Monday, March 29, 2010

What other people are reading, and what I have not

Yesterday, like I said, I went to Oxford. It was a strange experience. Going without kids, travelling by train. I can't remember the last time I did that. And the thing that I like most about taking public transport, aside from all that extra reading time, is being nosey and checking out what other people are reading. Other people must do that too, surely? I've never gotten up the nerve to actually ASK such a person what they're reading, but I do try to walk by several times and glance surreptitiously. Who knows, maybe I'm not all that subtle about it like I think I am.

And yes, people were reading mostly newspapers and magazines (boring). But there were a few others like me, with their noses in their books. And as I was quite into my own novel, I wasn't able to check out many titles. I did see one lady with The Shack by William Young and another girl with a Tamora Pearce book. But at one point, I looked up to see if the train approaching was for me and realised I'd been standing next to this man reading who was so engrossed in his own book that he didn't even take a glance at the train. And he was reading in such a way that I could clearly see what book it was. Ninteen Eighty Four by George Orwell.

And I thought to myself, man, there's a book I should read. I've been meaning to for years, it keeps being short-listed as a book I'd like to read and I never get around to it. When I came home and had a look at my shelves, I found there were loads of books like that. Three Sarah Waters' books, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, all those Kate Atkinson books I'm hoarding.

So, I thought I'd try to keep better track of them. Write them all down and maybe by looking at them, things might change. Magically. It's interesting, the things that are on people's TBR shelves, right? I thought so, you can look at the list too. It's here. I tried to change the date so that it wouldn't show up in google reader and whatever, but it didn't quite work. Sorry. Here's the list.

You could make suggestions for me to read next? Which ones to avoid, maybe? You can tell me how great a certain title is and I'll feel guilty that I've had the book for more than a year (or more) and still haven't gotten around to it. I must read more of my own books! I must, I must. Or you can just tell me something nice, like how your TBR list is so much longer and makes mine look puny. Either way, I'll be happy!

How many books are on your TBR list anyway?


  1. Just to say, I really didn't like Mr Toppit, in fact I gave it away I disliked it that much. It sounded like such a fascinating story and it just wasn't.

    Loved The Sugar Queen.Full of sugar coated candy and magical realisim.

    I have a little notebook where I write down all the books I find that I want to read. I presently have 464 books on the list, but I have crossed out nearly eighty of those which I have either read or bought.

  2. I always try to see what other people are reading. I'm unbelievably nosy, especially considering how annoying I find it when people flip up my book cover without my permission, to see what I'm reading. :P

    I keep a TBR list as a tab on my blog website. That way I can check it any time I want, at the library or whatever! V. v. helpful.

  3. Do read:
    Paddy Clarke HaHa
    Oliver Twist
    Smoke and Mirrors
    Catch 22 *** (this is brilliant)
    Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
    The Namesake
    Family matters
    Good Omen ** so good!!

    The Kite Runner
    A thousand acres
    Midnights children

    My TBR list is gigantic, but its nice to know there is more out there waiting to be discovered

  4. Oh dear. According to LibraryThing, there are 1077 books currently sitting on my TBR shelves. That doesn't even count my wishlist books.

    I had better get reading! If I never got another book, it would take me close to ten years to finish these.

    Your list is tantalizing. There are several that I've read, and several more that are on my TBR shelves.

    The one that caught my eye was The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney -- it was my favorite book for 2009. I recommend it to many people because it was thoroughly entertaining, but entirely original.

    Happy reading!

  5. I feel like we could be related. I do the SAME thing on the train, even though my "train" is the subway. I'm so nosey when it comes to seeing what other people are reading, and I try to be stealth, but I probably look like a crazy person. I'm going to check out your TBR list now. :) I also have books on my shelf that I've owned forever but haven't gotten around to. 1984 is one of them, even though I read it once a million years ago, I've been wanting to re-read it again for almost as long.
    Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

  6. Okay. Here are my thoughts on your TBR list.

    Bump up The Sugar Queen. Sarah Addison Allen's books are delightfully fun and pretty quick reads.

    The Other Boleyn Girl is one of Philippa Gregory's best. The Virgin's Lover is also fabulous.

    I was not impressed with The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I don't know why it's advertised as her "adult" novel, because there's nothing adult about it, and it's nothing compared to Twilight.

    Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens was also a bit of a disappointment for me. Not nearly as intense as The Dante Club.

    Okay those are some of my thoughts. This was fun! I have a To Read list on The Crowded Leaf if you want to take a peek. It's not as organized as yours though. :)

  7. Alayne - Ha. I'm sure I'm not stealthy at all now that I've thought about it. I wish I could just pluck up the nerve to actually ask. Also, I think I did start The Sugar Queen but I don't think I got very far before the next shiny new book appeared in front of my face.
    I've seen the movie Other Boleyn Girl which is why I'm slightly hesitant to read and I don't know what it is about The Host that puts me off, but there's something about it.

    I can't even remember how or why I picked up The Last Dickens. One of life's mysteries, I think.

  8. Rose City Reader - 1077! You've totally made me feel better about my own list. I noticed that I didn't include my YA books or non-fiction books yet, but STILL! 10 years worth of reading at your fingertips! Wow.

    I can't remember how or why I picked up The Tenderness of Wolves. I can't even recall what it could be about, but if you're recommending it, I will definitely bump it up the list :)

  9. Shadowfalcon - HELLO! It's nice to see you around again. I will take into consideration your recommendations and the ones you've said to avoid. Good to know these things. Good Omens is a book I bought recently and have been dying to read, so I'm sure it won't take too long to get to that one. As for the others, I'm not so sure. Especially Catch-22. There's something so intimidating about it. I am excited about Ghostwritten. And Family Matters, because I loved Mistry's other book A Fine Balance. But Miss Smilla and The Namesake seems a little dreary, and Possession just looks LONG. One of these days, I'm sure though :)

  10. Jenny - people used to flip my book up too and I always felt like stabbing someone when it happened. I guess that's why I try to be sneaky about it when I'm on the train. I'm sure it doesn't work though.

    Also, putting a tab on my blog WOULD be very helpful. I should do that!

  11. Hundreds? I think there are about 200 on my TBR at Goodreads. They do not in any way correlate to the actual books on my TBR shelves, and there are probably 200 there. There is some overlap. Then there are other shelves in my house plus all the classics I wish I'd read... I'll never read them all.


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