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Old 12-27-2012   #1
susto
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books you are ashamed you have not read

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Last edited by susto; 12-30-2012 at 06:37 AM..
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Old 12-27-2012   #2
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

I have an awful lot of weighty (often physically- I love buying large books) classics and similar volumes unread- Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote, the Durling/Martinez edition of the Divine Comedy (which I managed not to read in any meaningful sense despite taking a class on it with the co-editor and getting an A), the complete letters of Vincent van Gogh, the collected letters of C. S. Lewis, the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, the complete short stories of Henry James in the Library of America edition, Oxford World's Classics editions of about a dozen major British poets... And then there are my complete and near-complete (respectively) collections of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, most of which remain unread. Lately, though, cheap Kindle books are the real problem. At $2 or $3 they're easy to justify-- never mind the free ones!-- and there's no physical copy, so it's easy to forget I've bought them until I look at my LibraryThing and think, "Oh, right..." But I'm increasingly adjusted to the fact that I'm always going to have a lot of unread books. I'm a collector as much as a reader.

By the way,we have two unread books in common-- Moby Dick and the Gormenghast trilogy, the former in the same edition.

Noonday Stars: a blog about horror fiction. Recent content includes essay on the new edition of Ligotti's The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales.
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Old 12-27-2012   #3
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

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Old 12-28-2012   #4
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

Interesting thread. However, I think it would be easier to think of books that I am ashamed TO have read. For example, DH Lawrence's "Women In Love," Zola's "Germinal," and pretty much anything by Virginia Woolf! Indeed, there's something to be said for working your way through the classics in your youth, and reading several hundred or so works in the various branches of human knowledge/experience. But after a certain point, I really think it becomes a thing of diminishing returns. To be sure, does one really need to plod through all of Balzac just for the sake of having it under one's belt? I don't think so. (For me, the one novel I did read--"Pere Goriot"--was sufficiently tedious that I think I should get a medal simply for having finished that!) And what about Joyces' Ulysees? Or Das Kapital? etc. No, no, I say it's far better (again, after a certain point) to read what gives one pleasure, and helps one escape from the daily grind, than to fuss and fret or feel guilty over the endless books that no mortal will ever have ample time to digest.

For that matter, the older I get, the more I am becoming exclusively a "weirdist" in my reading habits. I'll probably only be around for another thirty or forty years, and personally, I'd much rather spend that time with the likes of Ligotti, Lovercraft, Smith, etc.--and the hundred or so moderns whom I'm only partially acquainted with like Caitlin Kiernan, Laird Barron and others, than spend precious time wearing out my eyes with stuff that I just know beforehand I'm not going to like. In a word, I will never read Sherwood Anderson, Saul Bellow, or Wittgenstein--to name just a few--and by God, my conscience is perfectly clear!

Last edited by Pan Michael; 12-28-2012 at 07:07 AM..
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Old 12-28-2012   #5
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

It's a worrying feature of my reading life that 1930s and 1940s pulp horror (well beyond the classics in that vein) has a higher priority for me than all kinds of great literature that would enrich my life. I really need to read more, and more widely. I'm not ashamed of not having read Jane Austen, for example, but I am ashamed of only having read one (short) Dostoievsky novel and nothing by Zola, because these writers are clearly relevant to what I'm interested in. Poetry is the only literary medium where I'm not led by genres, and even there my reading is shamefully gappy.

Susto, your admission "in addition to the book of Peake's work, I also have a burned copy of it" is fascinating when read out of context I mean. How many of us keep significantly damaged, or even ruined, copies of books, and why? Is the damage a text of its own a kind of secondary literature? Can I please please please have that theme for a story?
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Old 12-28-2012   #6
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

Pan Michael, sorry, I didn't mention Zola with reference to your posting, I'd read the thread backwards and forgotten that. But I do like Virginia Woolf.
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Old 12-29-2012   #7
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

none. if i want to read a book, i read it. I get an ebook and enjoy it on lunch breaks, and if no ebook is available I get the hardcopy and put it on my nightstand and read a bit every night til I'm done. I don't buy a book to begin with unless I am ready to read it at or shortly after the time of purchase.

I do occasionally buy a book and not finish it because I wasn't enjoying it. I might wince if it wasn't cheap, and make a mental note to avoid future things by the same author, but then I just move on to rereading a known delight.
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Old 12-29-2012   #8
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

"I don't buy a book to begin with unless I am ready to read it at or shortly after the time of purchase."

I don't doubt your word, DoktorH, but that statement makes me marvel at the well-ordered lives some people achieve. Have you never come home from a convention or a second-hand bookshop weighed down with two dozen books and with no idea when you'll get to read them? Have you never discovered a book you really want to read nestling quietly on your own shelves, purchased and then forgotten? I admire your approach but also suspect you are somehow missing out.
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Old 12-29-2012   #9
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
I don't doubt your word, DoktorH, but that statement makes me marvel at the well-ordered lives some people achieve. Have you never come home from a convention or a second-hand bookshop weighed down with two dozen books and with no idea when you'll get to read them?
nope! My bookshelves are already pretty full and I have enough clutter in my home without getting a large batch of books like you describe. I think a big part of is is that books are not my only entertainment expense, so they don't show up very often.

my pile of books I read partway, didn't like, and never finished would probably rival the number of yet-to-read books others in this thread have accumulated. Thankfully, all of those are ebooks, so they can just vanish into the book-ether without clogging up my digital storage or screen-space.

I do have a couple coffee-making gizmos that were purchased then indefinitely set aside, a single use proving them inferior to my established coffeemaking rig (two french pressses and an electric kettle), several knives I fiddled with for a few minutes after purchase before tucking them away in the depths of the knife collection to never be seen again, apps I downloaded because they were free and still haven't gotten around to trying, a small stack of magazines I subscribed to and never bothered to read. I don't think it's a well-ordered life so much as a different flavor of mess.
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Old 01-07-2014   #10
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Re: books you are ashamed you have not read

I was ashamed that I hadn't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - until I read it! Sheesh, what a boring middle section! Give me Boris K in the Universal movie version any day of the week! Sorry if that offends anyone

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