Fat Books & Thin Women


Top Ten Books I had to buy…but are still sitting on my bookshelf
March 1, 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: meme | Tags: , ,

As my parents could confirm, recently having moved and dealt with box upon box of my books (which, I swear, I weeded through before moving to Macedonia), I am one for buying books and then forgetting about them in favor of other books which I’m going to buy and forget about in favor of other books… so it’s hard for me to pick just ten books that I have shamefully neglected. Some of the books below are ones I bought for my kindle in preparation for the Peace Corps, and others are ones that are boxed up in New Jersey but still trailing me over here.

  1. Dorris Lessing – The Golden Notebook: For months I eyed Lessing’s book at the Barnes & Noble on my walk home from work. Then one day I gave in and bought it, placed it on my shelf, let it sit there for a few months, boxed it up and took it back to New Jersey the summer before I started Peace Corps. I fully expect this book to sit on my shelves for several more years before I finally get around to starting it.
  2. Brian Boyd – Vladimir Nabokov:The Russian Years and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years: Maybe this should count as two, but whatever. I’ve read bits and pieces of Boyd’s Nabokov biography, skipping around when I wrote my thesis and telling myself that after graduation I would read the whole thing, cover to cover. I haven’t, but I do think about it a lot.
  3. George Eliot – Middlemarch: I own it in paperback, I own it on the kindle. You’d think at some point, given how much I love The Mill on the Floss, I’d stop buying different editions of this book and just read it.
  4. Roberto Bolano – 2666: Pre-ordered, because all good books need a few years to stew in my home before I can read them. I hope now that 2666 is marinating in a cardboard box in a self-storage facility in South Jersey, it’ll be ready for my consumption when I get home in a year.
  5. Don Delillo – Underworld: I’m feeling more and more shame the further I go on this list. I’ve read, even reread, Delillo’s other works, I’ve gotten to within a couple hundred pages of finishing Underworld, I own a paperback copy, and I bought a copy for my kindle with the plan of reading it in Macedonia. A year and a half later and I still haven’t read it on my kindle and I am pretty sure that when I get home I still won’t have read it. Having purchased two copies of a book to increase my odds of reading it increases the shame.
  6. Lorrie Moore – A Gate at the Stairs: I’m beginning to wonder if there shouldn’t be a special list here for “Peace Corps books”, i.e. the ones I thought I would read in Macedonia because everything about me would become better here. (Like, I wouldn’t spend two years reading YA fiction, I would exclusively read literary fiction and literary criticism.) Again, I’ve read most of Moore’s work and got so excited for this one that I pre-ordered it a few months before it came out, in order to lodge it safely on my kindle, where it remains undisturbed.
  7. Marcel Proust – Swann’s Way: I’ve actually got three of Proust’s books that deserve a place on this list, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself by suggesting that I really, really want and plan to read all three of them. Like Lorelai Gilmore, I like the look of Proust on my bookshelf, I like the dream of casually quoting Proust, but I can’t get over that small hurdle of actually reading Proust.
  8. John Cheever – The Stories of John Cheever: Picked up at some library book sale, carried all the way to Macedonia (halfway across the world! what dedication!), and still I’ve only read the first story from this book.
  9. Vladimir Nabokov – The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov: I’ve actually read a fair number of the stories from this collection, but I’ve never read the whole thing. That makes his stories the only Nabokov work I haven’t finished, and I’m not sure why. Sometimes when I have a favorite author I think I unconsciously delay reading all their work because then, you know, it’s over; there’s nothing new. Given my love of Nabokov, and especially of rereading Nabokov, though, I’m not sure why I would delay reading his stories other than that there are a lot of them and I find some of them middling.
  10. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Collected Stories: Notice a theme here? As with Nabokov, I saved Marquez’s stories for last (or not quite; I haven’t finished The General in his Labyrinth, but I’m working on the theory that I’m reading it soon), but I can’t get through them. I love short stories, I love Marquez, so I’m not sure what is going on here other than that it’s my fate to have an unread collection of stories by each of my favorite authors, sitting on my shelf for all time.

See other responses to The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday question here.

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9 Comments

Sadly, I could have added most of these to my list of books I have bought but not read. At least you have a legitimate excuse….Who could be condemned for failing to taking along their entire TBR on an assignment so far from home?

Here is my Top Ten: http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-ten-books-i-just-had-to-buybut-are.html

Comment by Debnance at Readerbuzz

haha. i’d like to claim that it was just the big move that’s preventing me from reading all these books, but most of them were sitting around for years before i left. most of the kindle buys are sad proof that living abroad and not having access to a bookstore doesn’t keep me from buying books i won’t read for years…just that now it’s in electronic form.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

It looks like you really want to like Nabokov, or at least are very interested in him. I sense a Nabokov theme. I’m reading a book right now called Cleaning Nabokov’s house. A woman buys Nabokov’s old house in upstate New York and thinks she finds a lost novel of his hidden away.

Comment by Robyn

ha – well, it’s not that i WANT to like nabokov. i’ve read all of his books…as i wrote…except for his complete short stories. but you’re right, there is a nabokov theme here, and i suspect i hold his short stories off because at least this way there’s something of his (even if just a few stories) that i haven’t read.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

Middlemarch is genius, but it is a little daunting. The Mill on the Floss will forever be my favorite Eliot, but Middlemarch is definitely worth the read.

Comment by Brenna

I think you might be onto something as far as leaving some stories by favorite authors unread. I absolutely adore Marquez but am putting off reading some of his stories because once I finish them all they there won’t be anything new to look forward to.

Comment by Book Nympho

I gave The Golden Notebook the old college try. Trust me, it makes a splendid shelf decoration.

Comment by ohemgillie

This is a great list. I have either read or would love to read almost all of them. I had a great experience reading Middlemarch the first time, but I spent about three months doing it. I am giving 2666 another try right now. I also bought it right when it came out. I have tried to read Underworld twice and gave it up. I would say that it doesn’t make sense to try again, but both times I really liked it, but the school started and I had to put it down.

Check out my list here: http://hawthornescarlet.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-ten-tuesday-tbr.html

Comment by Laura

Underworld is sitting on my shelf too. My husband has been urging me to read it but so far… it’s still there!

Comment by 1girl2manybooks




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