TBR—To Be Read

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
After confessing to my DNFs—Did Not Finish books—I found myself wondering what books I've been putting off reading, or which I'd like to read for the first time or re-read. This musing was prompted by reorganising my book shelves yesterday, when I came across several titles I'd bought out of a love of language and writing, and also for research purposes.

I feel like I ought to read Eric Foner's The History of the Reconstruction, as I've two more short stories to write in a series about an American Civil War veteran, but even in this abridged version, it's heavy going—as well as rather depressing. I bought Metaphors We Live By, thinking it was of general interest, but it's solidly aimed at linguists; reading one page of it makes my head spin. Similarly Editors on Editing: What Writers need to know about what Editors do is of limited practical use, and comes across more as a series of memoirs by noted editors; it's all rather dated, my edition being published in 1993.

Of books I've read in the dim and distant past, I might revisit T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, which I first read at the age of 17. One of the pleasures of getting older, is reappraising books read as a youngster. And, what a strange young man I was, for instead of chasing girls and doing drugs, I forced myself through many of the classic novels, in the hope of enlightenment. I don't intend to tackle all of the Russian masters again, though Anna Karenina bears another look.

I've praised it before on the Colony, and I'm sure that many of you would enjoy Tom Neal's An Island To Oneself: The Story of Six Years on a Desert Island, which is one for dreamers everywhere. I don't have a copy of it at present, though, if you see one being sold cheaply grab it, as it's going for £35+ these days. There's currently a copy on eBay UK for £85!

I'll undoubtedly re-read Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows which I've already enjoyed a dozen times. It's so much more than just a children's story.

Which books do you have to be read?

How big is the pile of books beside your bed?

Are there any books that you feel like you ought to read, but the prospect is too off-putting? I feel like that about Jonathan Franzen. I tried The Corrections, which is certainly high literature, but it was so tedious that I didn't engage with the family he described.

Do you intend to re-read old favourites?

The piper at the gates of dawn....that's such a beautiful line/image/idea in The Wind of Willows.

To read, well, Val McDiarmid and Neil Gaiman.

Currently reading a book by a pathologist, Sue Black, All That Remains. Grim? No. She feels that contrary to many mythic representation, death is a she, if it's a persona, and is kind. It is suffering that's the enemy.
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