Top Ten Books I Absolutely Had to Have -- But Still Haven't Read
I got this one from Litlove. I know I'm being repetitive, but in case you're new to this blog, I feel I need to inform you that my house is full of books I haven't read. Usually, I blame this on Bob. I married a man who has no self control when it comes to buying books, and he fills up our house at an alarming rate. But then I start browsing our shelves and realize someone else is responsible. Bob isn't buying Margery Allingham and Georgette Heyer. Perhaps my friends are sneaking in here and putting books on my shelves. Finally, though, I have to fess up to the fact that I am not someone who goes out, buys a book, reads it, then goes out and buys another book to read. No. I am someone who goes out and buys a book (or 2 or 5). Period. Unless it's the latest David Sedaris, or something I'm reading for a book discussion group, or I am unexpectedly stuck somewhere with nothing to read (a rarity, but it's been known to happen a time or two while traveling), chances are, it will be some time before I actually read it (maybe a month or a year or 20 years).
Nonetheless, I am going to try to choose ten from my vast quantities of had-to-read-until-I-bought-it books for this meme. It just seems like a fun thing to do. I will, of course, be cheating a little (I prefer to call it creative math). You will see the numbers 1-10, though, so I say I've done my job.
1. Over half the Persephone Books I own. (I own 11. I've read 5.) Who can possibly resist Persephone? I'd own their entire bookstore if I could. But it's expensive to order their books and to have them shipped to the U.S. I figure they need to be parsed out and savored. Really, though, I probably don't need to be quite so parsimonious.
2. Every book by Jeffrey Lent except In the Fall (he's written three others). Bob and I were both so blown away by In the Fall that we got all his others. Could it be that I maybe wasn't quite as blown away as I thought?
3. Every book John Irving has written since he wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany. John Irving was a pivotal influence when I was in my teens and early twenties. I've actually read both The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany twice. Ask me to list my favorite contemporary authors, and he's right at the top of the list. And yet, once he published A Son of the Circus, I basically quit reading him. In the beginning, it was because he took so long between books that I wanted to wait a while before reading A Son of the Circus, so I didn't have to wait so long for the next (poor logic, I know, but I never claimed to be rational when it comes to books). I think I've been waiting something like sixteen years now, and he's published plenty of other books since then (all of which I had to and do own). I have no idea why I'm still waiting.
4. Almost every Library of America book we own. That may not sound like much, but Bob used to have a connection who would get these for us free. You wouldn't be too far off if you guessed that we have practically an entire bookcase full of them. I haven't completely ignored them. I've read at many of them -- a novel from this one, several short stories from that -- but the only one I've read all the way through (despite insisting we must have this one and we must have that one) is their collection of light verse.
5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Christmas 2008, I told Bob this was the only book I really wanted. I didn't care if he didn't get me anything else. I had to have it. I couldn't wait to read it. That was over two years ago. Okay, okay. I actually happen to be halfway through it now, but that's only because a. it's in my TBR challenge and b. my book discussion group just discussed it on Sunday (due to all kinds of extenuating circumstances, like getting stuck out of town without it, I didn't finish it in time for that, but I will. It's a great book!)
6. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghesi. Last summer, when I was visiting Connecticut, I met friend-not-husband Bob and his wife Ann for dinner and a play. Ann told me I had to read this book. The next day, I headed off to Borders with Zoe's Mom and bought it. It looks fantastic. Everyone I know who's read it has liked it. Have I read it? No. Why not? Let's blame Zoe's Mom, because I'm sure I keep picking up books she's lent me instead.
7. Little, Big by John Crowley. Back in the summer of 2009, when I wrote my blog post on Lud-in-the-Mist, one of the comments I got suggested I might like this book. I turned to my friend Mr. Fantasy, the same one mentioned in that blog post, who has a keen sense of my "picky-ness" when it comes to fantasy, and asked if he thought I'd like it. His answer was a very enthusiastic "yes!" That week, I went out and bought it. It's been sitting unread ever since. Sigh!
8. A Family and a Fortune by Ivy Compton-Burnett. Speaking of Mr. Fantasy, he introduced me to Ivy Compton-Burnett when he lent me A House and Its Head, which I loved. Shortly after that, he and I went to a library book sale together, and he found this for me. Okay, I was living in Connecticut at the time, which means it's been at least 3 1/2 years, and I'd say probably, realistically, you could double that number. God, it looks so good. Why haven't I read it?
9. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. And speaking of library sales, they're certainly a source for must-have books, aren't they? I bought this one at the Lancaster library sale two years ago. I still remember how excited I was to find this nearly pristine copy that looks as though it's never been read. I guess I've decided to keep it looking that way.
10. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Bob loves Calvin and Hobbes, so it was easy for me to pretend I was getting this birthday gift for him a number of years ago instead of for myself. Our shelves just wouldn't be complete without this handsome set. I can't remember exactly when I bought it. That's how long it's been that I've been meaning to read it.
Looks like I need to finish that TBR challenge and start a "Books I Had to Have" challenge, doesn't it? Maybe I'll do so in 2012. Anyone want to join me for that?