Maybe in This Lifetime

I use Goodreads to keep track of books I’ve read and want to read and every time I put another book in my “to read” list, I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure. I understand that I will never be able to read every book published and I’m fine with that. I just want to read every book I want to read and don’t seem to be making any headway. Even though I tell myself not to put any more books on my list until I finish a book or to review my current “to read” list to make sure I still want to read the books on the list, I never listen. The list grows and grows. Because not all books are created equal, there are some books in which I’m more interested in than others. Here are some books that scream at me when I look at my Goodreads list.


At the Mouth of the River of Bees     The Collected Stories of Grace Paley    TheInterestings

SalvagetheBones     The Savage Detectives

At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories by Kij Johnson

  • This is a book of science fiction short stories and while I read a lot of short stories, I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi short stories. The titles of the stories (“Schrödinger’s Cathouse”, “My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire”, and “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change” are a few) make me think these stories will be ambitious and very interesting.

The Collected Stories of Grace Paley by Grace Paley

  • I initially was interested in this book because it’s a. short stories and b. for some reason, I had confused Grace Paley with Grace Coddington and wanted to see what kind of stories Coddington had written. (Don’t worry about me; I’m fine.) Once I realized they were not the same person, I did a little research into Paley and she sounds like she was an interesting woman and was multi-talented, also writing poetry.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

  • I started this book about a group of adults who met at summer camp when they were young are still friends years later a couple of months ago, but didn’t have time to finish it. I really enjoyed what I read and have been hoping to get back to it. I also think the cover is beautiful.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

  • Taking place in Mississippi right before, during, and just after Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones follows the Batiste family as they deal with the storm along with their daily lives which are difficult enough in their poverty-stricken household.

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

  • Out of all the books on this list, this is probably the one I’ll get to next. Two founders of a poetry movement attempt to track down a vanished poet and end up on the run. The story follows them through several continents and is narrated by the people they encounter. I’ve also heard good things about Bolaño’s 2666 so may put that on my never-ending list once I finish The Savage Detectives.


The Antidote     Bruce     Detroit

Her     Salt Sugar Fat

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

  • Since I’m from Indiana, I should probably have John Mellencamp’s biography on this list, but if I had to choose between reading a bio of Springsteen or reading a bio of Mellencamp, I’d probably choose Springsteen. (Sorry, John. It’s nothing personal. I used to dance in front of the TV when you came on. I remember you when you were John Cougar Mellencamp. I went to grad school near your town and never once stalked you. I sing your songs way more than I sing Springsteen songs. I respect you. I just think Bruce’s biography might be slightly more interesting.)

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

  • While I know a little about why the city of Detroit has declined, I’ve not yet sat down and read a book about it. LeDuff, a reporter and native of Detroit, dissects what led to Detroit’s decline with what I’ve heard is a darkly humorous eye.

Her by Christa Parravani

  • I had this checked out and returned it because I had just finished Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen and didn’t think I was in a place to read another memoir just yet. Her is about twins, the author, Christa, and her sister, Cara. Both talented artists, their lives split apart and Cara dies while Christa struggles with being alone without her twin.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

  • This has been recommended to me by several people. I don’t usually like to know how bad for me the food I’m eating is, but this sounds more like an investigative book and less like a health book so I’m more likely to read it and enjoy it.

Are there books you keep intending to read, but somehow they keep getting pushed down your to-read list? Or are you able to keep a tight rein on your to-read list? (If so, please tell me how.)



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27 responses to “Maybe in This Lifetime

  1. rachelmasterson76

    I know how you feel! I went to a neighbors house and she asked if I wanted to borrow some books. I looked through a box of books and took out about 8 to borrow and read. Those books kept staring at me and I was feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t want to hold onto the books for too long so finally I returned them all because I knew I couldn’t read them all :)

  2. My Goodreads To Be Read list is getting a little bit out of hand. I choose the books I’m going to read according to their availability in my various libraries. I have about 135 books on my tbr list (as of this exact moment) and 5 or 6 libraries to choose from so (and here’s where I’m going to wow you with my super-duper book geekiness) I’ve created pivot tables in Excel to keep track of which books I’ll be able to find in which library. I update it regularly and carry a print out with me wherever I go (you never know when you might pop into a library) so that I can try to get through my list.

    I can’t believe I just told you that.

    • I think you’re fantastic! ‘Super duper book geekiness’ makes me smile.

    • I think that’s awesome. I should do that. I recently took a road trip and stopped into a library on my way out of town to get books on CD, but hadn’t brought a list of what I really wanted to listen to so I ended up getting three books I didn’t know a lot about. I started one, but got bored. If I carried around a list of what I wanted to read, I probably could have crossed at least one book off my list. Super-duper book geekiness to the rescue! (And I have 628 books on my to-read list.)

  3. Ana

    What is your GR account? I would love to have you in my friend list!!

  4. Emilia

    My Goodreads is out of control at 452 titles! I will get to them…some day!

    If you’d like a jump start on one of your non-fic choices, the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup Book Club is going to discuss “Salt, Sugar, Fat” in September!

    The author is also having a lecture and book signing, though I’m not sure if it’s sold out:

  5. I wish there was time to read all the books! Johnson’s book is on my TBR list too.

    • I’m working my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series (just started the fifth one) and when I’m done, I think I’ll start on some of the books I mentioned above and “At the Mouth of the River of Bees” will be near the top. (As long as I don’t find any more books to read between now and then.)

  6. Thanks for your thoughts. I sometimes worry about this, too, but then I think about how the point of art is to hold a mirror up to life. If I don’t read every book I want to by the end of my short life, at least I will have seen through enough mirrors to begin to make some sense out of it. :)

  7. I constantly pick up and put down Thoreau’s Walden. I don’t know what it is, but it just never gets past that point. I am a chronic used book store shopper, so I have an alarming amount of books on my shelves that I haven’t yet read. Sometimes I just dump them all in a pile and swim through them like Scrooge McDuck swimming in money.

  8. lectorconstans

    There are indeed “way too many books”. Those who predict the demise of the [printed] book are perhaps premature. The problem for the reader is that many of those (the proverbial “80%”) are suboptimal.

    Do you find Great Reads helpful in steering you to the ones you like?

    Kij Johnson seems worth reading. (I get a lot of info from the Amazon site; I start with the “1-star” reviews. And from the “Look Inside” feature.)

    Roberto Bolaño is Chilean; the Amazon site has an interview with Natasha Wimmer, the translator. “Detectives” is 656 pages; “2666”, 912pp (paperback). I count a mere 7 awards for that one Perhaps there should be some sort of award for anyone who finishes either of them…..

    Or maybe they could revive the “Readers Digest” (I’m ducking now to dodge the tomatoes….)

    storytimewithbuffy: Very nice website. “Nutshell blurb” is a great idea!

    • I do look at what other readers have rated books and that sways me some in my decisions as to when to read a book. If it’s higher rated, I’m more likely to read it faster than if it only has two or three starts.

      I’ve been making my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series so I’m no longer intimidated by a book that’s 1000 pages. (It does make me wish I had an ereader, though.)

  9. I have the same problem: so many books I want to read, and so little time to read them all! I add anything that looks interesting to my Goodreads to-read list, and then I have a more specific Amazon wishlist with things I definitely want to read. I already have a ton of books at home that I haven’t read yet, a few stacks. I also want to read a lot of the same books you have on your list (The Interestings, the Detroit book). I just watched a great documentary about Detroit called Detropia.

  10. Love your reading list! I think I’ll look for the Springsteen bio too!

  11. inthedarkwithyou

    Reblogged this on Lonely Bones.

  12. Me, too. My wishlist and reading list there, Amazon, Barnes & Noble….are shameful. Not to mention the books purchased and are as yet unread…. :) Oh, well, we have comfort in numbers, right?

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