15 April 2010


Shelf Share Thursday: "G" Is for "Good Books"
(A weekly meme hosted on Bippity Boppity Book)

This is the place to give a little love to the books
that have been lingering on your shelf for a little while . . .

In a short discussion on another blog, someone estimated that book bloggers likely own an average of thirty unread books at any given time. (When did the "TBR pile" enter the reading culture, I wonder. Probably when reading became a consumer's hobby.)

Though I do have a little over thirty books waiting to be read, I take some comfort in the fact that I haven't been able to participate in most of Holly's "Shelf Share Thursdays"--and definitely won't be able to join next week. (No H books!) If my pile grew any bigger, I'd have nightmares about it coming after me . . .

But never mind that now as I think happy, positive, meme-worthy thoughts:

3 "G" Books
That Need More Love from Me

A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos

I bought this at a book fair in the first and last school I taught in. I'm not sure why I haven't read it yet. (Maybe I consider it one of my "Historical Reading Challenge" books, frozen until I complete Michael Cadnum's Crusader trilogy? . . . Or maybe I want to keep the last unread book from my aborted, tragic teaching career frozen for very different reasons . . .)

Yet I do recall browsing through all the other books at the fair, and settling on this one because I found the journal format sweet--and was touched by the idea that the young narrator, a thirteen-year-old girl, had no one to talk to about the changes in her family except a diary. (Don't I know that feeling well!)

It must have also reminded me of My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, another Newbery Award-winning novel told in diary form, which I had read and really enjoyed some time before this book fair.

Glory Road by Bruce Catton

He whom I call my Sugar Daddy sent me a copy of this book years ago because he thought it would fill in the holes in my understanding of history. It turned out to be the first book he had ever sent me that I couldn't get through at all--and he has sent me everything from Frederic Bastiat to Ray Bradbury. Every few months, I give it another try, with the same poor luck.

I recall asking him why he thought I'd need a History lesson on a civil war in a country halfway around the world from mine. He replied that, first of all, the War between the States was not a "civil war" because it wasn't about two factions fighting for control of the country--not when what the South wanted was to secede from the Union. Secondly, if said war had ended differently, the United States would never have tried to acquire and rule over the Philippines thirty years later. So there actually is a deep connection between this chapter in American history and my own national history.

And that is why I keep trying with this book--and why I have for years felt great kinship with the conquered South.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This was one classic I had to read for uni--and the first that I never finished! I'm not sure why, because I read the whole of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, assigned for the same course, and it was much longer and much more hateful. Maybe it was because the last third was some sort of weird and endless action sequence? See: I don't even remember!

But even though it is shelved with all the other books of my "past," I still nurse a fantasy of finally reading the whole story one day. Perhaps it will be after I turn fifty . . . I read somewhere that Dickens fans are a dying breed--or at least an aging breed--with the average age of voluntary Dickens readers being over fifty years old!

Knowing that, there's a good chance my contrarian streak will do something within the next twenty or so years to bring that average down a bit. So Pip still has more hope with me than he ever had with Estella!

Image Sources: a) A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos, b) Glory Road by Bruce Catton, c) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


Holly said...

I haven't read Great Expectations either but maybe its because I saw that awful movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke and it just soured it for me. This is why I am careful not to break my "always read the book first and then see the movie" rule :)

Bethany said...

I only have about 10 books that I haven't read yet. My bank won't let me have any more! Aha!

I've read an abridged version as a child but never read this. I loved Tale of Two Cities but Hated David Copperfield. So I'm in two minds about Dickens!

Connie said...

I have about 30 that I haven't read, either. They sit on my bedroom floor, next to my bed, and reproach me every morning. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Holly: Now I'm really glad I didn't see that movie!

Bethany: Only ten?!?! Lucky you! I should make a deal with my bank until my own substantial pile shrinks to more manageable proportions!

As for my own experiences with Dickens . . . I've read A Christmas Carol several times--an easy feat, because (unless I am mistaken) it is his shortest novel. =P I also loved Oliver Twist in high school . . . but hated Hard Times in uni. So Dickens is a mixed bag for me, too, I guess!

Connie: That's why I keep all of mine in a drawer! Then I don't have to see their reproachful faces until it's time to take one of them out to read! ;-)

r said...

I have trouble finishing Dickens too, even though he's really good. I just put him down after a while and don't come back. I do the same thing with television shows I like, too.

Enbrethiliel said...


Whenever I think of "getting through" Oliver Twist (which was actually a real pleasure on my part), I remember having been happy to learn that it had been originally published as a serial--Victorian entertainment's equivalent of our TV series. I even thought of limiting my reading to a chapter at a time, as a Victorian reader of Dickens would have--but it was so good that I'd keep going until I got sleepy. =)

All of which probably has nothing to do with your comment, except that I find that when I have to watch TV series one episode at a time, one week at a time, I get through whole seasons. On the other hand, when someone gives me a whole season on DVD, to watch in long stretches at my own convenience, I never finish!

Is there a connection here, or am I reading too much into your comment? =)

r said...

You've got it exactly. I am actually referring to older TV shows that have long since finished their run, not to ones that are airing now. I don't watch anything on actual TV except late-night talk shows.