Q1 Reading List

January 9, 2024

Seasonal TBR

I’m going somewhat seasonal with my reading for this year! I like having a whole list figured out in advance because a) it helps me manage my library holds and b) it makes picking my next read easier + more fun.

Q1 is going to have a loose theme of Other People’s 2023 Favorites. Q2 will tentatively be mainly backlist books, Q3 picks from various summer reading guides, and Q4/5 – TBD for now! Maybe Q4 will be “genres I don’t usually read”, at least for a chunk of my picks.

(Note, I’m not reading How to Stay Married for instructive reasons; I’ve just seen it pop up on multiple lists and it looks juicy/intriguing!)

I am really loving The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store right now and my first non-fic book was a major win too (Building a Second Brain).

I will continue to track my reading here (need to create a 2024 page!) + I’m also tracking pages read in the above disc bound planner on the monthly pages! (If nothing else, tracking pages helps me to DNF a book when I realize I’ve been stuck on the same page for a week – which is a valuable thing! Plus it’s just kind of fun).

I average around 50 books/year most years which means that in a typical 3-month period I’ll read 12-13 books. Therefore, I highly doubt I will read every book on this list in Q1 (the Verghese will probably take me a long time just by itself!) but I like to have options. And then beyond that, I can let the fate of my library holds guide me!

Where do your TBR lists live?

Anyone with lots of overlap in Q1 reading?

PS: Call going well so far! For once I really don’t have any podcast-related obligations which is great. I totally cleared the decks and finished up recording the weekend prior so maybe that will help things feel more manageable.


  • Reply Lori C January 9, 2024 at 6:13 am

    Listening to your most recent episode promoted me to consider making a to be read list. When you explained it as a way to eliminate time spent on decisions in the future that really clicked with me. I started BOTM a couple months ago, but I am noticing that I fly through my book and then sit around without a book trying to figure out what to read. Ebook? Buy one? Library? What genre? Making a list in advance will really help I think! Thanks for the tip.

  • Reply Kristen January 9, 2024 at 6:53 am

    I love how organized and planned you are with reading. This is one area that I cannot seem to stick with. I finished one book over the summer, started one this fall, couldn’t get into it, and now am slowly working through another book that’s been on my shelf for years that I never got around to reading. It’s a good book and I want to read it, but I fall into the trap of trying to be productive when I have downtime rather than just seizing those few moments to read. Thinking about incorporating some family reading time in the evenings one or two nights per week so I can build a routine. If I wait until bedtime I read half a page then fall asleep! You are a very productive person-how do you make time to read and not convince yourself to knock out more to-do list items?

    • Reply Arden January 9, 2024 at 8:17 am

      Not Sarah but why can’t reading be considered a productive task? It relaxes me and brings me joy. I view it as productive as opposed to random mindless scrolling. Maybe be a bit flexible in your definition? 🙂

    • Reply Grateful Kae January 9, 2024 at 11:39 am

      Also not Sarah, but I struggle with this too. In my case, I often feel a sense of a “toss up” between reading vs doing other personal tasks that I also enjoy (but feel a little more “productive”).

      For example, this morning I had a window of time where I intended to read, but I ended up puttering around with my Google calendar for a while, then I started cleaning out my Google Drive and sorting some files, and then I ended up setting up my new 2024 Books spreadsheet… in the end I ran out of time to read! None of those tasks were super critical but sort of fall into that “soothing/personal enjoyment yet technically productive” realm for me. These types of activities often crowd out my reading time! Another big one is photo work- sorting/ deleting photos/ backing up, etc. Things I want to get to, but don’t really have a lot of time for… so then when I do have a window of time where I could read, I gravitate toward these things instead…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2024 at 12:48 pm

      I always read in the morning and almost always before bed. There is nothing I’d rather do at those times so I never feel bad! Sometimes on Saturday or Sunday there is a choice between getting stuff done and reading and I decide based on how urgent things are 🙂 But I LOVE reading so I fit it in!

    • Reply Amy January 9, 2024 at 8:41 pm

      I guess my takeaway from this comment is that reading just isn’t something you love enough to prioritize right now — which is totally fine! Maybe you just need to identify other hobbies or interests if reading isn’t grabbing you.

      • Reply Helena Murphy January 10, 2024 at 3:14 pm

        I have to mention that “Demon Copperhead” is Barbara Kingsolver’s book, while “David Copperfield” is Dickens – a masterpiece, by the way. You inadvertently created an interesting hybrid 🙂

        My favorite book of 2023 was Fellowship Point, by Alice Elliott Dark. An amazing combination of plot, character development, and overall masterful writing. I have you to thank for that rec since I found it on your list!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 10, 2024 at 3:41 pm

          ahahah I need to fix that!

          I never even read Fellowship Point – I will tackle it in Backlist Month or this summer!

    • Reply Elizabeth January 10, 2024 at 2:15 pm

      Hi! Also not Sarah, but I don’t necessarily agree that your comment means you don’t love reading enough to prioritize it. I think it’s also possible that this could be a case of needing to reframe the issue, instead. If you, like me, see reading as a “treat” and thus maybe feel guilty doing it when there are still so many things you “should” be doing from your to do list, one thing that has helped me is to assign some kind of reading goal. Essentially, add reading to your to do list and check the box when you’ve done it each day (if that’s your goal). Or set a number of books you’d like to read each year, or month, or week, and so you need to read each day to accomplish your goal. I find this helps me prioritize it for myself over some less appealing activities which I may feel I “should” be doing more than reading. Hope this helps!

  • Reply Emily January 9, 2024 at 7:53 am

    I was surprised to see The Sadness of Lemon Cake on there! I read it back in college and it was my first real introduction to magical realism. I haven’t heard anyone read it or talk about it in a long time. Look forward to your thoughts on it and the rest of your 2024 reading!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2024 at 11:26 am

      I saw it on Feather Factor’s blog!

    • Reply ARC January 9, 2024 at 12:21 pm

      Ohhh, this is one of those books that has stuck with me. More personal bc my husband and I also went to Caltech and it’s referenced a few times.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 9, 2024 at 9:25 am

    Love this!! I am going to add some of these to my library holds, as well!

    Also—I am pretty sure The Postcard is fiction! I think it’s a fictionalized autobiography—so in that style but not non-fiction. Just FYI. It’s on my TBR, as well. I can’t wait to read it!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2024 at 11:27 am

      Ahh good to know!!! I probably misinterpreted someone’s list. But I will read it anyway!

      • Reply Elizabeth January 10, 2024 at 9:10 am

        GOOD!! Me, too 🙂

        I love your list so much. Have read a few and others are on my TBR. Great compilation! I’m inspired to create my own Q1 list!

  • Reply Noemi January 9, 2024 at 10:01 am

    I also read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender in college and loved it so much, it has stuck with me. I also read The Butterfly Lampshade by her, which is more recent, and loved it too. I don’t typically go for magical realism, but she is a masterful writer and really knows how to draw you in.

  • Reply LVL January 9, 2024 at 10:36 am

    I think you should add Kids Run the Show (Fiction) as it is focused on impacts of social media. The Postcard was the best book I read last year – I can’t recommend enough. I even convinced a stranger at the library to check it out recently😁. I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more prominent attention or awards.

  • Reply Elisabeth January 9, 2024 at 11:46 am

    The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is an interesting read (and very relevant to my current Year of Shmita); a note that it is heavily faith-based. That appeals to me and fits my background and interest, just want you to know it comes from evangelical angles throughout the entire book.

    I’m actually reading it for a SECOND time right now (I own it and almost every page is marked up and highlighted), but FYI ahead of you reading it.

    Also, his writing style is…unique. I didn’t mind it, but some could find it a bit pithy in places. Hard to explain.

    I really loved it and thought he had a lot of practical teaching in it, but it does read a bit like a (really good) sermon <3

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2024 at 12:47 pm

      yes I didn’t realize from your initial blog mention! But I am midway and decided to continue and finish it partly bc I thought it had interesting points and partly as cultural study because honestly the religious Christian worldview is not as familiar to me so it’s actually nice to learn what is behind it.

      • Reply Elisabeth January 9, 2024 at 3:34 pm

        I didn’t know you’d started it – well, you got my “PSA” a bit late. I’ll be very curious what you think!

  • Reply ARC January 9, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    Wow, I love that you plan ahead like this. I tried the “seasonal reading” a bit in December – found a couple of cozy or holiday books and it was super fun to get me into the season as well. Mostly I just grab whatever’s next in my holds, or something off my own TBR shelf (I have a goal to read at least 5 of my already-owned books each year to reduce that pile). Sometimes I just browse through Libby – our library does a great job of making fun collections like “cozy reads” or “books with dogs” so often something unexpected will catch my eye.

  • Reply sarah January 9, 2024 at 12:41 pm

    These nonfiction recs are great— thanks!!

  • Reply Lisa's Yarns January 9, 2024 at 1:10 pm

    You’ve got some LONG books on that list, like Covenant of Water! I want to read it but I think it’s 700+ pages so I need to be in the right mindset. I’ll be curious to see what you think of How to Stay Married. I did not like it as much as others. I felt he was forcing himself to be humorous about a devastating topic. Christianity was also a super prominent theme. Others have said it didn’t bother them which surprised me as it really stood out to me and I was raised Christian. I’d like to talk about that book with someone, though! So if you read it, let me know!!

    I can’t plan my reading out like this because I solely borrow books from the library so I’m at the whim of the holds list. I have a good idea of what will come in but don’t know exactly what I am going to read. I am not a mood reader, generally, so that works out for me. I try to alternate fiction with non-fiction.

    Here’s something silly: I own Demon Copperfield so could read it when I want, but then I would end my kindle reading streak of 671 days!!! I don’t want to care about that streak but I kind of like seeing it and I think I would be sad to see it start over at zero… I should see if I can hide it so it doesn’t impact whether I opt to read a physical book.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2024 at 2:45 pm

      Hahah this is why I don’t do streaks!!!!!

  • Reply Amanda January 10, 2024 at 10:53 am

    Similar to Lisa, the way I choose what to read next (aside from a certain title for that month’s book club) is to see what is waiting for me at the library! I then choose from that selection (which can range from 2-3 to 10+, though I sometimes do library hold triage if the pile is too big). Once I hear of a book I want to read, I put it on hold. It usually takes a while from requesting a book to receiving it since a lot of what I read are new releases, often on order when I request them. In some ways, it’s the opposite of how you manage your library holds. 🙂

    As for tracking books, I’ve kept track since 1999 (!!) in a small notebook. I write down the title, author, and put a * if I like the book. Starting in 2022, I put a – if it’s an e-book. That’s it. I don’t record DNFs. I draw a line at the end/start of a year. Last book of 2023 was The Cheat Sheet and first book of 2024 was Darling Girl. The reason I keep track is to remember what I’ve read and to have a reference when friends want recommendations. It’s a simple, analog system that works for me.

    I have a list on Evernote to keep track of upcoming books that are not yet published, and I use that to request books at the library.

    Yes I have a whole system. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 10, 2024 at 11:43 am

      I am so jealous of your reading records going back so far!! I SO wish I had this!

  • Reply Tess January 12, 2024 at 9:46 am

    How to Stay Married is really great. Funny and winsome and a very profound exploration of what it means to love someone for better or worse. Highly recommend!

  • Reply Marcia Francois January 24, 2024 at 8:15 am

    Your non-fiction list is almost 100% made up of books I also want to read. I’ve been tracking my reading since 1998 (from 2005 via Goodreads – so I can’t change that now) 🙂 I have “loose lists” but I’m a big mood reader so I say “mmm, what am I in the mood for?” and choose accordingly. I am in a very bad place now though as somehow I chose two veryyyyyyyy long books (1063 pages on ebook) and a 16-hour audio and I just can’t wait for both of them to end!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 24, 2024 at 10:35 am

      Wowwwww 1063 pages!! I think the only thing I’ve ever read close to that length was 1Q84

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