Those Books You Should Read

There are a lot of books out there. Like a lot. A billion trillion cajillion, if we’re getting technical. So, of course, we can’t read them all, whether we want to or not. In my head I divide potential unread titles into categories: will read, definitely will never read, don’t always feel like reading but at least sort of want to. Let’s talk about that last category.

There are a lot of books I know I don’t want to even touch, for example Moby Dick or anything by James Patterson. Then there are of course I’m champing at the bit to get my eyes on, both new and old. That grey area, though, is filled with lots of books I feel obligated as a bibliophile to read but have hesitated on for whatever reason.

There are some books that are intimidating because of length, like Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I hate that this is an excuse- I like reading, shouldn’t I have a “more is better” mentality? I also like macaroni and cheese, though, and I could never eat that for every meal, so I guess it makes sense. I have a beautifully illustrated version of Don Quixote that Visual Editions put out several years ago that I’ve never taken the dive into, I’ve hemmed and hawed about beginning The Crimson Petal in the White by Michael Faber, Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie, and Heyday by Kurt Anderson, all of the same reason.

There are also popular literary books that I’ve completely neglected, as well. Here’s one that I always cringe when admitting: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. How is that even possible? I’ve read a few of her others, but not her claim to fame. I’ve had Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami on my shelf for probably a decade, even after I read and loved his Norwegian Wood this summer. I need to get to both of Jesmyn Ward’s books, and someday I’ll read something in completion by Joan Didion. I have a boatload of TC Boyle books, whom I love, and also a few by Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. What is my problem?

There are also a few series that I’ve started and haven’t finished. I read the first two of the Millenium Series (I’m not counting the fourth), the first two of the Oryx and Crake books, and, you guess it, the first two of the Crazy Rich Asian books. And then. I. Stop. I’m really not a fan of series in general, but I am such a completionist I can’t believe I haven’t sealed the deal.

Several of the books I read when I was much younger, like in college, I’d also like to reread. Crime and Punishment was one of my favorites, but it’s been so long that I owe it another go. I’d also like to reread Lord of the Flies by William Golding, as well as Jane Eyre and maybe something by Austen (Emma?). I generally live by the “life is too short to reread” philosophy, minus what I do for work, but these titles call to me.

The other day I did the heartbreaking math: let’s say on average I am able to read 80 books a year for the next fifty-five years (plan to live to 100, but I have a feeling I might slow down a bit around ninety). That’s only 4,400 more books that I’m going to be able to read!

It’s double time.


  1. I vote you need to prioritize Joseph Anton!

  2. Please read Poisonwood Bible! It's one of the best books. I've read it multiple times and it continues to stay up in my top 5 books list. It's also not a dense read (like Murakami or Infinite Jest), so it's pretty easy to get caught up in the story and get through it quickly. I can't recommend it enough!