The 9 Books at the Top of My TBR List

Published on 3/14/2022

Like many readers, I have an overflowing list of books that I plan to read, one day, but not just yet. This list never seems to shrink, only grow, as I encounter books in stores, over social media or even here on Medium. I always find more things that I want to read, but I just struggle to find the time to read them all.

I usually read an average of three books per month, but I’ll often gravitate towards what I’m feeling in the moment or bingeing my latest favourite author’s entire collection. But this year, there are nine books at the top of my TBR list that I will get through, and I’m excited to read them.

Here are the books dominating my TBR list and jostling for my attention:

1. Again, Rachel - Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes is probably my favourite author. My sister, Daphne, first introduced me to her books, and even now we can spend a full hour on the phone discussing them. I love that we share this passion for her books and it truly unites us.

I could write about Marian Keyes all day long, but I’ll keep it short. This is the first time she’s written a direct sequel rather than focusing on a different character from the story, and I can’t wait to read it. You don’t have to read ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ to comprehend this book, but I recommend reading it anyways as it’s an amazing book. Marian has a unique knack for making books fun and hilarious whilst also tackling proper issues, such as addiction and grief.

This book holds the prime spot on my TBR list as I cannot wait to dive into it.

“Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess.

But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor, she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive running shoes.

But with the sudden reappearance of a man she'd once loved, her life wobbles.

She'd thought she was settled. Fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change?

Is it time to think again, Rachel?” - Again, Rachel - Marian Keyes

2. Black is the Body - Emily Bernard

Even though I read a lot on my Kindle, I still love to mix things up with a paperback and go to the local bookshop. The last time I was there, I noticed this book on one of the shelves and felt drawn to it. I love educating myself through what I choose to read, as books are my passion and preferred medium. I’m waiting for my next holiday to read this book, so that I can offer it my undivided attention. I have a feeling it’s a book I’ll end up reading many times…

“In these twelve deeply personal, connected essays, Bernard details the experience of growing up black in the south with a family name inherited from a white man, surviving a random stabbing at a New Haven coffee shop, marrying a white man from the North and bringing him home to her family, adopting two children from Ethiopia, and living and teaching in a primarily white New England college town. Each of these essays sets out to discover a new way of talking about race and of telling the truth as the author has lived it. “ - Black is the Body - Emily Bernard

3. Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo

How have I not read this book? I’m genuinely not sure! I’ve had it recommended to me so many times, and it seems such a pivotal book to read. I’ve always intended to read it, but I simply got distracted by shiny new releases. These characters seem so diverse, and I look forward to the opportunity to see the world through their eyes.

I’ve read another book by Bernardine, ‘The Emperor’s Babe’, and that was incredible! So I have high hopes for this book, and hope to get to it once I finish ‘Again, Rachel’.

“The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.” - Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo

4. Beach Read - Emily Henry

I feel like I’m truly exposing myself with this TBR list! Yes, I haven’t read Emily Henry’s books yet, and yes, I feel embarrassed to admit this.

I have every intention of reading her books as I’ve only heard rave reviews, but I spent a large portion of 2021 bingeing Taylor Jenkins-Reid and every Greek mythology book I could get my hands on. Emily simply had to wait until I was ready.

But she has a new book coming out in May and it sounds like exactly my cup of tea! So I want to adequately prepare for this release by reading ‘Beach Read’ and her other book, ‘People We Meet on Vacation’. Or should I wait to read those after her latest release to have fresh eyes? Let me know what you think!

“Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.” - Beach Read - Emily Henry

5. The Truants - Kate Weinberg

This book kept popping up on my Instagram, so I finally caved and looked it up. It sounds like exactly my cup of tea, and the characters are already compelling me from the blurb. Kate seems like an incredible writer and I can’t wait to follow her career further. I’m sure this won’t be her only novel, and probably not even her best one ever!

This one might take me a little longer to get to given the size of my TBR pile and upcoming book releases, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it this summer in the sunshine. Or perhaps when I’m travelling somewhere for a trip…

“Jess Walker has come to a concrete campus under the flat gray skies of East Anglia for one reason: to be taught by the mesmerizing and rebellious Dr. Lorna Clay, whose seminars soon transform Jess's thinking on life, love, and Agatha Christie. Swept up in Lorna's thrall, Jess falls in with a tightly knit group of rule-breakers--Alec, a courageous South African journalist with a nihilistic streak; Georgie, a seductive, pill-popping aristocrat; and Nick, a handsome geologist with layers of his own.

But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken, until a tragedy shatters their friendships and love affairs, and reveals a terrible secret. Soon Jess must face the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?” - The Truants - Kate Weinberg

6. Open Water - Caleb Azumah Nelson

I can’t even count the number of people who have told me to read this book. Each time I ask for recommendations, it’s near the top of the list. I really should stop asking for recommendations given the size of my TBR list.

I think I’m a little wary to start this book because I know it’ll be one of those novels that hits you right in the gut. It’s a good kind of pain, the kind only a talented writer can elicit, and yet still something that requires energy, focus and space.

I have every intention of reading this book, but I just need to be ready for it.

“Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, and blistering emotional intelligence, Caleb Azumah Nelson gives a profoundly sensitive portrait of romantic love in all its feverish waves and comforting beauty.” - Open Water - Caleb Azumah Nelson

7. The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel van der Kolk

My sister, Manouk, recommended this book to me. She’s a yoga therapist starting to specialise in trauma, and she thought this book would really resonate with me for a number of reasons.

I think we really underestimate the mind-body connection, and this book focuses on that. It discusses how we carry trauma and how it feeds into other aspects of life. As someone who has struggled with a mental illness for years, including disordered eating and self-harm, I know this book is something I need to read. I need to understand how my past impacts my present, and how I can help my body to work through the trauma it has carried so diligently.

I think an article will definitely come from reading this book!

“Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.” - The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel van der Kolk

8. Untamed - Glennon Doyle

This last year has been one filled with reflections. I left a four-year relationship with no idea who I was anymore. I moved to a new city where I don’t know anyone. I faced countless hurdles as I continue to follow my dreams of becoming a writer.

I’ve been trying to match my inner journey with my reading habits, to immerse myself in the subject and provide the space for growth. That’s why I added ‘Untamed’ to my TBR list. I’ve heard great things about this book, and I’m excited to read it for myself.

“Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.” - Untamed - Glennon Doyle

9. Know My Name - Chanel Miller

I remember hearing about this case so clearly. I remember the outrage that filled me at his sentence. I remember hearing about how the judge didn’t want to ruin his future. I heard so much about him, but what about her, the woman whose future was ruined that night? Her victim impact statement spread across Facebook like wildfire, and I can’t count the number of times it came up on my feed.

I am glad that Chanel is sharing her own story, as it is hers to share. This is another book that will be difficult to read but so necessary. It’s not a matter of how many women I know that have had unwanted sexual advances, but a matter of how many haven’t, a far easier number to count.

This book was most recently recommended by someone who read my article on memoirs, so I definitely want to get to it soon!

“Chanel Miller's story changed our world forever. In 2016 Brock Turner was sentenced to just six months in jail after he was caught sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. His light sentencing, and Chanel's victim impact statement, which was read by eleven million people in four days, sparked international outrage and action.

Know My Name is an intimate, profoundly moving memoir that exposes a patriarchal culture biased to protect perpetrators, a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and ultimately shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life. Entwining pain, resilience, and humour, this breath-taking memoir will stand as a modern classic.” - Know My Name - Chanel Miller

And there you have it, the nine books I’m itching to crack open and dive into. It’s quite a variation of books, from romance to memoir, literary fiction to non-fiction, and everything in-between. But I think this crossing of genres will work in my favour, as there will always be something for the mood that I’m in.

I hope you’ve found a new book for your own TBR list, to make it even longer! And I’d love to hear if you think I’ve missed a vital book, as then I might need to extend my own list…

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Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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