Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. It’s currently on hiatus until August 15, but I enjoy it so much that I decided I’m going to keep doing it (and taking some ideas from past topics). My TBR has been on my mind a lot lately, as it’s pushing over 2,800 books (I can’t stop myself!). I’m going to start participating in Down the TBR hole weekly to get a handle on it…but for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday, I’m sharing the last 10 books I added to my TBR.
1. The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero
In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.
2. The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?
Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.
Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.
3. If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.
Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.
Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.
4. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.
Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
5. Bed-Stuy is Burning by Daniel Platzer
Aaron, a disgraced rabbi turned Wall Street banker, and Amelia, his journalist girlfriend, live with their newborn in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the most dynamic and historically volatile neighborhoods in New York City. The infusion of upwardly mobile professionals into Bed-Stuy’s historic brownstones belies the tension simmering on the streets below. But after a cop shoots a boy in a nearby park, conflict escalates to rioting—with Aaron and his family at its center.
Pulled into the riot’s vortex are Antoinette, devout nanny to Aaron and Amelia’s son; Jupiter, the single father who lives on their block with his son, Derek; Daniel, Aaron’s unhinged tenant in their basement unit; and Sara, a smart local girl, broiling with confusion and rage. As the day unfolds, these diverse characters are forced to reckon with who they are and what truly matters to them.
6. Ars Botanica by Tim Taranto
Written as letters to his unborn child, Tim Taranto’s Ars Botanica describes the infinite pleasures of falling in love — the small discoveries of each other’s otherness, the crush of desire, the frightening closeness — and the terrifying impossibility of losing someone. Through examinations of the ways in which various cultures and religions carry grief, Taranto discovers the emotional instincts that shape his own mourning. He seeks solace in the natural elements of our world, divining meaning from the Iowa fields that stretch around him, the stones he collects, the plants he discovers on walks through the woods. His letters, then, are the honest wanderings of someone earnestly seeking meaning and belonging, ultimately resulting in a field guide for love, grief, and celebrating life. At times astonishingly personal and even painful, Ars Botanica is also playfully funny, a rich hybrid of memoir, poetry, and illustration that delightfully defies categorization.
7. Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe by Inara Verzemnieks
Raised by her Latvian grandparents in Washington State, Inara Verzemnieks grew up among expatriates, scattering smuggled Latvian sand over the coffins of the dead, singing folk songs with other children about a land none of them had visited. Her grandmother’s stories re-created in vivid, nostalgic detail the family farm she’d left behind in a borderland violently contested during the Second World War. In the fighting, her grandmother Livija and her grandmother’s sister, Ausma, were separated and would not see each other again for more than fifty years.
Journeying back to the remote village where her family broke apart, Inara comes to know Ausma and the trauma of her exile to Siberia under Stalin, while reconstructing Livija’s survival through her years as a refugee. In bringing together these two sides of the family story, Inara honors both sisters in a deeply cathartic and moving account of loss, survival, resilience, and love.
8. A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington
Set in 1970, a watershed moment in American History, A Catalog of Birds tells the story of the Flynn family and the devastating impact of the Vietnam War. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between siblings Nell and Billy Flynn. Nell excels academically and is headed to college and a career in science. Billy, a passionate artist, enlists as a pilot to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying. He is the only survivor when his helicopter is shot down. When he returns home his wounds limit his ability to sketch or even hold a pencil. As Billy struggles to regain the life he once had, Nell and their family will have to do all that’s possible to save him.
Lyrical and affecting, Laura Harrington has written an artful family drama about innocence lost and wounds that may never be healed. This is a tale of forgiveness: of ourselves, of those we love best. Illuminated by grief and desire, the novel is full of spirit, wonder and the possibilities of the future.
9. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite
What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?
These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband–the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life–fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.
After a disturbing email sparks Waite’s suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn’t part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite’s romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.
10. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they’ve been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month’s time, they plan to commit suicide – together.
Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn’t equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can’t figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all….and why he’s even more determined than she is.
With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman – a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all – but is Aysel in so deep she can’t turn back?
So there they are: the last 10 books added to my Goodreads TBR. A lot of them I found while perusing the New Release Index on Book Riot insiders. What have you recently added to your TBR? Let me know!