Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Book Has Been Waiting for You the Longest?



I was reading Will Schwalbe's new book, THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB and in it he mentioned that he had been meaning to read CROSSING TO SAFETY (Stegner) for years.

Now I have read that one twice but there are one or two or ten books I have had on my shelf since we married 45 years ago.

They tend to be Russian novels mostly, but the one I don't understand not reading is THE HEART OF THE MATTER, since I like Graham Greene a lot. But every time I pick it up, some new fellow catches my eye and I put it aside.


What book has been on your shelf unread the longest?

26 comments:

Deb said...

Probably a collection of Ian Fleming's James Bond books that I got in the late 1970s. Every time I start to read them, I get side-tracked.

Anonymous said...

Excellent question!

I know I have a number of things I want to read, but they are not all on my shelves. What is?

Alan Moorehead, The Blue Nile
Arnold Bennett, The Journals
Henry James, several novels


Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

The ones I've meant to read the longest include Proust, of course, plus the uncut War and Peace. (We read an abridged version in high school.)


Jeff M.

George said...

I've made two attempts at reading Proust over the past 20 years. I got about 50 pages into SWANN'S WAY and I lost interest. I have all the books in SEARCH FOR LOST TIME and I keep meaning to make a third run at it...someday.

Dan_Luft said...

Those books I didn't get rid of when I used to move a lot and still keep when I'm making room for new ones. When I was in my 20s and early 30s I was on a Russian lit bender. But I never got around to Aksyonov's THE BURN and PUSHKIN HOUSE by Andrei Bitov. Every time I try to ditch them I look at the first few pages of each and they just read too well. Someday...

Dan_Luft said...

BTW the biggest reason I've kept them is that tastes change and I think both books are out of print. I used to see them in every used store but now they're kind of forgotten. They might not get reprinted or e-booked.

Al Tucher said...

Probably The Executioner's Song. I bought it remaindered in 1980.

Todd Mason said...

The various Jewish/offshoot holy books, including the New Testament and the Koran, though I've certainly read pieces over the years...likewise the major texts of the similar large churches (and not a few of their smaller offshoots).

A decent translation of THE ODYSSEY, since I was fortunate enough to pick up Samuel Butler's ILIAD and unfortunate to pick up W.H.D. Rouse's ODYSSEY at about the same time. The latter, and no thanks at all to Signet Classics/NAL, is dismal and tone-deaf.

Todd Mason said...

Other large churches, of course.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

My grandfather's hardbound edition of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE and a couple of novels each by Alan Sillitoe, Anthony Trollope, Frank G. Slaughter, and Lloyd C. Douglas.

Walker Martin said...

I guess I'll have to vote for Proust also. I keep promising to read him but I always end up in another book. FINNEGAN'S WAKE by James Joyce is the only book that has completed defeated me. I've tried several times but I have no idea of what is going on. I can only say that I consider it a puzzle and not a novel.

Concerning THE END OF THE AFFAIR, I've read it three times and strongly recommend it. If you like Graham Greene, then you must read it.

Ron Scheer said...

Saul Bellow's novels. I read AUGIE MARCH back in college, loved it, and have picked up copies of the other novels whenever I find them in book sales hoping to get back to him. Alas. . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have not read Proust but since he is not on my shelf, I don't have to count him. Another oldie is Crime and Punishment. Middlemarch still waits for me. I have read a lot of the early Bellow but he got more and more remote over the years.
Dan is right though. I feel obliged to keep them now unless we start memorizing them. Portrait of a Lady is at least 25 years on the same shelf.

Anonymous said...

I have read Crime and Punishment, but not Middlemarch. (An aside - when my younger sister was 8 my brother, who was under the influence of controlled substances at the time, gave her a copy of Crime & Punishment for her birthday. As far as I know she never read it.)

Joe Queenan has an ongoing riff about not reading Middlemarch - it will supposedly be the last book he finishes on his deathbed - in ONE FOR THE BOOKS.


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Somehow I think a deathbed is not the place to read it.

Richard R. said...

That may be The Stone Raft by Jose Saramago, which I bought after reading a review in the L.A. Times many years ago. I always meant to read it. Another would be Nunquam by Lawrence Durrell. Not which has been on the shelf longer. There may be even older ones, but those come to mind.

Yvette said...

Bleak House. Dickens. I mean to read it every year and every year I don't seem to be able to begin.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have been meaning to read Bleak House since seeing the miniseries. But not on my shelf. Off the hook with that one.

I have read Durrell (Alexandria Quartet) but not that one.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Bleak House and Middlemarch are terrific! (I think.)

For me it's Ulysses (Joyce), Dahlgren (Delany), and Tristram Shandy (Sterne). I keep starting them, getting a little further each time, and then it's like Sisyphus...

Jerry House said...

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan LeFanu. I have started this several times but something always interrupted me. Maybe in 2013.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Good for you, Olivia. It is the length that puts me off.
We should all sign a pledge to read something that is difficult for us next year. And eat our spinach while we read.

Anonymous said...

I will second Olivia's endorsement of BLEAK HOUSE, which is certainly among Dickens's best. Now that was a book I was determined to read and in 1992 (can't believe it was that long ago!) I did. Patti, you should definitely put in on your list.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

I'd add the Palliser series and the Barsetshire series by Trollope. I know George is a big Trollope fan but somehow I can never get started on them.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Me either. And one of my best friends reads them every year.
Doesn't watching it on TV count. Such a long book and all that legal talk!

Cap'n Bob said...

I could name a bunch of highbrow tomes, but the fact is I never had any intention of reading them. I know I bought a batch of The Executioner paperbacks around 30 years ago and never opened a one. Come to think of it, I probably won't, either,

John said...

Several books by Mary Elizabeth Braddon I bought from a private press about five years ago. One of them is a monstrous tome of 1000+ pages. Isn't it obvious why I keep putting it off? I have had a copy of ARMADALE by Wilkie Collins since 2001 about which I keep saying this is the year I'm reading ARMADALE. I'm hoping that 2012 *really* is the year.

I have always wanted to read DON QUIXOTE, but I'm daunted year after year.