The Book List

Every year I promise myself I’m going to read a book every week. I’m not rigid on the subject or genre, but I want to try to pull myself away from the TV and blockbuster rentals. Each year I make this promise, each year life gets in the way, I make excuses and I fail.

So, this year, I’ve made a list of the books I want to read. They’ve either been gifts, recommendations or 3 for 2 deals at Waterstone’s that I collected over the years and never got to.

I used to have a habit of wandering into the Waterstone’s on Fleet street when I was a bit down. I would launch myself at the fiction section and flick through the pages of the new hardbacks. I read the back covers of the paperbacks gathering the ones that caught my interested in my arm and replacing the ones that had the misfortune of having a poorly written publisher’s blurb on the back. I read the little cards on the shelves with the staff recommendations and nodded in approval at the ones I agreed with and chuckled to myself at the ones I disagreed with or I felt sounded too much like a book report.

This was my mini-break. I spent the whole of my lunch hour wandering between the shelves and trying to find the appropriate number to full-fill the requirements of the 3 for 2 offer. I inevitably had four in my hands and either had to sacrifice one for another day, or buckle and pick two more. I was their perfect sucker, promotion hound, target audience for whom these promotions were designed.

I’ve finally run out of shelf space in my house. There are officially too many un-read books on my shelf for me to justify buying any more until 2010. So, I’ve made a list of books that I’m determined to read this year (there are a few alternates in case some turn out to be duds).

The List

1. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
2. The Almost Moon – Alice Seabold
3. A Certain Slant of Light – Laura Whitcomb
4. The Road to Avalon – Joan WOlf
5. The Little Friend – Donna Tartt
6. The Land Girls – Angela Huth
7. The Light of Asia – Sir Edwin Arnold
8. Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
9. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
10. Acacia – David Anthony Durham
11. Making Money – Terry Pratchet
12. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
13. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
14. Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
15. The Wings of the Dove – Henry James
16. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
17. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hoggs
18. The Trial – Franz Kafka
19. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
20. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
22. Natural Selection – Bill Dare
23. Fury – Salem Rushdie
24. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
25. The Photograph – Penelope Lively
26. Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
27. The Scandal of the Season – Sophie Gee
28. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
29. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
30. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
31. The History of England
32. Beloved – Toni Morrison
33. Q – Luther Blissett
34. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom – T. E. Lawrence
35. The Queen of Subtleties – Suzannah Dunn
36. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
37. In the Company of the Courtesan – Sarah Dunant
38. Rope Burns – F.X. Toole
39. Smashed – Koren Zailckas
40. New Moon – Stephanie Meyer
41. Lucky – Alice Seabold
42. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
43. Intruder in the Dust – William Faulkner
44. Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
45. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
46. Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
47. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
48. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
49. Middlemarch – George Eliot
50. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
51. Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson
52. Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

Right, that’s it. I’m allowing myself three alternates in case a few of them are boring and I need to swap.

Ok, so what’s your 52?

Good luck and happy reading.

Update: I’ll be highlighting them as I go along.

23 thoughts on “The Book List

Add yours

  1. Oh my goodness! You’ve got so many good ones here! What a great year ahead of you. Now, are you reading these in number order, or going with your fancy?

  2. Hey there,

    I think I’ll just see what strikes my fancy. If I try to go in order, it might not fit my mood and I won’t enjoy it and that’s what it’s all about! Right? πŸ™‚ I often have two or three on the go at once and rotate depending on my mood. Part of the trick is to always have a book with me. Cheers!

  3. You won’t regret Sophie’s World. I’ve recommended it to a few people and every one of them has liked it. Enlightening, page-turning, mystery, imagination, deep thought – I think a few people were amazed they enjoyed a book about philosophy so much!

    My reading project for the year is a bit more spontaneous than yours. I’m calling it “springboard reading”. The gist is each book acts as a springboard into the next, so by the end of the year there will be a long chain of books which fed into each other. Hopefully it means I’ll be reading things I’d never have thought of.

  4. Hey, That sounds brilliant. Good luck with that. You’ll have to post the chain for us to see how it went. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m going to keep it recorded on my blog. John le Carre’s led me on to a book about the Congo I’d never otherwise have read, so it’s working so far. Should be interesting to see where I end up!

  6. Hi Eliza,

    Great list you have there — such a diverse group of writers and genres. I read “The Kite Runner” last year, and while it is difficult in parts to get through (do to the subject matter, not the writing style), it is such a worthwhile and powerful book.

    You said you’re looking for alternates “just in case” — here’s one I loved and recommend — Dancing Backward in Paradise by Vera Jane Cook. She is a Southern writer and the story is set in both Tennessee and Manhattanin the 60’s. The characters are great — I’m still thinking about them and wondering about their lives. This is one book you should add to your list IMHO!

    Happy Reading in 2008,

  7. Linda,

    Thanks for this. I’m always on the lookout for new books and authors. I’ll be sure to look it up. Cheers! Eliza

  8. Eliza,

    You’ve got some great books on this list. Some of my favorites, actually. It’s also nice that you have a book of mine on here, Acacia! Even better that I’m bracketed by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett. Good company. (I met Neil recently. He is – as everybody seems to agree – an absolute pleasure to be around.)

    I also remember well browsing for books in Waterstone’s. I lived about five years in Scotland, and trips from the country into Edinburgh usually included a stop at Waterstone’s. Alas, I’m now living in Fresno USA, far from any good bookstores. (Borders and Barnes and Noble are chains, too, but they’re not nearly as good as Waterstone’s.)

    Anyway, happy reading,


  9. Hi David,

    It’s lovely of you to stop by. I’ve actually already started it and am enjoying the story. I used to live in San Francisco, so it seems we’ve done a bit of a swap in terms of general location. As I recall, Fresno is not a million miles away. (I grew up in San Bernardino, so a Californian really)

    I miss the Borders on Union Square and it is still where I choose to meet people when I’m in SF for a visit.

    I hope to get to your other works very soon.



  10. Ah, true enough, some Borders can be quite nice, when they’re in book-loving areas. Fresno isn’t exactly that, but it is the place that offered me a too-good-to-refuse teaching job. So here I am.

    Anyway, I hope you like the book and eventually get to check out the others!


  11. The problem with rendering a year-long list is that new things will be published this year which will demand your attention and jump the queue. Good luck πŸ˜€

  12. Discipline!!! Just say “No!” as I walk past Waterstone’s. Hold my hands to my ears when someone tells me about a fabulous book or make them write it down and put it in an envelope with the words “do not open until 2009” on the front. Do you think any of these tricks will work, or am I delusional? πŸ™‚

  13. πŸ™‚ Remeber, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. πŸ˜‰

    Have a great weekend. (Big cheezy grin)

  14. πŸ™‚ Remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. πŸ˜‰

    Have a great weekend. (Big cheezy grin)

  15. Hi, What a great list, with its combo of classics and moderns. I always try to read new fiction as it comes out, plus reach out to read non-Anglo fiction when I can. I’m also lucky because I am the overseer of a library for a writers’ residence. The library is charmingly eclectic so there’s always something unusual to read.

    In terms of getting organised to read, I have 2 methods that work for me. The first is being a member of a book group, which means reading a book each month. The second is reserving through the local library any books that I’ve heard something good. Sometimes doing this results in a backlog, but it’s better to get my hands on them and sample them rather than forget to look them up.


  16. Hi Marsha,

    That’s a good idea. I’ve looked up a number of book clubs in the Edinburgh area and it looks like that will be a good source of inspiration and discipline. Happy reading!

  17. This is just great. So many good titles and great authors. I recommend #13 and #32. I think it’s about time to make a list of my own and get organized πŸ˜‰ Good luck with your reading!

  18. Hi there,

    Thanks! I’ve managed to get through:

    1. The Land Girls
    2. A Certain Slant of Light
    3. The Road to Avalon
    4. We Need to Talk About Kevin
    5. Rape – A Love Story
    6. The Ice Queen
    7. How to Survive a Horror Movie

    Next up is “The Samurai’s Garden” by Gail Tsukiyama ( A brilliant story teller, also wrote “Women of the Silk”) I know a few aren’t on the list, but I’ve cheated…

    Enjoy building your list and getting through it! πŸ™‚

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