Neverending Bookshelf

This, friends, is my neverending bookshelf, where I will keep a tally (mostly for me but maybe also a little for you) of what I’ve read and loved and hope to read soon. Find the original post that started the ball rolling here. I read like a madwoman, my stack of books always growing, like Sisyphus rolling his ball up the hill, like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, like magic. I hope this list grows and grows and grows. And if there is a book you think I would love, PLEASE share it with me in the comments. Maybe I’ll read it. Maybe it will be on this list someday. 

What I’m reading right this second:

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. (Read mostly in the bath and on the couch so far, with words filling me up, the sort of wisdom I seek from a mentor, the things I actually, actually need to hear. )

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This is like a novel novel, the kind that is so expansive with so many worlds and depths in it that you sit there as you read and ask, “How in the world did a single human write this TOME.” A brilliant novel, thick and thorough. My only critique about this and Tartt’s The Secret History as well is that the narrator’s character gets a little lost in vanilla-ness to me sometimes when compared to the vibrancy of some of the others in the books. It may be intentional, but I sometimes prefer a more particular and bright narrator, someone not so neutral. Still, so brilliant. I took this book on my recent international trip, and it got me unwaveringly through many long flights and layovers.

What’s up next (aka, on order from the library or sitting patiently in my stack):

My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Someday, soon:

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather.

To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf. 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. 

All time favorites (the ones I keep by my bed, because they should never be too far):

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. (The ultimate coming of age novel. Every woman should read this.)

Angels in America by Tony Kushner. (This play changed my heart and life in many ways, big and small.)

Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle. (My first gentle entry into her non-fiction, read while in love with the boy I would soon marry.)

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. (A nearly perfect novel, one I love very, very much.)

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. (When I read Franny, I see myself dancing frantically on the page.)

An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. (A childhood in Pittsburgh, so deeply personal. Nonfiction at its best.)

Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard. (Some of the best writing on faith I’ve read.)

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton. (Illustration and personal narrative, perfectly and creatively meshed. I want to write a book like this someday.

Books I want to buy because I liked them so much:

Dept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. 

The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits.

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti. 

Books that I like a lot and want to return to often:

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

Cannery Row & Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. 

Women in Clothes by Leanne Shapton, Heidi Julavits, and Sheila Heti. 

Books that were just okay for me, but maybe you’ll really like them:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Books I just finished:

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennet. A bright spot of a book, brilliant, and the sort of thing I’d only dream of writing someday. Some moments of it were a complete revelation, like nothing I’d read before, and others left me a little confused and taken out of it. Very worth reading, I’d say. Get it on loan from the library.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson. Gave me new ways to see / think, a big thing for a book to do. Read this. Also, loved the form.

Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. This is the sort of book I’d like to write someday. Short, powerful, gorgeous, smart. The form is brilliant, it’s nothing showy or complicated, just life, feelings, living, observed. Fantastic.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Innovative and memorable in form, and also an excellent example of memoir-writing at its most creative and best. It reminded me of the Neofuturists. I liked it a lot. Lovers of non-fiction should not skip this book.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple.  A book about a woman undone and undoing and hopeful. Quirky, quick, and smart. I devoured this book in just a few days, getting into it before I even realized I was into it, tripping my way through, fascinated. If you liked Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? then you’ll surely like this one too. If you haven’t read any Maria Semple and you’re a millennial woman, well, I suggest you start.

One thought on “Neverending Bookshelf

  1. Yes, I sometimes think I could read instead of eat. I’ve certainly been know to read instead of sleep! Brideshead is also one of my favourites. I can always tell when I’m stressed, as I tend to go back and read children’s novels like Harry Potter, even though I practically know them by heart.


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