What TBR Pile Books Should I Take to College?

Hello everyone! It’s getting to be the time of year when I pack up my things and move back to Agnes Scott for the school year. Every year, this brings the question: which books will I take with me?

I’ve found that in prior years, I’ve tended to bring too many books. Since I am loath to take still unread books all the way back to Texas, I end up having to hurriedly read or DNF some in April and May. To save myself some stress, I’m limiting myself to five books from the physical TBR pile. After all, I can always reload at Thanksgiving.

Here are sixteen of the possible candidates.

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Like a Boss by Adam Raksuras – the sequel to the super fun Windswept. This one will probably end up heading to college with me since it’s near the top of the pile.

The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris – a female led epic fantasy novel. It’s a 2016 release I missed out on, and it’s gotten generally good reviews. It’s also pretty hefty (656 pages), so if I chose it I’ll want to limit the number of other lengthy epic fantasy books I’ll bring. Unfortunately, I’ve got a number of lengthy epic fantasy books in the pile.

The Vagrant by Peter Newman – I think this is post apocalyptic with maybe a dash of fantasy? I do think the idea of a warrior carrying a baby across a wasteland sounds awesome. Plus, Renay over at Ladybusiness gave it a good review.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie – my last ditch chance at trying a book by Joe Abercrombie. I ended up DNF’ing Best Served Cold last October, but I still have this book by him. Honestly, I’m not expecting to like it, but if I DNF it at least I can get it off the pile.

The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Ann Wright – it’s a f/f fantasy novel. I honestly can’t remember much more than that. Oh, and it has decent Goodreads reviews, although not by any reviewers I follow.

Rituals by Roz Kaveney – another f/f fantasy novel, although I think this one’s urban fantasy. I know the heroine’s girlfriend is a ghost. It’s another one that doesn’t have any reviews from people I follow.

Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith – an epic fantasy novel with an asexual protagonist. Based on that description, it’s a miracle I’ve let this one sit in my TBR for so long. I think my main problem is that Banner of the Damned is intimidatingly long. It’s huge! And I tried another one of Sherwood Smith’s epic fantasies (Inda) and bounced off the writing style. I really want to like this one, but I’m scared I won’t.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan – I’ve heard this one’s grimdark. I’m not hugely into grimdark fantasy books, but I’ve also heard this one’s got queer female protagonist. When I was making the decision to buy it, I balanced “gay” and “grimdark,” and “gay” won.

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The Oracle Queen by Lynn Flewelling – the final book in the Tamir Triad, which started with The Bone Doll’s Twin. It’s an epic fantasy series that explores gender. Unfortunately, I find its exploration of gender problematic at times. On the other hand, the previous two books sucked me into the stories, and I’m a completionist. I will end up reading it at some point, I just have to decide how to prioritize it.

The Sun Sword by Michelle West – the sixth and last book in the Sun Sword series, an epic fantasy series that starts with The Broken Crown. I’ve found the last two books in the series a tad disappointing (you’ll be seeing my review of the fifth in October), but I have hopes that the final book can restore my love for the series. It is another huge epic fantasy novel though, so it will take up a sizable hunk of time.

Through the Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold – another female led epic fantasy. Presumably there’s wolves? I think I picked it up when I was in one of those moods where I wanted to read more epic fantasy books by women. You know, when we cycle through the “women don’t write epic fantasy” conversation again. It’s also got a couple of good Goodreads ratings from reviewers I follow, though no actual reviews.

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds – I’ve never read a book by Alastair Reynolds, although I know he’s something of a big name in the science fiction genre. I know it’s a space opera, but I don’t know much else about it.

Tower of the King’s Daughter by Chaz Brenchley – I know this one’s fantasy and has a gay protagonist. The Goodreads rating is a bit low (3.46), but for all I know it’s got a bunch of homophobic reviewers. I also know the author’s gay, and I haven’t read that many books with queer male characters written by queer male authors.

Prince of Dogs by Kate Elliott – the sequel to King’s Dragon, an epic fantasy novel that surprised me back in May. I’m pretty sure that I’ll like this one too, so the main factor is how much time epic fantasy novels take.

The Gunslinger by Stephan King – I’ve never read a book by Stephan King. I know, I know! I meant to get to this one before the movie came out, but somehow that didn’t happen. Hopefully they’re different enough I can enjoy both?

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint – I got this one before I realized I wasn’t a huge fan of Charles de Lint. I dunno, I just find really artsy characters annoying. This book is his last chance to win me over.

Have you read any of these books? Which would you suggest I take with me?

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    Honestly, I wouldn’t pick The Gunslinger for your first SK book, its about the least “Stephen King” you can get! Plus its the start of a long series and the series only makes sense if you read all seven (8?) books. I have to admit most of your other books are unfamiliar to me.

    1. My physical TBR pile is a lot of older books I found cheap used copies of. So they tend not to be that well known.

      What Stephen King book would you suggest starting with?

      1. lkeke35 says:

        Since you seem to like fantasy, I would go with Wizard and Glass in the Dark Tower series. You do not need to have read any of the other Dark Tower books to understand what’s happening in it, and it’s more like regular Fantasy than the others. I didn’t care for it but not because it’s bad, but because I don’t like High Fantasy novels, as a rule.
        That said, I did enjoy the Richard K Morgan book. Yep! It’s High Fantasy, but it’s different enough I was able to get into it. It helps that I’ve read Morgans other non fantasy books.

      2. Thanks! I wasn’t aware that the Dark Tower books don’t have to be read in order. And that’s good to hear about The Steel Remains.

      3. lkeke35 says:

        I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. The first three or so books of The Dark Tower should be read in order. Wizard and Glass is something of an outlier, in that it’s a flashback book, where you don’t necessarily need to have read the previous books. The setting is a sort of Western High Fantasy, with the lead character from the other books, Roland Deschain, detailing about his childhood. The book isn’t a complete standalone, but if you like fantasy, it’s easier to get into then the others.
        I’d also recommend Kings short story collections with Everything’s Eventual being the best one, followed by Skeleton Crew. Not all the stories are horror, but most contain some fantastical element, and a few are just straight dramas, or thrillers. King writes more than just horror so if horror isn’t your thing he’s an excellent drama writer, too.

      4. Oh my gosh, that sounds complicated. It does make sense though.

        Thanks again!

  2. Pyo says:

    Through the Wolf’s Eyes is fairly fun if you are cynical about humans and their flaws. It’s essentially a Tarzan story. Personally I ended up surprisingly fond of it, but that might be because I like weird things and the series does some surprisingly … bold things later on, not so much because it’s great literature. Also, it does avoid many tropes I’d have expected there.

    The Pyramid Waltz I think is primarily interesting if you want FF fantasy (also a bit dark, FF fantasy typically is). Otherwise I think it’s nothing too special. Also, if I remember that right, it’s one of those series where the end of the individual novels really doesn’t satisfy so reading only the first might be annoying.

    DNF Best Served Cold? Well, I suppose I can understand it since it drags quite a bit in the middle (she really should have had less targets for revenge) but that end is so great! Anyway, for Red Country, you know Cosca from BSC so decide whether you can stand him for another novel before reading that one. And how much you are into Italo-Western movies 😉

    1. That’s good to hear about Wolf’s Eyes. And at least Pyramid Waltz sounds decent.

      I was not in a great mental place when I was reading Best Served Cold, and I had trouble sticking with any book. So when it started dragging in the middle, I was out. Actually, I’m not sure I remember Cosca? Was he that Northern warrior?

      I’m also not super into Italo-Western movies.

      1. Pyo says:

        Good FF fantasy is kind of difficult to find. Decent is about as good as it gets most of the time 😉

        No, Cosca is the “drunk loser”, the ex-Captain Monza kicked out of mercenaries when he became too erratic, who later on takes the company over again. He plays the “roqueish fool”, always after some treasure and talking big, although of course he’s not as stupid as he acts. And he has “Friendly” tagging along with him, that weird ex-convict who wants to return to his prison.
        Well, the book is a bit of a Western-in-fantasy parody/homage kind of thing. Well. I don’t think it’s crucial to be a fan of that to like it, but it probably make it a bit more fun 😉

      2. Okay, I completely can’t remember Cosca. Like not at all.

        This isn’t boding well for how much I’ll like Red Country…

  3. Moments like these make you really appreciate the convenience of ereaders! In your shoes I would have a lot of trouble picking and choosing for sure. Hmm, anyway, I would highly recommend Red Country. Not sure if you’ve read any Joe A, but this is probably my favorite book by him. It’s still as grimdark as it gets, but I also love the western vibe it has, and Shy is a fantastic female lead.

    1. Oh, that makes me feel better about Red Country!

      I also have an ereader with various titles there. I’m planning to mostly rely on it this year.

  4. Sia says:

    I definitely vote for Rituals. It’s split between urban fantasy and something closer to epic/mythic fantasy, since the book switches back and forth between two stories taking place at very different times. I loved how queer it was and how the mc’s superpower is basically talking sensibly, and the ways various ancient myths were reimagined in the epic fantasy storyline. It swings between being very hopepunk and some pretty dark stuff, though.

    1. That sounds great! I may even read it before college starts. 🙂

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