Iiiiiff I kept an official TBR, there would be at least 150 books on it, and that's just the ones I physically own. There are books that I bought a couple years ago that just keep getting knocked down the list as my "mood" changes. The older babies are basically just decorating my shelves (whoops). I've definitely learned that reading books and owning books are two different hobbies, and my TBR list is growing exponentially.
The first ones that come to mind are the ones my brother actually gifted me (oops), but there are plenty others that I was really excited to buy but put on the shelf... they tend to be sitting somewhere visible, as a constant reminder that I need to actually pick them up...
So here they are! Some of my infinite TBR books that I'm pledging to read this year. They tend to be big-name books that I really do think I'll love, but there are a couple surprises.
What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
I really love documentaries, but I rarely pick up nonfiction. It's something I really want to change in 2023. Sometimes there are books I pick up hoping I'll jumpstart reading nonfiction, but I get distracted by everything else, even when I'm really interested in the topic.
This is one of those books. The way "fat" is represented impacts the lives of millions of people, across countries and cultures, but it's not something that's typically about outside of a negative or "health" lens. Conversations about "fat" are typically cheap jokes, but like the title says, there's a lot that isn't said.
Click the carrot for the Goodreads synopsis
Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people's experiences. Unlike the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage readers to love and accept themselves, Gordon pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence. As she argues, I did not come to body positivity for self-esteem. I came to it for social justice.
By sharing her experiences as well as those of others--from smaller fat to very fat people--she concludes that to be fat in our society is to be seen as an undeniable failure, unlovable, unforgivable, and morally condemnable. Fatness is an open invitation for others to express disgust, fear, and insidious concern. To be fat is to be denied humanity and empathy. Studies show that fat survivors of sexual assault are less likely to be believed and less likely than their thin counterparts to report various crimes; 27% of very fat women and 13% of very fat men attempt suicide; over 50% of doctors describe their fat patients as awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant; and in 48 states, it's legal--even routine--to deny employment because of an applicant's size.
Advancing fat justice and changing prejudicial structures and attitudes will require work from all people. What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a crucial tool to create a tectonic shift in the way we see, talk about, and treat our bodies, fat and thin alike.
In Defense of Looting by Vicky Osterweil
I picked this one up during 2020, when I was having the same conversation over and over during the riots following George Floyd's murder.
Topics related to this are really important to me. Most of what I absorb is through articles and discussions online. I think it's really important to look at the social and historical factors that surrounding looting. This was more timely in 2020, but overall "uncivil action" is a very American thing.
Since graduating with my master's, I don't feel challenged or like I'm learning at all. It's been hard to cope after years of constantly pushing my brain to its limit, and it didn't occur to me until recently that broadening my reading habits could be a fix.
Looting--a crowd of people publicly, openly, and directly seizing goods--is one of the more extreme actions that take can place in the midst of social unrest. Even self-identified radicals distance themselves from looters, fearing that violent tactics reflect badly on the broader movement.
However, in this deftly argued corrective, Vicky Osterweil argues that while looting is often maligned in today's society, it is, and has always been, one of our most powerful tools of dismantling capitalism and white supremacy. Stealing goods and destroying property are a direct means of wealth redistribution and a practical, immediate way of improving life for the working class-- not to mention a brazen message to the police, the state, and an unjust society. All our beliefs about the innate righteousness of property and ownership, Osterweil explains, are built on the history of anti-Black and settler oppression--meaning that belief in the right to own property is innately, structurally white supremacist.
From the slave revolts that started a social revolution in the South to the more recent #BlackLivesMatter and climate change movements, Osterweil makes a convincing case for rioting and looting as weapons that bludgeon the status quo while uplifting the poor and marginalized. In Defense of Looting is a history of violent protest sparking social change; a compelling reframing of radical activism; and a practical vision for the redistribution of wealth, a new relationship to property, and a radically restructured society.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
The first in this high fantasy series is The Eye of the World.
Technically I haven't owned these very long, but I've been planning to read them forever. When I work at the bookstore, they're always on display. The reason they make this list is because my brother just gifted them to me... and I still haven't read the last book he gave me. So the popularity on top of wanting to connect with my brother about books means this one is at the top of the list.
Moiraine Damodred arrives in Emond’s Field on a quest to find the one prophesized to stand against The Dark One, a malicious entity sowing the seeds of chaos and destruction. When a vicious band of half-men, half beasts invade the village seeking their master’s enemy, Moiraine persuades Rand al’Thor and his friends to leave their home and enter a larger unimaginable world filled with dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
This is the book that prompted this list. I have it on a shelf where I notice it all the time, as a push to get myself to pick it up.
My brother gave this to me for Christmas a couple years ago, and I've been meaning to read it ever since. Based on how long I've owned it, it probably should be on the top of my TBR for 2023.
It's another one that's so, so popular. Even before my brother gave it to me, it was on my radar.
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
The Last Hours by Cassandra Clare
Chain of Gold is the first book in the fourth Shadowhunters spin-off. The Shadowhunters have been such a big part of my life since I was a teenager. City of Bones is such a foundational part of YA Fantasy, and Jace is one of my original book crushes (I even have a rune mural tattoo).
I've read the first three series in the Shadowhunters, and I capped 2022 by rereading the City of Bones series. I love the way that the world builds on itself and the characters' family trees expand over time (and backwards into the past). I'm really excited to see how The Last Hours adds to that.
Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.
But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia's friends discover that a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson's books appeared on my radar when I found his Mistborn Series back my freshman year of college. I immediately ordered the UK edition online because they were gorgeous, but I loved so much about the style and the story. Heists, criminal crew, unique magic.
The Way of Kings seems different, but it's one of his (if not the) most popular books/series. I hear so much about it, but I haven't brought myself to read it. It's a really long book, and a crazy long series, but once I commit, I know I'll get through it quickly.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar's niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan's motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
This is one I found when I went looking for historical fiction. It's on all the lists.
Technically it's a fictionalized biography of Thomas Cromwell during Henry VIII's rule. I'm not sure what I'll think of it -- it might be too dry?-- but I really want to enjoy it.
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
Hamilton and Peggy! by M.L. Elliott
If you know anything about me, this one should be self-explanatory. I'm in love with Hamilton. It's topped my most listened to songs for the last three (at minimum) years. I've read parts of the biography that inspired the musical, but I've always been really interested in the relationship Hamilton had with all of the Schuylers.
The play builds up the relationship between Hamilton and Angelica (and I wonder how much truth was in that seeing as she was married before she ever met Alexander). But even in the musical, "And Peggy" is the lost sister. Her character even disappears as the actress becomes Maria Reynolds.
The colonies are in the throes of the Revolutionary War and caught in the midst of spies, traitors, Loyalists and Patriots, is the charming, quick-witted Peggy Schuyler—youngest of the famed Schuyler sisters and daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Her eldest sister Angelica, the “thief of hearts,” is known for her passion and intelligence, while kind, sweet Eliza has a beauty so great, it only outshone by her enormous heart. Though often in the shadows of her beloved sisters, Peggy is talented in her own right—fluent in French, artistically talented, and brave beyond compare.
When a flirtatious aide-de-camp to General Washington named Alexander Hamilton writes an eloquent letter to Peggy asking for her help in wooing the earnest Eliza, Peggy is skeptical but finds herself unable to deny such an impassioned plea. Thus begins her own journey into the Revolution!
It's a fairly small list compared to all the other books I own (and want to own), but it's a good place to start! I'm not saying I'm going to read these first, but these are books that I absolutely want to read within the next couple of months. And since my life now consists of only sleep and work... that's a tall order this year.
I'm going to try to review them as well. A goal for this year is to review at least one book every month, and this list is diverse enough to give me tons to write about!
Cross your fingers for me.