We all have those books on our TBR. The ones you want to read. Someday. But, until then, you keep putting them off. Maybe they’re intimidatingly huge or you’re afraid of the hype. This year, I decided to stop doing that and just read the damn books.
Today, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the books I’ve been putting off reading for years and finally got around to this year. And if I thought they were worth it and regret not reading them earlier. Here are ten books that have been sitting on my bookshelves for over a year, and finally got read in 2019:
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. I distinctly remember buying this book when I was maybe sixteen or seventeen. So it’s been collecting dust on my bookshelves for at least a decade. And I finally read it! I actually really liked this one. Is it my favorite classic? No. But who could resist the manipulative and brilliant Becky Sharpe? I don’t regret not reading this earlier, but only because I don’t think I could have fully appreciated it as a teenager.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I was not planning on reading The Lord of the Rings this year. But then I went to go see Tolkien and loved it, so I finally bit the bullet and dove in. And I really loved this trilogy. It is a classic for a reason, and definitely a must read if you like fantasy. I do kind of regret putting it off for so long. In my defense, I did try to read this when I was like twelve, and it didn’t go well.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This book is MASSIVE. Nearly a thousand pages of historical fiction about a cathedral. So you can probably understand why I put off reading it for so many years. And I definitely regret that decision, because this ended up being one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so, so good.
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. I put off reading this for way too long. But, I’ve been getting more and more into biographies, and love reading those about figures I’m already interested in or admire. Einstein was definitely at the top of that list. And I was even more excited to read it after reading, and loving, Isaacson’s biography of da Vinci last year. Part of me wishes I’d read this earlier, but another part of me is glad I didn’t because I don’t think I would have appreciated it quite as much had I read it in my early or mid-twenties.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This was one of my very first Book of the Month picks. In September 2016. So, I owned this book for a long time before I read it. Which I now regret, because I absolutely loved it! It’s such a good book. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it earlier, but I’m very glad I finally did.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I put this book off for so long because, first of all, it’s huge, and second, I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I enjoyed The Secret History, but I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did. But, as I’m writing this, i’m about three quarters of the way through this book, and I am obsessed. It is SO GOOD. Definitely should have read this earlier instead of being afraid of big books. This one isn’t even that long (especially compared to a few other books on this list).
American War by Omar El Akkad. This was another Book of the Month pick, this one from April 2017. While I’m glad I finally read it, I didn’t love it. I thought the concept was interesting, but I had a hard time connecting to the story. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a favorite.
The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It took me four years after reading Jurassic Park to finally pick this one up. And it wasn’t great. I really enjoyed the first book, but the first half of this one was SO SLOW. I wanted dinosaurs, not two hundred pages of “there is maybe a weird animal” and “this guy might have disappeared”. I didn’t hate it, but I was definitely disappointed. I do regret not reading it earlier, if only because I would have gotten it over with.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think the reason I put this off for so long is just because the subject matter seemed so intimidating. And then I read and loved two of Adichie’s nonfiction books and was afraid my expectations going into this would be too high. Turns out, I was kind of right. I do think this book is really important, and does a great job looking at how people view race. But the story itself just dragged. Maybe part of the problem is that I read this immediately after reading An American Marriage, which did something similar, but had characters that were much easier to connect to.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. Of all the books on this list, I think my reason for putting this off so long is the most valid: I read Christina Henry’s Lost Boy first. (Fine, I should have read Peter Pan years ago, but whatever.) Since Christina Henry portrays Peter as the villain, I kind of hated him for a while and was worried it would ruin how I saw the classic novel. And I am so glad I waited, because I ended up absolutely loving it. Definitely one of my favorite classics now.
It might be clear by now that I’ve learned my lesson to stop putting off reading the books I want to read. Because five (six if The Goldfinch continues like this) of these books have become new favorites. And the ones I didn’t love weren’t that bad. Hopefully now I’ll be more motivated to read books that have been sitting on my shelves for way too long. Because they deserve it.
Is there a book you’ve been putting off reading for years? What’s your excuse? (Seriously, though, I’m curious.)