Ten Books I HAD to Have…Still Sitting on My Shelf

I saw this meme at Carrie’s blog Reading to Know.  She referenced Ronnica’s list. As I read I wanted to pull my hat down and my collar up and slink away.  Yep.  It wouldn’t be too much of a strain to come up with my own list.

I’m devoted to Paperbackswap.  Since books on my Too Be Read list are scrunched tightly on a shelf or stacked precariously by my bed or double-shelved in the guest room, I’m usually not in a hurry to get a book that I think I’d like to read.  I put it on my wish list and wait–from a month to more than a year–until a copy becomes available.

If I had to lay blame for this problem, while striving to keep my reputation unbesmirched, it would be on you readers who write such compelling reviews.  No mea culpa here; you are to blame!  Yeah!

What amazes me is how the searing heat of have to read it so quickly cools once the book is on my shelf.  Why does the acquisition thrill me more than ingestion?  But enough of philosophizing.  Here is my list of books I just HAD to have…still sitting (unread) on my shelf.

Liberal Fascism This undoubtedly made someone’s list of must-read books from 2008.  Tom Wolfe recommends it.  It’s been called the greatest book ever; it’s been called total bunk.  Which one is it?

•  The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude I came up with the idea to read this book all by myself.  Margaret Visser is a classicist who writes charming social histories.  I sort of went gaga over Much Depends Upon Dinner.  When she wrote about gratitude, I had to have it.

Only One Year is a book by Stalin’s daughter, who, for good reason, abandoned the surname Stalin and adopted her mother’s maiden Alliluyeva.  Russia interests me, as does World War II. There is great value in reading primary source documents.  One can read Hitler’s tripe (I did) and Churchill’s six volume set on WWII (I got through the first volume); but Stalin was too busy murdering millions to pen his memoirs.  So the daughter’s book is about as close as one can get to discovering the personal side of Stalin. She defected to the United States and lives today in Wisconsin.

The Christian Imagination is a book of essays on culture, art and faith.  People who own this book don’t swap it.  They must like it.  I got weary of waiting for it to become available by swap, broke down and bought it.  I have huge expectations from this book.  And because it is a collection of essays I could read small bits at a time.

•  The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong When our friend told me that birds sing in dialects, that a song will have variations between regions, even valleys! it shanghaied my imagination.  A robin’s song in the south can be recorded and compared to a robin’s song in the west and the variations noted.  The concept thrills me, but I haven’t made time to read the specifics.

• The Godly Home Richard Baxter is a Puritan pastor, a proven author in our home.  When I saw this updated and edited version (the Puritans do go on) it seemed needful to get it.

Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands The diaries of Queen Victoria written both before and after the death of Prince Albert.  Primary document, a chance to get to know the Queen better, and best of all, Scotland!

• The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor I am not (yet) a Flannery fan.  I have read nothing of hers.  I’ve heard boatloads of stuff about her, quotes from her, raves and non-raves of her fiction.  A friend recommended I start my O’Connor exploration with her letters.  There they are.  Waiting.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court When I put this on my wish list at Paperbackswap, I think I was 982 in line.  I’m curious what I will find out about nine of the most powerful people in America.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain I started this book by a neurologist and found it very engaging.  I’m not sure why the engagement was broken, but I do want to find out more about the connections between the music and the brain.  The story of the surgeon who was struck by lightning and consequently developed an insatiable thirst for classical music was simply amazing.

One obvious reason why the books are still waiting is that except for Baxter and the Queen, they are all close to 500 pages.  Writing this blog entry has piqued my curiosity…again.  But I have a book to finish before I can get involved in one of these.

If you had this stack by your bed, which one would you pick up first?

And, of course, if you have a list of boughten but languishing books, I’d love to read it.



14 thoughts on “Ten Books I HAD to Have…Still Sitting on My Shelf

  1. Oh, this post makes me feel guilty, because I know it would be easy to come up with my own ten, or twenty – ack! I would definitely pick up The Christian Imagination first – it looks fantastic.Carrie

  2. I don’t think I can handle the results of a quick look around for the “had to have” books…it would be very convicting.I am going to offer another plea for Flannery…the beauty of her book of letters is you can read little bits at a time (do you have shelf in the restroom?  Just an idea (-:)   That one by Stalin’s daughter sounds fascinating, esp. because Rex is debating about Russia this year.  Hmmmm…..Di

  3. You.Just.Have.To.Stop.   I didn’t wonder if I had my own list…I inherited HUNDREDS  (not exaggerating – I’ll never get them all up on LibraryThing!) of worthy books and will not ever get to them…I should never order another book!  And here you are…talking about delicious reads I haven’t considered!  (I have Liberal Fascism on my wishlist).  You have got to be one of my most dangerous blog friends!  And I love you for it.

  4. I onw Liberal Fascism.  It’s been languishing for a couple of years.  I bought it in anticipation of online bookclub discussion.  Would I add it to PBS?  no,  weighs too much to mail without going into the PO.The Margaret Visser one on gratitude sounds interesting.  I like social history.  Plus the Imagination one might have dove-tailed well with current book club topic.At any rate, I think you should have no guilt about books on your shelves that have yet to be read.  They are the best kind of friends around….. just waiting patiently to get to know….better. 

  5. I bought The Gift of Thanks, based on your recommendation, I thought.  I got about half way through before the holidays* and being lured into other books, but it’s really very good and I intend to finish it.  I especially liked reading about other cultures where thanks are rarely expected or given, because giving of your bounty is DUTY, not something to be thanked for.  It helped explain some things, like why certain people groups apparantly don’t understand the idea of private property.  The truth is they do, but they have fewer categories of inalienable property — that is, the kind of property you aren’t required to share — than we do.* The 2009 holidays!

  6. I am guilty of being seduced by good reviews only to have it sit on my shelf for far too long too. Yes, why is it that the acquisition is more thrilling? A few times I’ve pulled a few out of my TBR pile at PBS because, after 6 months, I thought to myself “why did I put that there?” But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have shelves of them here at home.Flannery is also on my TBR shelf, waiting for me to give her a try. The others on your list I’ve never heard about. Some sound quite interesting.

  7. I vote for the Flannery O’Connor book, too.  I have a volume of her short stories languishing on my nightstand.  The book was a Christmas gift from Luke after I requested “anything by Flannery O’Connor.”  Luke also gave me the two volumes of George Weigel’s biography of Pope John Paul II and they are languishing.  I’m too busy re-reading “Island of the World”.  I’m 65% through the second time. 🙂

  8. Oh dear. Probably I’d choose The Nine, because I once tried to read it before and don’t like to acknowledge defeat. I’ll have to look at my shelves and see what might fit in this category…

  9. The only one on your list I have and have read is the Highland Journal. I downloaded it to my nook, it was actually free content. It’s an easy enough read, but I think it helps to know who VR is talking about as she doesn’t always clarify. For example, Lady C. It does help to know that is Lady Churchill, Lady in Waiting. Brown and McGregor are also mentioned several times, as are remote-ish Highland locations. She also mentions people in the family and uses pet names, that can be confusing, and some she lumps into one group, such as the girls. (Her spelling is sometimes pretty bad, but then who would dare correct the Queen!)It is an interesting read, it may take some additional study, but is that a bad thing!

  10. I haven’t heard of those books, but they do sound interesting, especially Only One Year.  It’s sad but I could think of more than 10 books I ran out and bought and still haven’t read.  LOL

  11. I read Liberal Fascism and enjoyed it – read it in the Bahamas while on a short vacation, no less!  I haven’t read any of your others, but my own languishing pile has a bad habit of multiplying like bunnies and is towering in stacks around my computer and spilling over onto the bookshelves, double-shelving and covering up the legitimate tomes that have been orderly arranged.

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