My Perpetual TBR List
So far this year I’ve read 105 books.
I’m constantly sorting and rearranging my book shelves, passing off books I’ve already read or lost interest in, and acquiring new ones. I stay fairly informed on new releases and up and coming authors, and I utilize my public library like a boss.
Yet somehow I have managed to have books on my To Be Read list for years.
Most avid readers I know have a similar “problem.” It’s not unusual for someone to ask me if I’ve read a book and my answer is no, but I own it.
And of course we all have that list of “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to read that one…” Classics are probably the biggest portion of my TBR. Some are books I genuinely want to try, but my track record with enjoying classics isn’t great. And in many cases I kinda know the story already, and that’s discouraging when I’m looking for a unique reading experience.
Here are some of the books that have been on my list the longest, despite the fact that I own a copy of each of them!
The Professor and the Madman — Simon Winchester
I bought my paperback copy at a used book store when I still lived in North Carolina, and it’s one of the few books that made the cross country trek with me a decade ago. I bought it simply because it looked interesting, back at the beginning of my interest in non-fiction. It’s been recommended to me several times since then, and my husband has read it. Yet I pass it over repeatedly. At this point, part of my reluctance to read it is about the history of this physical copy of the book. It’s been with me a long time, and a friend who was with me when I bought it has since passed away. I suppose it’s become a reminder of many things, so I like knowing it’s on my shelf. And although I’m interested in reading it, I don’t want to tarnish my copy, either literally with wear from reading it or emotionally when I might develop other feelings for it once I know the story contained within.
The Grapes of Wrath — John Steinbeck
I want to read this, I know I should read this and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did. I’m also fairly certain the reading experience is going to be pretty dang heavy. I’ve read other Steinbeck and while they’re important and gorgeous novels, he’s not an author known for his uplifting material. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually…
Fast Food Nation — Eric Schlosser
Full disclosure here, I’ve been avoiding this book for years because I know it’s going to have a huge impact on my lifestyle and food choices. Every time I consider reading it, I don’t feel emotionally prepared to take on the information and initiate the changes I am sure it will inspire.
Romeo and Juliet — William Shakespeare
I attended two different high schools, having moved cross-country the summer before my junior year. My first school taught R&J junior year, the second taught it sophomore year, so I missed out. I’ve always wanted to read it, but knowing the story makes it less appealing.
Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
I haven’t read any Jane Austen, and while I want to, I constantly pass them over simply because I’m afraid I won’t like them.
Madame Bovary — Gustave Flaubert
Same reasoning as above!
The Paradox of Choice — Barry Schwartz
I first became aware of this book when a man seated near me on an airplane was reading it. I was immediately intrigued because I am frequently. overwhelmed by having too many choices when shopping. Sometimes I won’t buy something because I can’t choose one color or flavor from all the options. I bought the book right away yet haven’t read it, for no real good reason. I guess it’s because while I find the subject interesting, I fear the content may be dry.
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — Robert M. Pirsig
I first saw this book on a friend’s shelf almost 15 years ago. I’ve always loved the title and wanted to read it. When I tried it on audio a couple years ago the recording was old and poor quality and I didn’t listen for more than five minutes. Now I’m afraid to pick it up again because I have a bad taste for it.
Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
This classic sounds awesome, and I have a feeling I’d like it. But it’s over 1,000 pages, so that’s really the only reason I haven’t tacked it yet. Although I will say I find it intimidating when a classic piece of literature has many different translations/versions. I’m always concerned I may not read the “right” one!
There are many more books that have been on my TBR for a long time, but these are the ones I consider most often yet always pass over for something “better.”
Do you have such books on your shelves? Or maybe you have a list you’ve been meaning to get to forever but haven’t?
Why do you avoid books you want to read? Or why do you think this is common?