For someone who adores reading, I don’t get a lot of it done. In fact, I tend to write more about reading, than actually sticking my nose in a book! Like every person with a love of literature, I have bookshelves full of books I haven’t read. I have a bad habit of returning to books I have read time and time again (here’s looking at you, The Bell Jar), leaving no time to try out new ones. So, I’ve had a rummage, chosen the unread books that have sparked my interest, and slapped them on my bedside table; the official resting spot of the To Be Read pile. I’ve currently got eight books on that list, and here they are!
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffery Toobin
I am a sucker for true crime shows on Netflix. Catch me getting freaked out by The Keepers, feeling uneasy thanks to Wild Wild Country, and disturbed by Confessions with a Killer. I don’t know why I am so intrigued by these series, but as soon as a new one pops up, I’m sucked in. However, I’ve never read a true crime book. I found this copy for £2.99 in my local charity shop, picking it up after recognising the image on the cover. This book follows the true story of American rich girl Patty Hearst as she is kidnapped, and succumbs to Stockholm Syndrome. I’m very intrigued by this book and the topic, and the reputation of the famed The New Yorker author adds to that intrigue.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. (Or is that 1984?)
As a lover of the Modernist literary movement, even I can’t believe I haven’t read Nineteen Eighty-Four. Alas, Orwell. You’ve been there through my GCSEs, A-Levels, my undergraduate degree, and I’m sure you’ll pop up in my postgraduate degree too. I found Animal Farm bored me to the highest Heavens, and yet I adored Shooting an Elephant; a series of short stories and memoirs from Orwell’s time in Myanmar, then Burma. With that in mind, I’m going to head into reading Nineteen Eighty-Four with a blank mind, not considering his past works at all. However, you cannot escape the cultural importance and affect Nineteen Eighty-Four has had on the world, so I am looking forward to finding references I didn’t even know about!
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I’m not one for sequels, but as soon as this was released, it came home with me. This is a sequel to arguably one of the most famous books in the world, To Kill a Mockingbird. I first read To Kill a Mockingbird a few years ago, and I really enjoyed it; to me, it’s one of the only modern classics that hasn’t been ruined by the hype (plus, my partner read it to me during our early stages of dating, and that swept me off my feet, but let’s not talk about that now). I am aware that a lot of controversy has surrounded this sequel, from if Harper Lee ever wanted this to be published, to the radical changes in one of the main characters. Since finding this out, I will be reading this book with a wary eye; I enjoyed the first one so much, I don’t want to set my hopes too high.
We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris
Normally, I like to know all about a book before I buy it; I want to know if I like the genre, what the reviews are, if the themes are my kinda thing. With We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, I strolled into my nearest Waterstones, fell in love with the cover, and made the quickest transaction of my life. When I got home and had time to read the blurb, I nearly exploded with Welsh joy; “OH WOW, it’s set in Caerphilly, that’s near me!” Basically, I grew up in South Wales; a beautiful place, worthy of many poems, but not subject to many fiction pieces. This book details the lives of individual members of the town; there’s nothing extraordinary or revelatory about them. I think that’s a real push towards my excitement of the novel; sometimes, the stories about normal people are the most moving.
The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson
I’ll say it straight away; I have no idea what this book is about. A friend bought it for me as a birthday gift, and they chose it on the cover alone. In all honesty, this has added to my interest around the book. How often do you go into a book not knowing anything about it? Almost never, I’d say. So, I’m not going to research it, read the blurb, or read any reviews. I’m just going to open it, and get stuck in. Eventually.
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
This was another charity shop find, albeit from over two years ago when I was doing my undergraduate degree. Whoooops. I am a Shakespeare nerd, so I’ll pick up any book about Big Will. Bill Bryson is predominantly a non-fiction writer, who has covered travel, science, and exploring Britain, so I’m looking forward to hearing his take on who Shakespeare is and what he stands for.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
As someone very into feminist literature, of course I have heard of Zadie Smith. Her name was most commonly bounced around during chats about third-wave feminism in my Critical Theories class. But, rather shamefully, this is the first book of hers I have picked up. I have, in fact, started this book, but only got a few chapters in as life got in the way (as it so often does). The only thing I remember about the book was that I was enjoying it. I don’t recall a lot about the story, which is a plus, as I can go in fresh!
How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
As already mentioned, I am a Welsh gal. Growing up, as soon as it was made aware that I had a love of literature, I had people tell me “you have to read Dyland Thomas/Richard Llewellyn/Alexander Cordell” (it’s a cultural and heritage thing, I think). Step One is complete; I am now a solid Dylan Thomas fan. I’m now on to Step Two; reading some of Richard Llewellyn’s work. I’m starting with his most famous work, and one of the most famous books about Wales. Plus, I have a gorgeous first edition version of the book to read, gifted to me by my grandfather!
So, those are the eight books that are currently on my TBR pile. I’m excited to see if any of them make my end of the year list! Although, I am slightly disappointed that there are only two female authors on my list. That’s something I’ll have to work more on noticing, and actively applying to my bookshelf. Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know what you thought! No spoilers, of course…