Sunday Salon: Reading Plans

I’ve always been a planner. I like to make lists, and I love the feeling of accomplishment when I can cross things off. Although I’m open to changing  plans as my whims change or unforeseen opportunities arise, it’s reassuring to have a game plan.

It didn’t take me long to discover that a love of lists and plans is not unusual within the book blogging community. And at no time is that more obvious than at the end of the calendar year, when bloggers are finishing reading challenges, issuing new challenges, and setting goals for the coming year. Last year, I decided not to join any challenges because I found the list updating and linking back and progress reporting to be too much work. My only set goal was to read all the books I had owned for at least four years. And to add a small element of pressure, I’ve told myself that if I couldn’t get those books read by December 31, I’d have to give them away—the theory being that if I’ve had a book for four years and haven’t read it, I’m probably no longer all that interested. Other than that, I’ve kept my options open, participating in community events such as the Classics Circuit and others that suited my mood at the time and reading a review copy or two each month.

That has proven to be an excellent plan, and with one month left in the year, I only have four books left on my “owned since 2006” stack. So between now and December 31, I intend to read or discard the four books you see below.

Also in December, I’ll be reading another Morland Dynasty book to keep up with my plan of reading one (almost) every month, He Knew He Was Right for the Anthony Trollope Classics Circuit, and The Jesuit’s Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin for my church book club. And I’m still savoring my reread of King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett and whatever audiobooks show up in my Booksfree audiobook queue (currently Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby). And then there are a handful of review copies I’d like to read in December. Still, I’m confident I’ll be able to find time for those four books that have been sitting in my stack since 2006.

As for 2011 plans, I plan to stick with the same basic approach. However, inspired by Eva, I decided to take the part of reading challenges that I find fun—the list-making—and use some of the wonderful challenges out there to make some reading lists to inspire me, and perhaps you. So as challenges or projects catch my eye or pop into my head, I’ll be sure to share them (giving credit to the challenge or project creator who gave me the idea). I may create a “reading project” page to collect all these lists, but I may decide that’s too much work. We’ll just see about that :).

So to get the ball rolling, I thought I’d start with a challenge that I spotted recently, the 2nds Challenge, hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages…. The goal of the challenge is to go back for seconds of an author you’ve only read once or a series in which you’ve only read once. I don’t know about you, but I frequently discover new-to-me authors and tell myself I must read more of their books only to move on and forget all about them! And then there are those authors that I don’t enjoy as much as I expected but whom I feel deserve a second chance. So I love the idea of this challenge.

For the challenge, you can choose from among four levels—reading 3, 6, 12, 20, or more books. Since I’m not officially joining the challenge, I’m not choosing a level, but I thought it would be fun to share the names of some of the authors I’ve tried once and would love to try a second time. So without further ado, here’s the list, with the titles of my first reads by those authors. For some, I’ve already selected my second read, but for others I’d love suggestions!

  • Laurie Halse Anderson: I loved Speak and really want to try more. Any recommendations?
  • James Baldwin: I loved Go Tell It on the Mountain. I’ll probably make Giovanni’s Room my second Baldwin, but I’d welcome your ideas.
  • Alan Bennett:The Uncommon Reader will probably make my best of list for this year. I’m considering The Clothes They Stood Up In or A Life Like Other People’s as a second helping.
  • Anne Brontë: I loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and I already own Agnes Grey.
  • Peter Carey: I wasn’t thrilled with Parrot and Olivier in America, which was my first attempt at Carey. However, Oscar and Lucinda, which I already own, was a terrific movie and has an altogether more appealing premise.
  • Willa Cather: I read and loved The Professor’s House, and I already own The Song of the Lark.
  • Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is one of my all-time favorite books, but I still haven’t read Clarke’s other book, a short story collection called The Ladies of Grace Adieu.
  • Douglas Coupland: I read and enjoyed Hey Nostradamus! several years ago, and Generation X, Generation A, and Miss Wyoming are all on my virtual TBR list.
  • Kate DiCamillo: The Tale of Desperaux was absolutely magical. I’ll probably make The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or The Magician’s Nephew my next.
  • Joan Didion: I read The Year of Magical Thinking partly to get Didion off my “authors I intend to try” list. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure where to go next with Didion. Slouching Toward Bethlehem?  Or perhaps her fiction–Play It As It Lays?
  • Theodore Dreiser: I adored Sister Carrie. And I fully expect to love An American Tragedy.
  • Daphne de Maurier: When I get in a du Maurier mood, I usually just read Rebecca again instead of trying another of her books. I own My Cousin Rachel, so it’ll probably be my second du Maurier.
  • Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum was good fun, and I’ve wanted to read The Name of the Rose for years.
  • Shusaku Endo: Silence is a tremendous book, and I must read more Endo. I’ve been thinking my next will be Deep River, but The Samurai is also intriguing.
  • Louise Erdrich: The marvelous book Love Medicine was my first Erdrich, and I’ll probably make Shadow Tag or The Beet Queen my second.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides: I was not all that impressed by Middlesex, but lots of people have told me they liked The Virgin Suicides more (and I did like the movie).
  • Michael Faber: So I kind of hated The Crimson Petal and the White, but I hated it because it’s exactly the type of “faux-Victorian” novel I hate. The writing was good, so I’d like to give him another chance in a contemporary setting with Under the Skin.
  • Anne Fadiman: Ex Libris was delightful, and I’ve heard wonderful things about The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
  • William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury was my least favorite book that I read in college, but I feel like I shouldn’t write one of America’s greatest writers off because of one book. Should I go for A Light in August next?
  • Jasper Fforde: Another “failure at first attempt” author. I thought The Eyre Affair got Jane Eyre all wrong, and I couldn’t cope. People tell me the Thursday Next series improves, but I’m thinking I’ll try his other series, starting with Shades of Grey instead.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: I’ve only read The Great Gatsby. Should Tender Is the Night or This Side of Paradise be next?
  • Penelope Fitzgerald: I enjoyed Offshore and will probably go for The Bookshop next.
  • Susan Fletcher: I liked the writing in Corrag so much that I want to try Eve Green and/or The Oystercatchers.
  • Helen Garner: Garner surprised me a great deal with The Spare Room, and I already own her nonfiction book Joe Cinque’s Consolation.
  • Amitav Ghosh: I loved Sea of Poppies and look forward to the next book in that series, but in the meantime I might give The Shadow Lines a try.
  • Ernest Hemingway: I liked The Sun Also Rises more than I expected (although I didn’t love it), and I’d like to try more Hemingway before I decide whether he’s an author for me. Any suggestions?
  • Georgette Heyer: When I read A Civil Contract, I knew I’d found a perfect comfort read in Heyer, but I haven’t yet read more. I’ve gotten lots of suggestions, so I suspect it’ll be a matter of which book I can find when the mood strikes.
  • Patricia Highsmith: It’s been 10 years since I read The Talented Mr Ripley. I do own The Glass Cell and People Who Knock on the Door. Now I just need to read them. :)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri: I loved The Namesake, but I keep hearing that Lahiri is at her best with short stories. I own her collection Unaccustomed Earth, so I’ll try that next.
  • D.H. Lawrence: Yes, I liked Sons and Lovers when I read it in college. Someone had to. I’ve been meaning to try more Lawrence ever since, and I’ll probably go with Women in Love.
  • Dennis LeHane: Shutter Island was a mixed success (I thought the twist was obvious), but Jenny tells me that his Kenzie and Gennaro books are right up my alley.
  • Doris Lessing: I felt I was missing something when I read Alfred and Emily, so I’ve since snagged a copy of Lessing’s autobiography, Under My Skin. I’m also curious about The Fifth Child and Particularly Cats.
  • Ira Levin: I love good horror, and The Stepford Wives is good horror. I’ll probably go with Rosemary’s Baby next.
  • Andrea Levy: Small Island was terrific, so I definitely want to try The Long Song.
  • Hilary Mantel: Mantel proved she could take Tudor fiction to a whole new wonderful level with Wolf Hall, so I want to see what else she can do. Beyond Black and Fludd are the two I’m considering for my next, unless Mantel finishes her next Tudor book before I get to one of those.
  • Gabriel García Márquez: I adored Love in the Time of Cholera, so of course I must read One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  • Patrick McGrath: Asylum was a mind-bending delight. I’m thinking Trauma will be my next McGrath.
  • David Mitchell: I enjoyed The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, so I snagged a copy of Ghostwritten almost immediately after finishing my first Mitchell. And of course Cloud Atlas is on my list as well.
  • Toni Morrison: Yes, it’s true. I’ve only read Beloved—I liked it but didn’t fall in love to the degree that I expcted. I do own a copy of A Mercy, and Song of Solomon and The Bluest Eye are on my list.
  • Maggie O’Farrell: The Vanishing of Esme Lennox is another good twisty well-written story, and I’ve heard good things about O’Farrell’s latest, The Hand That First Held Mine.
  • Helen Oyeyemi: I liked The Icarus Girl, and it seems that readers who liked it liked White Is for Witching, which I already own, even more.
  • David Park: Swallowing the Sun was a good, dark, character-driven novel, so I’d like to try The Truth Commissioner as well.
  • Georges Perec: I loved the wordplay in A Void, although the story was lacking. I understand that Life: A User’s Manual has the fun and the story.
  • David Quammen: I don’t read a lot of science writing, but Quammen’s Monster of God was great, so I know he’s a go-to science author on the rare occasion that I get in a science mood. I believe Song of the Dodo is Jenny’s favorite.
  • Ruth Reichl: I liked Comfort Me with Apples, and I’d really like to get the back-story on Reichl’s relationship with her mother in Tender at the Bone.
  • Lionel Shriver: I wasn’t crazy about So Much for That, but The Post-Birthday World has a much more interesting premise, and I already own it.
  • Jane Smiley: I read Duplicate Keys a million years ago and said then and there I’d read more Smiley. I’ve since gotten a copy of Moo that has sat on my shelves for a couple of years.
  • Colm Toibin: I loved Brooklyn to pieces, so more Toibin is a must. But what to read next? The Master? The Blackwater Lightship?
  • Josephine Tey: I’ve only read The Daughter of Time, but I really want to read The Franchise Affair, especially given that it was part of the inspiration behind Sarah Waters’s wonderful The Little Stranger.
  • Rosy Thornton: Crossed Wires was a wonderful contemporary romance, so Thornton will definitely has potential to be a go-to comfort read for me. I have her new book, The Tapestry of Love, and I’m also eager to read More Than Love Letters.
  • David Foster Wallace: Although Infinite Jest was a bit too much for me, I loved bits and pieces of it and decided Wallace’s essays must be terrific, so I want to try Consider the Lobster.
  • Evelyn Waugh: I’ve read Brideshead Revisited, listened to the audiobook, and watched the mini-series, but I haven’t read more Waugh. Any suggestions? I’m thinking Vile Bodies.
  • Jincy Willett: Her story collection, Jenny and the Jaws of Life, wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but The Writing Class sounds like something I would like a lot.
  • Jacqueline Woodson: When I read Hush earlier this year, I knew I’d want to read more Woodson, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Any suggestions?
  • Virginia Woolf: I’m kind of sad that I hated Mrs Dalloway in college, but there it is. I may give it another try someday, but I’m thinking I’ll go for A Room of One’s Own first.
  • John Wyndham: I’m always happy to find great new-to-me horror/science fiction writers, and I enjoyed The Day of the Triffids enough to know that Wyndham belongs on my “read more” list. I have The Crysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos to try next.

Whew! So you can see what a list-maker I am! But for me, a long list like this is just a pool to gather ideas from, not part of a deliberate plan. There’s no way I’d commit to reading even one book by each of these authors over the next year!

How about you? Do you like making reading lists? Or are you a more spontaneous reader?

And, of course, I’d love your thoughts on possible second reads by any of these authors.

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71 Responses to Sunday Salon: Reading Plans

  1. Teresa,

    I *loved* The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. And re Quammen, I think Song of the Dodo is even better than Monster of God. He’s also got a good one on Darwin, which is good, but I still like the Dodo book the best!

    • Eva says:

      I think I’m going to have to give Quammen another go! I didn’t like The Boilerplate Rhino all that much, but Song of the Dodo sounds so good.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for the input on the Quammen and the Ghosh, Jill. I think Jenny has read the Darwin book as well, but it’s Song of the Dodo that she’s an evangelist for–and she hasn’t read Monster of God, so she couldn’t compare the two.

  2. If you want to like Hemmingway you should read a Moveable Feast, his memoir of Paris in the 20’s. A very ambitious and impressive list. Good luck with your fabulous list.

    • Teresa says:

      Jenny read A Moveable Feast earlier this year and I believe she said it helped her get over her Hemingway dislike, so that’s a definite possibility although I’ll also want to try more of his fiction–no reason I can’t try both!

  3. Eva says:

    Be prepared: this is going to be a ridiculously long comment.

    I loved Go Tell It on the Mountain too, so I hope someone else has follow-up Baldwin suggestions! Speak was incredible, and imo Wintergirls was just as mind-blowing. I didn’t love Agnes Grey like I did Wildfell Hall, but I’m still glad I read it. :) I loved JS & Mr. Norrell as well, and Ladies of Grace Adieu was great fun! I’m a HUGE Daphne du Maurier fan, but My Cousin Rachel is my least fave of the books I’ve read so far. So if you don’t love it as much as Rebecca, do try a third: Frenchman’s Creek and Jamaica Inn are both fun adventures (the former more romantic, the latter more gothic), House on the Strand is a great time travel one, and her shorter ficiton is wonderful as well. I’ve read 3 or 4 Eco books: you’re in for a treat with The Name of the Rose! :)

    I’m one of the people who liked Virgin Suicides far more than Middlesex. And I think you’re crazy to give Faber a second chance after The Crimson Petal! lol I haven’t read The Spirit Catches You yet but Fadiman’s other essay collection At Large and At Small was wonderful. I’ve got my second Ghosh book out from the library right now: The Calcutta Chromosome. It’s one of his older books, and it sounds like a thriller, which makes me curious!

    I’ve read all of Lahiri’s books, and I preferred Interpreter of Maladies to Unaccustomed Earth. I think you’ll still enjoy it though! I loved Small Island too, and I’m sure I’ll be trying some of Levy’s backlist next year. :) The only Toibin I’ve read is The Master, and I loved it! I read it ages ago, though, so I couldn’t tell you why. lol

    I’ve read 3 or 4 of Woodson’s books now and they’ve all blown me away. So I’d say whatever summary appeals to you most is a good way to decide. She has such a backlist! I’m a huge Woolf lover, so I’m no help to you there. But I’m glad to see you’re giving her another go!

    Whew. What a great list Teresa! There are a gew authors I haven’t read who I now want to try and a couple others (Josephine Tey and Evelyn Waugh) who I want to give another go after an unsuccessful first round. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

    • Teresa says:

      A ridiculously long list can easily lead to long comments! I love it!

      Good to know about Wintergirls–that’s the one that seemed like a likely candidate. And if My Cousin Rachel isn’t a success I’ll keep your thoughts in mind. I loved Rebecca too much to dismiss du Maurier entirely if my second try doesn’t work.

      And LOL on the Faber. I know we’re both in the Crimson Petal haters club, but the ending of that book was so darn gutsy that I want to give him another chance. And Under the Skin looks really good (and short, so I won’t lose much in the way of reading time if it’s a dud).

  4. christina says:

    Teresa I adore your list, so in response:

    I really dig Laurie Halse Anderson. Wintergirls, which came out last year or the year before, was amazing. I listened to the audio version on a road trip. Also, if you enjoy historical fiction, she’s not too bad in that genre either.

    Middlesex – I CANNOT FINISH IT. There. I said it. I am one of the few bloggers out here who wanted to throw the book across the room, but I feared for the safety of my cats. I still have it on my shelf. Perhaps I will pick it up again in another ten years. :/

    Also, I hated Love in a time of Cholera but have Solitude on my shelves. Figure I’ll give the gent another try.

    Toni Morrison – I went through a ‘gotta read everything by her’ phase in college. I’d check out either Paradise or Songs of Solomon. But in my opinion you can’t go wrong with her.

    And also, check out As I Lay Dying.

    • Teresa says:

      I think there are several of us out there who didn’t care for Middlesex. For me, it read like one pretty good but forgettable book and one really good book mashed into one and the end result was weaker than either of the two books would have been alone. I did think the really good book was in the last half.

      I’ll add Paradise to my Morrison possibilities. I really think I was not in the right frame of mind when I read Beloved, and I’ll like her more when I know what to expect.

  5. I just finished The Virgin Suicides the other day and I really enjoyed it. I want to read Middlesex.

  6. Katrina says:

    I’ve already compiled my 2011 reading list which you can see here. http://piningforthewest.co.uk/2010/11/19/katrinas-2011-reading-list/ It contains a few more by Waugh. I loved Brideshead but Scoop is completely different and it’s funny.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks so much for mentioning Scoop! I knew there was another Waugh I wanted to try, and that’s the one I couldn’t remember. I love newspaper stories.

  7. Emily says:

    Oscar & Lucinda is great Carey, and I liked True History of the Kelly Gang even better. As I recall your issues with Parrot & Olivier hinged around the “fuzzy” plot and the uninteresting-to-you premise, and I think O&L will be more satisfying in those regards.

    Re: Hemingway, I think For Whom the Bell Tolls is a fantastic book. Still no amazingly astute portraits of women, but it showcases all his strengths – the clarity of language, the interaction of wounded psyche with physical world. The pointlessness of war. It’s his strongest novel I’ve read. The Nick Adams stories are also really memorable to me.

    And on Woolf, what did you hate about Mrs. Dalloway? If it was the stream-of-consciousness style, you might try one of her later books like The Years or Between the Acts, which are written in more accessible language but still have the Woolf flavor. If your problem was something relating to the characters, some of her essays might be a good option – both The Death of the Moth and The Captain’s Death Bed are wonderful collections. And of course, A Room of One’s Own is a classic of both essay construction and feminism (in fact, the Year of Feminist Classics group is doing it in, I believe, May, so you could get in on an interesting discussion).

    • Teresa says:

      I’m optimistic about Oscar and Lucinda. It looks like just my kind of book.

      Thanks for mentioning For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’ve wavered between that and A Farewell to Arms, but the latter was more or less ruined in my mind by that schmaltzy movie with Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell several years ago.

      With Mrs Dalloway, I think my biggest problem was the stream of consciousness style, which was something I wasn’t at all used to reading when I had it in college, but the characters were also a barrier for my 20-year-old self. I suspect that both of those qualities would be less of a problem for me today, but I still think I’d be better off starting fresh with something that doesn’t have the baggage of those bad memories! I’m hoping to get in an that discussion of A Room with a View. Then, even if I don’t like the book, I’ll probably enjoy the conversation!

  8. Allie says:

    You have some amazing authors on this list!

    In regards to Faulkner, can I recommend my favorite? Instead of A Light in August, I highly recommend As I Lay Dying. Its not as difficult in regards to the stream-of-consciousness writing, but still wonderfully magnificent. Its my favorite Faulkner and I would love to see your thoughts on it.

    The Great Gatsby is the only Fitzgerald I have ever read as well, and considering I love it so much, I’m surprised I haven’t read any of his other work as yet. In fact, I need to remedy that and need to grab one of the two titles left on my shelf (the same you listed).

    Woolf is another favorite. She actually writes in a way that is similar to Faulkner. They are both masters in their style.

    Anyway, I could go on. I look forward to you tackling some of these authors! :)

    • Teresa says:

      Yes, thank you for that Faulkner recommendation. I had A Light in August on my list mostly because it was an Oprah book so I thought it might be his most accessible. (Yes, I have been known to take Oprah suggestions.) But now you’re the second person to say As I Lay Dying today—and on top of that, one of the members of my church book club has suggested it. So that’s a strong possibility!

  9. Victoria says:

    You weren’t kidding that you would have quite the post today Teresa! I usually really like lists, but I’ve taken my reading more of a whatever strikes me at the time, within reason since I get most of my books from the library so I have to read things as my holds become available. Although nearly all the books I request come from my goodreads which really is a big list!

    • Teresa says:

      Honestly, I find it easier to make a long list than to edit it down to 20! I just have to remember to treat the list as a pool of suggestions, like you do your Goodreads list. It is nice to leave myself enough room to fit in unplanned books that strike my fancy.

  10. JoAnn says:

    I love your approach! The idea of a 2nds challenge is so appealing to me that I’m going to make a list of my own… don’t know where to begin commenting on yours, so I’ll just mention that I loved Tender is the Night even more than Gatsby when I first read it ages ago. Have been thinking of a reread lately.

    • Teresa says:

      It is a great idea for a challenge, and I loved looking through my list of books I’ve read and reminding myself of these authors. I look forward to seeing your list, too!

  11. christopher lord says:

    Giovanni’s Room is the book Henry James wished he could have written…love it.

    For Peter Carey, consider trying Jack Maggs, Carey’s retelling of Great Expectations from Magwitch’s point of view, with many twists and black humor along the way.

    I hope you love An American Tragedy, but it’s a hard slog; I reread it earlier this year for a book club. The moral dilemma that the main character faces wouldn’t even warrant a short story today.

    I just finished Love Medicine, and can’t wait to get my hands on another Louise Erdrich. Somehow, it seems as if I should read her books in order of their pub dates.

    With regard to Toni Morrison, I’m afraid that nothing else will stand up to the brilliance of Beloved.

    With respect to lists, mine is more a moving target. I’m working my way through the complete works of Melville (since Moby Dick is, I believe, the greatest American Novel), constantly rereading Dickens, and this year hoping to work more 19th century Americans into the list (particularly Hawthorne). I hardly have time for any contemporary fiction.

    Love the blog…

    • Teresa says:

      Jack Maggs sounds great. I loved Great Expectations, and that’s a fabulous premise.

      I’m optimistic about An American Tragedy, mostly because I loved Sister Carrie so much. We’ll see how it goes.

      On Morrison, I wish I’d loved Beloved, but I mostly only admired it. But as with Woolf, I want to give her another chance with a book I haven’t tried.

      Good luck on the Hawthorne. I’d really like to reread some of his books. I think I was the only person in my high school English class who liked The Scarlet Letter, and I read The Blithedale Romance and The House of the Seven Gables for fun in college (since I didn’t take much American lit). But it’s been so long now that I don’t remember any of them very well.

  12. Lightheaded says:

    I have but haven’t read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains. I don’t know if that helps :)

    Because of Under the Skin, I bought every other Faber books that I could find. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to reading them.

    Miss Wyoming is a good choice for Coupland. That or if you have Girlfriend in a Coma.

    I highly recommend Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop.

    • Teresa says:

      Good to hear an endorsement of Under the Skin (and I hope you like Crimson Petal more than I did). And thanks for mentioning Girlfriend in a Coma. I knew there was another Coupland I wanted to investigate!

  13. Brenna says:

    Phew! That was a long list! Two things – The Post Birthday World is my favorite Shriver so I would recommend giving that one a go! Also, considering the Toni Morrison’s you own, I would read The Bluest Eye next. I’ve only read two of her books (that and Beloved) and preferred The Bluest Eye. Happy reading!

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for the endorsement of Post-Birthday World. I love the premise! And I’m really happy to hear someone liked another Morrison more than Beloved. I’m hoping I feel the same.

  14. I must say that I am quite impressed at your planning.

    I consider myself a planner. Not a planner of your calibre.

  15. Frances says:

    Well, you know that I am not much of a list maker, chafe a little at the prospect of it, but always love the enthusiasm of other bloggers for the exercise. And enjoy reading other people’s lists.

    And as for second chances … The Ladies of Grace Adieu I think we covered on Twitter this morning so I definitely get that one. Also a huge fan of JS & Mr N.

    Go Edward Tulane before the latest from DiCamillo.

    I adore the unreliable narrator of My Cousin Rachel.

    The Name of the Rose is one of my favorite novels. The ultimate book lover’s mystery.

    Patricia Highsmith is an unrelentingly dark genius. Have read all of her works multiple times now, and am steeling myself to read the new bio. She was famously unlikeable.

    And Evelyn Waugh and Virginia Woolf are both favorites as well. Fan of Vile Bodies but think I might like Scoop more. And would echo Emily’s suggestion of A Room of One’s Own. My favorite is Orlando but no longer suggest as it is the rare person who is not pissed off with me or befuddled after the recommendation. :)

    Happy reading, excellent list maker!

    • Teresa says:

      I know of your aversion to lists, but you know you are a big contributor to mine.

      It’s nice to find a Highsmith fan. She doesn’t seem to get a lot of book blogger love, but all of her books sound good to me. Do you have any particular favorites? The two I have are ones I just happened to snag on Bookmooch.

    • Richard says:

      Teresa, I agree with Frances that Woolf’s Orlando isn’t a good recommedation for one and all! [Uh oh, here comes an angry e-mail from her!] However, I love your Eco and especially your Perec picks…and I’d recommend Woolf’s To the Lighthouse without hesitation as well. I read a lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school, but since that was basically pre-electricity, I can’t remember what my favorite after Gatsby was. P.S. I envy you knowing how old your TBR books are! Except in rare cases where receipts are still floating around in books, I have only a vague idea about that sort of thing.

      • Teresa says:

        Thanks for the suggestions, Richard! I’m really keen to try out a Perec with a better story and all the fun of The Void.

        And my knowing how long I’ve had my books is mostly due to my obsessive list-making. I’ve been keeping a record in LibraryThing for a while.

  16. Vasilly says:

    What a great idea! I’m definitely a list-maker but I rarely follow them. I think making a list and being inspired to try new authors is one of the best things about reading challenges. When it comes to Kate DiCamillo, you should read Edward Tulane. It’s a great book.

    I read Colm Toibin’s The Blackwater Lightship probably a decade ago. I don’t remember much but I do remember enjoying it.

    For Toni Morrison, I would go with The Bluest Eye. It’s a great book.

    Denis Lehane – Mystic River is a devastating book that left me in awe of Lehane’s writing.

    The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald is an old favorite of mine.

    Jacqueline Woodson – Locomotion is such a great book. I read it for the first time last year. It made my “best of 2009” list. If you read it, have Peace, Locomotion nearby because you’ll want to dive into it right after.

    Have a great week and happy reading!

    • Teresa says:

      Yes, it’s the inspiration to try something different that makes challenges fun. Completing it is irrelevant, but if I officially sign up, I’ll feel pressured, so I’m skipping all that!

      Another Bluest Eye recommendation, so that’s a strong contender for my next Morrison.

      I did see the movie of Mystic River, and I liked it pretty well, but not enough to make me want to read the book. That’s why I’m leaning toward the Kenzie/Genarro books, but I’m trying to avoid starting series, so that’s a point for Mystic River.

      And thanks for the Woodson suggestions. I’ll have to see if my library has those. I think they have quite a few of her books, but I never know where to start when I’m faced with a huge selection!

  17. Sara says:

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is wonderful. Truly wonderful. For the Hemingway, I would suggest Garden of Eden. It made me throw the book across the room I was so mad at one of the characters. I recommend Song of Solomon for the Morrison. The Bluest Eye is also a very good, very accessible read. I’m with Christina: you can’t really go wrong with Morrison.

    • Teresa says:

      LOL at your suggesting a book that made you so mad! I know just what you mean, though, it take good writing to get you that involved. I’ve had a similar reaction to almost all of Hardy’s characters, and I adore Hardy!

  18. leeswammes says:

    Well done for finishing all but 4 of the pre-2006 stack! Were these all books that you hadn’t read before?

    I’ve got about 30 books that are new this year that I haven’t read yet, but all the books from before 2010 are read – yay!

    I try to keep it that way because this year especially I have been accumulating books (and I expect it to continue next year but even more so) and I don’t want it to get out of hand.

    Good luck with the seconds challenge, it sounds like a good idea. I often forget about an author although I might have liked a book by them a lot.

    • Teresa says:

      Yep, books I’ve read already don’t count because I’m usually buying them to keep. I’d really like to get to the point when I have only a year’s backlog, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. I can’t quite resist good bargains when they come along.

  19. JoV says:

    Such a great list of 2nd read list! Inspires me to create one of mine. But I won’t go on writing a ridiculous long comment here, but I am a fanatic 2nd reader. Once I fall in love with an author, that infatuation last at least 6 months and I’ll devour one after another of his / her backlist. Like I have finished everything there is from Lahiri, read 3 books from Yukio Mishima last quarter, read tons of Haruki Murakami in one breath, and definitely have both Middlesex and Virgin Suicides in my pile!!!

    Many of your mentions are in my TBR, this is an excellent list! Thanks Teresa, enjoy your 2nd read! ;)

    • Teresa says:

      It’s so strange because I’m just like you with some authors. For example, I’ve read nearly all of Kate Atkinson’s and Sarah Waters’s books even though I discovered both of them within the past year. I just can’t get enough. But it seems like if I don’t inhale almost all of a author’s works at once, I never get around to that second book, no matter how interested I am.

  20. Deb says:

    What a great list–and I could make so many comments about the authors and books you’re going to be reading–but I’ll just confine myself to just two:

    Please try Daphne du Maurier’s overlooked THE PARASITES. It’s narrated by three half/step-siblings (the narrative style alone is enough to qualify the book as a classic) in the artistic world of Europe between the wars.

    And you must read Ira Levin’s A KISS BEFORE DYING, which includes a fabulous twist that I for one did not see coming.

  21. Sherry Clark says:

    Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

    My Antonia by Willa Cather

  22. So many things I could comment on. I don’t know anything about those other 3 books, but The Right Stuff is definitely worth your time. I think you will find it a quick read as well. As for all those other authors, sheesh. I am going to limit my reply to if you read a second James Baldwin, it most definitely should be Giovanni’s Room. And, I can understand your interest in reading a Cather you already own but O Pioneers or My Antonia really get at the heart and soul of Cather.

    • Teresa says:

      The Right Stuff is the book I’m planning to read after I finish the Trollope. I’m really looking forward to it now that it has made its way to the top of my stack.

      And those two Cathers are ones I think I’ll want to read at some point, perhaps even before Song of the Lark. They’ve been on my mental list for ages.

  23. Jenny says:

    I love doing suggestions but it’s hard for me to pick just one thing to suggest about. If you want to read more Laurie Halse Anderson, her historical novel Chains was superb, and I’m assuming its sequel is good too (haven’t read it yet). Wintergirls was hella depressing. I thought O’Farrell’s After You’d Gone was better than The Hand that First Held Mine. And Eleanor Rigby is my favorite Coupland book so far.

    • Teresa says:

      Duly noted! I’ll be interested to see how Anderson is with historical fiction. It seems so different from Speak. And I’ll look into After You’d Gone and Eleanor Rigby. I haven’t heard much about either one, but I give Coupland points for titling his book after what is possibly my favorite Beatles song!

  24. Susan in TX says:

    Love the list! This is exactly what I do with reading challenges – take the ones I like and build lists for myself with them. I esp. like your idea of giving away what you didn’t get to from the books you set aside to read this year. I’ve already decided to severely limit what comes in next year and I’ve been trying to decide just what is a “reasonable” amount to expect to read off of my current shelf — you have inspired me!
    As for the list, I sat down and read The Bookshop by P. Fitzgerald Friday when I was recovering from my Thanksgiving cook-a-thon, and found it to be a very relaxing read.

    • Teresa says:

      It was fun to put the list together! So many possibilities!

      I have gathered up my stack of 23 books (all acquired in 2007) that I must read or discard next year. I’m still pondering what to do about incoming books for next year. Lists like this do make me want to slow down on reading brand-new books when I can think of so many old books I haven’t read.

  25. litlove says:

    I do love reading about other people’s plans! Yours sound excellent, Teresa. One thing I’m planning for the end of the year that might interest you: I’m going to be reading up on Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and possibly a little about the Nativity. I’m sick of seeing Christmas just in terms of what I have to buy for it, so I thought a little philosophy from the Church fathers would temper the commercialism. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Teresa says:

      That is a very exciting Christmas plan! I’ll be very interested in hearing how it goes–those two are the very two church fathers that I wrote about in my Historical Theology class, and they have some fascinating ideas.

      Might I also recommend Athanasius’s On the Incarnation? It’s very short, and given the subject matter, it is especially appropriate for the season. I’ve considered making it an annual Advent read myself. (Some editions also include a delightful essay by C.S. Lewis on the value of reading old books that I think you’d enjoy.)

  26. Jeanne says:

    I’ll echo a previous comment in recommending As I Lay Dying if you want an easier Faulkner novel. Personally, I prefer the short stories.

    Joan Didion, I think, is one of those authors like Anne Lamott whose essays are far better than her novels.

    I’ve read almost everything I can find by Ruth Reichl and think her best is Garlic and Sapphires.

    Your David Foster Wallace choice is my favorite; in fact I referred to it today as a benchmark in my reading about ethical treatment of animals, although that’s not all of what it’s about!

    • Teresa says:

      It seem unanimous that As I Lay Dying is the best second Faulkner choice. And thanks especially for the tip about Didion–I quite agree about Lamott so I’ll keep that in mind.

      I’m excited about Consider the Lobster. Almost all my favorite parts of Infinite Jest read like essays (the videophone section, for example), so I can see how he’s be a wonderful essay writer.

  27. Laurie says:

    I’m a listmaker by nature, but I don’t really read books in any predetermined order. Like with food, I appreciate the option to go with what sounds good at the moment. That said, I usually have some outside pressures or priorities (like finishing a book for book club, a book that has to be returned to the library, or a borrowed book from a friend that I feel compelled to return soon.

    The lack of organization in my reading, combined with a love of buying second-hand books and amassing PaperBackSwap books, means that I have quite a long TBR list and lots of unread books on my shelves. Therefore, I’m fascinated by the challenge you gave yourself! I gather that all the “four years” books were ones you’d never read? I think that’s a fabulous idea, but I’m not sure how I’d know when I’d purchased/acquired the books. Still, I suppose I could challenge myself to read all the books I know have been around for some time. What a great idea!

    • Teresa says:

      Yes, the “four year” books are ones I’ve never read (mostly gathered through PBS and Bookmooch). I catalog my books on LibraryThing, which is how I know how long I’ve had them. You could probably check your PBS transaction archive.

  28. Heather says:

    Slouching Toward Bethlehem was the first Didion I read, and I have a sentimental attachment to it based on the person who recommended it to me, but it’s really really good – I’d recommend it as your next Didion book.

    The only Perec book I’ve read so far is Life: A User’s Manual, and I absolutely loved it – so yes, that!

    As for me, I am a big list-maker but, as I’ve learned from Emily’s TBR challenge this year, I’m more likely to read at whim from the great big enormous list of books I’ve heard about and found interesting than from any more specific lists I make. (I’ve read 6 books out of the 20 on my list!) Part of the problem is that once I take out a library book it’s a slippery slope – I go to the library to return it and end up with more books because I get excited by new library finds, which then of course take priority because I have to return them, which makes it hard for me to devote time to books I own.

    I imagine that in 2011 I will keep on going through my 2010 TBR challenge list, though, because they *are* all books I would like to read. And if any other challenges tempt me, I may join in, especially if they’re challenges that are one or more books rather than a certain number of books – I really enjoyed the Diana Wynne Jones week over at Jenny’s Books this year, and the NYRB week hosted by Coffeespoons and The Literary Stew.

    • Teresa says:

      That Didion is one I’ve been thinking about. The fact that the title quotes one of my favorite poems helps!

      And I know just what you mean about the library. It’s one reason I don’t go so often; it becomes a chain of books that keeps me from reading the books I own. One trick I have found is to return books when the library is closed so I don’t find more!

      And the challenges you mentioned are the kinds I like, more like theme weeks/months you can participate in if you’re in the mood. I took part in the NYRB week, the Persephone week, and enjoyed them both. Shared reads can be fun as well.

  29. Stefanie says:

    I love making lists and I love looking at the lists of other people. Just read and was wowed by Toibin’s The Master this year. And Lessing’s The Fifth Child is intense and creepy. I do hope you give Mrs. Dalloway another chance sometime. I didn’t like it much the first time I read it either. The second time I fell in love and the third time was amzing so that the book is now in my top five favorites.

    • Teresa says:

      I’m glad to hear Mrs Dalloway was eventually a success for you. Sometimes it really is a matter of timing, and when I was in college, I was all about linear, traditional storytelling (all those Victorians). I’m much more open to other styles now.

  30. rebeccareid says:

    Agnes Grey was somewhat disappointing to me. As for Lahiri, all I’ve read is the first INTERPRETER OF MALADIES and I liked it. Hemingway — I loved THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. And Virginia Woolf I think A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN is a good next step. Very different from MRS DALLOWAY. Although that is one that deserves a reread, as it’s confusing but so beautiful once I “got” it.

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve heard that from several people about Agnes Grey, but I want to read all the Bronte novels, so I’ll press on. And I had been considering The Old Man and the Sea, so I’ll add it to the possibilities.

  31. Pingback: The Challenge of Second Read « Bibliojunkie

  32. Christy says:

    I did the 2nd read challenge this year along with a bunch of other challenges and it was one of my favorites, as I don’t always follow-up with an author I’ve enjoyed once.

    Regarding your list, I read Endo’s The Silence and The Samurai in college and remember that I liked The Samurai the best, so your instinct for that one is good. Although I haven’t read any of his other books, so I can’t say another one would be a lesser choice.

    I haven’t read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying which has been suggested by others in comments above. Again for college, I read a bunch of Faulkner. Either Light in August or Absalom, Absalom was my favorite novel. Quentin of Sound & Fury appears, in a small role, in Absalom, Absalom.

    Lionel Shriver’s Post-Birthday World is one of the best books I’ve read. I haven’t read any of her others.

    Lists are lots of fun – I’m getting excited to start putting together a rough ‘plan’ for my 2011 reading year!

    • Teresa says:

      Good to hear about The Samurai. It certainly has a great premise.

      And knowing that a character from Sound and Fury shows up in Absalom, Absalom makes me want to stay away from that book! I’ll probably go for As I lay Dying.

  33. Kathleen says:

    I should do the same…read everything this year that has been on my shelves for 4 years or more. That would be a worthy challenge for me and force me to read what is on my shelves. We’ll see as I always hate to be tied down to reading certain things. BTW, if you loved Rebecca you will definitely enjoy My Cousin Rachel too!

  34. chasing bawa says:

    A wonderfully long and interesting list Teresa! Do read The Samurai – I loved that book when I read it earlier this year. And I also loved The Name of the Rose. The book is much better than the film. And Generation X just hit the spot for me. Have fun reading and I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose!

    • Teresa says:

      I’m actually rereading Silence next month with my church book club, so that might make me especially eager to try more Endo. And I managed to snag a copy of The Name of the Rose a my library’s book sale.

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