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October TBR | 2020 Reading Challenge

When I started adding books to this list, I told myself that I wouldn’t add too many beyond the couple I have from NetGalley and for Blog Tours, because I also have my Fall TBR to consider. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about the books I might be in the mood for, and I had to step away from this post because it was getting out of control. And then yesterday I watched Ashley of the Bookish Realm’s October TBR, and got the idea to turn my own into more of an “on my radar” list.

Fall / Autumn 2019

What this means is, that along with books I want to definitely finish before the end of the month, I’m adding a handful of books I think I will be in the mood for but don’t want to make promises about finishing. Below I have sectioned these particular books off from the couple that I do need to read before the end of October. Ashley’s (Bookish Realm) video and “on my radar” phrasing came at the perfect time for me, and I hope that if you too have set bookish sights that exceed your reading pace/habits this month, an “on my radar” TBR can hep alleviate the pressure of finishing every book on your list.

Anyway, let’s get into what I hope to read in October, and what titles are on my radar.

NetGalley e-ARCs

  • The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui (nonfiction)
    • It’s embarrassing how long I’ve had this book. The only reason I haven’t gotten through it is because I am hardly ever inclined to read nonfiction. So why did you request this book from NetGalley, you ask? Because I would like to become more inclined to pick up nonfiction, and the content, although seemingly heavy, spoke to my bookish heart.

SYNOPSIS: Daraya is a town outside Damascus, the very spot where the Syrian Civil War began. Long a site of peaceful resistance to the Assad regimes, Daraya fell under siege in 2012. For four years, no one entered or left, and aid was blocked. Every single day, bombs fell on this place—a place of homes and families, schools and children, now emptied and broken into bits.

And then a group searching for survivors stumbled upon a cache of books in the rubble. In a week, they had six thousand volumes; in a month, fifteen thousand. A sanctuary was born: a library where people could escape the blockade, a paper fortress to protect their humanity.

The library offered a marvelous range of books—from Arabic poetry to American self-help, Shakespearean plays to stories of war in other times and places. The visitors shared photos and tales of their lives before the war, planned how to build a democracy, and tended the roots of their community despite shell-shocked soil.

In the midst of the siege, the journalist Delphine Minoui tracked down one of the library’s founders, twenty-three-year-old Ahmad. Over text messages, WhatsApp, and Facebook, Minoui came to know the young men who gathered in the library, exchanged ideas, learned English, and imagined how to shape the future, even as bombs kept falling from above. By telling their stories, Minoui makes a far-off, complicated war immediate and reveals these young men to be everyday heroes as inspiring as the books they read. The Book Collectors is a testament to their bravery and a celebration of the power of words.

  • She Lies Alone by Laura Wolfe
    • I always tell myself to write down where I saw a book when I decide to read it, but once again I did not heed my own reminder. I know someone wrote about this book recently in a wrap-up, TBR, or posted it on Instagram; if this was you please let me know! Anyway, I requested this book based on someone’s recommendation.

SYNOPSIS: News spreads fast. Gossip spreads faster. Deadly secrets spread fastest of all.

Jane Bryson obeys the rules. A long-standing science teacher at Ravenswood High School, she lives a simple life with her husband Craig and Moose the black Labrador. When free-spirited new English teacher Elena Mayfield joins Ravenswood, Jane’s excited to have a friend who is ready to challenge authority, and Elena’s soon shaking things up.

When Elena starts a controversial club, Jane is ready to support her. When Elena begins an illicit romance with a colleague, Jane is there to help her shield her secret. When people begin asking questions about Elena, Jane backs her all the way.

But the morning after the annual fundraiser, Elena’s body is found crumpled on the soccer field.

It soon becomes clear that not everyone found Elena charming and funny. A thousand people were at the fundraiser: there’s a town full of suspects and a long list of motives. Who was angry with Elena? What had her curiosity and rule-breaking uncovered? Who wanted to shut her up?

Who has told lies they would kill to hide?

A totally gripping psychological suspense novel that you won’t be able to put down, She Lies Alone is a compelling thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware and The Woman in the Window.

Blog Tours (earcs)

  • Carrion by Graeme Cumming
    • This tour will be in November, and I’m very much looking forward to how terrifically disturbed I will be during and after reading this (read my review of Graeme Cumming’s Ravens Gathering here).

SYNOPSIS: A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.

Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.

With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.

The future is about to change. But who for?

  • The Cousins by Karen McManus
    • Another tour that starts next month, and a great way for me to make good on my previous declarations that I’m going to start reading Karen McManus’ books. If you are a NetGalley user, this book is available for request if you’re interested.

SYNOPSIS: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know one another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised … and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point – not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious – and dark – their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over – and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.


SYNOPSIS: They’ve infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of in Sierra Leone, town squares in Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana. They’re everywhere. They’re here. They’re us. They’re not pets, or ghosts, or robots. They’re real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without your knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, unfindable.

  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales edited by Chis Baldick
    • I have already read one story from this collection: Angela Carter’s “The Lady of the House of Love” (available to read on The Short Story Project – I highly recommend it!), and am looking forward to dipping in and out of the book throughout the month.

SYNOPSIS: The first anthology to illustrate the rich variety of Gothic fiction from the eighteenth century to the present day, with authors as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Hardy, Jorge Luis Borges, and Angela Carter.

  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 
    • I would like to read all of Shirley Jackson’s novels, and this month is a great place to continue this goal (I’ve read We Have Always Lived in the Castle). I’ve put this one in my short-term sight because I’d also like to finally watch the Netflix adaptation.

SYNOPSIS: First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

  • The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson
    • I want to read this for the same reason listed above.

SYNOPSIS: Pepper Street is a really nice, safe California neighborhood. The houses are tidy and the lawns are neatly mowed. Of course, the country club is close by, and lots of pleasant folks live there. The only problem is they knocked down the wall at the end of the street to make way for a road to a new housing development. Now, that’s not good—it’s just not good at all. Satirically exploring what happens when a smug suburban neighborhood is breached by awful, unavoidable truths, The Road Through the Wall is the tale that launched Shirley Jackson’s heralded career.

  • Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
    • Again, my reasoning is above.

SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Natalie Waite longs to escape home for college. Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. When Natalie finally does get away, however, college life doesn’t bring the happiness she expected. Little by little, Natalie is no longer certain of anything—even where reality ends and her dark imaginings begin. Chilling and suspenseful, Hangsaman is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore in 1946.

Note: I will be featuring these three Shirley Jackson novels in an upcoming From My Bookshelf post.

  • The English Wife by Lauren Willig
    • Going to give this book another try, and hoping it doesn’t become another addition to my DNF list.

SYNOPSIS: Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairytale romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and named it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to try to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

  • And
    • Any of the Classics I’ve started reading this year or since last October but haven’t yet finished, including Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe (reread).
    • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson; just to name a few more I’ve had my eye on recently.

So with my Fall TBR in mind and the “on my radar” attitude, I think I will have a great reading month. Plus, not only will this TBR get me back on track with my NetGalley obligations, but with my 2020 Reading Challenge, too. The Penguin Classics editions of two of the Shirley Jackson novels (again, more about these in an upcoming From My Bookshelf post), and the Book of the Month edition (The English Wife) satisfies two criteria for my 2020 Reading Challenge, which, if you look back at my reading so far this year, would appear I had forgotten about.

What are your reading plans for October? Do you have specific books in mind, or are you going with the flow and selecting books based on your mood (shouting out Ashley at the Bookish Realm one more time for the “on my radar” phrasing)? However you’re reading, I hope it goes well.

2020 Reading Challenge Header Photo


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