Let’s keep talking about how there are too many books to read on this planet and the accompanying angst that I, a mere mortal, will never be able to read them all. I’m not going to fit them into 2014, or 2015 or by the time I’m 60 or 80 or 105.
I keep a To Read list. It lives on Goodreads. Any time I hear about a new book I think I might like to read someday, I throw it on the list. It’s huge – 550 books right now – but I like to tell myself that as long as my “read” list is longer then I am in the clear. Also, I trim it regularly. My reading near future isn’t chiseled in stone, and my first impressions of what might be worth reading don’t always stand up to the test of even a few months’ time.
Some books, however, keep making the cut. I added all these books to my TBR just years ago but I’m pretty sure that I will still want to read them some day. Maybe not in 2014, but you know, before I lose my facilities.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Why read it? It’s a Michael L. Printz Honor. It has illustrations by Maira Kalman. It’s humorous YA realism about a breakup. This is all to say: incredibly up my alley.
Well, why haven’t you read it? I want to read it in print for the illustrations… but getting myself to read an older book in print is… ah… challenging. Also, it has illustrations, so the paper is thick, and it’s just a beastly heavy tome. It’s a bit of a Catch-22. Also, some of my friends didn’t like it, so I didn’t have any YOU HAVE TO READ THIS pressure on my shoulders.
But you still want to read it because… It’s a Printz honor, and I don’t toss award-winners from my TBR lightly! Insert your own joke about tossing really heavy books lightly here.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Why read it? Lost of buzz when it came out (YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS AGO). Sex and drugs and boarding school. Who can resist that?
Well, why haven’t you read it? It came out when I was in grad school, and grad school didn’t allow a lot of time for those Adult Books. Also, it’s not available in any version of audio that I can get my hands on. I’ve tried!!
But you still want to read it because… I recently discovered an unexamined passion for books about young people meeting up in semi-isolated places, getting to know/hate/love one another, and coming of age. Hence my fondness for any sort of boarding school book. I’m keeping this on the list in case I need one handy.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Why read it? It’s one of those old-school (1940s) proto-YA books that everyone still raves about. Diary-style first-person, coming of age, etc
Well, why haven’t you read it? See: old books problem. Also, old-school proto-YA set in historical periods of other countries are the kind of books that I sometimes like but never, ever think I’m going to like. So I procrastinate.
But you still want to read it because… It’s one of those touchstones of the genre that just Keeps. Coming. Up. So I’m just going to have to read it at some point. Even if it sits on my TBR until I am 50.
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Why read it? I feel like this is a classic of the Modern, Approachable-but-Political Nonfiction genre. Which is a genre I like.
Well, why haven’t you read it? Sheer laziness? Natural preference for fiction over nonfiction when free-reading? I don’t know!
But you still want to read it because… I think it’s exactly the kind of book I’d enjoy. I would be concerned that, at this point, the information might be a bit out of date, but given that the topic is The Real Life Challenges of those Living in Poverty in America, I doubt that much has actually changed in the past 10 years or so.
The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White
Why read it? When this series was republished in 2008, the YA lit blogosphere went a little bit nuts – everyone and their sister was raving about this overlooked wonder. I added it to my TBR list accordingly.
Well, why haven’t you read it? Now that I am halfway through this list, I think the real answer for all of these books is “grad school.” So, I’ll choose “grad school” for this round.
But you still want to read it because… I actually did check this one out once and read 100 pages or so. I was digging it, but… grad school.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Why read it? Well, it’s Barbara Kingsolver. It has a young female protagonist and it’s about motherhood. Also, did I mention it’s by Barbara Kingsolver?
Well, why haven’t you read it? Aaaggggh I am feeling under pressure. I HAVEN’T READ IT BECAUSE I AM BUSY READING HUNDREDS OF OTHER BOOKS.
But you still want to read it because… Barbara Kingsolver. Also, a few years ago (and a few years after I put this book on my TBR) I was helping a group of first year college students do research for their English class and they were all studying The Bean Trees and their paper topics seemed really interesting.
Kristy’s Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier
Why read it? Things I loved as a child: Babysitter’s Club. Things I love as a grown up: graphic novels. It’s just math, guys.
Well, why haven’t you read it? I’m actually unsure of whether or not my former passion for Babysitter’s Club is even worth revisiting. It’s not like I hold the series on some sort of pedestal – I wasn’t that obsessed – but I also don’t have too many remaining memories of what the books were like, just vague impressions of characters and plots. I think it might be better to leave it be.
But you still want to read it because… Raina Telgemeier. That’s pretty much it.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Why read it? It’s a giant Jonathan Franzen book, guys. Those don’t come around too many times in your life. Plus, I am always looking to read more books by men named Jonathan.
Well, why haven’t you read it? For those of us with bad backs and limited attention spans. it’s not a giant Jonathan Franzen book. It’s a giant Jonathan Franzen book.
But you still want to read it because… Some of you might know that I am having a deep love affair with The Magicians and Lev Grossman in general, as a human and author. He sites Freedom as a major creative touchstone for writing his series, in terms of craft. So I want to read it.