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July 08, 2009

Unread Books

Bookish , I love lists! , Jumping on the bandwagon

Over at Toddled Dredge, there's a new meme (sort of) about the books we have sitting on our shelves, unread. Now, it would take me all day to list all my unread books (I love used book sales!), but I'm going to pick 50 to list here, and try to read them (or admit that I'll never read them and give them away) by not this coming birthday but the next one (7/31/10). To make things interesting, I grabbed only books that happened to be in my living room (where there are no bookcases but still seem to be books, always) and my dining room (where there are actually two bookcases). This has tilted the list toward non-fiction, and specifically history, but ah well. Are there any on my list that you particularly loved or hated? Let me know!

1. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
2. The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table-Hop Like a Pro (Almost) by Adam D. Roberts
3. Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
4. The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside by Amanda Hesser
5. Persuasion by Jane Austen
6. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
7. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
8. Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce
9. The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti
10. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller
11. Living Witness by Jane Haddam
12. The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
13. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan
14. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
15. "A Problem from Hell:" America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power
16. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
17. The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England by Antonia Fraser
18. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman
19. The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong
20. Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir
21. An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray
22. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
23. Heads in the Sand: How the Republicans Screw Up Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Screws Up the Democrats by Matthew Yglesias
24. In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton
25. Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives by Katie Hickman
26. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal
27. Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution by Simon Schama
28. Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe by Thomas Cahill
29. Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century by Betsy Israel
30. Maids and Mistresses, Cousins and Queens: Women's Alliances in Early Modern Europe edited by Susan Frye and Karen Robertson
31. Deadlock: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election by the Political Staff of the Washington Post
32. John Adams by David McCullough
33. A New World: An Epic of Colonial America from the Founding of Jamestown to the Fall of Quebec by Arthur Quinn
34. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle
35. Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother by James A. Connor
36. The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman F. Cantor
37. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki
38. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
39. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
40. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
41. Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft by Lyndall Gordon
42. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
43. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
44. Cheating at Solitaire by Jane Haddam
45. On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson: TV News' First Woman Star by John Dickerson
46. L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon by Leon Gorman
47. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind by George Lakoff
48. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
49. The Making of Victorian Values: Decency and Dissent in Britain: 1789-1837 by Ben Wilson
50. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work by Susan Cheever

Posted by Kat at July 8, 2009 10:23 AM

I'd bump A Year in Provence right up to the top of your list. It's written in monthly chapters and is laugh-out-loud funny.

Other than that, Persuasion is quite good -- an under-appreciated Jane Austen book, if you ask me.

A Midwife's Tale was interesting, but not compelling when I read it for a class back in grad school. And I was, frankly, underwhelmed by Eat, Pray, Love.

Posted by: sprite at July 8, 2009 11:50 AM

*Last of the Mohicans* is one of those books that I keep around and try again every few years, figuring that eventually I'll get through it. The problem is that I saw the movie first, and the movie is beautiful and engaging and a whole lot sexier and more lush than the novel, so I get impatient. Where are my copulatory gazes? Where are the beautiful soundtrack and the breathtaking (Appalachian, ahem) scenery? :) Then I generally want to skip directly to Sara Donati's books after I sit down and watch the movie. Poor Cooper. Like Elton John: born to create stuff that will be much better done by the people who re-do it.

I don't remember why but I remember not liking (or finishing) Julie and Julia.

Wow, you buy a lot of nonfiction. Some of that sounds really interesting!

Posted by: Rachel at July 8, 2009 01:08 PM

Persuasion is good and so is Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror.

So are a lot of your books. What's your address, again? No reason for asking........

I just picked up "A Problem from Hell:" America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power from the library! So I think you should read that first because I have to return it in 3 weeks. Maybe. ;)

Posted by: Carrie K at July 8, 2009 02:35 PM

I've read 6 of these and agree that Persuasion is really very good--it has a somewhat slower start, I think, than some of Austen's other books, but I like it. I loved McCullough's John Adams biography and plan to reread it one of these days because I liked it so much. The Julie/Julia book frankly annoyed me (but I'm in the minority there). Girls Like Us was pretty entertaining and I learned a lot about those three that I hadn't known, but the Nancy Drew book was disappointing. The Ben Franklin bio was good, and the Feminine Mystique? I know it's a classic, I know it's revolutionary and had brilliant, iconic ideas, but I thought the writing was dreadful and frankly gave up halfway through.

That said, my own unread books? 28 out of 3,053 books--though, since I'm in the process of winnowing that collection down to somewhere around (I hope 1500 books), the long-term unreads are going into the bye-bye pile!

Posted by: --Deb at July 8, 2009 05:47 PM

I can only echo other comments: I loved Persuasion and a Year in provende (though I listened to that one as audiobook), but hated Julie/Julia too much to finish the book. Julie was too sneering for my to find her sympathetic.

I have not read the specific book you list, but I generally find Alison Weir to be fair, well-researched and entertaining.

Posted by: Veronica Mitchell at July 8, 2009 08:59 PM

Zoiks! That is quite a pile. Enjoy!

Posted by: Amy Reads Good Books at July 9, 2009 08:28 AM

What a terrific list -- the only one of these books I've read is Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Posted by: Steph at July 15, 2009 11:21 PM

Well, I hate to confuse you but I really liked Julie and Julia and Eat, Pray, Love (I liked Julie and Julia better though). I also want to read A Midwife's Tale--that one's been on my shelf awhile too.

Posted by: Caitlin at July 16, 2009 10:24 AM
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