The Someday List

Another list-provoking Booking Through Thursday question

We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What are the best books that you haven’t read yet?

1. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

This one I’ve been craving for years and years, but I haven’t had “time” to dedicate to it. After all, it is quite long (that must be the most euphemistic thing I’ve ever said). Thetrue reason why I haven’t read it yet is because I thought I would love Anna Karenina, but alas. Come to think of it, I haven’t ever finished a Tolstoy.

2. Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

Booker plus Ishiguro – I’m surprised this hasn’t been ticked off my to-read list, but I’m getting through Ishiguro chronologically but backwards. Next up is The Unconsoled, then I’ll be digging into this one. I can’t say I’m too excited about it, though. Sounds rather similar to When We Were Orphans, from what I’ve heard. Correct me if I’m wrong, please.

3. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Oh dear. I thought 2009 would mark the beginning of a new relationship between myself and that Dickens. Not the case. In fact, it’s rather cringeworthy that three of my writers from Tribute to the Shelf Sitters have remained shelf sitters since the time I wrote that post. Henry James, I haven’t had time to tackle. Anna Karenina is currently on hiatus (waiting for the right moment to read it) and Dickens I’ve been studiously avoiding. Considered buying David Copperfield, but knew it would just add to the dust on my shelves, so I let it go.

4. Middlemarch, George Eliot

Oh, George Eliot, I do adore thee. Someday I’ll read your books.

5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

None of these books have actually been consciously avoided, as such. With the exception of Dickens. Marquez is one of those writers who I’m eternally curious about, but for some reason, never make it to the top of the to-read list. Love in the Time of Cholera should also be added here too.

6.  Utopia, Thomas More

Confession: the only reason why I want to read this book is because of Ever After. It intimidates me, though.

7. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami

I would have written The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, but the title of this one interests me more. Sounds whimsical and dark all at the same time. My impressions are probably entirely wrong. Has anyone read this. If so, what did you think of it? Should I read the other one first?

8. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

I love Flaubert’s writing; no idea why I’ve never read this. Will do so sometime this year.

9. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

I have an excuse – I’m not American. Well, that’s no real excuse. I’m planning on reading Grapes of Wrath later this month, so let me off the hook just once.

10. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

The only Rushdie I’ve read is The Enchantress of Florence, and since that book was far from enchanting (sorry), I’m going to have to remedy the situation by reading his “classic”. Am vaguely curious about The Satanic Verses, but not enough for it to make its way onto this list. Midnight’s Children, on the other hand, is very intriguing. From the title alone, I want to devour it.

Other Worthy Mentionables:

  • Ulysses, James Joyce
  • The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot
  • Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck



46 thoughts on “The Someday List

  1. My bookshelves are crammed with classics that I “should” get around to reading, but I keep passing them up for more contemporary “classics.” I’m on a real Pulitzer prize bender and can’t get enough of reading one of those and then snapping up everything else by that author. Michael Chabon and Jane Smiley will be the death of me.

    1. Heather – Oh well, I’m like that with Booker prize winners. I promise myself I won’t read anymore, but I find myself reading all of them anyway!

  2. Midnight’s Children is on my list as well. I’ve never read Rushdie, but would really like to. Ditto for Steinbeck, something tells me I should have read all of Steinbeck by now, but I’ve only read Of Mice and Men…

    1. verbivore – I haven’t read much of Steinbeck either. Skimmed through Red Pony when I was younger, and only recently read The Pearl. As for Rushdie, I still choose to believe I have yet to read a “real” book of his. Enchantress of Florence was a real disappointment.

  3. You have some great books on this list – ones that I would have to place on my list too!

    You already know how I feel about Dickens (we are of like minds on this one… I started reading Great Expectations before the holidays in December, and was even kind of enjoying it, and then I got all flustered and scared and put it back on the shelf saying that it wasn’t the right time for it… I will read it in 2009, though! I will!), but I do think that your problem with Anna K is the translation you’ve got. I think if you gave the Pevear et al., version a go, you’d enjoy it a lot more. I always found Tolstoy so Jane Austen-y, so I really do think you’d like him if you had a decent translation! That being said, I’ve never tried out War & Peace, but would like to do so. It scares me though!

    And you really should give 100 Years a go. I can’t imagine you not loving it! The writing is so lush and evocative, and the story itself is just wonderfully magical and beautiful. I would occasionally feel as though a fist were squeezing my heart while reading it, because of how tragically lovely it was.

    I’ve also never read Grapes of Wrath either (I will also plead “not being American”, but I have read East of Eden, which is AMAZING, so I highly recommend it), nor any of the other things on your list apart from the ones I’ve already mentioned. I’ve read Rushdie’s first novel, Grimus, which boggled the mind and was really weird, but I did like it over all. I would like to read more of him, but whenever I’m at the store, the books of his that I can find never have very tempting synopses…

    1. Steph – You’ll find this hard to believe, but I did it again! The buying-the-translation-without-checking thing. And it’s with Tolstoy again, as well. A few weeks ago, I bought the Penguin edition of War and Peace because I was dying to read it. Didn’t bother to check the translation as I was under the (Severely Mistaken) impression that Penguin always published the latest translations (something I found out when I was comparing translations for Odyssey and Aeneid etc). But no. Apparenly PV also did a W&P translation, and the one I’m going to have to read is the Anthony Briggs – which I know nothing about.
      As for AK, one day I will convince myself that it’s okay to own two copies of one book, and then I’ll read the Pevear. If only my library had a copy (they also only have the Garnett, and some other strange translation)

  4. I was forced to read Midnight’s Children so I was lucky or else I would have never gotten around to reading, and understanding, Rushdie. It’s a marvelous and very original book. And Wives and Daughters is great. Only problem is Gaskell died without completing it and it’s very sad (and a little frustrating) that we will never know the ending.

    1. Mae – I never knew that Wives and Daughters was an incomplete work! How interesting. It’s sort of like Woolf’s Between the Acts, I suppose. I wonder if she would have wanted it to be published in its unedited, incomplete form…

  5. I’ve been studiously avoiding Salman Rushdie, and I don’t have any real reason for doing so! I’m a little intimated, I guess, in the same way that I’m intimated by Tolstoy! I have Love In the Time Of Cholera on my list, too. Someday! Great post! :)

  6. Don’t know why I just wrote “intimated” instead of “intimidated” twice! Haha. Sorry, I’m an editor — these things bother me! :)

  7. You have several on your list that I also have on mine, some of which (100 Year, Norwegian Wood, etc.) I put on challenge lists this year for that very reason. I also have Middlemarch, which I keep picking up and putting down. Someday, still!

    1. Priscilla – same here, about Middlemarch, I mean. I alway read the same few chapters, then put it back on the shelf. Never seem to get beyond that!

  8. I wanted to read Utopia because of Ever After, too, haha. You have a great list (War & Peace is on mine as well). I hope you get to One Hundred Years and Cholera sooner than some faraway day.. they’re worth it.

    1. claire – well, nearly all the books on the list have been put down for challenges/long term projects, so hopefully I will get around to reading them soon. Especially War and Peace!

    1. Nise – I really need to get around to reading more Shakespeare plays. For some reason, I love to watch Shakespeare productions, but the plays in book format never go down too well.

  9. I want to read Utopia because of Ever After as well! I second the comment about about East of Eden being fantastic. I’m hoping to read Grapes of Wrath in the coming future as well.

    1. thebluestocking – I read your list, and you simply must read Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It is such a beautiful book! As for Madame Bovary – well, same here.

  10. Forgot Middlemarch on my list, too. And I’m just getting ready to reread another of Eliot’s books, Silas Marner. Kafka on the Shore is my lone Murakami shelf-sitter. I was all gung-ho to read it when I bought it, but then my interest fizzled. I have the two Gabriel Garcia Marquez books you mentioned, and I’ll get around to them… someday. And I think that Rushdie book is in my library, somewhere, but it’s not even climbed up to Mt. TBR status yet.

    I have read a few on your list, and have commented on most of them on other blog posts. Madame Bovary, though, I’ve not seen on anyone else’s. I read that as a teen, along with Jane Eyre, Tess of the d’Ubervilles, and Pride and Prejudice. It was my dipstick days when I actually believed in that stuff from the “romantic suffering is romantic” point of view. But even then I really hated her and thought she got what she deserved. I only had sympathy for the doctor. Now I want to reread it, too… *sigh*

  11. Madame Bovary was on mine, I forgot to put Remains of the Day and Midnights Children on mine though both are books I would love to read!

    1. Simon S – hope you get around to reading them someday. I forgot Crime and Punishment and The Blind Assassin from your list. Always more books to read, I guess

  12. #5 One Hundred Years of Solitude is not plot-driven, but the writing is first rate. Go for it if you’re in the mood for stream of consciousness. Make sure you get an edition with the family chart at the beginning.

    #1 War and Peace. It’s size is daunting and maybe that is why this book tops the answer for today’s BTT question. I personally like Anna Karenina better, and Tolstoy doesn’t regard War and Peace as his first complete novel.

    #2 Remains of the Day is on my missing-out reading list as well.

  13. I a fan of Ishiguro, although I’ve never read When Were Orphans or The Unconsoled (I’ve read his others). The Remains of the Day is an amazing book. It slowly paced, so its not for everyone for sure, but as a character study it absolutely captivated me. My favorite of his is A Pale View of Hills.

    1. Laza – Pale View of Hills is another one of his that I’ve been meaning to read! Slow paced is fine with me as long as long as the prose is worth reading :)

  14. Tuesday, you definitely should not be afraid of The Remains of the Day. It is so far superior to When We Were Orphans you’ll be surprised it was written first. They really are not alike at all except that Ishiguro uses a few of the narrative devices in similar ways (e.g., the drifting through time and memory).

    I think your list promises you much enjoyment. The only one I haven’t read is the Murakami, but the rest are definitely some of my favorite reads ever. I understand the feeling of trepidation. Sometimes I look at these books and think, just a bit more preparation and I’ll be ready to read you! It’s always surprising just how accessible and enjoyable they are. You won’t be sorry when you dig in.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on all of them.

    1. Trevor – I’m so glad to hear that! After reading Orphans, I was very disappointed in Ishiguro. It was actually your review of Madame Bovary that prompted me to add it to this list.

  15. Middlemarch and Grapes of Wrath are both on my list, too. I read Madame Bovary last year, but thought it was just okay. Once you’re done reading Romeo and Juliet, I suggest you watch the movie version with Leo DiCaprio. It’s absolutely hysterical.

    1. Christina – Hahah, I’ve seen the Roman Polanski film version! It’s the modernised one where they speak in archaic English, right? Ah well. I look forward to reading your thoughts on Middlemarch and Grapes of Wrath.

  16. Tuesday – Sorry I’m certainly not letting ya off the hook :o) American or not, you have NO EXCUSE! Get to that Steinbeck ASAP and get ready to feel a large piece of your soul getting touched!

    I love how there’s a Murakami on your list too and a Garcia Marquez. I’ve yet to read any Murakami’s myself (as you know) but for me ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ seems more appealing than Norwegian Wood. I’ve heard the characters, although odd, are sublime!
    Anyway good luck and remember to read ‘Grapes of Wrath’ …yesterday! :o)

    1. Rob – it’s a pathetic excuse right? I’ll be reading it someday… in fact, I think I’ll read it after I’m done with Dorian Gray. As for the Murakamis, I actually know nothing about The Wind-up Bird Chronicle so I went purely based on titles. I’ll definitely be reading both books though!

  17. I consider The Grapes of Wrath to be one of the longest reads of my life. I don’t remember enjoying one single aspect of it, and there are much better Steinbeck’s, imo.

    I love Of Mice and Men, and put it pretty close to To Kill a Mockingbird in my estimation.

    East of Eden is a sprawling, compelling story full of weird but interesting characters.

    Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday should be read together and often, especially just before visiting Monterey, CA.

    But Grapes of Wrath, yawn…of course, I did read a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away so maybe my opinion of it would change if I read it now.

    1. JaneGS – Thanks for Steinbeck rundown. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird so I guess that means I’ll be adding it to the evergrowing to-read list. East of Eden I’ll be reading for sure. Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday I’ve never heard of (cringe cringe cringe), but I’ll keep in mind that they should be read together :)

  18. Tuesday- IMHO Norwegian Wood is one of Murakami’s finest, so I would def. urge you to read it! My personal Murakami favourite is South of the border, west of the sun, a beautifully haunting love story.

    1. antipodeanowl – ah, thanks. I like the sound of ‘beautifully haunting love story’. And the title is also intriguing. Hopefully I’ll get around to Norwegian Wood someday soon.

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