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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Someday Pile

I'm making my way through Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, which was the surprise winner last week when I asked Facebook and Twitter for book recommendations. One person recommended it and then all of a sudden other people were seconding the motion. In a way it was very convenient, considering that I already owned a copy of the novel and just hadn't got around to reading it yet. This is a fairly common occurrence for me. I love going to bookstores and browsing around, even when I'm in the middle of reading something else. Often I'll buy a book, intending to read it after the one I'm working on at the time, but something will come up, and I'll put the book on the Someday Pile.

Other times I'll buy a whole bunch of books at once, intending to read them in a row, but this never works out. This is especially true when I try to read a bunch of works by the same author consecutively. I just can't do it, and I've mostly learned that lesson.

Anyway, because this is my blog and I get to decide what to put on here, here's a list of some of the books sitting on my shelves just waiting for me to feel like it's finally the right time to get around to them.

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (One of several "important" novels I felt like I should read. Actually read the first ten pages once before moving on to something more pressing. Also, knowing the ending really kills my desire to pick this one up.)

2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (My Someday Pile is not all Russian, rest assured. My Freshman Seminar professor, the great A.James McAdams, recommended that I read this novel the summer after my first year of college. I dutifully bought a copy but somehow never got to it. Incredibly small type is no help.)

3. Going After Cacciato by Tom O'Brien (Loved The Things They Carried, but haven't got to this yet.)

4. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (Tried to read the four Rabbit novels consecutively, but ran out of gas after the third.)

5 and 6. The Anatomy Lesson and Exit Ghost by Philip Roth (Similarly tried to finish out Roth's Zuckerman novels.)

7. Until I Find You by John Irving (I thought Irving had lost his touch sometime in the '90s after I read the disastrous Son of the Circus and The Fourth Hand, but last years Last Night in Twisted River was excellent, inspiring me to pick this up. But it's 800 pages make it a hard choice to take with me on the bus to work.)

8. Crime by Irvine Welsh (Received this as a gift when I went on a job interview at W.W. Norton. Never picked it up when I didn't get the job. Did like the same author's Trainspotting.)

9. A Death in the Family by James Agee (Church book sale. American classic. Someday.)

10. Sophie's Choice by William Styron (Loved the movie, with Meryl Streep.)

11. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (Got really into New Journalism at one point, didn't last long enough to crack this open.)

12. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (This one's kind of funny. I had mentioned Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to my parents as a book I was thinking about picking up. This was fairly close to my birthday, although I was not dropping a hint my mom thought she would buy me the book, but she forgot the title. So she tried to get someone at Barnes and Noble find her the famous book with the long, weird title. This is what they came up with. I have no real interest in the book, but perhaps as a loyal son I may read it Someday.)

13. Light in August by William Faulkner (Actually read 80 or so pages before I lost this book. It turned up months later and when I tried to pick it back up realized I'd need to start over and wasn't up to it.)

14 and 15. The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk (Church Book Sale. Really liked The Caine Mutiny so I thought I'd get around to these someday.)

16. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (Church Book Sale. Really old copy that's falling apart, so I'm almost afraid to try and read it.)

17. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (Loved The Road and No Country for Old Men, but this it too patently Faulkner-esque for my taste. Tried the first three pages and put it down due to headache.)

18. The Promise by Chaim Potok (Loved The Chosen, but have yet to get to its sequel.)

19 and 20. Babbitt and It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (Bought these while I was enjoying Arrowsmith, but when that novel started to wear on me I lost my enthusiasm for Lewis.

21+. I've got a host of "classics" that I feel like I should read, but don't really want to. These include: Jane Eyre (quit 160 pages into it), Tom Jones, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and Madame Bovary.

What's on your Someday Pile, and why did it end up there?


  1. 100 Years of Solitude is currently at the top of my pile. I started it a year or two ago because I felt like it was one of those classic books that everyone should read... and it wasn't exactly a page-turner, so I never finished it. Maybe I need to get a copy in the original Spanish?

  2. That's in my theoretical pile of books I don't have but want to read. Much longer list, unfortunately. When I was in a book club we read Love in the Time of Cholera and I really, really loved it, so I definitely want to read more Marquez.