Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Books I HAD To Buy But Haven't Read

I love making lists so I always look forward to Top Ten Tuesdays -- so many great excuses to make another! This one, however, is a little embarassing.  Here are ten books I rushed out to buy. . . and are still sitting unread on my TBR shelves (along with about 180 others, sigh).  In alphabetical order, by author:

1.  The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.  For some reason I decided I needed to buy this book and take it with me on a trip to Paris, not thinking that maybe a book by a French writer would be more appropriate.  One of the characters is a girl with green hair.  I was not in the mood for magical realism and put it down after only one chapter or so.

2. Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker.  I kept reading about the delightful Bloomsbury books now back in print, especially this one.  Drove across town specially to buy it.  Still haven't opened it, but at least it's only been a few months yet.  Oh, and a month later I found three more Bloomsbury books in pristine condition at Half-Price Books!

3.  Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton.  The most recent of my purchases on this list, I ordered it with my Christmas gift money after reading this rave review by Thomas at My Porch.  There were even more raves last weekend during Persephone Reading Weekend, but I'm going to wait until May for the Persephone Books group read on Goodreads.  Hopefully someone else will comment this time.

4.  Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens.  One of five unread Dickens novels on my TBR bookscase.  I was obsessed with Dickens a couple of years ago and read seven of his works in two years.  Needless to say I got a little burned out by Dickens and switched over to Trollope (because he only wrote 47 novels).  I'll get back to Dickens eventually.

5.  The Barnum Museum by Steven Milhauser.  This collection of short stories includes "Eisenheim The Illusionist," basis for the excellent movie The Illusionist.  After I saw it I went home and immediately started searching for it online since my library didn't own a copy.  Haven't read any of the other stories yet.

6.  The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett.  I read a review of this and wanted it so badly, my mother went out and bought it for me and carried over the Pacific Ocean.  About seven years ago.  Have I read it yet?  Um, no.

7.  The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope.  I've been in love with Trollope's work since I read The Way We Live Now in 2008, so I bought this 800 page tome.  Of course it's third in the Pallisers series and I feel like I need to read them in order, but I got distracted during Can You Forgive Her?, the first volume.  Then I started the Barchester Chronicles and I have to finish that first.

8.  Letters From Hawaii by Mark Twain.  Since I was going to Hawaii, I thought I should read something appropriate -- and wouldn't it be appropriate to buy it in an independent Hawaiian bookstore in Honolulu?  Yes, if I could find it -- I walked around Honolulu half a day and finally broke down and bought it at their Barnes &Noble, for which I still feel guilty.  At least I read the introduction, right?

9.  Kipps by H. G. Wells. Have you heard of this one?  Has anyone heard of this book?  I was at a reading festival and one of the visiting authors recommended this while she signed my book, so naturally I ordered it online.  It's supposed to be a witty satire on Victorian life.  It had better be good since I have shlepped this book to three different houses since I bought it.

10.  Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton.  I'd been really into Wharton so I drove about eleven miles out of my way to Borders to buy it -- and realized I'd forgotten my coupon, so I had to pay full price!  Have I read it?  Of course not.

So, what books did you absolutely have to buy . . . that are still sitting on the shelves?  I would love to hear.  And which of these should I read first?  Still working on my TBR Dare.

This Top Ten Tuesday Meme was borrowed from The Broke and the Bookish via Brenna at Literary Musings and Suey at It's All About Books.


  1. The surest way for me to delay reading a book I really want to read is to buy it! Miss Hargreaves got me, too... when I first heard about the Bloomsbury books I went looking for one and that's the one I found. We should read it! :)

  2. I liked what one person said when they listed out all those books they'd owned for years - they said if they didn't read them this year, they'd donate them away. I'm planning to do that EXCEPT with my Nabokov ones, which I like to read 1 or so a year. Besides Nabokov, I only have three books left on my shelf that are more than 2 years old. Whew! And only six on my shelf that are from 2009. I'm planning on reading them all this year. It's definitely time to get my shelves in control!

    btw, my favorite story in that Millhauser collection is A Game of Clue. I didn't read them all though, so I'm planning to do that a little later on this year in my short story project.

  3. The House of the Spirits is a magnificent read. Miss Hargreaves, fun! The books I had to buy that are still on my shelves: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (but am reading now). Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. The Idiot by Dostoyevsky. East of Eden by Steinbeck. Of Human Bondage by Maugham. Ack. So many. I promised myself I'd read almost all, if not all, of the books on my shelves that were there prior to 2011. I need tons of luck on that.

  4. Probably too many to mention but the ones that are winking at me from where I am currently sitting is Dan Brown, Lost Symbol and Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall.

    Sigh! Have yet to read them but so wanted them? Why? Who knows!

  5. Audrey -- excellent point. If I buy a book I tend to put off reading it because I know it's there whenever I want it. I do want to read Miss Hargreaves but right now I think I'm doing two readalongs AND an online group! MIght have to wait. . . which is the crux of the problem.

    Amanda -- I don't think I could get rid of all of them -- maybe the ones I'd owned the longest. I guess this means you don't want books as gifts anymore?

    Kissacloud -- I've read Of Human Bondage which is just wonderful but I haven't read it in years, I'm due for a reread. I've heard great things about Zeitoun and East of Eden -- and Norwegian Wood is another on my TBR shelf, owned more than 5 years. Must get to that one soon too. . . .

    Josbookjourney -- I thought The DaVinci Code was a fun fast read but I just couldn't get into The Lost Symbol. I was thisclose to buying Wolf Hall at the library book sale last month -- it was very tempting! Someday. . . .

  6. This is a great list! Oh my... the books I have just bought because their covers were so intriguing. In the past few months, I've bought The Ten-Year Nap that way, and Brookland, and the Teahouse Fire. Why can't I live to be 289 years old?! Wolf Hall is one I keep picking up, then walking away from... not sure what's going on there!

  7. I've got STACKS of books I HAD to own lying around! One is Evelina, by Fanny Burney (owned it about three years, haven't gotten to it yet), The Birds Fall Down, by Rebecca West, and some of the books from the Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles; I'm trying to read them in order. I own so many unread books that i've had to make a spreadsheet about when I acquired them and how.

    Of your list, I'd go for Miss Hargreaves; haven't read it, but some of the others I've read from the Bloomsbury Group reprints have been excellent.

  8. Oh my! Nearly all 229 on my TBR shelf fall into this category. Obviously, like many of us, I can shop much faster than I can read. :) I'd grab Miss Hargreaves next - it is a very different story, short, and entertaining. Those Bloomsbury reprints got me too with their pretty pale - and then bright covers. I bought them all and still have 7 of them sitting on the shelf. Nerd that I am, I keep track of the date that I acquire things. One of my goals for the year is to read all the books I have on my shelf that have been here since 2007 and before (there's 53 left in this bunch). The Beekeeper's Apprentice is one that I've had staring at me for a while and I hear so many good things about it - but then, that's true of all the books on the shelf or they wouldn't be there. ;) For the moment, I just look at the TBR shelf with the comfort that a good book is never too far away! :)

  9. They all sound like great books to have on your shelf! I have a ton of TBR books on my shelves, but I haven't bought any of them - they're all gifts.

  10. Oh, Terry Pratchett, how I love him. I really enjoyed Good Omens. Pratchett's books are everywhere, and there are a zillion of them, but with so many choices I just never know where to start. Maybe someday. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  11. Miss Hargreaves is on my unread shelf too, along with SIX Dickens novels (yikes!) and The Eustace Diamonds. Feel free to start up a readalong for any of these -- although I'm still not sure I would get to these books!

  12. For my top 3 must reads this year, I committed to the book I've owned the longest (bought it while in college) and I still can't seem to open it and start! D.H.Lawrence's Exotic Works.

  13. The Bromeliad is also sitting on my shelf. Someone who was in a community theater production of Brigadoon with me recommended it, and the story sounded kind of fascinating. I read the first thirty pages or so, got bogged down or went to answer the door, and never picked it up again.

  14. Hi there,

    I haven't bought The House of the Spirits, but it's been on my tbr list for the longest time.
    I must find out about Kipps. Intriguing!

  15. Melissa -- I'm beginning to worry that I'll die before I read everything on my to-read list, which has just gotten longer since I've begun blogging.

    Katherine -- I wish I'd thought to start a spreadsheet years ago! I can't even remember how I've acquired some of these books.

    Susan -- I do want to start Miss Hargreaves but I have several big fat books I've committed to for readalongs and online groups -- I'm trying to finish Villette by Charlotte Bronte and I'm about to start The Three Musketeers and Sister Carrie. I must be crazy! I have a lot of short books I'm hoping to tackle for the readathon in April.

    Motheretc -- I have a birthday coming up and I'm afraid to ask for more books. It is too dangerous.

    Couchpotatocritic -- I am afraid if I start Terry Pratchett I will end up adding ALL his books to my TBR list!

    Kristen -- I'm thinking about a readalong this year for some Dickens, maybe Our Mutual Friend. I want to read Dombey and Son too but I should cross OMF off the list first as I already own a copy.

    Care -- I haven't even heard of Exotic Works! I just got a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover a few months ago and I'm a little afraid of it.

    Jeanne -- That happens to me all the time. I start a book, get distracted, and I'm afraid to get rid of it since I keep telling myself I'll get to it "someday."

    Monica -- Apparently Wells wrote satire as well as sci-fi. I've been hearing about Ann Veronica lately which sounds interesting. I read one in college called Tono-Bungay and I can't remember a thing about it. I don't think I liked it much but I wasn't really into classics then, and besides the professor was terrible so maybe he sucked all the fun out of it.

  16. Oh I have a huge list like this -- I think all readers do. You get all worked up over something, get it, and then ... NOTHING. You just let it sit. It drives my husband nuts but so much of it is "mood related." I'm going to have to do this for one of my lists posts. I love the question.

  17. I agree with Audrey. There's something comforting about knowing there's a great book waiting in the wings if the current book doesn't work out. I also agree with Jenners, that books are 'mood related'. You buy a book when you're in a certain mood, and maybe it doesn't appeal to you again until that mood strikes weeks or months later.

  18. I won't even start on my tbr shelves, I'd be here all day but Kipps is fantastic, I loved it. Touching, funny, a great read. I also loved Our Mutual Friend, Eustace Diamonds, Miss Hargreaves & Family Roundabout. I'm sure you'll find the right moment for all these books. I've had books on my shelves over 10 years before the right moment came & then I was so glad I'd bought them.

  19. Jenners -- I look forward to reading YOUR list. And I am so glad that I'm not the only one.

    Prologuebooks -- I think the other problem is related to online shopping -- I'm in the mood to read something RIGHT NOW, and by the time it arrives, not so much. Or other things push it to the back of the to-read shelf, like book group reads and library books with due dates. And then I forget why I wanted the book in the first place.

    Lyn -- I'm glad to hear that about Kipps. I didn't care for War of the Worlds and The Island of Dr. Moreau was well-written but very disturbing. Family Roundabout shall be read soon!