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Are you putting off that special book?

Is there a book that you have always wanted to read but for some reason, keep putting off?  I don't mean a title that you hope to buy someday, but a book that is in your bookcase at this very moment,  gathering dust, but which stares up at you wonderingly (perhaps pleadingly) whenever your eyes pass that shelf.

Seven years ago I bought a two-volume set of Remembrance of Things Past. At about the same time, someone gave me a copy of Cervantes La Mancha, a book I have always wanted to read. Also unread.

I honestly feel a sense of guilt every time I look at them, as if I'm letting Cervantes and Proust down...and maybe the whole literary community. Am I singularly odd or is anyone else suffering the same shame?

I have Don Quixote too, that I bought a few years ago and definitely looks at me with a raised eyebrow every time I look at the bookshelf.

Also Proust, which I did start earlier this year, but didn't have the powers of concentration planning to start again with that very soon.

And Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four...really not sure why I haven't read that, as I have loved every Orwell book I have read, fiction or non-fiction.

I keep thinking that I should stop deliberating over what to read next and simply read the books in the (random) order that they are in on my TBR shelves, or at least just pluck one off and read it rather than specifically choosing.

Many but especially The Silmarillion (apologies to Gul Darr) which has often been moved from one shelf to another in the last thirty-odd years.

edited due to too many late nights. Embarassed

As ever, there are a great many books on my shelf that I haven't yet read, but that's because I can't resist buying books I want to read. And every time I choose what to read next, I have a delightful selection of titles from which to make that choice.

Something like Don Quixote or A la Recherche du Temps Perdu certainly requires a deep, deep breath before diving in, but one might as well do it. I know the feeling of being daunted by certain books - indeed, with certain books, it would be surprising if the idea of diving into them weren't daunting - but, as with diving into the deep end of the swimming pool, once one has taken the plunge, it feels good!

The best answer to tackling the Great Unread is to retire. Since I gave up full-time work I've managed to read MOBY DICK, WAR AND PEACE, DON QUIXOTE, THE ILIAD, THE ODYSSEY THE LUSIADS, PARADISE LOST, GOETHE'S FAUST, THE AENEID, Tennyson's THE PRINCESS and finished all of Hardy's novels. But Proust remains untackled I'm afraid.  Retirement also means one can have a go at long poems like Keats' ENDYMION and Shelley's PROMETHEUS and Tennyson's IDYLLS OF THE KING, Byron's DON JUAN. There doesn't seem such urgency when one has the day to fill.  I've just begun Elizabeth Barrett Browning's verse novel AURORA LEIGH which has been on my shelves - in 2 editions - for years.  BBC4 reminds me that I have yet to tackle GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL.  And I really must have a go at Goethe's WILHELM MEISTER. I also have a complete Victorian edition of Scott, only three of which I've read. More than enough to keep me occupied till I join that Great Reading Room in the sky.....

I wonder will there be books and reading in Heaven?  I expect our conversation will be so wonderful and scintillating that we'll spend all day transfixed and amazed at the words emerging from each other's mouths....
Green Jay

Ditto Proust.

Also the Dance to the Music of Time, of which I have several but not sequencial volumes in the sequence, having just picked them up here and there. I have the first volume of Proust. If I made a start I'd then commit to getting the rest of each one.

but, as with diving into the deep end of the swimming pool, once one has taken the plunge, it feels good!

No, it doesn't!  I tried that once, thinking it looked such fun when my kids did it, found (a) I wasn't actually capable of diving in as such, and finally managed to sort of slide in, then found the water gets up your nose and is a horrid feeling!  And I have always liked puddling around in the sea and pools.  

You need more than retirement though, Michael, you need a certain ability to concentrate, which I am not good at.  Flit off to coffee, message boards, story to write for paper, washing to hang out, puzzles, read the online or real newspaper, anything but putting the required effort in.

Even so I've got through a number of decent books in recent years.  Like Himadri I like buying books (second-hand and cheap) so they pile up, since generally I read library or book club books, and only get to my own when travelling.  Which we about to do soon so I will get to choose which ones to take.  

Cheers, Caro.

I did, loads, but this year with my 40 for 40 quest I have completely cleared my TBR pile and have read every book which has been sitting on my shelf meaning to be read.

Then you, Apple, will be my inspiration.

Cervantes has been out of my mind (but still on my bookshelf) for so long, I even forgot the exact title.

I must grandly reveal, in my own defense, that I am reading The Good Soldier, a book that was recommended over 50 years ago.  On Kindle, that is.  Small consolation however.

Yes, Apple, that is inspiring!  I want to make it my new year's reading resolution not to buy any more books until I have read all the ones on my TBR shelves, but I have said that for the last two years and failed!  But it woud be good to make some serious headway - there must be 100 books there waiting to be read.

I rather like it that when I choose which book to read next, I have a range of unread books on the shelves from which to choose. Bookshop browsing and book-buying are wonderful pleasures, and I certainly don't intend to give them up!
Gul Darr

County Lady - no need to apolgise; I think I'd be disappointed now if you actually read it!
Although I don't seem to read as many books nowadays, I actually have very few unread books on my shelves. And as far as I know, the one that's been there the longest was a Christmas present from 2010. Oh no, there's one more Zola novel from a visit to St Malo a few years ago too.

joeturner Wrote:
Then you, Apple, will be my inspiration.


Evie Wrote:
Yes, Apple, that is inspiring!

Its not that impressive really, as I am still falling short of my 40 books for one year, still a couple of weeks left till the new year, question is can I really manage to read 13 books in just over 2 weeks? But for me 27 books in one year (admittedly some were re-reads) is a personal best, and a best which probably won't be broken plus when I have my purge in the new year, there are a number now I can comfortably get rid of to the charity shop - and make room for some more!

Now I have a look at my shelves I find it is the biographies that I have ignored rather than any fiction. Like Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Boswell's Life of Johnson and the Dickens by Peter Ackroyd.
I wonder if I do decide to read a biography it will be of Proust!

I really do need to get around to Boswell's Life of Johnson some day. It is just such an iconic book in English literature. And Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom is reputed to be amongs the finest accounts of warfare.

I think the big books on my shelves that I  haen't got round to yet, the most notable is the huge volume of Montaigne's Essays. I got effectively a brand new copy, in hardback, from our public library for only a couple of quid because the library didn't want it on their shelves. I feel doubly guilty about not having read this yet: if I am to deprive the public of this book, the least I can do is to read the damn thing! Maybe that should be my major reading project for next year.

There's also the Robin Kirkpatrick translation of Dante's Commedia, but at least I've read the first part, the Inferno: the other two I shall certaily tackle this coming year.

Oh - and the Decameron: I haven't read that yet either. And The Canterbury Tales in the original. Well, it's good to know that I have all these treats in store!

Himadri Wrote:
And The Canterbury Tales in the original.
Ah, so there is a book on my shelf which I have never read...well I read...most of it, ok, some of it, but didn't understand a bloody word of it, and gave up, but now I have a copy of the Canterbury Tales in modern English which I have read - and enjoyed immensely. So I'm thinking that one doesn't really count?

Hello Himadri, my advice about Montaigne is to pick something at random and not attempt to read all the lot. Same with the Decameron, the Heptameron and 1001 Nights.
Has anyone mentioned ULYSSES and FINNEGANS WAKE among the great unread on their shelves?

I enjoy dipping into Finnegans Wake, but rather suspect that the enire novel will be beyond me. Ulysses I have read a few times: it's one of my favourite novels.

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