Usually I write about books I’ve read, but today I’m going to write about books I haven’t read.
Most readers keep some sort of “to-read” list, mental or otherwise, for books they want to read in the future. I’d be willing to bet that most readers also have at least a few books on that list that have been there for years without ever being read. I have my fair share of these and there are lots of reasons why I’ve never gotten around to reading those books. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting sidetracked by other books that turn into whole series and keep me busy for a while. Sometimes I have trouble getting ahold of a particular book. And sometimes I’m simply not in the right mood.
Today I’m going to share some books with you that go one step beyond “I’ve been meaning to read this but haven’t yet.” These are books that I not only have intended to read for a long time and never have, but books that I actually OWN and still have not gotten around to reading.
In fairness, I will say that I very rarely buy new or full-priced books. We have a large library, but most of our books were handed down, given as gifts, purchased from a library sale where each book cost $1-$2, or purchased with a gift card. Also, I haven’t had most of these books here in Korea with me during the last two years and I’ve done most of my reading on my kindle while living abroad. But still, I owned most of these books for at least a year before moving and never read them.
These are all books that I still genuinely hope to read, especially before adding new books to our collection.
There is a list of Kindle books on sale this week at the bottom of this post. I do also occasionally tweet or post one-day deals to my Facebook page, so be sure that you are following me there if you are interested in those alerts. You can also follow me on Goodreads if you are interested in more book reviews and reading updates.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Jonathan read this book a few years ago and really loved it. David Mitchell is one of his favorite authors and from the time he first told me about it I was interested in reading it at some point, but there just always seemed to be other things I wanted to read first. When the movie version came out a while later, I was completely mesmerized by it. It’s honestly one of my favorite movies. I think it’s fascinating and beautiful and brilliant. So now I really want to go back and read the book which I believe is even more nuanced than the movie. This book has a very unusual structure. There are six stories that happen at different points in time that are only very loosely linked to one another. The book alternates stories by chapter in such a way that you read the first half of the first story, then the second and third on up to the sixth, and then the second half of the stories are told in reverse order, starting at six and going back down to one. In other words, the whole first story is in the first and last chapters of the book. After loving the movie so much I want to read this eventually and see if and how it changes my perspective.
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite writers. I think she is a fabulous storyteller and her interest in biology and botany makes her subject matter and approach to her novels unique. I have loved every book of hers that I’ve read. This one is set in Appalachia and follows three separate story lines that are tied together around the theme of human love. This book was well-received by critics for it’s rich sense of place and its perfect marriage of narrative, ideas, and drama. Characters include a reclusive wildlife biologist, a city girl turned farmwife, and a pair of elderly neighbors locked in a feud.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of Henry Townsend, a former slave who is now a farmer and his relationship with William Robbins, the most powerful man in the county. After Townsend dies unexpectedly, his wife, Caldonia, struggles to hold onto all that he has built. This book is lauded for it’s straightforward look at the moral ambiguities of slavery. I suppose this is one of those books that feels weighty – worth the read, but also worth being in the right frame of mind to read it – which is why I haven’t picked it up yet.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I’ll be honest, before moving to Korea I wasn’t hugely interested in books or movies that were set in Asia. Most people have settings or cultures they are more drawn to than others, and Asia in general wasn’t at the top of my list. But I’ve been hearing about this book for years and I bought it from the annual library sale thinking that owning it would encourage me to go ahead and dive in. Unfortunately, it didn’t (yet!). Set in nineteenth century China, this book tells the story of Lily and Snow Flower whose friendship begins when Lily is only seven years old. The two women send secret messages back and forth to one another in a secret language, using silk fans and handkerchiefs to communicate with one another about their isolation and loneliness, the rituals of footbinding and arranged marriages, and the agonies of motherhood.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I even listened to the first 30 pages or so of this as a free sample from Audible and was hooked, but didn’t have my copy available at the time to continue reading. Dr. Marina Singh heads off into the wilds of the Amazonian jungle in search of her colleague, Dr. Annick Swenson, who disappeared while doing research for a valuable new drug. I badly wanted to read this when it first came out, but wasn’t able to get it from the library. Then I bought it at a big book sale, but somehow owning it made reading it feel less urgent. Since I didn’t have to return it, I adopted the attitude that I could read it anytime, and that resulted in my never reading it. Out of all of the books on this list, I think this is the book I would most like to get to this year.
Other books I could list off the top of my head are: A Visit to the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson.
Do you absolutely love any of these books and think I’m crazy for not reading them yet? Do you have any books that have been sitting on your shelf unread for years?
Current Kindle Deals
*As of April 10th. I use the US Amazon site. Prices may vary on other sites.
New On Sale:
The House at Riverton, Kate Morton ($1.99) I love Kate Morton’s books. Part mystery, part love story, totally worth the read.
The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien ($2.99)
What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty ($6.61). One of the best books I read last year (read my review in this post). This is the cheapest I’ve ever seen it.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn ($4.20) Not my favorite but lots of people love it.
Teach Us to Want, Jen Pollock Michel ($2.99) This was an excellent book about desire, ambition, and longing and the role they play in the Christian life. Read my thoughts here.
Still on Sale:
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett ($5.94) Which I wrote about above!
The Giver, Lois Lowry ($2.99) Still on sale, but for $1 more than last week.
Cinder, Marissa Meyer ($2.99). This is a YA book, the first book of the Lunar Chronicles. It is a futuristic sort-of Cinderella story, except Cinderella is a cyborg and there’s a planet-wide pandemic. Just reading the synopsis, this is not the sort of book I would naturally gravitate toward, but it came highly recommended and I was impressed. It’s clever and imaginative and I couldn’t put it down.
Cress, Marissa Meyer ($2.99). The Lunar Chronicles, book 3. This is part of the same series as Cinder.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving ($3.36) A classic. Many people list this in their all-time favorites.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling ($4.99). I thought this book was hilarious. Then again, Mindy Kaling is like my spirit animal. But still. Loved it. Love her.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use a link to make a purchase a small percentage of your purchase will go towards supporting this site. This does not affect the price of the items in any way.
I have so many books that would fit this category and now I’ve just added another, haha.
Cinder doesn’t sound like the sort of book I’d usually read and I don’t have time for it at the moment, but I picked it up anyway because it sounds like a fun way to kick off my summer break. 🙂
I really wasn’t into the idea of Cinder either. I never would have picked it up without the high recommendation from my friend. I LOVE fairy tales, but I am really not into futuristic robot kind of books, haha, but something about this one charmed me. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when you get to it. It’s a very quick read – I finished in about 2 days.
I love fairy tales, too. But I’ve never been into futuristic robot kinds of stories (or at least not movies, I’ve never really given a robot book a go before because they’ve never seemed interesting). Wall-E is about the closest to a futuristic robot movie as I get, haha. 😉
Have you seen Maleficent? I loved that retelling so much.
Yes, I also really loved Maleficent. I’ve been loving the trend of the past few years of retelling fairy tales with a twist. Even the new Cinderella movie which didn’t really change the plot at all added a lot of nuance to the characters which I loved. 🙂
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I haven’t seen that yet! I’m glad to hear that. 🙂
I love the retelling fairytales trend, too. It’s so fun.
I read Prodigal Summer recently and enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of Flight Behaviour, probably because both books are set in the Appalachian mountains and have environment/nature themes which are central to the plot. I hope you enjoy it when you get around to reading it – I’d certainly recommend it! 🙂
Cool! I really expect to like it, I just also know it’s a bit slower moving and serious. Her other books have been among my favorites so I fully expect to like this one, I think I just have to be in the right mood. Glad to know it’s worth the effort! 🙂
Prodigal Summer and The Known World are on my list as well along with a host of others. My wife and I have each started Prodigal Summer but bogged down mid way. We put it aside. I agree with you about being in the riiright frame of mind for The Knowm World.
I’ve actually read the first few pages of Prodigal Summer as well – sometimes when I’m trying to decide what to read next I pick a few books and read the first few pages of each and then go with grabs me. In those first few pages I could sense that it would be a bit slow, but probably beautiful as well. Some of the best books I’ve ever read are like that, but you still have to be in the right mood.
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I have read that one should take one’s age and subtract it from 100 and the answer will be the number of pages one should read before deciding whether to continue or not. In my case, I should read 29 pages. Not many on which to make a decision. I have not read The Poisonwood Bible, a book my wife thinks most highly of. Perhaps reading it will spur me on to finish Prodigal Summer.
I have never heard that before, but in my case I’d be reading 73 pages before deciding which is a lot to invest in a book you might not want to finish. 😉 The Poisonwood Bible is one of the best books I’ve ever read and definitely my favorite by Kingsolver. My husband enjoyed it as well.
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I cannot recall the source of that information, but will let you know if I find it.
I found my source. It is fro BOOK LUST by Nancy Pearl, page xi. I got it mostly right. She calls it “the rule of fifty.” Applied, it means if you are 50 or younger, you should read 50 pages before deciding yes or no. Otherwise, if older than 50, do the math. At 71, I should read 29 pages. So, at 27, you only have to do 50 lol. I think I will still do 50.
Haha. That’s such an interesting theory. I suppose it depends for me on how long the whole book is. If it’s only a 200 page book, I probably won’t want to read a quarter of it before deciding whether or not I’ll stick with it. But if it’s a longer book then 50 pages might be a reasonable amount. 🙂
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Snow flower and the secret fan is on my shelf! Before I read your blog I was contemplating writing one with the books I plan to read and then marking them off in book reviews on separate posts… Because one of my new years resolutions was to read the books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet- Which is something that I haven’t even started! 😮 and i have a LOT of books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet…
You should do it! I’d love to read about that.
Oh my, I have quite a few books on my shelf that I haven’t got around to reading, too. None of them are the ones you mention above….although several of those I would like to read! Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of those I have started but not finished. I SO wanted to like that book but I was having a hard time getting into it. BBC is making a miniseries of it (yay!) and I have to say I have the feeling that this might be one of those rare cases that the filmed version is better than the book. 🙂
I have also wanted to read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for a really long time, but it is just SO LONG that it feels like a major commitment. Some of my favorite books are 1,000 pages, so the length in and of itself doesn’t bother me, but I definitely have to be in the right mood to spend a month or more on the same book. I didn’t know about the BBC’s miniseries, but that sounds great. They do such great adaptations.
It’s very hard to get into. Not a lot of action, which is okay for awhile but I found it really tough going, and I’m not easily put off.