After reading this post recently, I thought I’d take a little tour through some of the unread books on my shelf. But not simply the ones that I haven’t got to yet, the ones that have sat untouched for years.
There are several hundred books on my shelves, and there are probably around 80 that remain unread.
I just can’t help myself when it comes to buying something new, so naturally some of the existing books are pushed to the back of the queue and forgotten about. No matter how often I promise myself I’ll work through my TBR pile, I never seem to get to them.
Here are just a few that have been waiting for four years or more…
Red Dust, by Ma Jian
Red Dust is part travel book, part reflection on communist China and the Cultural Revolution. I studied Mandarin for a year when I was younger, and always had an interest in China and its history, and at that time, as I was coming to the end of my time at university, I read quite a few random travel memoirs, perhaps longing for something more from the world.
I actually have three books by Ma Jian, this one, Beijing Coma and The Dark Road, and to my shame I haven’t read any of them. I plan to, but I know they will all be weighty, political tales and the time has never been quite right to begin.
The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
This is another book that’s been on my shelf for around a decade, since I picked it up in a charity shop during my Masters degree.
I have mixed feelings about Margaret Atwood: she’s the author of one of my all-time favourite novels, The Handmaid’s Tale, which I wish I could have written. But she’s also written a number of other books that didn’t do much for me at all, in particular Surfacing, which I hated with a fiery passion.
Thanks to its heft, at 637 pages, I never had the confidence to pick this up, unsure whether I would actually enjoy it.
Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon
This is the book that inspired one of my favourite films about life as a writer and it has a gorgeous, typewriter inspired cover. I purchased this on a day out to the seaside town of Whitby, which is home to one of my favourite independent bookshops. Whenever I visit, I always buy something from the Whitby Bookshop. I can’t resist its cosy lure, or the old wooden staircase that spirals upstairs, where bargains like this can always be found.
Rites, by Sophie Coulombeau
Rites is one of those books that I’ve almost started so many times, but something (mostly fear) keeps holding me back.
There’s a bit of a story to this one…
Way back in 2008, I wrote my first novel, a coming-of-age story that ultimately never saw the light of day. However, it did make the shortlist in a writing competition run by Route publishing in 2011. At the time it was my biggest writing success, but ultimately I didn’t win the competition and afterwards I floundered around for a couple of years, unable to write anything much at all.
But the competition was won by a writer called Sophie Coulombeau, with her debut novel Rites, which she apparently wrote in two weeks after the first few chapters were shortlisted in the competition. And the book received all kinds of praise.
So while I bought it as soon as it came out, I’ve always been a little afraid to read it, as I’m sure my own work won’t even come close and it’ll make me feel a little bad about myself.
Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk
I can’t remember how long ago I bought this one, but I think it may be around nine years ago when I was going through a brief Chuck Palahniuk phase.
Rant is about a man who ‘may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time.’
Like the author’s other books, it sounds like a dark but unique read and one I was initially really excited about. There’s no real reason why this has languished on the shelf for so long, I think I just lost interest when newer things came my way.
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
This novel has been sitting on my shelf since it came out in 2007. I loved Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner, so asked a friend to buy me A Thousand Splendid Suns for my birthday in 2007, not long after it was released.
And I just never got round to it, like so many other things…
Do you have any books that have been sitting unread for years? I’d love to hear about them in the comments – it can’t just be me!
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