Top 5 Wednesday: Intimidating Books on My TBR

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. May is rewind month, and my chosen topic for this week is: intimidating books on my TBR.

1. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die At the End

Adam Silvera writes some of the worst best books in YA. By which I mean he writes compelling stories of complex characters dealing with heavy issues…that are ultimately terrible for my own mental health. History is All You Left Me wreaked havoc on my emotions and More Happy Than Not dropped me into a depressive episode. There’s something about his writing style–how simple and almost cutesy it is–that continuously fools my brain into thinking these stories are happy ones. But then they delve into subjects like depression, suicide, and grief, and it’s like being mentally hit by a truck.

So while I have heard many great things about They Both Die at the End, and while I do plan on reading it at some point, I’m not exactly jumping out of my chair to get to it.

2. Discworld by Terry Pratchett


I have actually read some of Pratchett’s Discworld books, in the form of Tiffany Aching (which I’d loved). Then, years later, I found out that the Aching books were part of a 41-book series, at which point my brain kind of seized up on itself. I mean, I adore Pratchett’s prose, his characters, and his sense of humour, so there’s no good reason for avoiding them, but the sheer number just gets to me. Regardless, I’ve still made it my goal for the next year or so to read through the rest of the series, so we’ll see how that goes.

3. The Red Queen (The Chronicle of Alice 2) by Christina Henry

Red Queen

Alice, the first book in Henry’s The Chronicle of Alice series, can only be described as Alice in Wonderland meets Eastern Promises (a movie which got me seeing Aragorn in a very different light). Basically, it’s human trafficking, sexual violence, and mobsters mixed with the LSD-craziness of Carroll’s classic tale. It’s disturbingly, darkly fascinating, and it was a reading experience I both hated and loved. So I’ve been eyeing the sequel with equal dread and curiosity.

4. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself

I love grimdark fantasy. It irks me when people dismiss it as stories about senseless slaughter, loathsome people, and just general hopelessness. Because, to me, it’s the opposite. The purpose of grimdark is about finding a kernel of hope in a sea of darkness. It’s about people who are trying to do their best in a ruthless, unforgiving world.

So what’s stopping me from picking up Abercrombie’s books? The hype. The First Law series is hailed as being the foundation of grimdark, written by a man whose moniker is “Lord Grimdark.” So I’m a little worried I’ll read it and be like, “This is what they’ve been raving about??”

5. Ulysses by James Joyce


Ah, Ulysses. Worshiped by English profs and teachers everywhere. This one’s in my TBR for part bragging rights and part genuine curiosity. I’ve known people who thought Joyce was a complete hack and this book utter trash, and others who consider it the greatest piece of literature published in the last 100 years. And while I generally like seeing stream-of-consciousness techniques in books, I don’t know if I can stomach 600 pages of it.


Have you read any of these books? See any that you think I should read immediately?


45 thoughts on “Top 5 Wednesday: Intimidating Books on My TBR

  1. Madam Mim says:

    The Discworld series is huge, but the books are so light and fun that I don’t think you’ll find it too onerous… I tended to pick them up as some light relief in between other things. I’m actually excited for the Red Queen! Loved Alice, though I really didn’t see why it was so disturbing to everyone else. Which makes me wonder slightly how jaded I’ve become…


  2. acquadimore says:

    I don’t know about the other two books by Adam Silvera, but I didn’t find They Both Die at the End a difficult read. It’s… oddly hopeful? I can’t exactly explain why, but it wasn’t depressing to me. I already knew what was going to happen and so did the characters, and while the ending was sad, the message isn’t. I get what you say about the writing fooling you into believing it’s going to be a completely different kind of book, though – that almost happened to me, when the title itself is a content warning.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Vera says:

    I adore Pratchett’s imaginations and his humour gets me every time. I really hope you will enjoy it. I still haven’t read all of his books but they do cheer me up when I feel like getting lost in Discworld. 😊
    I haven’t read the rest of those books either. I have heard of They Both Die at the End but still deciding if it’s my thing or not. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      My friend recently cajoled me into watching the movie adaptation of The Colour of Magic, because I was incredibly stressed and anxious and he said Pratchett is the perfect remedy for that. And he was totally right! There’s just something so wholesome and magical about it. And that was kind of what made me decide to go through the rest of the series. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vera says:

        Oh, I’m so happy it made you feel better! ❤️

        I really like Mort – it could be read as a stand alone book and is about death’s apprentice. And it’s funny. It could be a great introduction without having to read the rest of the series – I really loved this book. You are right – that wholesomeness and magic is also something I see in his work. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. auroralibrialis says:

    I adore reading stream-of-consciousness, Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors. But I can’t read more than 5 pages of Ulysses at a time without wanting to cry (and I’ve tried multiple times). So I totally get why it’s on this list! Discworld too, 41 books is about 34 more than I’m prepared to deal with 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Ahahaha sounds like I’m in for a great time with Joyce, then. 😂 But I’m with you–some of my favourite books and authors utilize stream of consciousness. At Swim, Two Boys is one of my relatively recent favourites. The author (who’s also Irish) has been called the newest James Joyce, and he uses it so, sooo beautifully.


  5. Sofia @ BookishWanderess says:

    Every Adam Silvera book is on my list of intimidating books on my tbr. I have heard that his books are heartbreaking and I don’t particulary like to read sad book. So, as much as I’m curious to read them because I have also heard that they great, I’m not in a hurry to get to them.

    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Justine says:

    History is All You Left me is so good! I completely devoured it. But I know what you mean about it not being the best read for your mental health. When I finished I laid in bed while hugging it for a good half an hour. And wow, 41 books?? That’s a little less than 2/3 of all the books I read last year lol…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. anna says:

    the only book on ur list i read is ulysses and even there, i only got through like maybe 100 pages or sth lmao,,,, it was confusing enough and i was reading a polish translation!!

    Liked by 2 people

      • anna says:

        i couldn’t tell u how good the translation is since i was reading it so long ago and never tried to read it in original………….. but omg there r so many books where we think it’s IMPOSSIBLE to translate them and then a few years later learn there is in fact someone who’s translating them???? WILD


  8. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    What you said about They Both Die is why I don’t plan on reading it. I like books that make me emotional… but not quite like that. It just wouldn’t be good for my mental health. The Discworld books sound fun, but there’s SO MANY. I can’t handle that many books in one series lol. I’d also maybe like to try The Blade Itself!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Norrie says:

    wI want to read the Silvera book and too, but I’m worried that it is super sad and depressing.
    Pratchett is good, i like his style. Haven’t read Mort yet but my friend who read most of the series told me that was his favourite 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. libby @ dimscreen says:

    I’m a huge fan of grimdark and was also super hyped about reading The Blade Itself. Unfortunately I actually ended up DNFing it because I didn’t find it compelling enough to read at all. That might have been because I was in a reading slump and had too much going on in my life. But I hope if you do end up reading it you enjoy it more than I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ashleyinwonderland says:

    I had never heard of Alice and now I’m dying to read it. Understandable that you’re hesitant to dive into the sequel as it sounds like the content is pretty heavy. Ulysses is also a book that I keep wanting to read (for the same reasons) and simultaneously avoiding. Maybe one day we’ll finally get around to it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    You know I just don’t think I can bring myself to read Ulysses. I read a section of it years ago and it made my eyes water. I don’t think I want the bragging rights that badly. Though it would be strangely fun to do reviews of books in the style they are written so a stream of consciousness review might be fun. I keep saying ‘fun’ like I know what it means….

    I think everyone has their favourite stories in Discworld. I like the ones with the witches and Death personally!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Troy Gregory says:

    I’m currently doing my annual re-read of Ulysses. I’m blogging about each episode as I go. It’s slowing me down significantly but I’m actually getting even more out of it. This will be my fourth time through. A labor of love for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      That sounds like an incredibly rewarding task! Some of my favourite books are the ones that reveal new layers each time I read through them, and I’m sure Ulysses is chock full of them. 🙂 Someone suggested I should try an annotated version of the book for my first time, so I’ve been looking into that.

      Liked by 1 person

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