Tackle Your TBR Pile

One of the conundrums I always face working in Book Publishing is that when someone asks me what I’m reading, it’s usually a book that doesn’t come out for another few months.

I get very excited about a book and then tell them that they can buy it in 3 or 4 months. Hopefully no one holds a grudge when I do that because that is almost exactly what I am about to do right now.

I created a TBR pile way back when the London Summer Olympics were happening, remember those days of watching gymnastics, hockey and swimming? Yes, that was last month. Well, we hosted a Readathon during that time and I optimistically listed the 7 titles below as my TBR books for those 2 weeks. Since then I have been determinedly plowing through them one by one.

I have made my way through 4.5 of them so far. Stay tuned for my thoughts on each book on Retreat in the coming weeks. Here’s a quick run down of my quickly diminishing TBR pile:

1. Yes, Chef tells the story of how world renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson, made it to the big, culinary leagues. I don’t often read culinary memoirs but several people whose taste I trust raved about this one. And the best part is, it’s already out so you can go buy it!

2. Drunk Mom – I’m cheating slightly here because I have already read this one but it was on my original TBR pile so I’ll tell you about it anyway, plus it’s so darn good, it’s a must read! Unfortunately, Jowita Bydlowska’s autobiography of being an alcoholic parent isn’t out until April 2013. You can trust me on this one, it’s a pretty great book. She is so raw and honest and open about drinking and the toll it took on her relationships and her life. Not to mention that at the time, she was a new mom. There’s a lot to discuss here so stay tuned next year for some Twitter chats, giveaways, videos, excerpts and reviews!

3. The Spark – Another cheat, I already read this one too! I couldn’t put it down, you won’t blame me when you hear what it’s about! This absolutely amazing book comes out next April (sorry, sorry, don’t hate me!). It is the story of Kristine Barnett and her family; more specifically of how they learn to live with and even thrive with their oldest son’s autism. Just to fast forward, 13-year-old Jacob is now a paid researcher in quantum physics, working on extending Einstein’s theory of relativity; but at 3 years old, his parents were told to be satisfied with Jake learning to tie his shoes at 16. This is an inspiring story of motherhood, love, family and success against all odds.

4. The Queen of Katwe – Phew! This one is out soon, on Oct 9th to be exact. And it is still on my TBR pile. It’s the story of Phiona Mutesi, a 15-year-old girl born and raised in a miserable slum called Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. Phiona, regardless of the great struggles in her life, proves herself to be an utter genius at chess and her life is transformed through her skill and determination. This is the ultimate underdog story! And we all know Disney loves a good story, they’ll be creating a movie inspired by this fantastic book shortly. Stay tuned for a contest on Retreat to win a copy before it comes out.

5. Wave – I am about half way through this title and it took me a while to commit to it. Wave comes out next March and it is the tragic story of how the author, Sonali Deraniyagala, survived the devastating tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004. Even more tragic is the fact that even though Sonali survived, she lost her husband, 2 young sons and her parents in the disaster. Wave is her story of getting through those painful days, weeks, months and even years and learning to live without her world.

6. The Purchase – Out next week, Linda Spalding’s The Purchase was inspired by her discovery of her own ancestry and the links that tie her to America’s past, Quakerism and slavery. It’s a very powerful tale of an abolitionist Quaker family who is forced to move to the cotton-picking, slave-owning wilds of Virgina and the tragic turns they meet including 2 murders, abortions and many lies and secrets.

7. Cloud Atlas – Even though I’ve listed it last here, it was the first one I tackled on this list. Part of the reason is that I managed to get much coveted tickets to the TIFF screening of the film which happened to also be the world premier and was attended by a long line of actors from the movie. So I had a bit of a fire under me to finish it before I watched the film. This book is absolutely stunning in it’s facets, story lines and links between past, present and future. To read my thoughts on the book and movie, take a look at my review.


With my fast diminishing list, I’ll have to add a few more. So share your list with me and tell me why you’ve added it to your pile!

About Kat

Katerina Ortakova is a book lover, beginner home renovator, karaoke aficionado and animal nut. She enjoys nothing more than a good book, a comfy chair, and her pets at her feet. Having read the entire children’s and young adult section of her local library, Katerina set her sights on a career filled with books at an early age. As Assistant Manager of Online Marketing, she is thrilled to work with amazing authors and books every day. Follow Katerina on Twitter at @kortakova or @RandomHouseCA

4 Responses to “Tackle Your TBR Pile”

  1. Kat – The Purchase is near the top of my TBR pile – I’m really looking forward to it!

    • Kat says:

      It’s quite the read, Luanne! It somehow stayed with me, when I finished it and moved on to the next book, it kept coming back to me. Perhaps I should have waited a little longer to read the next book :) . I found someone in the office who had read The Purchase so I could talk about it and move on, haha.
      I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read it!

  2. I’ve had Cloud Atlas on my TBR mountain for a few years now, and when I heard about the movie I got all fired up to read it too! But then I found I’d packed it away with a load of other books into storage (space issues) and there’s no way I’ll find it now, so it’ll have to wait.

    I love the sound of The Queen of Katwe! Sounds like a wonderful read. Looking forward to that one being released. :)

    • Kat says:

      Hey Shannon,
      Too bad about Cloud Atlas. I think you can buy the book with the original cover in stores now but if you want the one with dreamy (??) Tom Hanks on the cover, you’ll have to wait until Oct. :)
      We’ll be doing a contest to give away some copies of The Queen of Katwe soon.
      What are you reading now?


Leave a Reply

Join the Retreat Book Club!


Follow Me on Pinterest