There aren’t many books on my shelves that I haven’t read. With the exception of used books, most books I buy get read within a year. There’s something about paying full price for a brand new book that really lights a fire under my butt. And, usually, I only pay full price for brand new books that I am confident will be good.
I don’t have that stipulation with books given to me. Unfortunately, I rarely feel an urgency to read the various books that friends and family have thought I would be interested in. As I’ve said many times before, I’m a mood reader and the only one who can read my moods is me. “Truer words were never spoken,” my husband would agree.
There are also many books on my classics shelf that have been languishing for years. Some I have started, stopped, and not returned to. Others have just been on my TBR list for a long time.
Here are the top ten books that have been on my shelves the longest:
1. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
With Chuck’s books, I can usually only go one at a time. A friend gave me this book, along with three other Palahniuk novels, back in 2005. I have only read one of the three (Lullaby) he gave me, and one more (Haunted) that I bought myself. I really like and admire Palahniuk’s writing, but I can only take a little bit at a time. If you’ve ever read any of his novels, I’m sure you can understand why. My husband, however, has read this and all of Palahniuk’s books on my shelves (I think I have five or six). I will get to this, when I’m ready.
2. The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy by Eric Bronson and Gregory Bassham
In last week’s Top Ten, I mentioned my philosophy ineptitude. But, I keep on trying! Shortly following the release of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, my dad gave me this book, as well as Seinfeld and Philosophy, and I read and pretty much understood the latter. I think when The Hobbit movie comes out, I will reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy and then follow it up with this book. It sounds pretty good with essays including:
• “The Rings of Tolkien and Plato: Lessons in Power, Choice, and Morality”
• “‘Farewell to Lorien’: The Bounded Joy of Existentialists and Elves
• “̈Überhobbits: Tolkien, Nietzche, and the Will to Power”
• “Talking Trees and Walking Mountains: Buddhist and Taoist Themes in Lord of the Rings”
3. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and American Song by Larry David Smith
I love Dylan. I love the Boss. I love talking about their song-writing genius. At one time, I was working on an annotated bibliography on the teaching of The Grapes of Wrath and Dust Bowl history, and Part 4 centered around Springsteen’s album The Ghost of Tom Joad. My dad knew all of this and bought me this book for Christmas about five years ago. I will read this one day…probably when I’m in a Dylan/Springsteen mood.
4. The Holy Bible by Anonymous
One of my professors shamed me and my classmates for not having enough knowledge of the Bible. Immediately after I graduated, I picked up a copy of The Holy Bible, wishing that I took a Bible as Literature class. Then, I’d have a textbook to help me out. I grabbed copies of Cliff’s Notes instead- one on the Old Testament and one on the New. I will read this soon. I must! ………I’ve been saying this for almost ten years………..
5. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
I think my mom gave this to me. I don’t really remember. I’m not that interested, but I feel like it’s something I should read. However, it is nonfiction, which I’m usually not into. But, it’s about reading classics, which I am into. Maybe someday.
And then the classics…
6. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Catch 22 was recommended by a dormmate who had read it in high school. I picked up a used copy after college, started reading it and liked it, and then for some reason, stopped. Then, I picked it up again a few years later, liked what I read, and then stopped. A few years later, the same. I’ve been doing this for ten years! Have you ever read a book off and on for years? I feel like it can’t be that uncommon. My husband has been reading War and Peace off and on for six to seven years. He keeps it in his car.
7. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
I started The Fountainhead at 17, in a half-assed attempt at a scholarship for engineering. The Ayn Rand Foundation (don’t hold me to that name–this was 15 years ago) offered a scholarship to engineering students who read this book and wrote an essay on it. I was lazy and didn’t finish it. I bought it again after college and still couldn’t finish it. My husband likes to brag that he finished it. Whatever. Get over yourself bro.
8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
This is my shame. TWICE I tried to read this book, and both times I FAKED IT. I was assigned As I Lay Dying for my 12th grade English class and again in a Modern American Literature class in college. I started it both times, found it to be very difficult both times, and read the Cliff’s Notes instead, both times. Truly, this is the most difficult book I have ever attempted. Even my husband failed at this book, even though he really wanted to beat me at this one too. I haven’t given up yet–I’ll be reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury in 2012.
9. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper
In 2002, I decided to take the GRE in literature. Unfortunately, that’s a really hard test with a lot of works of literature I hadn’t yet read. So, I decided to prepare by reading the major works of literature for all time periods. It was difficult to find works for the American Colonial period, but this one popped up. However, I never got to it because I was too caught up in Tom Jones. Then the test creeped up on me and I just did a quick crash course. I don’t think I did very well. I do, however, still plan on reading this in the future. Loved the movie (loved Daniel Day Lewis).
10. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
I can’t remember if it was this book or Madame Bovary, but I started it and greatly disliked the title character. I was reading it for the GRE in literature and definitely didn’t dig it. So, it’s sitting on my classics shelf, and I’m not sure when and if I’ll ever return to it.
Can you highly recommend any of these books so that they’ll find a way into my hands again?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.