the author to read her book, and it sounded interesting enough that I decided to take her up on her offer. Manipulated Lives is comprised of 5 short stories that touch on the nature of unhealthy relationships, particularly relationships with narcissists.

Each of the stories were completely separate from one another and had their own plot, but had similar overarching themes. While I wouldn’t classify any of the stories as traditional thrillers, each of them had some sort of small twist at the end that wrapped up the story.

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Author Q&A: Doll House author John Hunt @johnhuntfiction @brwpublisher

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Today I was fortunate enough to chat with John Hunt, the author of Doll House, which I recently read and loved! Doll House tells the story of a young woman named Olivia who is kidnapped and tortured by two sadistic men during her freshman year in college. She manages to escape, only to realize that her nightmare is far from over.

Your book Doll House dives into the mind of both a sadistic killer and one of his victims. Where did you come up with the idea for Doll House?

The whole novel started with the Jen scene. I am very visual and see scenes play out in my head. I saw a traumatized woman struggling with reality and the whole story flowed from there. 

How easy or difficult was the process of writing multiple point of views, especially considering how different the characters were from each other? Was there one character you liked writing more than the others?

I always write with music playing. It helps me to zone out so when I’m writing about characters and their POV, I see it in my head. It is only afterwards, when editing, that I consider context and mind set and whether I’ve made them individuals. For the most part, the characters tell me what they are going to do. I don’t find it easy or hard, it just is. I like writing about Olivia the most. She was the most intriguing to me. Could she overcome such horror and if so, what would she be like on the other side? Yup. She was my favourite. 

How long did Doll House take you to write, start to finish?

Ok, when I have time, I write fairly quickly. So, just the writing portion was probably a month? Maybe more, maybe less. The editing process takes so much longer. Add a few months just for the editing. Ugh. I don’t like editing. It is tedious. All in all, maybe four months?

Are there any authors or books that influenced or inspired you when writing the book?

There are no authors or books that inspired me specifically to write the book. But I guess we are all an amalgamation of our experiences and since I read a lot, there is a bit of everyone who acted as inspiration. But hands down favourite authors: Stephen King and J.K Rowling. But it is so hard to choose amongst writers. Elmore Leonard, John Sandford, Richard Laymon, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, jeez, there are so many brilliant ones aren’t there? 

Did you always know you wanted to be an author? If not, what got you to decide you wanted to write a book?

I wanted to write since I was a teenager. My French teacher used to get mad at me for reading a book while she taught. I tried to hide it under the desk, but she saw it and rightfully gave me the gears. I didn’t actually try it until 2011. My job responsibilities and familial responsibilities took up a lot of time and I got overwhelmed thinking about it. But then I was like, just do it you wimp and so far, it’s been awesome. 

What are some of your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing and publishing process?

Writing is awesome. Love it. It’s what I think about most. My publisher has been very supportive so that has been a positive experience. The worst part, I don’t know if I mentioned this, is the editing. Yeah. Not a fan. 

Lastly, what are some of your favorite books to read when you’re not writing?

Wow. So I read everything and that’s a hard question. Bernard Cornwell, Naomi Novik, Charles Dickens, J.D. Salinger, Jack Ketchum, Ed Lee, Graham Masterton, Nick Cutter, Dean Koontz, Robert McGammon, George R.R. Martin, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Joe Hill and the list goes on and on. I really, really like the John Sandford VIRGIL FLOWERS series. Awesome read. Depending on work and family stuff going on, I typically read two to three books a week.

Thank you so much to John for taking the time to sit down with me and answer some questions!

Doll House is out now! Be sure to find it on Amazon and Goodreads!