Please Stop Telling Me What to Read, I Have Too Many TBRs Already (Also, Some Book Recs)

Please Stop Telling Me What to Read, I Have Too Many TBRs Already (Also, Some Book Recs)

Posted by Joseph Linscott on

I am too nice. I don’t like to make people feel bad. This is why I've spent nearly my entire adult life finding the nicest, softest rejections possibles when people tell me that “I should really read this or that author.” I just can’t compel myself to tell this person — whether it be a close friend, a new acquaintance who finds out I was an English teacher, a stranger on a plane who notices that I have two different books that I am reading, or even my wife sometimes (sorry, Amy) — ”I don’t give a damn what you want me to read.” 

It’s not that I don’t actually care — I think everyone should be reading more, and it’s great that people have found books that they enjoy. But I already have too many books on our shelves, on our side tables, on our coffee table, on a bench next to our bed, in my backpack, and in drawers around the house (yes, even in drawers). At this point, I’ve already dug a hole I’ll never get caught up on... or, whatever. This isn’t helped by my constant trips to the library, my inability to buy less than four books anytime we enter a bookstore, or my own weak will that means I usually order one or several books by the guest author after I listen to any given episode of the Between the Covers podcast.

I have a problem, and it’s two-fold: I have too many books that I am currently reading, that I want to read, that I own, and that I want to own; and I have too many people recommending books that I don’t ever want to read. So, to deflect (and to be the biggest hypocrite around), here’s a list of books that I think that you should read —

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Eastbound (Archipelago Books)

by Maylis De Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore

Do you want a book that’s chock full of suspense with characters who have their backs against the ropes, but also they’re at the end of their literal and metaphorical rope? Do you want all of that but to also have the book end on a positive note, with the description of a beautiful sunset? Then this is the book you want to go with.

Erasure (Graywolf)

by Percival Everett

This is the book that was adapted into the 2023 film, American Fiction. It is a hilarious-yet-profound examination of American literature and race (and perceived narratives around race) that is still so on-the-nose twenty years after publication that it’s honestly a little upsetting. Very fun to read though!

White Cat, Black Dog (Random House)

by Kelly Link

Like fairy tales? Want those fairy tales to be exploded and expanded into vibrant fabulist tales? Want those fairy tales to be so full of raw humanity that it reminds you of the power of fairy tales and their role in developing and maintaining culture and society? It’s this book. Read it.

Unclean Jobs for Women & Girls (Ecco)

by Alissa Nutting

This is the perfect collection of short stories if you don’t consider yourself a short story reader. Nutting creates characters, worlds, plots, that forcibly pull you into the story and never let you go until the end, where you’re left wondering, “How did she do that?”

And some books that I’m excited to read or am anticipating this year:

Tone (Columbia University Press) by Kate Zambreno & Sofia Samatar

Poor Deer (Ecco) by Claire Oshetsky

James (Doubleday Books) by Percival Everett

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension (Random House) by Hanif Abdurraqib

That’s it, that’s all I’m giving you. I’m not burdening you with a list any longer than what’s above because I know how frustrating it can be to be told by someone else what you should read.

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