Sample Saturday: Impulse Buys

I’m still on the quest I started in 2019 to bring a degree of control over my TBR stack. Step 5 in my 9 point plan was to take a close look at the books that have been on my shelves, unread, for at least five years.

When I did a count at the start of 2019, the total was 95. I’ve been slowly making inroads into the stack by reading those books or giving them away unread (I confess that more have been given away than have been read).

Those of you who follow Kate at Books are My favourite And Best will have heard of Sample Saturday. It’s where she looks at all the samples on her Kindle and decides which to part company with and which to keep.

I’m taking a leaf out of her book and using this approach to help me make decisions about all the physical and e books books remaining on my “owned but unread” shelves.

Let’s kick off this series with a trio of books that were bought on a whim.

Yiyun Li

Gold Boy Emerald Girl by the Chinese-American author Yiyun Li is a 2011 collection of short stories, or vignettes about modern China. The Guardian review described it as gloriously stark group of nine tales about people who are frustrated, alone in the world, and often railing against it. 

I bought this purely because it was in on sale at a ridiculously low price in The Works right at the time when I was trying to expand the geographic scope of my reading. I didn’t pay enough attention to the author’s biography so didn’t realise at the time she is the Chinese-American author Yiyun Li

Since I’m not a fan of short stories I think this is one I feel comfortable about sending to a new home.

The Verdict: Set Free

Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I bought this 2011 in Chicago airport while returning from a trip to the USA. I was in a hurry to get to my departure gate but needed something as a back up in case the book I already had, proved to be a dud. I rushed into the only bookshop in the airport and got swayed by the assistant’s recommendation. Of course I never even opened the book.

It’s a non fiction account of the 1893 Chicago World Fair, focusing on two key individuals. The architect responsible for the construction and a fake doctor who turned out to be a serial killer. He’d built a hotel near the fair site to which he lured his victims.

I’m curious how these two strands get woven together.

The Verdict: Reprieve

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon

I honestly don’t know where my brain was on the day I bought this. I must have confused it with an entirely different book. It’s a collection of sixteen essays. In some Chabon explains how he came to write a few of his best known works. In others he defends his work in genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and comics.

Since I have only a vague idea of who Chabon is and I have little interest in any of the genres mentioned, this is not earning a place on my shelves.

The Verdict: Set Free

BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

20 thoughts on “Sample Saturday: Impulse Buys

    • March 17, 2020 at 5:58 pm
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      You have good judgement so the fact you enjoyed this a lot is good reason for me to keep it

      Reply
  • March 16, 2020 at 7:08 am
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    I’m glad you’re keeping The Devil in the White City since I thoroughly enjoyed it. The serial killer strand was perhaps a bit of a distraction but it was more than compensated for by the wonderful descriptions of how the White City was built and then of what it was like to attend the World Fair. It put that event at the top of my list of Things to Visit When I Get a Time Machine! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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    • March 16, 2020 at 8:36 am
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      Great approach – I think I n. Yes, I would also endorse ‘The Devil in the White City’. I read and enjoyed this book – and am really not sure how I came upon it. No doubt recommended by some book blog or other!

      Reply
  • March 15, 2020 at 1:14 am
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    Hopefully this approach lets you make some inroads into your TBR stack. I have found it particularly useful because I’m usually highlighting books that were released years ago, and by the time I get to them lots of trusted bloggers have read them and give a supportive ‘yes’ or ‘no’. From the comments, it sounds like there’s a lot of support for White City.

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    • March 15, 2020 at 6:10 pm
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      That’s the thing about books bought years and years ago, I forget why I bought them so this is one way of re-connecting with each of them

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  • March 14, 2020 at 7:35 pm
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    Maybe I should try this! I have so many impulse buys, often from the charity shop, and they do often end up getting donated!

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    • March 15, 2020 at 6:12 pm
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      I went through a crazy phase not long after I started blogging where I just bought stuff by people I’d seen mentioned on other sites but hadn’t heard of myself…

      Reply
  • March 14, 2020 at 5:45 pm
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    This sounds like an idea I should be adopting. Maybe a chapter or two to gauge my interest is the way to go.

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    • March 15, 2020 at 6:12 pm
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      It wasn’t something I used to do but now I just pull a book at random and read the first few pages – usually about 30 is enough for me to decide if its going to work

      Reply
  • March 14, 2020 at 4:58 pm
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    Omg, Devil in the White City is SO GOOD. It reads like fiction and is one of the situations of truth is stranger than fiction. Please give it a try, I think you will be glad you did.

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    • March 15, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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      That’s what I’ve heard Tamara – one of the reasons I was reluctant to abandon it just at the moment anyway.

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  • March 14, 2020 at 4:08 pm
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    Good work! I did actually buy a Chabon the other day myself, to be revealed on, I think, Monday!

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    • March 15, 2020 at 6:20 pm
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      Judging by Cafe Society’s comment, there are better Chabon’s than the one I had so you may have one of the good ones

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  • March 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm
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    I have brought even more books into the house recently than I care to admit. Many will be used to feed various bookshelves across the county, but people supporting one of the train stations I use daily have been particularly lethal recently: I now have more Heyer and Camilleri books than I care to admit to. Just cant resist!

    I think reading a sample of your books is sensible when you have too many. I have been able (usually) to resist my usual suppliers (netgalley, amazon, librarything etc), in an attempt to limit the number of books that come in. On the whole it works (but not always!)

    Reply
    • March 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm
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      I was doing well at the end of last year but the last month I’ve gone a bit crazy and ordered loads of books from the library as well as some e books of new releases.

      Reply
  • March 14, 2020 at 3:16 pm
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    The Devil in the White City was a favorite of my book group back around the time when it came out. If you’re at all interested in narrative nonfiction, this is an excellent example of it.

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  • March 14, 2020 at 12:07 pm
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    I don’t think I would keep this particular Chabon either, but if you haven’t already, do read his novella, The Final Solution. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

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    • March 14, 2020 at 2:57 pm
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      Will make a note of that. I’m getting to really enjoy novellas

      Reply

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