Ten from the TBR

Like many of you, I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I’m reading, have read and want to read. Yesterday I noticed that there are now 550 books on my Goodreads “to read” shelf – they are not all books that I actually own, but at some point in the last five years I must have clicked the “want to read” button to add them to my shelf. The question is, do I still want to read all of these books?

I have used a random number generator to pick ten numbers corresponding to ten of these books and have listed them below. My task now is to either read these books or make the decision to remove them from my shelf on Goodreads. No time limit, no pressure – and when I’ve finished with these ten books I’ll pick another ten.

Alias Grace

177 – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I’ve been meaning to read something else by Margaret Atwood since I read The Handmaid’s Tale, which I loved. I have a few of her books on my TBR and do like the sound of this one.

The Thief of Time

347 – The Thief of Time by John Boyne

I have read three John Boyne books and enjoyed them all, so I definitely want to read this one!

Royal Mistress

158 – Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

This is the story of Jane Shore, Edward IV’s mistress, and was added to my TBR because the Wars of the Roses is one of my favourite time periods to read about. I don’t know if I actually still want to read it, though.

The Odd Women

84 – The Odd Women by George Gissing

This was on my original Classics Club list but I have amended my list several times since then and must have decided to remove this book so that I could add a different one. I think I would still like to read it but I’m not sure.

April Lady

1 – April Lady by Georgette Heyer

I tried to read this in May 2010 and couldn’t get into it so left it unfinished. I was a relatively new Heyer reader at the time, so maybe I will like it now that I’ve read a lot more of her work.

The Bones of Avalon

147 – The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman

I was drawn to this book because I saw that the main character was Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan astrologer. Do I actually want to read it? I’m not sure.

Cousin Bette

315 – Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac

I can’t even remember adding this book to the shelf! I do want to read something by Balzac, though, so maybe I should start with this one.

The Master of Ballantrae

125 – The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson

I don’t know much about this book but I’ve enjoyed other novels by Stevenson, so I would like to try this one.


409 – Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

This is an early American Gothic novel and must have sounded appealing to me once, but it doesn’t now. If you’ve read it maybe you can convince me to try it!

The Sea Hawk

127 – The Sea Hawk by Rafael Sabatini

I love Sabatini and am still looking forward to reading this book. I’ve just been waiting for the right time to read it. Maybe that time has arrived?

So there are my first ten choices! Are there any of these you think I should definitely read? Any that you wouldn’t recommend?

32 thoughts on “Ten from the TBR

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    The only one of these I’ve actually read is Alias Grace and I highly recommend it – one of Atwood’s best in my view (and bearing in mind how good she is, that’s saying something!) The Gissing is supposed to be good too – it was published as a Virago at one point, though alas I don’t own it. Good luck! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I’m looking forward to Alias Grace and will probably try The Odd Women as well – though I don’t own the Virago either, unfortunately!

  2. whatmeread says:

    I have read Alias Grace, April Lady, and The Master of Ballantrae. I’ve read other books by Sabatini, Boyne, and Smith. Alias Grace is terrific, and I love Georgette Heyer when I’m in the mood for something light and funny. The Master of Ballantrae isn’t my favorite of Stevenson’s books. It attempts to be psychological, but I think the psychological slant to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is superior. On the ones by authors I have read, I attempted to read a different book by Smith once and found it tedious. I find Boyne uneven, liking one book and not liking the other as much. Of course, the Sabatini I read was Scaramouche, which is a fun book. I think I read Cousin Bette, but I’m not sure. It’s a dark one, I know that. There are some interesting choices here. I’ll have to look some of them up.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve been lucky with the John Boyne books I’ve read so far as I enjoyed all three (This House is Haunted, Crippen and A History of Loneliness). I’m hoping The Thief of Time will be another good one. Sorry you found Anne Easter Smith tedious. I might still give her a try just to see what I think. And yes, Scaramouche is a fun book. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Sabatini.

      • whatmeread says:

        I enjoyed This House Was Haunted, but didn’t like so much his book about Anastasia. I’m forgetting its name, the House of Special Purpose or something like that. Good luck with your list!

  3. Cat says:

    I will recommend The Bones of Avalon – I loved it and think you will too.

    Alias Grace and The Odd Women are two I also have on the TBR.

  4. Naomi says:

    Definitely keep Alias Grace on your list! I haven’t read any of the others. I like this method of weeding through your Goodreads list. I have thought about weeding through mine, but can never be bothered. This makes it a bit more fun. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I know there are a lot of books on my Goodreads list that I don’t have much interest in reading any more, so I’m hoping that this new project will weed those books out and let me concentrate on the books that I do still want to read. I will definitely be keeping Alias Grace on the list!

  5. realthog says:

    I enjoyed Gissing’s The Odd Women really quite a lot when I read it many years ago, but I’d still reckon New Grub Street is his masterpiece.

  6. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    One more vote for Alias Grace. I read it not long ago and it was terrific.

    I have read The Odd Women and found it worth the effort. It fell into one of those strange reading patterns that happen sometimes, as I was also reading two other books that happened to be about abusive relationships (Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim and Dragonwyck by Anya Seton). I was not blogging at the time or I would probably have written a post about it. Anyway, that is only one part of the plot. Overall it is an interesting view of the problem of unattached women at a time where they had few options in life. Grim, but important.

    April Lady was not my favorite Heyer but once I got started I had to read them all!

    • Helen says:

      I’m pleased to hear you thought The Odd Women was worth reading. Maybe I should have kept it on my Classics Club list! It does sound like an interesting book. And I want to read all of Heyer’s novels eventually, so I think it’s time to give April Lady another try!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I thought it might be fun. It probably won’t have much impact on the size of my list, though, unless I can stop myself from adding any more books to it!

      • Juliana says:

        Well, maybe it will help clear out the clutter. Or at least remind you of all the good stuff sitting in there! 🙂

  7. Corinne says:

    What a fun idea for a post! I’ve not heard of the John Boyne novel as I live under a rock. I just added it to my 710 book TBR. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I love John Boyne’s books but he’s not as well known as I think he deserves to be. I have a few of his books on my TBR and am looking forward to reading them all.

  8. BookerTalk says:

    What a good idea – I have far too many on my good reads list too. I’ve read Alias Grace and loved it (I don’t always like Attwood). You reminded me that I meant to add Gissing to my classics club list

    • Helen says:

      I find it very easy to add books on Goodreads and then forget all about them! I’m hoping this method of selecting ten at random will help me to sort through the list and remember why I had added each book in the first place.

    • Helen says:

      I think I’ll make Alias Grace the first book I read from this list of ten. It does sound very different from The Handmaid’s Tale!

  9. Helen C says:

    I’ve had a copy of The Odd Women on my shelf for donkey’s years, bought after reading Gail Godwin’s The Odd Woman, which references it. Also George Gissing was from Wakefield, as am I. I really must get round to reading it , so will be interested to see what you make of it.

    Of the others, always yes to anything by Atwood & Heyer. I haven’t read The Bones of Avalon, but it’s on my library wishlist as I did read Phil Rickman’s second novel featuring Dr. John Dee (The Heresy Of Dr Dee) and rather enjoyed it.

    • Helen says:

      I wasn’t sure The Bones of Avalon would be my type of book (although I’ve always been fascinated by Dr. Dee) but your comment and Cat’s above have convinced me to try it.

  10. Margaret @ BooksPlease says:

    I loved Alias Grace! More than The Handmaid’s Tale, which I enjoyed very much. I don’t know much about the other books, except that I have The Bones of Avalon, still unread. Like you I ws attracted to it because of Dr John Dee, but now I’m not sure – so if you do read it I’m interested in your reaction. Have you read Peter Ackroyd’s The House of Doctor Dee? I read it years ago and loved it then.

    • Helen says:

      I thought The Handmaid’s Tale was a great book so I’m pleased to hear you loved Alias Grace even more. I’m hoping to start it this weekend. I haven’t read The House of Doctor Dee but will look out for it.

  11. Jo says:

    I have not read any of these. I don’t think I can be of much help, although I like the idea of weeding out the list. I keep my possibility reads on a wishlist on Amazon and my actual want to read on Goodreads is frighteningly the books I have waiting on my shelf, by the bed, on the floor, on my kindle….

  12. reviewsbylola says:

    I love this idea! I try to keep my Goodreads list from growing out of control by going through it occasionally and removing what no longer interests me. I have less than a hundred books on there currently. I may have to steal this idea though because it sounds like fun!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, it is fun – and it’s working well for me so far! I have just finished my first book from these ten, Alias Grace, and loved it. 🙂

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