This blog is a librarian confessional; a shameful list of as-yet-undiscovered worlds. Perusing my Goodreads To-Read bookshelf, I see 50+ unread books, consisting of both fiction and nonfiction. I have narrowed this imposing list down to 8-ish for this post based on the following criteria: the book must be more than ten years old, considered a classic in one way or another, and owned by Clermont County Public Library. Whether or not you use Goodreads…what’s on your To-Read shelf?
The only nonfiction entry in this list, I have known about Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee since youth, as it was among the books of my childhood home. I would look at the photographs at a tender age and realize it to be a grave story about something terrible, similar in that regard to the family’s Life magazines about the Vietnam War. I haven’t read this book for the same reason I have largely avoided nonfiction in the past decade: I know it’s real and will upset me. I will read it, however, because I have an interest in Native Americans, and as a person of European ancestry in North America, I feel I should know what my colonial forefathers did to the indigenous peoples in pursuit of these United States, however disturbing. To warm up for this heavy event I am currently reading The Shawnees and the War for America by Colin G. Calloway.
Instead of nonfiction, I have spent significant time reading fiction. And with keyword descriptors such as Literary fiction, Magical realism, Metafiction; Nonlinear; Darkly humorous, Offbeat, Thought-provoking; Experimental, Lyrical, and Witty…I’m all in. Looking forward to reading it because I am very fond of his Invisible Cities (e-Audiobook)
I have read very few mysteries, even fewer of the Hardboiled variety, and nothing by Chandler. I am a fan of writers openly influenced by him, such as Haruki Murakami. It’s time to go back to the source.
I read DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, inspired by wanting to read it prior to seeing the film by David Cronenberg. Dark, bleak, and deadpan, I liked but didn’t love it. Discussing this opinion with other fiction fans, I was told in no uncertain terms that if I was going to get into DeLillo, I should read this stronger novel, and if I enjoy it then move on to the 827-page beast Underworld.
An English professor with whom I share similar reading tastes recommended this book to me during a conversation about David Mitchell’s recent darkly fantastical novel The Bone Clocks and its follow-up Slade House(both available in multiple formats). When I searched for American Godsin NoveList Plus, I found the following appeal terms, which further encouraged me to check it out.
I know, I know. I am embarrassed to be a librarian who has not read this, the most famous example of Magical Realism in the world. Wikipedia states, “One Hundred Years of Solitude was first published in Spanish in 1967; it has been translated into thirty-seven languages and has sold more than 30 million copies. The novel remains widely acclaimed, and is considered García Márquez’s masterpiece.” Magill concludes their review thusly: “[it] is a stylistically extravagant tour de force, at once matter-of-fact and magical. Although much praised as the epitome of postmodernist writing, it is also a deeply compassionate novel in which the exuberant storytelling celebrates man’s creative abilities in the face of inevitable catastrophe.” This book is next in my queue.
I have been avoiding this inevitable book due to similar reasons as those listed above under Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,and I generally do not care for westerns per se. Further, even hard-edged reading friends have described it as uncompromisingly brutal and bleak with despicable characters. Goodreads opines, “Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the ‘wild west’.” I see the book as something of a right of passage, into what, I don’t know. As a librarian I think I should read it, if for no other reason than to know what I’m talking about if someone asks. I can always follow it up with something breezy and easy-to-read such as V. by Thomas Pynchon (e-Book)–just kidding. Why V.? It’s Pynchon’s first novel and I’ve never read it…’nuff said.
I relish unusual fiction: magical realism, sci-fi, speculative fiction, dark humor, some contemporary fantasy, “difficult” books such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (+ e-Book). I enjoyed William Gibson’s Neuromancer (also available in other formats), generally regarded as the first cyberpunk novel. I adored a book I consider a precursor in that genre, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (multiple formats available). But I’ve never read this other famous cyberpunk novel, though I’ve known about it for years. Its time will come soon.
Good luck with catching up on your must-read list!