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The Golden Name Day: A Reading Memory

New Additions to my Books to Read List

I work in a library.

Which means a big part of my job is knowing about books: what is popular, what is unknown but incredibly good, what is good for people with very different reading tastes. ("I want to read a romance" is answered fairly differently, based on the reader's age, gender, reading history, and reading aesthetic.) That means I read a lot about books. I read VOYA and School Library Journal and Horn Book Reviews; the NYT Book Review and Publisher's Weekly and Amazon's Best Books of the Month. Lists—I read a lot of lists. And I pay attention to book awards, too.

And I think I know 1/5 of what some of my colleagues do. There are just so many books!

I love being a librarian, but sometimes I get frustrated. Because: there are just so many books. You know what all that reading about books does to your books-to-read list? Turns it into a monstrosity of 512+ fiction titles, that's what. That's not even counting the nonfiction and essays and poetry and how I'd like to catch up on some feminist literary theory and how I'd like to reread some classics and how I still haven't even read all of Shakespeare and...

I can't read all day every day. But there are so many I want to read! I'll never get to them all, which is what frustrates me. I want to live but I also want time to read more books. There just isn't ever enough time.

So I just keep adding to my list, in the futile hope that, I don't know, perhaps I will discover the entrance to a bubble in time, where I can step in and read for hours, read for days, but pause time outside the bubble. Until that happens, here's a list of the books I most recently added to my to-be-read list, which I might never actually read, even if I check them out and take them home:
PicMonkey Cover collage

1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff 
A book about marriage, told first from the husband's point of view but then from the wife's. Plus it's got some bits that refer to Antigone, my favorite Greek tragedy. How can I resist?

2. Orphan Train by Christina Kline.
A girl who is almost ready to age out of the foster care system befriends an elderly woman and helps her clean out her house. I imagine this is about the power of memory and the influence of friendship.

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.
Four people—each friends from different circles in my life—have recommended this to me. Which feels like the universe saying "you should read this."

4. Leaving before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller. 
A memoir about the ending of her marriage and how she figures out how to save herself.

5. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. 
Another memoir, this one about the death of the writer's father and how, after he died, she started training a goshawk, one of the deadliest and wildest birds in the hawk family.

6. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. 
Novik's Temeraire series is one of my favorites. This is a different kind of fantasy, about a corrupted Wood, a wizard know as the Dragon, and a woman who must serve him for a decade.

7. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. 
A librarian and a rare book and a mermaid for a mother, plus color illustrations. Yes, please.

8. Did you Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. 
June Reid is utterly changed when her daughter and other family members are killed in a fire the day before a wedding. She drives cross country from Connecticut to California (I might want to read it for the same reason as I read Kissing in America) to figure out what to do next.

9. Bohemian Girl by Terese Svoboda. 
I am just discovering this writer but I think she might be just my style. This is about a woman who is sold to a Native American to pay a gambling debt.

10. The Daughters by Adrienne Celt. 
An opera singer, haunted by a family curse, loses her voice.

11. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. 
I loved Life after Life so much. This is the same family, only from Teddy's perspective; I don't know which life.

12. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffmann. 
I like Hoffmann's recent turn to historical fiction. This tells the story of the family history of the painter Camille Pissarro, namely his mother.

13. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days by Salman Rushdie. 
I feel a little bit weird about this: but I have never read Rushdie. This book, about New York City being overtaken by jinn, is just the one to start with I think.

 14. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. 
A multi-generational family drama. I heard her talk about it on NPR and have wanted to read it ever since. Plus, it just made the short list for the Booker Prize.

15. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. 
OK....you know I am a staunch Atwood fan, yes? But I'm only sort-of excited to read this. (I feel a little bit apologetic saying that, like she cares what one solitary reader from Utah thinks.) It's about Stan and Charmaine who, homeless and jobless, turn to the Positron Project, where on month they live and work, but the next month they have to be prisoners in the Positron prison. But it's Atwood so I'll read it!

16. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. 
Her novels The Year of Wonders and People of the Book are two of my favorite pieces of historical fiction. This is a retelling of the story of David.

17. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. 
This came out in April and then I forgot I wanted to read it. How could I forget a new Toni Morrison novel?

18. Transatlantic by Colum McCann. 
Because I am a sucker for almost anything set in Ireland.

19. The Oregon Trail: a New American Journey by Rinker Buck. 
The writer travels the Oregon trail in contemporary America. After reading Under a Painted Sky last week, I am starting this next.

20. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig.
Except, I also just checked out this one! Four hundred years after a nuclear war, humanity is divided. Everyone is born with a twin; the Alpha twin is perfect, while the Omega twin is flawed and so sent away to live in segregation with all the other Omegas. My only hesitation: first book in an unfinished trilogy. Totally breaks my rules. 

So tell me: What have you recently added to your to-read list?

Comments

audrey

Several of these are on my TBRlist. I am hoping to see Brooks and Groff at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in just a couple of weeks. Read Uprooted a few weeks ago and LOVED it.

Elizabeth

High five sister, I'm a librarian too! There is not enough life to read everything on my list as well. Just finished the Marriage of Opposites-delicious! God Bless the Child-not so much. Anyway, I'm currently looking for a fun reading list to work through, something that would help me get through all the borrowed books at home. Next read on my list? Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Her first book-Let's Pretend This Never Happen had me in stitches. I also belong to a couple of book clubs, of course, and will be starting Extremely Loud and Incredible Close and Just Mercy. While I originally started following you through scrapbooking, I most enjoy your library commentary and book reviews. I sorely lack the strength of writing reviews and enjoy seeing someone else do it so well. Happy reading!

Anne-Liesse

Thank you for this delicious list. I will be carrying it to my library...
Anne-Liesse

Laura

I'm reading Fates and Furies right now and I must not have gotten to the Antigone part right now, but it has referenced a lot of Shakespeare already, plus you can get into who/what the Fates and the Furies were in mythology and how that might relate to the book . . . it's a meaty one. I also have hundreds of books on my Goodreads "To Read" shelf -- I will never read them all, but I'm going to give it the old college try. :-)

Vickie

Most of my to-be-read books are books I've enjoyed in the past- and so I will more than likely never re-read them. I just keep plugging along with my favorite authors and recommendations from people. I have to tell you about my oldest sister. She passed away in May and her kids have been cleaning out her house. Talk about books! She was also a librarian and prolific collector of books. I got to help box a lot of them up and brought several home- ones that had meaning for me and a tie with my sister. It was amazing to see what she had amassed through the years but I know that collecting (and reading) books made her happy so I say- more power to her!

Kary

I read The Orphan Train for book club. An interesting read, but not memorable. It's been about 6 months since I read it and I think I could tell you about as much as you had in your description--entertaining, good for poolside, but not to keep on your bedside table.

Margot

Ooooh, I'd missed that there was a new Naomi Novik novel; must put it on my boss's "to buy" list!

Elizabeth

You only need a few hours worth of reading bubble to read A Man Called Ove but it is JUST SO GOOD. I'm going to be bossy and say read it next! : ) I'm looking forward to that Geraldine Brooks one.

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