Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Emily's meme, or Confessions of a Book Reader

So Emily over at Telecommuter Talk and I are on the same frame of mind, since we both were looking at the new Oprah magazine on the newsstands for the same 'Summer books' article. I came away thinking I'd got off rather lightly since for once, as none of the books seemed to catch my interest. Then Emily went and got inspired from the same article , and here is her meme that I'm borrowing because I think it's fun and interesting: what books have you planned to read for years, and never have gotten around to? what have you never read? In Emily's words, it's true confession time, and in the spirit of sharing the shame, here are my ten books that I've meant to read, but never got around to:

1. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy. I have bought at least two copies, no, three, over the years, and I still haven't got past the first page. I used to take it with me on holidays as my "I have lots of time to read on my vacation" book, but lately I've given up on even that. I don't know why I haven't read it, I want to!!

2. Any book by Charles Dickens. *hangs head in deep, deep shame* I am buying them now. Ever since I saw the latest version of Bleak House on tv (the version with Gillian Anderson) I have realized that maybe Charles isn't quite so wordy as I thought once. Plus, Dr Who made him cool in their first season episode where the world-weary Charles finds there is something unexplained in the universe after all. I own David Copperfield and Great Expectations. Which one should I start with? And why can't I find Bleak House anywhere?

3. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger. I was such an angry teenager, already in danger of great disaffection to hide the disappointments in my life, that when I read the first page of this book, I got so mad at the insufferable main character - what did he know about suffering? About pain so deep there wasn't words? I put the book down and have never picked it up again. Lately I've been wondering if I've finally put my teen angst away enough that I can try this. Maybe.

4. Anything by Robertson Davies. *hangs Canadian head in shame*. My friend and book-twin Bybee at Naked Without Books has a book-crush on him, making me feel like I might be missing something after all. But not enough to actually pick up a book yet. It must be his beard.

5. Books I've been meaning to read, and have started, but never finished: Little, Big by John Crowley, Possession by AS Byatt, and Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. There must be something wrong with me. Almost everyone loves these books passionately, and they left me bored, yawning, falling asleep even, and I can't remember any of the characters names, even though I've tried to read all three within the last two years. Maybe I'm not a 'everyone loves this' kind of book reader. Maybe they just aren't for me. I'm still disappointed though, because I went in with such high expectations of really enjoying each of them. See? true confessions of a book reader.......I'm sure you all feel much better about yourselves as book readers after seeing my failures!

6 and 7. Homer - The Iliad and The Odyssey. I own these now. They are referenced in so much. I do, I really want to read these. I am embarrassed that I haven't read them yet! How can I be a reader and a writer and not read two of the best and oldest written adventures in the world?

8. Ulysses - James Joyce. I have long, long wanted to read this book. I own the unabridged version, recently acquired. I think I'm afraid to pick it up and find I don't like it, after waiting so long. This one requires a big dose of courage.

9. Le Mort D'Arthur - Thomas Mallory. *shuffles feet. Stares fixedly at the ground.*

10. Earthsea Trilogy - Ursula K. LeGuin. One of the finest fantasy trilogies ever, even my 21 year old son has read it, but I have not. I think my mother has too. What am I waiting for?

So there you have it. A small fraction of the books I have not read yet, that I want to read. An embarrassing collection of mostly great books that have slipped through my reading hands. The emphasis is on want - these aren't books I feel I should read, anymore. I want to read them. Well, maybe Robertson Davies falls into the 'should' read category still.

How about you, dear reader? What books do you feel you should have ready by now, and haven't? what books have you really, really wanted to read, and have never gotten around to reading yet? Please feel free to take this meme and run with it. After all, what's a little shame between book friends?

12 comments:

From Tracie said...

I haven't gotten to the point that I can move Charles Dickens out of the should read and into the want to read. Maybe one day...but for now I just remember the seven times in one week that I read and reread the first three chapters of A Tale of Two Cities and just couldn't get any further. YAWN!

I do want to read those Ursula K. LeGuin books...they have been on my list for a long time and I just need to break down and buy them.

Jeane said...

I am scared of Ulysses. Also anything by Dickins is a bit intimidating, and the hefty Tolstoy! You really should give Salinger a try, and the Earthsea books. They're both relatively brief but intensively engaging reads.

Myself, I have only just started reading a group of books I put off for years- graphic novels! Wow, what fun.

Sam Sattler said...

Do give Dickens a chance to win you over. I've read most of his better known books now and I'm acquiring the lesser known titles via the internet for my ebook reader so that I can get to know him even better. Also, he's a main character in "Drood," a long novel I read recently and that's an interesting characterization of the man. Soldier on...

Memory said...

I hope you do take the plunge and read some Robertson Davies! He's wonderful. A lot of his work is magical realism, too, so it's perfect for a fantasy-lover.

I haven't read much by Alexandre Dumas, but I really want to. Someday I'll finish THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Someday.

Emily Barton said...

Ulysses doesn't count. Nobody actually reads it, do they? I read The Wizard of Earthsea and loved it. Can't tell you why I haven't read the other two in the trilogy. If you do plan to read Dickens, maybe you want to start with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It's a mystery after all, and since he never finished it, you get to give your imagination a little workout. Thanks for running with my little meme. Great fun!

brideofthebookgod said...

Oh Susan you must try Robertson Davies. I fell in love with him when I was a student and I've just bought a friend a copy of Fifth Business

For me it's The Count of Monte Cristo; everyone tells me I'll enjoy it but I don't know...

Bybee said...

[making my own list...]

Wow, you've got some lofty stuff on your list!

I struggle with Dickens -- best bet is to start with Great Expectations.

Hope you'll give Catcher In The Rye a go soon. Holden is never the same for me...he changes as I age. Now he's that amusing-annoying favorite nephew. When I first read it, he was potential boyfriend material.

Susan said...

From Tracie: I wonder if it depends which book we start with? I know my sister read A Tale of Two Cities long ago and enjoyed it. One day, maybe! lol It's worse about the Le Guin because I own them!!

Jeane: I know what you mean about Ulysses, it is a bit daunting. I want to read them though. Who knew bookaholics could be afraid of some books? lol

Graphic novels are fun, aren't they, Jeane?

Sam Sattler: I have Drood! I bought it last year, I have to read it - it's sitting on my to-be-read shelf, waiting for me. Did you review it? I'll come see. Thanks!

Memory: Another Robertson Davies fan! Again, the same sister who read A Tale of Two Cities also enjoyed Fifth Business. We moved around a lot so I missed the boring classics except for Catcher in the Rye. So I have to remedy this. Good to know I am not the only one who hasn't read the Three Musketeers yet either!

Emily: I knew someone who read it several times, it was one of his favourite books!!!*sigh* so we can't really use that excuse......I've been hunting for a copy of Mystery of Edwin Drood so I could read it before I read Drood, of course I can't find it or Bleak House anywhere. Did you like Mystery of Edwin Drood? Have you read Drood yet?

Bride of the Book God: you too! you love Robertson too! I missed this exclusive club, didn't I? lol

Bybee: Hi, Book-twin! Good to know you fancied Holden once upon a time too. I'm trying to think of who I was in love with back then - Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables is a likely crush, though nothing like Holden was to you! lol See? another club I've missed out on! If I read him now, he's likely to remind me too much of my son and his annoying habits, like your nephew. I wonder if my question should be, is it too late to read Catcher in the Rye for the first time, as a mature woman?

Emily Barton said...

I loved The Mystery of Edwin Drood (read it in college). I haven't read Drood. Wanted to read The Terror, which I have, before that one, which I don't have. Still waiting to get around to The Terror.

Susan said...

Hi Emily: so you make me want to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood even more now! lol and do read The Terror - that was my book of the year two years ago. It was so good. I'm anxious to read Drood, but I think in order to really get the most out of it, reading Dicken's book first should be done, at least I want to try. I think it's time to seriously hit the used book stores!

Just my thoughts, but if you already read Mystery of Edwin Drood, you could probably read Drood next, and make The Terror your RIP read :-D

Sue F. said...

I love your list...it is so totally my own list, but I would also add Moby Dick...I have it, but just haven't read it!

Susan said...

Sue F: I think I read some of Moby Dick in college, but I didn't read all of it. There are so many classics I could add to this list! lol