Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Just a Reader Whose Intentions Are Good

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Don't You Forget about Me
by Jancee Dunn

The End of Manners
by Francesca Marciano

Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates

What Was Lost
by Catherine O'Flynn

The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy

No, this is not a list of the best books I read in 2008.

It's much worse.

These are just a few of the books I meant to read in 2008 but didn't. A list of good intentions.

The sad thing is, it's not a list of books that I feel I should read, but books that I really want to read, but haven't. So what happened?!

Well, life happens. Sometimes other obligations come first. And also, as much as I love to read, I love other things as well, and a life in which all leisure time is spent reading wouldn't be a balanced life--not for me anyway.

That said, I wish I'd carved out more time to read in 2008. Not because I feel I should, but because of the pleasure it gives me. Reading is good for the soul--or it can be, if you choose books that feed it.

There will probably never be enough time to read all the books on my "to read" list, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although Willa Cather is perhaps my favorite author, there are still a few Cather books I haven't read. I like knowing that they are waiting for me--the undiscovered Cather!--when I want them.

One of the books on my "to read" list has been there for years: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Hardy wrote one of my favorite books, Jude the Obscure, about a working class man who aspires to a life of the mind but finds his desire thwarted by England's class system, among other things. I want to read the Mayor of Casterbridge. I saw a television production of The Mayor of Casterbridge that whetted my appetite for the book. A copy of The Mayor of Casterbridge is calling out to me from my overstuffed bookcase. But I still haven't read it. Perhaps for one of the reasons mentioned above. Perhaps because I had a library book due that I felt I should read first. Perhaps because I wasn't in the mood for The Mayor at the precise moment I was selecting my next book to read. (The story, like much of Hardy's work, is bleak. It's about the ruin that occurs when a man, drunk and angry, auctions off his wife and daughter at a fair.) Whatever the reason, my man Hardy got pushed aside.

But no more! 2009 is the year The Mayor gets read!

It's never too late for books on your "to read" list. Is there a book you've meant to read for ages? Is it a book you feel you should read or that you really want to read but just haven't gotten around to? Let us know!


Jo B. said...

Laura, your confession has inspired me. This is the year I read Brothers Karamazov!

Anonymous said...

How about . . . books I took home but never opened? The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon. Absurdistan by Gary Sthteyngart. Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon. All recommended by people who know me and what I like to read, all I'm sure would have been a pleasure had I been willing to work just a little.

But cheer up! We read lots! That's a Good Thing!

Cathy F. said...

I've really been meaning to read The Book Thief. I feel like everyone has read it and everyone has been moved by it.

Linda K. said...

Let me tell you a secret about how to read all of the books on your "to read" list. It's simple really. Only put the books you really, really want to read on that list. I know Dickens, Hardy, Melville, and Hemingway are classic authors that are on reading lists everywhere, but life's too short to read books I don't enjoy. I too tried to read Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends - great cover art by the way - and ended up being annoyed by the pretentious vocabulary and got tired of the author bragging about his lofty reading tastes. (Lots of good bits in it so it worked as a skimmer, but read the whole thing from cover to cover? No thanks.) I love reading and there's so much out there to choose from that I'm never going to run out of good stuff. So who needs a list?

Jeanne said...

I will read Life of Pi this year. I promise!

Laura A. said...

I began reading The Mayor of Casterbridge on January 1st, one of the books that has long been on my "to read" list, and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

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