My Secret List of Shame

Week after week here at About Books we dish out book suggestions for our readers. Connecting people to the right book for the right time is one of the best parts of our job, whether it’s online or in person at the library. We come up with all sorts of lists to share– books that educate, books to help you through a tough time, books to make you laugh. But there’s one list I’ve always been a little embarrassed to talk about. They are books that I feel I ought to have read but for one reason or another, have just never gotten around to. It’s my secret list of book shame.

I’m not talking about the type of dense tomes that you might have been expected to read in high school or college – you won’t find de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or Tolstoy’s War and Peace on this list. No, these are all perfectly approachable, highly-lauded works of literary fiction that I know I would love if I’d only give them a chance. Some have been recommended by friends whose opinions I deeply value. Others are on so many “Best of” book lists that it seems almost inexcusable not to have read them. Some I’ve actually checked out, only to have them sit forlornly at home while I dipped into other titles. I might have been distracted by a great series or a current “hot” title. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for that particular book at the time. However, after a summer of wallowing in current bestsellers and lighter fare, I’m determined to do a little better. I’ve made a vow to tackle the top five books on my list of shame before next summer hits. Then I can hit the current best-sellers and beach reads with a clean[er] conscience.

As I dive into my upcoming reading, let me know – what’s on your list of shame?

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz’s first book has won so many awards, it’s mind-blowing, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. My own son recommended it. I’ve checked it out several time but never opened a page.

Cloud Atlas - I’ve always been intimidated by the reviews of Cloud Atlas’s intricate plotting. It came out before I “found” David Mitchell as an author, but I’ve adored his other books. So, there really isn’t a good reason it’s taken so long for me to give his most well-known work a try.

Empire Falls - You know when you are simpatico with another reader. When someone who makes great suggestions tells you Empire Falls by Richard Russo is one of their all-time favorite novels, you know you should read it. To my shame, I’ve never even checked it out.

Life After Life - How many people have told me they loved Life After Life? How many times have I heard that someone’s entire book club enjoyed this selection? I meant to read this when it first came out. I meant to watch it before the movie hit the theaters. Alas, I’ve never read a single page.

American Gods - Please, no silent screams from all my friends who revere Neil Gaiman, I know that I have had 15 years to read one of the most lauded books by this lauded author. I promise, however, I will read this book before the television series premieres next year.

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

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