Friday, August 5, 2011

My "to read" list looms ever larger

My "blog plan" for today was to trim and update the list on my "to read" page. Trimming isn't much of an issue since I merely needed to go through and check that I had removed from me "to read" those books that I had recently reviewed.

What rattled me was the fact that in the time since I first posted my "to read" list my meatworld "to read" list has at least doubled in size despite the fact that I have been steadily working away on it every day.

How could that happen?

Some of the reasons are obvious:
  1. People who respond to my reviews give me wonderful suggestions of other books that I might find interesting.
  2. People who respond to my reviews ask me questions about the book/author in relationship to another book/author which fuel my interest in those books/authors.
  3. Authors I follow publish new books (yeah!!!!)
  4. I find out that authors I already liked had written books I hadn't known of (sometimes writing under another name.)
  5. I read book reviews which lead me to read the book reviewed, works discussed/referenced in the reviews and sometimes books written by the reviewer.
  6. I read the LibraryThing recommendations (which based on the books in my library.)
  7. I read books that are rated highly by LibraryThing friends
  8. I read books that are rated highly by LibraryThing reviewers whose past reviews led me to books are ( now value

People to blame for the fact that my "to read" list just keeps getting longer:
  1. John Scalzi, who not only writes books and stories I have enjoyed, he uses his own website, Whatever, as a platform to allow writers to introduce Scalzi's community to one of their books. The Big Idea posts are written by these authors (not Scalzi himself) and usually include a description of the book, an explanation of "why the book was written"/"how the author got the idea" and a link to a free-sample of several chapters of the book in question.
  2. Jo Walton (directly) has introduced me to many wonderful books through her reviews at
  3. Jo Walton (indirectly) has added to my "to read" list by changing the way in which I read and the way I write reviews of the books I read. I can't claim to write as well as Walton nor to have as much insight as zie does--but I do try to make the effort to do both. Therefore I can't always simply sit down and quickly type a review of a book I read years ago without any conscious intention of reviewing it.

    I may have well remember a book that I first read several decades ago, however, in the intervening years I have read many books as well as many book reviews. I have had life experiences and academic training. To do the book justice and to do the book review justice I have to sit and read the book again. So many books on my "to read" list are actually on my "to reread" list. Indeed many of the books on my "to read" list move immediately, once read, onto the "to reread" list because I feel they need repeated readings before I can write a good review.

I have already reached the point of realizing that even were I to live as long as my parents (mom to her mid-nineties and dad working on his late nineties) and even if I, like my father, never go a week without reading at least four books I will never finish the "to read" list.

And that is a thing of joy for it means that reading a book (and crossing it off my list) does not diminish the number of books left to read. I need never fear that the day will come that I will run out of things I want to read.


  1. Ah yes, The List. I will never, ever, catch up.

    Have you ever read anything by Barbara Pym? I acquired one of her novels in a box of recycled books, but haven't read it yet. Looks like it fits on the Benson/Thirkell English comedy-of-manners bookshelf.

    Here's a review by Alexander McCall Smith of one of her books; it sounds like the sort of thing you'd like...oops. I've just made your list longer, haven't I?

  2. Aha, did you recognize yourself in that list?

    Of course I was not complaining. Discussing books with others is one of the joys of my life. And almost all of my favourite books/authors were recommended to me by others (as opposed to me just finding them in a bookstore/library shelf.)

    Although I have also learned that a recommendation from certain persons is almost a guarantee that I will hate a book. It is as if their taste was the inverse of mine.

    BTW, have you ever read any E M Dealfield -- her most famous is "Diary of a Provincial Lady." I get an interesting feeling reading it that the author is self-aware of some of the things we have discussed in these other books (that people are desperately filling time, that they have minimal relationships with their children and so on.)

    Now must go off and see if I can track down a Pym :)

  3. Did I recognize myself? Oh, maybe just a little...:)

    You're right, of course, an impossible-to-complete booklist is much, much better than the idea of running out of things to read. *shudder*

    Although lately it's getting to be something of a battle, to choose between a new book that I want to read and an old book that I want to re-read. Effects of age, I guess.

    No, I haven't read Delafield yet. Must bump her up nearer the top of the list, as you're one of the people whose recommendations work out for me (I am forever in your debt for introducing me to Queen Lucia and Miss Mapp).

    I thought the Pym books might be interesting as being written a little later than the pre-WW2 books we've been discussing, as in, what did happen to that class of people after the war?

    My mother and sister are currently engrossed in the BBC series, Lark Rise to Candleford-- have you seen any of that? I watched a bit with them, and although it looks gorgeous, I had the feeling that it was considerably elaborated from the original source, Flora Thompson's fictionalized memoirs. Which I admit I haven't read either! But both books and TV drama seem to be another examination of another turning point in British history, the pre-WW1 decline of the traditional, rural, agricultural society.

  4. Yes, Pym's books do sound like they provide an answer to my question about "where did they go".

    As soon as I read your comment (and the linked review--thank you) I checked to see if the book is in my local library's catalog. It is and I have put in a request for it.

    BTW, I find that now, in the "electronic" age I actually use my library more than I did back it the old days before the internet. Not only can I renew books online, I can check the catalog and have books put on hold. It means that I am not making 'wasted' trips to the library.

    I can also get access to a raft of journals/magazines that are behind paywalls and even take books 'out' electronically.

  5. @Amaryllis: Have you ever read anything by Barbara Pym?

    Do you realize that you alone are responsible for a significant lengthening of my "to read" list?

    Long story short, ordered Excellent Women from the library -- it arrived yesterday and I finished it this morning. Will have to read it again before writing a full review but suffice it to say that before posting this note I first ordered a second Pym from the library

  6. Yes, well, considering that I'm only halfway through the Vlad Taltos books, and I read the entire "Mapp and Lucia" saga, and I haven't yet read the other Benson you reviewed recently, or Delafield, and now I want to go read the Pym that I've already got ("A Few Green Leaves") as well as track down "Excellent Women" if it's all that good...anyway, I'd say we're even.

    Here's to the ever-lengthening lists...Cheers!


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