Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Recent Additions To My To-Be-Read List

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A few weeks ago, I posted about how I read/watched/listened to over 200 "Best Books Of 2023" lists. In that post, I talked about the most popular books of last year. But, what about the books that are less popular? The books I saw on a few "Best" lists instead of on dozens of lists?

There are a bunch of intriguing books that (possibly) aren't getting the hype they deserve. Here are 18 books I discovered on "Best" lists and really want to read.

✍  Recent Additions To My TBR  ✅

All Yours by Claudia Piñeiro

Adult Crime Thriller

Ines is convinced that every wife is bound to be betrayed one day, so she is not surprised to find a note in her husband Ernesto’s briefcase with a heart smeared in lipstick crossed by the words “All Yours” and signed, “Your true love.”

She follows him to a park on a rainy winter evening and witnesses a violent quarrel he has with another woman. The woman collapses; Ernesto sinks her body in a nearby lake. When Ernesto becomes a suspect in the case, she provides him with an alibi. After all, hatred can bring people together as urgently as love. But Ernesto cannot bring his sexual adventures to an end, so Ines concocts a plan for revenge from which there is no return.

Why it caught my attention: It's about a woman who sees her husband commit a murder and then covers up his crime without his knowledge. Then she regrets her actions. That's a fascinating premise. I want to see how the author pulls it off. Also, it's a translated novel, and I want to read more of those.

Buy it on Amazon

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle

Adult Horror

Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.

Nestled high up in the mountains is Camp Damascus, the self-proclaimed “most effective” gay conversion camp in the country. Here, a life free from sin awaits. But the secret behind that success is anything but holy.

Why it caught my attention: Back when I used Twitter, Chuck Tingle's account was one of my favorites. It was hilarious. I wonder if any of the humor makes it into this book, or if it's all horror?

Buy it on Amazon

Contagious: Why Things Cach On by Jonah Berger

Adult Sociology Nonfiction

What makes things popular? Why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

If you said advertising, think again. People don't listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers.

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He's studied why New York Times articles make the paper's own Most E-mailed List, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children. In this book, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos.

Why it caught my attention: I'm chronically online and constantly wondering why I'm seeing the stuff that algorithms serve me. I just want to know how social media algorithms work! This book probably won't answer that question, but it might get me one step closer to understanding.

Buy it on Amazon

Fixed It: Violence And The Representation Of Women In The Media by Jane Gilmore

Adult Sociology Nonfiction

On average, at least one woman is murdered by a current or former partner every week in Australia. Far too many Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence. Only rarely do these women capture the attention of the media and the public. What can we do to stem the tide of violence and tragedy?

Finally, we are starting to talk about this epidemic of gendered violence, but too often we are doing so in a way that can be clumsy and harmful. Victim blaming, passive voice and over-identification with abusers continue to be hallmarks of reporting on this issue.

Fixed It demonstrates the myths that we’re unconsciously sold about violence against women, and undercuts them in a clear and compelling way. This is a bold, powerful look at the stories we are told—and the stories we tell ourselves—about gender and power, and a call to action for all of us to think harder and do better.

Why it caught my attention: OMG, I'm not the only one who rolls my eyes at crime stories in the media. I've read so many headlines that made me think, Either that's clickbait, or the author profoundly misunderstood what they're writing about. There's a whole book about stupid headlines!

Buy it on Amazon

Misbelief: What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things by Dan Ariely

Adult Sociology Nonfiction

Misinformation affects all of us on a daily basis—from social media to larger political challenges, from casual conversations in supermarkets, to even our closest relationships. While we recognize the dangers that misinformation poses, the problem is complex—far beyond what policing social media alone can achieve—and too often our limited solutions are shaped by partisan politics and individual interpretations of truth.

In Misbelief, preeminent social scientist Dan Ariely argues that to understand the irrational appeal of misinformation, we must first understand the behavior of “misbelief”—the psychological and social journey that leads people to mistrust accepted truths, entertain alternative facts, and even embrace full-blown conspiracy theories. Misinformation, it turns out, appeals to something innate in all of us—on the right and the left—and it is only by understanding this psychology that we can blunt its effects. Grounded in years of study as well as Ariely’s own experience as a target of disinformation, Misbelief is an eye-opening and comprehensive analysis of the psychological drivers that cause otherwise rational people to adopt deeply irrational beliefs. Utilizing the latest research, Ariely reveals the key elements—emotional, cognitive, personality, and social—that drive people down the funnel of false information and mistrust, showing how under the right circumstances, anyone can become a misbeliever.

Yet Ariely also offers hope. Even as advanced artificial intelligence has become capable of generating convincing fake news stories at an unprecedented scale, he shows that awareness of these forces fueling misbelief make us, as individuals and as a society, more resilient to its allure. Combating misbelief requires a strategy rooted not in conflict, but in empathy. The sooner we recognize that misbelief is above all else a human problem, the sooner we can become the solution ourselves.

Why it caught my attention: Because I live in the US in 2024. My own mother believes that every inconvenience in her life is part of a vast Democrat conspiracy to do . . . something nefarious? I don't know. I honestly don't understand how the million different parts of a conspiracy theory link together. Maybe this book will help.

Buy it on Amazon

Ms Ice Sandwich by Meiko Kawakami

Adult Literary Fiction

Ms Ice Sandwich seems to lack social graces, but our young narrator is totally smitten with her. He is in awe of her aloofness, her skill at slipping sandwiches into bags, and, most electric of all, her ice-blue eyelids. Every day he is drawn to the supermarket just to watch her in action. But life has a way of interfering—there is his mother, forever distracted, who can tell the fortunes of women; his grandmother, silently dying, who listens to his heart; and his classmate, Tutti, no stranger to pain, who shares her private thrilling world with him.

Why it caught my attention: Another translated book. It was compared to Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and I badly want another Convenience Store Woman. I love that book! I want to read about passionate people who are just trying to live their best life, even if other people don't understand.

Buy it on Amazon

On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming The Legacy Of A Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt

Adult Memoir

Born in 1934, Irmgard Hunt grew up in the picturesque Bavarian village of Berchtesgaden, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near Adolf Hitler's luxurious alpine retreat. The very model of blond Aryan "purity," Irmgard sat on the Führer's knee for photographers, witnessed with excitement the comings and goings of all manner of famous personages, and with the blindness of a child accepted the Nazi doctrine that most of her family and everyone around her so eagerly embraced. Here, in a picture-postcard world untouched by the war and seemingly unblemished by the horrors Germany's master had wrought, she accepted the lies of her teachers and church and civic leaders, joined the Hitler Youth at age ten, and joyfully sang the songs extolling the virtues of National Socialism.

But before the end—when she and other children would be forced to cower in terror in dank bomb shelters and wartime deprivations would take a harrowing toll—Irmgard's doubts about the "truths" she had been force-fed increased, fueled by the few brave souls who had not accepted Hitler and his abominations. After the fall of the brutal dictatorship and the suicide of its mad architect, many of her neighbors and loved ones still clung to their beliefs, prejudices, denial, and unacknowledged guilt. Irmgard, often feeling lonely in her quest, was determined to face the truth of her country's criminal past and to bear the responsibility for an almost unbearable reality that most of her elders were determined to forget. She resolved even then that the lessons of her youth would guide her actions and steel her commitment to defend the freedoms and democratic values that had been so easily dismissed by the German people.

Why it caught my attention: It's a different perspective than most of the WWII books I've read. Most books seem to focus on soldiers, resistance movements, or on the people who Hitler hated. This book is about a person who started to question her beliefs as she got older. It sounds both unique and relatable.

Buy it on Amazon

Penance by Eliza Clark

Adult Literary Mystery

On a beach in a run-down seaside town on the Yorkshire coastline, sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls.

Nearly a decade after the horrifying murder, journalist Alec Z. Carelli has written the definitive account of the crime, drawn from hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research, and most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves. The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil.

But how much of the story is true?

Why it caught my attention: Supposedly, it reads like true crime, but it's also a critique of the true crime genre. As someone who has a love/hate relationship with true crime, this seems like something I should read.

Buy it on Amazon

Slewfoot: A Tale Of Bewitchery by Brom

Adult Horror

A spirited young Englishwoman, Abitha, arrives at a Puritan colony betrothed to a stranger—only to become quickly widowed when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. All alone in this pious and patriarchal society, Abitha fights for what little freedom she can grasp onto, while trying to stay true to herself and her past.

Enter Slewfoot, a powerful spirit of antiquity newly woken and trying to find his own role in the world. Healer or destroyer? Protector or predator? But as the shadows walk and villagers start dying, a new rumor is whispered: Witch.

Both Abitha and Slewfoot must swiftly decide who they are, and what they must do to survive in a world intent on hanging any who meddle in the dark arts.

Why it caught my attention: It's a dark fairytale about a demon who (maybe) doesn't want to be a demon. Reviewers seem to love the characters. It's been a while since I read a really good horror book. I could use one.

Buy it on Amazon

The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff

Adult Science Fiction Classic

Edgar Hopkins is a retired math teacher in his mid-fifties with a strong sense of self-importance, whose greatest pride in life is winning poultry breeding contests. When not meticulously caring for his Bantam, Edgar is an active member of the British Lunar Society. Thanks to that affiliation, Edgar becomes one of the first people to learn the moon is on a collision course, headed towards Earth.

Members of the society are sworn to secrecy but eventually the moon looms so large in the sky that the government can no longer deny the truth. It’s during these final days that Edgar befriends two young siblings and writes what he calls The Hopkins Manuscript—a testimony juxtaposing the ordinary and extraordinary as Edgar and the villagers dig trenches and play cricket before the end of days.

First published in 1939, as the world was teetering on the brink of global war, R.C. Sherriff’s classic speculative novel is a timely and powerful warning from the past that captures the breadth of human nature in all its complexity.

Why it caught my attention: I want to read more classics, but I want them to be unusual ones. I think I'm over the "rich people in 1800s England" books. This one seems suitably odd. Really old sci-fi is interesting because we live in the future! We get to see if any of the story came true.

Buy it on Amazon 

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Adult Science Fiction Classic

In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed— except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant.

The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blond, all are golden-eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others. This brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realization dawns on the world outside.

Why it caught my attention: Can I just say ditto? This is another modern classic that sounds odd. I want to read more odd classics! Also, I think this book inspired several horror movies.

Buy it on Amazon

The New Life by Tom Crewe

Adult Historical Fiction

London, 1894. After a lifetime spent navigating his desires, John Addington, married to Catherine, has met Frank, a working-class printer.

Meanwhile Henry Ellis's wife Edith has fallen in love with Angelica—and Angelica wants Edith all to herself.

When in 1894 John and Henry decide to write a revolutionary book together, intended to challenge convention and the law, they are both caught in relationships stalked by guilt and shame. Yet they share a vision of a better world, one that will expand possibilities for men and women everywhere.

Their daring book threatens to throw John and Henry, and all those around them, into danger. How far should they go to win personal freedoms? And how high a price are they willing to pay for a new way of living?

Why it caught my attention: Okay, I know I just said I'm sick of "rich people in 1800s England" books, but I lied. This one is allegedly based on real events, which is a quick way to make me buy a book. Reviewers say the characters are based on the real-life authors of England's first medical textbook on homosexuality. Apparently, the book caused quite a scandal.

Buy it on Amazon

Nature Nonfiction

One of my goals is to read more nature nonfiction. I'm especially interested in books about the western US because I work at a park in Colorado. I'm always slightly tempted to get better at my job. Slightly tempted.

I found very few nature books on people's "Best Books Of 2023" lists, so I ended up on a side quest to find the best nature books ever. Here are a few that caught my eye. For some reason, they're all harrowing. Can't we have nice, peaceful stories about the west? These books are the literal nightmares of park employees. I don't want to deal with this crap!

A Bolt From The Blue: The Epic True Story Of Danger, Daring, And Heroism At 13,000 Feet by Jennifer Woodlief

On the afternoon of July 26, 2003, six vacationing mountain climbers ascended the peak of the Grand Teton in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Rain and colliding air currents blew in, and soon a massive electrical charge began to build. As the group began to retreat from its location, a colossal lightning bolt struck and pounded through the body of every climber. One of the six died instantly, one lay critically injured next to her body, and four dangled perilously into the chasm below. In riveting, page-turning prose, veteran journalist Jennifer Woodlief tells the story of the climb, the arrival of the storm, and the unprecedented rescue by the Jenny Lake Rangers, one of the most experienced climbing search-and-rescue teams in the country.

Buy it on Amazon

Chasing The Thrill: Obsession, Death, And Glory In America's Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt by Daniel Barbarisi

When Forrest Fenn was given a fatal cancer diagnosis, he came up with a bold plan: He would hide a chest full of jewels and gold in the wilderness, and publish a poem that would serve as a map leading to the treasure's secret location. But he didn't die, and after hiding the treasure in 2010, Fenn instead presided over a decade-long gold rush that saw many thousands of treasure hunters scrambling across the Rocky Mountains in pursuit of his fortune.

Daniel Barbarisi first learned of Fenn's hunt in 2017, when a friend became consumed with decoding the poem and convinced Barbarisi, a reporter, to document his search. What began as an attempt to capture the inner workings of Fenn's hunt quickly turned into a personal quest that led Barbarisi down a reckless and potentially dangerous path, one that found him embroiled in searcher conspiracies and matching wits with Fenn himself. Over the course of four chaotic years, several searchers would die, endless controversies would erupt, and one hunter would ultimately find the chest.

But the mystery didn't end there.

Buy it on Amazon

Death In Yellowstone: Accidents And Foolhardiness In America's First National Park by Lee H. Whittlesey

The chilling tome that launched an entire genre of books about the often gruesome but always tragic ways people have died in our national parks, this updated edition of the classic includes calamities in Yellowstone from the past sixteen years, including the infamous grizzly bear attacks in the summer of 2011 as well as a fatal hot springs accident in 2000. In these accounts, written with sensitivity as cautionary tales about what to do and what not to do in one of our wildest national parks, Whittlesey recounts deaths ranging from tragedy to folly—from being caught in a freak avalanche to the goring of a photographer who just got a little too close to a bison. Armchair travelers and park visitors alike will be fascinated by this important book detailing the dangers awaiting in our first national park.

Buy it on Amazon

Night Of The Grizzlies by Jack Olsen

Jack Olsen's true account traces the causes of the tragic night in August 1967 when two separate and unrelated campers, a distance apart, were savagely mangled and killed by enraged bears.

Buy it on Amazon

Trail Of The Lost: The Relentless Search To Bring Home The Missing Hikers Of The Pacific Crest Trail by Andrea Lankford

As a park ranger with the National Park Service's law enforcement team, Andrea Lankford led search and rescue missions in some of the most beautiful (and dangerous) landscapes across America, from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon. But though she had the support of the agency, Andrea grew frustrated with the service's bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, and left the force after twelve years. Two decades later, however, she stumbles across a mystery that pulls her right back where she left—three young men have vanished from the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2,650-mile trek made famous by Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and no one has been able to find them. It’s bugging the hell out of her.
Andrea’s concern soon leads her to a wild environment unlike any she’s ever ventured into—missing person Facebook groups. Andrea launches an investigation, joining forces with an eclectic team of amateurs who are determined to solve the cases: a mother of the missing, a retired pharmacy manager, and a mapmaker who monitors terrorist activity for the government. Together, they track the activities of kidnappers and murderers, investigate a cult, rescue a psychic in peril, cross paths with an unconventional scientist, and reunite an international fugitive with his family. Searching for the missing is a brutal psychological and physical test with the highest stakes, but eventually their hardships begin to bear strange fruits—ones that lead them to places and people they never saw coming.

Buy it on Amazon

Wild Rescues: A Paramedic's Extreme Adventures In Yosemite, Yellowstone, And Grand Teton by Kevin Grange

In 2014, Kevin Grange left his job as a paramedic in Los Angeles to work in Yellowstone National Park. Seeking a break from city life and urban EMS, he wanted to experience pure nature, fulfill his dream of working for the National Park Service, and take a crash-course in wilderness medicine. Between calls, Grange reflects upon the democratic ideal of the National Park mission, the beauty of the land, and the many threats facing it. With visitation rising, budgets shrinking, and people loving our parks to death, he realized that—along with the health of his patients—he was also fighting for the life of “America’s Best Idea.”

Buy it on Amazon

Have you read any of these?


  1. I actually haven't heard of any of these, but I'm definitely going to add some of the nature nonfiction to my TBR!

  2. I've seen good reviews of Slewfoot, I hope you all enjoy them

  3. Too many good books! I'm intrigued by so many of them and want to read them all! Fixed It seems really interesting but I'm sure I'd get really mad while reading it.

  4. Camp Damascus looks very intriguing as does Ms. Ice Sandwich. And I absolutely loved Trail of the Lost. That was one of my favorite nonfiction reads last year. :D

  5. I didn't know about Ms Ice Sandwich, but you have me wanting to read that and Convenience Store Woman <-- I am all about books like that

  6. I haven't heard of any of these but it's true, that some of it is accidental and some people are just stupid in the parks 🤣

  7. The Chuck Tingle book is on my radar too, moreso just because I've heard his name so often and I'm curious to see what he actually writes now.

  8. There are many of these books I might be interested in--especially the non-fiction ones and of course, I'm always looking for outdoor adventure books.

  9. I think that I have seen some good things about Slewfoot! I hope you get to all of these and enjoy them!

  10. Trail of the Lost looks fascinating! I remember reading about it when it came out -- definitely one I'd like to know more about.

  11. Contagious and Misbelief both sound like books I'd probably look for, if I weren't in this mind bog.

  12. I read & reviewed On Hitler's Mountain last year. It's definitely a different perspective being from the German side. It's a scary look too -- being that close to evil. You must read it and see what you think. The author wound up in the States after the war ... and she passed away last year I think.

  13. I really enjoyed Slewfoot. Camp Damascus looks really interesting. Going to add that to my own TBR.

  14. I've read Trail of the Lost. I can't imagine how it feels for those families who will likely never have closure. I definitely want to read Fixed It and On Hitler's Mountain. Thanks for bringing them to my attention!

  15. I promise the humor is in Camp Damascus! Actually- it was far more heartfelt than I imagined it would be based on the synopsis, so I think if you liked the author's Twitter, you'll love this!

  16. I think all of these are new for me, but I'm especially intrigued by the non-fiction ones!