What’s On Your Bucket List of Books?
What book is top on your bucket list of books? What book have you always wanted to read but somehow never have? And what book would you feel incomplete without reading?
When I asked this question last month, I thought I’d get a ton of responses. I was wrong.
Oh, I got a few answers, mainly classics: The Aeniad, Herodotus, and, of course, my nemesis, Proust. Other people listed books they had started years ago but had never gotten around to finishing.
One person, for example, mentioned “all of Umberto Eco‘s books,” with unfinished Foucault’s Pendulum at the top. I have to agree on that one. Unfortunately. Now I have yet another book added to my own bucket list.
But, overall, I got very few responses. This made me wonder if I just phrased the question badly (or if nobody reads my blog or Facebook page in August). But it also made me wonder if others didn’t carry the same shame around about unfinished books. Maybe others just don’t go through life with grandiose reading plans, so there is no need for shame.
A Reader’s Nirvana
Nancy Daffner’s response stopped me in my tracks. ” I don’t have a list of books I aspire to read,” she said. Initially she wondered if that somehow made her “deficient,” but she came around to seeing she was normal.
“I recently sat on our dock discussing titles with friends who are more avid readers than me. None of them had aspirational or guilt books (my term). Everyone read for enjoyment and varied interests and were anxious to learn of recommended works.”
To my amazement and awe, Nancy seems to have reached some kind of guilt-free reader’s nirvana. She no longer feels she should read, or needs to read, any given book.
“Moving forward I only need to please myself reading wise,” she explains. “I continually look for a mix of titles. I select current bestsellers as well as additional works by classic authors whose works I’ve enjoyed. However, reading lists are a thing of the past for me.”
As for books yet unread, Nancy has a solution: “Every year or so I cull my stack of books on the bench beside my bed. My criteria are why is this here? Was it purchased thinking I would read it or should read it? Was it a gift? Regardless it’s still unread, so do I want to read it? I generally halve my stack. I am comfortable saying I have read everything I believe I should read.”
Aspiration Readers of the World Unite
I find this odd. I have always kept a list of must-reads. This habit began the summer before my freshman year in high school, when I came upon a library booked called something like How to Get to College. I wanted to get to college, so I typed up that four-page single-spaced list. I kept it in my purse throughout high school, crossing off each book as I read it.
And, yes, I did “get to” college, so I guess it worked!
Now, many decades later, I’m in a book club that evolves around reading each others’ bucket list books. I guess we are the odd ones in feeling our lives are incomplete without reading certain specific books. Odd or not, though, right now I’m thinking we’re also lucky to have found each other.
Bucket list or not, happy reading to you!
TERRA ZIPORYN is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and science writer whose numerous popular health and medical publications include The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health, Nameless Diseases, and Alternative Medicine for Dummies. Her novels include Do Not Go Gentle, The Bliss of Solitude, and Time’s Fool, which in 2008 was awarded first prize for historical fiction by the Maryland Writers Association. Terra has participated in both the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Old Chatham Writers Conference and for many years was a member of Theatre Building Chicago’s Writers Workshop (New Tuners). A former associate editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), she has a PhD in the history of science and medicine from the University of Chicago and a BA in both history and biology from Yale University, where she also studied playwriting with Ted Tally. Her latest novel, Permanent Makeup, is available in paperback and as a Kindle Select Book.
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