Five Books on my TBR That You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Five Books on my TBR -- The Riverside Library

I was so excited when I joined the bookish community and discovered troves of bookworms who loved books as much as me. But as my reading tastes have changed and broadened, I’ve found there aren’t as many people even in the bookish world who love some of the same books as me. So I’m here to help broaden your reading horizons. Here are five books on my TBR that you’ve probably never heard of.I’ve been itching to write this post for quite some time now, but I wasn’t quite sure what to put on my list. I get a lot of DMs on Instagram about a variety of topics, but one DM that I get more often than most others is that I read a lot of books that people have never heard of. I love having a platform where I can introduce people to new books, new authors and new styles or topics of writing. It’s an incredible thing to go on Goodreads and find a book you read when none of your friends had it marked as ‘to read’ to see that now, a bunch of them do. So, hopefully, I can inspire some of you readers to go out and pick up these books. Perhaps we can even buddy read them!Oh! Also, if you click the title of each book, you’ll be taken to Book Depository where you can purchase the book with free shipping! I’d love it if you used these links because they’re affiliate links, which means that I get a small commision from each sale – with no extra cost to you, of course – so by buying a book you’re supporting my blog! How cool is that?Alright, let’s get into it!

Upstream

Mary Oliver

How did I happen upon Mary Oliver? That’s an incredible question, and I’m afraid I don’t have the best answer. I was in the classics, poetry and essays section of the bookstore (I’m never in any other section, let’s be honest), and in a row of spines placed between prettier, more well-known covers, I saw a little dark green hardcover with the name, Mary Oliver written down it. Thinking to myself, I swear I’ve heard that name before, I pulled out the volume and turned it over to read the blurb. Immediately, I felt like I was holding something from Ralph Waldo Emerson in my hands, and I love Emerson. This is about nature, I thought, this is about the world and how beautiful it is, and I need to read this. While sitting in the car later that day, I added Mary Oliver’s whole body of work to my to be read shelf on Goodreads (are we friends? Add me!) I’ve got my eye on a few of her works at the library, and I’m eagerly awaiting Upstream to be returned so I can devour it.Have a blurb from Goodreads:

Comprising a selection of essays, Upstream finds beloved poet Mary Oliver reflecting on her astonishment and admiration for the natural world and the craft of writing.

As she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, finding solace and safety within the woods, and the joyful and rhythmic beating of wings, Oliver intimately shares with her readers her quiet discoveries, boundless curiosity, and exuberance for the grandeur of our world.

This radiant collection of her work, with some pieces published here for the first time, reaffirms Oliver as a passionate and prolific observer whose thoughtful meditations on spiders, writing a poem, blue fin tuna, and Ralph Waldo Emerson inspire us all to discover wonder and awe in life’s smallest corners.

 What We See When We Read

Peter Mendelsund

Did someone say a book about readers? Did someone say a book inadvertently about me? Oh, yes, I will definitely read this one, thank you very much. I love reading, and I love reading about reading almost as much as I love reading about writing. I did loan this one out from my library as an eBook a while back (in one of those 2 am maxing-out-my-library-card online sessions), but I never got around to it (because I loaned out like 36 other books and didn’t read a single one. I’m laughing, so you’d better be laughing). I’m kicking myself for never getting around to it though! I feel like it’s something that I’m really going to enjoy, and I swear I’ll get to it when I finish the new 36 books I got at 2 am one morning in a more recent maxing-out-my-library-card session.Have a blurb from Goodreads:

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like?

The collection of fragmented images on a page – a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so – and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved – or reviled – literary figures.

In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf’s Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature – he thinks of himself first, and foremost, as a reader – into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky: A novel

Jana Casale

I can’t remember where I came across The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky but I think it was in an article online, possibly about 2018 releases, and it just sounds like something I would never read. I’m completely aware of the absurdity of that sentence, don’t you worry, but sometimes I just like to mix things up. Also, it has quite a few negative reviews on Goodreads, which has made me even more curious, which is again, quite uncharacteristic of me. I like to think I still retain the capacity to be a mystery that was a hallmark of my personality when I was a teenager. Have a blurb from Goodreads:

Leda is a girl who knows what she wants and who she is–or at least believes she does. When we meet her as a college student in Boston–confident, intelligent, independent–she’s hopeful that a flirty chat with a cute boy reading a book in a café will lead to romance. They have a fleetingly awkward conversation that dwindles into little more than mortifying embarrassment, but the encounter does leave her one positive, and ultimately transformative, thought: Leda decides she wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never–ever–reads it.
As the days, years, and decades of the rest of her life unfold, we watch Leda confront what it is that she really wants and who it is that she is really meant to be. Whether it’s a clumsy New Year’s Eve kiss, the first time she sees the man she will marry, her daughter’s tantrum in an IHOP parking lot, the agony of knowing a friend is being cheated on, or the revival of her creative ambitions in a community writing group, all of Leda’s experiences–the everyday and the milestones–prove to her that even our best-laid plans are not the only paths to happiness. Hilarious and heartbreaking, gorgeously precise, and disarmingly honest, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is a remarkable literary feat that speaks to urgent questions women face today, even as it offers the possibility that, in the end, it might all be okay.

This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress

John Brockman

Like The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky, I can’t remember exactly where I came across This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, but I remember finding the premise extremely intriguing and adding it to my to be read shelf on Goodreads. You should all know by now that I’m an absolute sucker for all things science. This one intrigues me, because I don’t believe that any idea should ‘die,’ so I’m very interested to see what they mean by the title, and how they justify the ‘killing’ of ideas. Curious.Have a blurb from Goodreads:

Reporting from the cutting edge of scientific discovery, today’s visionary thinkers target the greatest roadblocks to innovation.

Few truly new ideas are developed without first abandoning old ones. In the past, discoveries often had to wait for the rise of the next generation to see questions in a new light and let go of old truisms. Today, in a world that is defined by a rapid rate of change, staying on the cutting edge has as much to do with shedding outdated notions as adopting new ones. In this spirit, John Brockman, publisher of the online salon Edge.org (“the world’s smartest website”—The Guardian), asked 175 of the world’s most influential scientists, economists, artists, and philosophers: What scientific idea is ready for retirement?

The Book of Disquiet

Fernando Pessoa

My heart yearns for this one. I read the little Penguin Modern of Pessoa’s I Have More Souls Than One, and I completely adored it, so I searched the shelves at my local bookstore to see what other works of his I could find. I was delighted to see the most beautiful hardcover edition of a book called The Book of Disquiet. I read the blurb (a rarity if I’m honest) and I fell head over heels for what I saw there. I’ve tried to find The Book of Disquiet at my local library, but to no avail, so I’m keeping an eye out for a low price on a copy I can call my own. I know I’m going to love this one, I can feel it already stirring in my heart.Have a blurb from the Serpent’s Tail complete edition:

Apart from cafes and diaries nothing is open yet, but the quietness is not the indolent quiet of Sunday mornings, it is simply quiet. The air has a blond edge to it and the blue sky reddens through the thinning mist. A few passers-by signal the first hesitant stirrings of life in the streets and high up on a rare open window the occasional early morning face appears. As the trams pass, they trace a yellow, numbered furrow through the air, and minute by minute the streets begin to people themselves once more.

I drift, without thoughts or emotions, attending only to my senses. I woke up the early and came out to my senses. I woke up early and came out to wander aimlessly through the streets. I observe them meditatively. I see them with my thoughts. And, absurdly, a light mist of emotion rises within me; the fog that is lifting from the outside world seems slowly to be seeping into me

What are some books on your TBR that I probably haven’t heard of? Let me know in the comments below!

Penny for your thoughts? (I'm kidding, I don't have pennies but I'd love your thoughts)

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