This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish taps in to our secret need for confession. Yes, my friends, let us stand up and admit to the world what has been sitting on our bookshelves, waiting for us to pull them out and read them.
I know I’m not alone in having two TBR piles – a real one, with real books that I have already shelled out for, and a virtual one, comprising books I want to read but haven’t yet got round to buying. I suppose that the former pile is the one that should cause more guilt as it is a continual reminder of my financial profligacy. It’s also a kind of memorial to bygone short-lived enthusiasms – the collection of books on mathematics, for example – and periodic fits of worthiness – the set of E.M. Forster’s novels gathering dust bears mute witness to this.
Oddly enough though, it’s the aging tail end of my virtual TBR pile that tends to cause me more trouble. A quick scan through my Amazon wish list in moments of boredom will have me thinking, “Why haven’t I got round to this one yet?” or “Ooh, really must read this one soon” before financial prudence takes over or another (metaphorical) shiny bauble catches my eye.
So, anyway, here is a mix of items from my TBR pile that have been wistfully waiting for a while to catch my eye:
1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. This is one of those “Big Daddy” type books that “everyone” has either read or is about to read. I’ve been in the latter camp for about ten years now. My Penguin classics copy sits on my shelves, still looking shop-fresh. Shame on me.
2. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Doesn’t have quite the same length of tenure on the shelf as Don Quixote but is still a long-term resident. I just know I will enjoy this when I do get round to this…….it’s just that there’s always something more immediately appealing.
3. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. My name is Falaise and I am a wuss. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed both Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife but I know that sad things are going to happen in The Amber Spyglass and I don’t think I can take it. And, no I really don’t think that is a pathetic view for a grown man to take. Honest.
4. The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. This was put on my Amazon wish list in April 2008 and has still not managed to make its way to South West London. I recall I was going through one of my periodic ancient history phases which ended up getting stalled halfway through Caesar’s Civil Wars. One day, I will be back in the mood for some Roman history and then, just maybe, Suetonius will have his day in the sun.
5. Mr Dick or the Tenth Book by Jean-Pierre Ohl. Translated from the French, the basic idea of this novel is that two students become obsessed with Dickens and are trying to discover the ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, whilst living their lives through Dickens. I love the concept of this one and it has made it up two floors of my house, from basement bookshelves to bedside table which may mean it is nearly time to open it up.
6. Men of Mathematics by
E. Bell. I hinted at a dark passion for maths above and this is pat of the evidence. Why, exactly, did I buy a collection of potted biographies of old mathematicians? Your guess is probably as good as mine and I don’t need a crystal ball to foresee that this one will be staying on the shelf a while longer.
7. 20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne. The only reason I can think for this still being on the shelf is that it’s a hard back and not well-suited for Tube reading. I’m tinkering with the idea of joining the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge for 2012 that is currently going around the blogosphere, in which event, this will finally get an airing.
8. A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution by
Figes. This is another one that’s been sitting on the shelf for more years than I care to admit. I’m fascinated by Orlando and its history, I’ve enjoyed several of Figes’ other books so why haven’t I finished this one by now? It’s just soooo big and heavy. Like Robert Fisk’s The Great War of Civilisation, this is crying out for a Kindle edition, if only to stop me from getting a strained wrist trying to read it. Russia
9. The Third Reich at War by Richard Evans. The third and final part of Richard Evans’ magisterial history of Nazi Germany is also a denizen of the Falaise basement bookshelves. I want to read it but it’s never quite the right time. Maybe soon.
10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Part of a Dickens boxed set I bought a decade or more ago, I simply have never mustered the enthusiasm to read it. Don’t know why and I’m sure it’s a dreadful reflection on me but I’ve just never fancied it. It’s the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth next year so maybe I’ll read it then as my homage to the great man. Or maybe not.