Hello, friends! Time to talk about some more books on my TBR! This is a series where I talk about a specific subset of books on my TBR. I’ve done a few posts of really long lists of books on my TBR, so for these posts I’m going to try to keep the list fairly small, provide the synopsis from Goodreads, and talk about where I found it and why I want to read it.
Today we’re talking about books with fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads! I couple of weeks ago, I did a post talking about books YOU should read with fewer than 5,000 ratings on Goodreads. Today is all about books I want to read, all with fewer than 500 ratings.
Idependence by Cecil Foster (28 ratings)
Independence is the deeply moving story of the coming of age of a country and a boy, at the time of Barbados’ independence from Britain in 1966. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King have been neighbours and best friends since they were born a few months apart. They have been raised by their impoverished grandmothers after their mothers went “over ”n” away” to the United States and Canada to find work when the children were toddlers; no one has heard from the mothers since. The grandmothers are growing more and more desperate about their ability to support their charges. When the novel opens, there is a sudden and unexplained rift between Christopher and Stephanie following the return from Canada of a benefactor named Mr. Lashley, who lavishes gifts on Stephanie.
This sounds like a very me book: friends who have a falling out, mysterious benefactors, historical fiction, interesting family dynamics. I’m super excited to read it.
Hysteria by Jessica Gross (271 ratings)
In HYSTERIA, we meet a young woman an hour into yet another alcohol-fueled, masochistic, sexual bender at her local bar. There is a new bartender working this time, one she hasn’t seen before, and who can properly make a drink. He looks familiar, and as she is consumed by shame from her behavior the previous week— hooking up with her parents’ colleague and her roommate’s brother— she also becomes convinced that her Brooklyn bartender is actually Sigmund Freud. They embark on a relationship, and she is forced to confront her past through the prism of their complex, revealing, and sometimes shocking meetings.
With the help of Freud—or whoever he is—she begins to untangle her Oedipal leanings, her upbringing, and her desires. Jessica Gross’s debut is unflinchingly perceptive and honest, darkly funny, and unafraid of mining the deepest fears of contemporary lives.
As we all know, I love books about messy women, particularly messy women in their 202s. This book sounds like it fits the bill p e r f e c t l y. AND it sounds like it’ll make fun of Freud in the process, which is always a bonus.
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu (282 ratings)
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a comic novel about Nnenna, a half-Nigerian teenager living in modern-day Manchester with her mother Joanie. As Nnenna approaches womanhood she starts trying to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her once close and tender relationship with her mother becomes strained as she asks probing questions about her father who she’s never met and whom her mother who refuses to discuss.
I cannot currently read books about mother-daughter relationships, but I’ll be able to someday, and this one sounds really interesting. I think it’s a little younger than I typically read, but deals with heavy-ish topics.
Theory by Dionne Bran (425 ratings)
Theory begins as its narrator sets out, like many a graduate student, to write a wildly ambitious thesis on the past, present, and future of art, culture, race, gender, class, and politics–a revolutionary work that its author believes will synthesize and thereby transform the world.
While our narrator tries to complete this magnum opus, three lovers enter the story, one after the other, each transforming the endeavour: first, there is beautiful and sensual Selah, who scoffs at the narrator’s constant tinkering with academic abstractions; then altruistic and passionate Yara, who rescues every lost soul who crosses her path; and finally, spiritual occultist Odalys, who values magic and superstition over the heady intellectual and cultural circles the narrator aspires to inhabit. Each galvanizing love affair (representing, in turn, the heart, the head, and the spirit) upends and reorients the narrator’s life and, inevitably, requires an overhaul of the ever larger and more unwieldy dissertation, with results both humorous and poignant.
A book about a grad student dealing with their relationship issues? Sounds amazing, sign me up. My library’s copy of the ebook for this has expired, but hopefully they’ll repurchase it at some point.
People from my Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami (438 ratings)
Take a story and shrink it. Make it tiny, so small it can fit in the palm of your hand. Carry the story with you everywhere, let it sit with you while you eat, let it watch you while you sleep. Keep it safe, you never know when you might need it. In Kawakami’s super short ‘palm of the hand’ stories the world is never quite as it should be: a small child lives under a sheet near his neighbour’s house for thirty years; an apartment block leaves its visitors with strange afflictions, from fast-growing beards to an ability to channel the voices of the dead; an old man has two shadows, one docile, the other rebellious; two girls named Yoko are locked in a bitter rivalry to the death. Small but great, you’ll find great delight spending time with the people in this neighbourhood.
I love short story collections where the stories are related in some way, and it sounds like this one fits that bill. I believe it’s also a translated novel, of which I’m always looking to read more.
Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang (467 ratings)
Small Beauty tells the story of Mei, who in coping with the death of her cousin abandons her life in the city to live in his now empty house in a small town. There she connects with his history as well as her own, learns about her aunt’s long-term secret relationship, and reflects on the trans women she left behind. She also brushes up against some local trans mysteries and gets advice from departed loved ones with a lot to say.
This sounds SO INTERESTING and so me in a lot of ways. It’s also by a trans Canadian woman of colour, so I will definitely need to read it ASAP.
So there are some books with fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads that I want to read! Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? What are some underrated books you want to read? Let me know!
Also if you have any requests for things you’d like to see on my TBR, let me know!