Let’s Talk: Book Buying, Book Tastes, and Academia

I don’t think I buy too many books, but I do feel that I have too many books in my apartment.

When I began blogging a few years ago, I rarely bought books. I preferred borrowing from public and research libraries. Unsurprisingly, book blogs and booktube inspired me to buy more books. To limit my buying habits, I purchased a Kindle. Since I prefer reading Classics, I thought buying a Kindle would save me a lot of money. It did. However, I soon discovered Half Price Books (the second-hand bookstore in my region where all books are half off the original price), and my purchasing increased exponentially. I realized that I prefer to own physical books. I really don’t care what condition they are in, but I want to have my own personal library of books that I have read and enjoyed.

My TBR is larger than I would like. Although I want to keep a personal library, I don’t want to have too many unread books. I worry that owning too many unread books means that I am just a pretentious reader, keeping books that I have never read to feign my erudition. However, I do read a lot. I prefer to read works that are rich in philosophy and intertextuality. I actually enjoy reading the kinds of books that make one sound like a snob.

I blame this on Academia. It’s really hard to avoid reading obscure, difficult books while in a humanities graduate program. Academia teaches us to have very niche interests and to set ourselves apart from the general reading public. I am currently writing a term paper on the influence of materialistic determinism on Diderot’s Le Fils Naturel. All of our paper topics are as complicated and niche as this one. So inevitably (pun intended), the books I read are not the kinds of books the general public reads.

This only heightens the anxiety I have over my TBR. I feel a greater pressure to read the books that I’ve purchased because if I don’t, I come across as pretentious. I have a lot of difficulty determining which books I should review on this blog and which books I should read without reviewing. Will anyone care that I read this study on Diderot? Maybe I should review Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, but how many viewers care enough about Biblical scholarship to read the Art of Biblical Narrative (a fantastic book by the way)?

I have not found a perfect solution to my dilemma, but I have decided to do something to minimize my discomfort. I have decided to limit my book buying and read more of the books on my TBR even if they are inappropriate for this blog. Today, I am giving away a stack of “read” books to the local public library. I don’t want to keep books I know I won’t revisit even if I enjoyed reading them the first time. Finally, I have decided to review less and make more frequent “reading update” posts.

What have you done to address your TBR problems (if you have any)?

Complete TBR and Suggestions for Buddy-Reads

So, the Top Ten Tuesday meme for today got me thinking about my current TBR. I bought a ton of books in the past year – more than ever in my life. As you may know, up until recently I almost exclusively used the local library. But while I was in graduate school, I obtained quite a few books from the local secondhand bookstore (a few are new). While I bought most of the books for under 7 dollars, I have made it a goal to read 20 of my unread books before buying any new ones, so that I can keep a manageable TBR. In this post, I will list all the unread fiction that I have purchased in the past year or so. I’m leaving out any unread anthologies because I don’t want to read them in one go. If you would like to buddy-read with me any of the books on the list, please indicate the book in the comments section. Here’s my list.

1) O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

2) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I’ve read half of it)

3) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (a bargain buy; brand-new hardback with deckled edge paper for 5 dollars!)

4) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

5) Bleak House by Charles Dickens

6) The Way of Kings (Book 1 of The Stormlight Archive series) by Brandon Sanderson

7) The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling (the only Harry Potter I own although I have read the 7-book series)

8) Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

9) Beowulf translated by J.R.R. Tolkien

10) The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

11) The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien

12) I, Claudius by Robert Graves

13) Arms and the Man by Bernard Shaw

14) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

15) Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

16) Faust (parts I and II) by Goethe translated by Philip Wayne (1949 edition in perfect condition)

17) Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

18) The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

19) Hild by Nicola Griffith

20) Peter Pan & Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie (yes, I’m cheating)

21) Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

22) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

23) The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (translated by Nevill Coghill)

24) Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

25) In Praise of Folly by Erasmus of Rotterdam

26) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

27) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

28) The Secret History by Donna Tartt

29) The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (a Kindle impulse buy)

30) Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

31) The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

Are there any books on this list you’d like to buddy-read with me?

Summer Wrap-Up and Fall Plans

Summer Wrap-Up

I dedicated this summer to reading stories in which characters go on adventures, and oh did I go on adventures!

Here’s a list of the most memorable books:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

The Hobbit  by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Not as great as the others but I would be remiss to leave out Treasure Island in a list of adventure books)

The first four books on the list are currently on my list of the Top Ten Favorite Books of 2014. Moby-Dick was phenomenal and is currently at #1!

 

Fall Plans

So, what are my plans for the autumn and winter seasons (basically until Jan. 1)?

1. saint-exupery-website

I hope to get through all the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by the end of the year. I have nearly finished Courrier Sud (Southern Mail) and will probably have a review posted by early next week.

2. 

I will be reading this one for the Newbery Medal Challenge. It won the award in 1923.

3.

It won the Newbery Medal in 1930.

4. 

Some stories by Washington Irving. I’ve never read anything by Irving, so I will probably start with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

5. 

This is a classic of the historical fiction genre. Once I finish the book, I would like to watch the television series that was made in the 70s. Time Magazine included this series in its list of the 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.

6. 

Yay for a modern book! Wolf Hall is the first book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. The last book isn’t out yet. I’ve been told that Mantel offers a fresh perspective on the lives of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. I read A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt last month and really enjoyed it, so I look forward to learning more about the Tudors.

7. 

I don’t care much for Halloween, but I do love the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. In October, I hope to read more of his poems and short stories.

8. 

I don’t know anything about this book except that it is a mystery. There is a severe lack of female characters in my reading repertoire, but I don’t know if that is something I should be bothered by. Anyway, I look forward to reading Rebecca.

9. 

I’ve heard that the eponymous archbishop is portrayed sympathetically. Now, that’s refreshing!

10. 

This is my favorite book of all time, and I will be hosting a read-along of it in December so stay tuned…