authors i keep wanting to read but don't

My book list is extremely long, so long that I don't call it a reading list or a to-read list, because I will never read even half the books on the List. It's more like books I would read. A list to narrow down the universe of books to a smaller universe of books to choose from.

Working in a library has increased the likelihood that I won't read even a majority of these books -- or decreased the percentage that I will read. Where I used to stick faithfully to my List, I now read lots of books not on the List -- books colleagues or customers talk about, and more often, books on display. Being a librarian has broadened my reading, which I love. It has made the List less a goal and more a general guide. This is fine.

Recently I noticed that certain authors appear on the List more than once, but remain unread. These are sometimes nonfiction titles that become hard to find. I'm clearly interested in the author's topics, but by the time I am ready to read the title, it's gone. I could find the book online, I'm sure, but I just move on to another title. There are many novelists on the List, too.

I don't delete anything from the List. It's a running list I've been keeping since 1985. That is either impressive or insane, depending on your point of view. I have a system for marking what I have read, and another marking for books I own but have not read. (There is much less of that in recent years, another result of librarianship.)

I have read so many books not on the List, and it bothers me that I didn't add them, but I can't change the method now. I could, but I can't. (In the library, we are told to "track our reading" in order to be better readers' advisors. I don't find this useful, so I don't do it. Please don't tell.)

I thought of this -- the authors that keep appearing but don't get read -- because I just started a book by John McWhorter, who teaches linguistics and writes about language. I noticed that many titles by McWhorter are on my List, and decided it was time to read one.

So. (I have just been reading about the word "so".) Here are authors who are on my List who I haven't read.

Frans de Waal
Carl Safina
Ann Douglas (this Ann Douglas)
Ann-Marie MacDonald (who I never heard of before coming to Canada)
Yxta Maya Murray
David Ebershoff
Trezza Azzopardi
Robert M. Sapolsky
Sally Denton
Kiran Desai
Ivan Doig
Edwidge Danticat
Mario Vargas Llosa
Siri Hustvedt
Margaret Laurence
Colm Toibin
Ted Conover
Helen Oyeyemi
Paul Greenberg
Barry Unsworth
Sarah Waters

This list does not represent all the authors on the List -- not even close. Only those I have never read who appear more than once.


Amy said...

Hmm, I've never even heard of any of those. Maybe I don't want to. My own list is long enough, and I've only kept it since Amazon started and I started a Wish List.

laura k said...

All I have to go on is a review that once intrigued me. The List is almost entirely based on book reviews.

johngoldfine said...

John McWhorter can be very droll in a very dry way. I've read some of his popular stuff on language and listened to several of his Great Courses offerings.

johngoldfine said...

Toibin's 'The Master' is a favorite of my wife the Henry James fanatic.

laura k said...

"The Master" -- that sounds like a good place to start. I wanted to read "Brooklyn" before seeing the movie. I ended up seeing the movie and really liking it, which revived my interest in the author.

Re Great Courses -- how are those? We have a lot of them in our library, and they circulate pretty well. I've never tried it.

Amy said...

Ah, yes, Colm Toibin---I missed his name on the list. I loved Brooklyn and the one that came after (titles no longer stick in my head; in fact, neither do authors. Or much of any new information of the data sort---age and reliance on the internet have weakened my once very sharp ability for name and number retention).

My list is based on reviews and recommendations from people I trust.

johngoldfine said...

Great Courses--well, as in everything, a lot depends on the lecturer. John McWhorter is aces-high, outstanding in his delivery, his ability to instruct (and amuse), his credibility.

Another very good lecturer is Bart Ehrman. Even if you think you're not interested in religion, it is so rare to be in the presence of a fine and alive mind that he is worth listening to (and, for this atheist, there really can't be a full understanding of our world if we don't pay attention to the roots and development of Christianity.)

But there are clunkers too. Alas, you can't ask your classmates which prof to avoid....

laura k said...

(titles no longer stick in my head; in fact, neither do authors. Or much of any new information of the data sort---age and reliance on the internet have weakened my once very sharp ability for name and number retention).

Same here. I'm sure you have probably heard of many books by at least some of these authors. They're not obscure. But not so famous to have very quick name recognition.

For me, I assume it's age, fibromyalgia, and possibly past drug use. Thank dog we can look things up so easily these days.

laura k said...

Great Courses, that makes sense. The reason I've stayed away is I have tremendous trouble with audiobooks, podcasts, and the like. In an actual lecture, live, I can sit in the front section and focus. With recordings, I cannot concentrate.

My co-workers all use audiobooks along with print books. I'm one of the few library workers who does not, at least in my library. Without the visual input, my wandering mind wanders away.

I struggle with low concentration from fibromyalgia, but even without that, I doubt I could learn through audio.