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Friday, October 7, 2005

Chapter Forty, in which your Bibliothecary discusses unread Books

Yesterday's post about books that have produced life-affecting changes required me to peruse my collection carefully, and in so doing I was able to come up with a list of books I have not yet read but want to, or why would I have added them to my collection in the first place? Why I haven't yet read them probably cannot be well-explained. Perhaps a list here, made public to my two readers, will prod me into reading them soon so I can note progress being made; and perhaps two readers does not attain the critical mass needed to produce a good prodding. At any rate, I have this list, so here it is, with books that have been longest on the list first.

Top Ten Books I Want to Read
The Wandering Jew, Eugene Sue--from my period of indulgence in decadence and French literature. Then it seemed too long, and perhaps now my interest has waned.

Marius the Epicurean, Walter Pater--same as Sue above.

Rememberance of Things Past, Marcel Proust--coming from roughly the same time period, I made a valiant start, and bogged down somewhere within a budding grove. I did not lose interest, but I have a habit of reading more than one book at a time, and so one book apparently led to another and I was distracted away. I would have to start over from the beginning now. And I am not interested in reading In Search of Lost Time or whatever the new English editions are; I absolutely adore the intricate and flowing translations of Scott-Moncrieff.

Gargantua/Pantagruel, Rabelais--suspected classics of wit and fancy that I believe would be a pure joy to read, along the lines of Carroll's Alice books.

King, Queen, Knave, Vladimir Nabokov--Lolita is number three on the Yahoo list of best-selling books for what seems like the eighty-second week in a row. It's good, but I think Nabokov has done better, such as The Gift and Bend Sinister. This title looks and sounds like a potential masterpiece.

The Story of Civilization, Will Durant--on the heels of my enjoyment of Barzun's survey of history, the sheer volume of this series suggests to me it would be richly rewarding.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Peggy Noonan--this perhaps dating earlier than Durant, after seeing what appeared to be a televised version of her essays. I found her surprisingly soft-spoken, thoughtful, and grounded.

Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Alfred Jay Nock--a title highly recommended by a dear friend whose opinion I value to no end.

The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene--suggested by my great appreciation of The End of the Affair, as this is often claimed to be Greene's masterpiece.

Silent America, Bill Whittle--introduced to me through The Nation of Riflemen, this is a marvelously articulate and insightful writer who has collected and expanded some material from his blog. He seems to genuinely have his finger on the pulse of America today.

So when will I read these? Well, for now I am rereading The End of the Affair, working through A. Edward Newton, and studying Christopher Morley. Perhaps one day in my spare time I will open one of these great unread books and...

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