A Thursday Thirteen

Yeah, I know it’s Wednesday when I’m posting this, but Thursday’s not so far off, and many of you will be reading this on Thursday, so it’s good enough. (The truth is I’m beat by a long day at work, so it’s a perfect day for a list post.)

A while back Danielle posted a list of books she’d wanted to read this year but hadn’t gotten to, and that’s what I propose to do for myself, create a list of this year’s “failures,” or, to be more positive about it, books I’m “saving” for next year. The first six books on the list are classics I’d hoped read this year but didn’t, and the later ones are challenge books I didn’t get to or simply ones I keep longing to read but can’t quite manage.

  • Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I want to read more of the Brontes, Anne and the others. I’ve read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Villette, but there are more Bronte novels than these, and as I love the 19C novel so much, I need to get to them.
  • Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day. I read The Voyage Out, Woolf’s first novel, earlier this year, and Night and Day is her second one, and so a logical next step. Eventually I’d like to read everything she’s written.
  • Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives. I’ve had this book on my shelves for ages. I’m fascinated and intrigued by Stein and want to read more of her work, and I think Three Lives is one of her more accessible books. Still, I keep putting it off.
  • Balzac’s Cousin Bette. Another 19C novel I’d like to get to. I’ve read no Balzac, and I don’t think that’s a good thing!
  • William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. I can’t decide if this is a book I’ll love or one I’ll be bored by, which perhaps explains my failure to read it thus far. I think I’ll like it, as everything I’ve heard about James intrigues me, and I like reading about religious subjects, but I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps next year …
  • James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Doesn’t the title sound so interesting? Or perhaps it’s just me that thinks so …
  • I committed to Kate’s Reading Across Borders challenge and pledged to read five books for it, specifically, books in translation from countries outside Europe. I’ve managed to read four so far (So Long a Letter, Love in a Fallen City, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and Palace Walk), but I’m having trouble getting to the fifth. I do have a month left in this year, so there’s still a chance I can complete it. I’m thinking Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths might be a good choice.
  • I also hoped to read a science book this year, either Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos or Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. My desire to read science varies, though, and I never got the urge right around the time I felt I could begin a new book, so it didn’t happen. I’m interested in science, but these books are big ones and will be large time commitment.
  • I have a whole list of Janet Malcolm books I’d like to read. There’s her Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey, or The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, or her latest one, Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. I think Malcolm is an author I’d really like, if only I would actually pick up one of her books.
  • I have never read a Margaret Atwood novel. This is a crying shame, I’m sure. I keep saying I’m going to do it …
  • Samuel Beckett’s Molloy. I believe I listed this as a choice for the Reading from the Stacks challenge I participated in last winter, and it was the one book I didn’t get to. I still haven’t gotten to it, obviously.
  • Any novel by Colette, although most likely Cheri or The Ripening Seed. I read a biography of her not too long ago and thought she was a fascinating person, but I’ve read very little of her own writing, except for My Mother’s House and Sido, which I thought a wonderful book.
  • Boccaccio’s Decameron. Since I wrote yesterday about books with multiple stories and plots, I have this book on my mind, with its 100 stories. It’s another book I’m not sure if I’ll love or be bored by. No way to know but to give it a try, right?


Filed under Books, Lists

14 responses to “A Thursday Thirteen

  1. I like your positive spin, books you are saving until next year! I’ve got a lot of those myself. Wherever does the time go? And how did all those other books we read sneak in there?


  2. There are lots of books on your list that I aspire to as well, and a few that I’ve already read that I would recommend. Janet Malcom’s “The Silent Woman” is a particular favourite of mine. It’s a bit of a meditation on literary biography and fame–more about the perception of Plath and Hughes that literary biography has built than about Plath and Hughes themselves. A fascinating read. Also, I’ve just begun listening to the audiobook version of Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” I’m a bit resistant to listening to books rather than reading them–I just don’t take in information all that well through my ears rather than my eyes. But the Bryson is working for me. It’s read by Bryson himself and he’s such a genial soul, I very much enjoy being in his company throughout my commute.


  3. I loved the James Hogg book. It was so strange–a book like a set of Russian nesting dolls! And your list has reminded me that I really need to add more French authors to my list of books to read.


  4. You have a great list–and I like your spin on it, too–books you’re saving. I really liked Cheri and The Last of Cheri, and I’d love to read The Ripening Seed, too. I actually did read what I set out to for books in translation, but all mine were European authors. Maybe next year I’ll try for some non-western novels. And you have to read Margaret Atwood–I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her! Already you have lots of good books to look forward to!


  5. “books I’m saving for next year”

    I must remember that!


  6. Great list! Never read any Gertrude Stein either… My husband recommends me Colette all the time but somehow I never went beyond “Claudine at school” that I read when I was… well… at school. If you want to try Margaret Atwood, I would suggest The handmaid’s tale or The blind assassin, but if you want some realism, Cat’s Eyes isn’t bad either, in a totally different way.


  7. SFP

    Cat’s Eye is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll enjoy Atwood whenever you get around to her.


  8. Do read Margaret Atwood. The one I think I most straightforwardly enjoyed (and couldn’t put down) was Alias Grace, followed by The Robber Bride. I also have the Janet Malcolm book on Plath and Hughes to read, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is, I think, my favourite Bronte novel!


  9. I also found “Alias Grace” the most straightforward Atwood I’ve read. I enjoyed it.

    Woolf’s “Night and Day” struck me as the least Woolf-ish of all her books. It has a fairly conventional structure, in comparison to her other work, such as “The Waves” (which I simply love.)

    You have so many good choices saved up for next year!


  10. You’ve never read Atwood – gasp! 😉
    Well even though you didn’t get to these books this year just think what great reading material awaits you. I really like this post and it’s prompted me to think about some of the books I meant to read this year as well. I may have to borrow this post!


  11. I’m reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall right now, and I love it! Do read it, I would recommend it to anyone. Coincidentally, I just put the ebook up for free download on my site…


  12. Stefanie — good questions! I can’t stick to a list for very long or it begins to feel like work, so plenty of books sneak in there among all my planned books. But there are always more than I expect!

    Kate — now that book read by Bryson himself sounds appealing. Your description of The Silent Woman makes it sound so appealing — I do love books that meditate on their own genre a bit.

    Sarah — I knew there was someone who had mentioned the Hogg book recently, but I couldn’t remember who! I’m glad you liked it so much; that makes me eager to get to it.

    Danielle — I made sure to choose non-European authors because I feel like I’ve got European ones decently covered already (well, not really, but better covered than non-European ones). I just have to get to that last one!

    Sylvia — 🙂

    Smithereens and SFP — thank you for the Atwood recommendations! I have so many good ones to choose from.

    Litlove — Alias Grace is the one Atwood I own right now, so chances are decent I’ll start there, and I’m glad to know it’s such a good read!

    Melanie — The Voyage Out was pretty traditional too — I guess she only got experimental later on. I’ll have to re-read The Waves; I tried it a while ago, but it didn’t work well for me. Perhaps I’d like it better now.

    Iliana — do post your own list — it’s kind of fun!

    Laura — oh, it’s good to know the Bronte novel is so fun!


  13. LK

    Great idea, and what a selection. (I have the Hogg book, too, and yes, what a title!) Happy reading!


  14. verbivore

    I would also love to read everything by Virginia Woolf. I may have to choose her for a challenge one day, just to make a list and stick to it.


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