Of the hundreds of books on my “to-read” list, there are some that stand ahead of the pack in terms of wanting to read, but not yet owning. For whatever reason, sometimes I really want to read a book, but can’t bring myself to buy it. Below I’ve listed the top 10 books I want to read that don’t reside on my bookshelves…yet.
1. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
How could this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction not be on my list? I’m not quite sure why I don’t own Donna Tartt’s epic novel yet, but it’s probably a combination of the price and size. At 771 pages and $18, I thought I would be able to wait for a library copy, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I really, really, really want to read The Goldfinch. My only reservation is that I won’t be able to pick it up with my weak arms.
2. This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Díaz
After being blown away by his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, last summer, Junot Díaz shot to the top of my “must read everything they have ever written” list. Yet here I am, a year later, still having only read one masterpiece by one of the most important writers of our generation. After reading an excerpt from the novel (which is a collection of stories about Yunior, a character from Oscar Wao), I knew I needed to not only read, but own this book as soon as possible.
Confesstion: I have never read a Murakami book (I know, I know, shameful). I actually started this book as an audiobook, but never finished it — it was one of 3 books I was reading at the time, and it was pushed to the back burner. There’s not a question of if I’ll buy this book ( I greatly enjoyed the 3 or 4 chapters I read), but when. In fact, there’s a perfectly-shaped place on my bookshelf for Norwegian Wood between The History of Love and Everything is Illuminated.
4. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
After reading “On Keeping a Notebook” in college, I fell in love with Didion’s prose as well as her understanding and insights into writing and the creative process. She’s a one-of-a-kind writer and I think it’s about time I read one of her most well-known works. This memoir is about loss and love and family. Besides loving Didion’s writing, I have a certain affinity for memoirs written by women.
5. Oblivion, David Foster Wallace
Another writer I fell in love with during college, David Foster Wallace never fails to make me clutch my chest from the blunt, honest, and brilliant nature of his prose. I’ve read certain stories from this collection (which is certainly the most difficult and challenging of his short story collections), but I haven’t read the whole thing. I own three of his books and I know I’ll certainly own this one soon. David Foster Wallace is not a library sort of author; you need time to read then re-read then re-read before you comprehend 10% of his writing. You must revisit over and over again to truly begin to understand his work.
6. Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
This is one of those books that I have wanted to read forever; have been told by countless people to read it; have picked it up and put it down in various bookstores too many times to count. For some reason, I never actually get to reading Sarah’s Key. I hate buying books when I already have so many unread ones sitting on my shelves, so Sarah’s Key is one of those books that I covet from afar. Not only do I have a soft spot for Holocaust literature, but I absolutely adore dual-narratives that weave together, so I’m dying to read this book. I think a trip to the library is definitely in my near future.
It’s a book that I’m almost scared to read, but feel like I have to. The Columbine massacre, while revolting, terrifying, horrifying and unimaginable, has always fascinated me. What really interested me about the book is that it focuses on the town, which had been irreparably broken, in the massacre’s aftermath. Aside from the subject matter, I’ve heard that Columbine is an amazing piece of nonfiction — well-reported and poignantly written. I know I have to be emotionally ready to read this book, but I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll ever be ready.
8. MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction, Chad Harbach (Editor)
As someone who is constantly grappling with the idea of getting an MFA, I really want to read essays from writers about (what seems to be, but really isn’t) two opposing schools of writing. I’ve read a few of these essays online including Emily Gould’s “Into The Woods” and Alexander Chee’s “My Parade.” Both essays were good — they made me think about and question all my preconceived ideas of MFAs as well as the NYC I have inflated in my mind. As someone as interested in writing about writing as writing itself, I think I am meant to read this collection.
One of my last semesters in college, I took a class called “21st Century Literature,” where we read solely post-postmodern novels. It was during that class where I fell in love with intertexuality, metafiction, and experimental prose. I haven’t read as much postmodern literature as I want to (and Italo Calvino’s book certainly falls under that category). The book’s main characters are “the Reader” and “the Other Reader,” and they are attempting to read a book called If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Similar to Oblivion, I’m going to buy this book, so I can annotate the heck out of it.
10. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read a book by Zadie Smith before. She’s one of those authors I keep meaning to read/keep being told to read/keep (stupidly) forgetting to read. The plot seems almost too complex to explain, but like all great literature the book explores themes like race, gender, identity, and culture. I’ve heard the book contains vibrant dialogue, quirky characters, and beautiful writing, so it sounds right up my alley. I think it’s finally time I put Smith’s writing to the forefront in the form of White Teeth.
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What are some of the books you want to read, but don’t own yet? Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in the comments!