My TBR (to be read) list is a mile long and filled with books I want to blog about or have simply piqued my interest. But there are a few novels – 10 to be exact – that I absolutely have to read before I die. Some of these selections are critically acclaimed and highly recommended by readers. Others have been recommended by friends/family whose reading taste I highly respect. There are also a few that have simply been on my TBR list for so many years that it will be a huge accomplishment to check them off.
Taking a slight detour from our typical Afro-lit theme (there are not many titles left on my afro-bucket list), here is my latest ‘Book Bucket List’:
A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving)
This is one of the few classic novels my humanities-focused high school did not require us to read. I will use that as an excuse for how I somehow missed out on reading this gem. I’m intrigued by this novel because of its themes of faith and acceptance of fate. A Prayer for Owen Meany also makes my list because my baby brother, a fellow avid reader, lists it as his favorite book of all time. This novel has quite a heavy expectation to live up to!
The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner)
I actually was required to read this one in high school but after
suffering through reading As I Lay Dying, I was NOT interested in hearing another word from Faulkner. I used Cliffnotes and Sparknotes to fudge my way through class discussions on The Sound and the Fury so I owe it to myself (and my humanities teachers) to finish this behemoth as an adult.
The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)
I’ve read snippets of John Steinbeck’s novels and have to say that I am in love with his writing style. The Grapes of Wrath is another one of those critically acclaimed novels that no one wants to admit (publicly) they haven’t read. But the Afro-library is a safe space so…”Hi, my name is ____and I have never read Steinbeck”.
Jane Erye (Bronte)
Speaking of books that are near and dear to the hearts of many readers, I have never read Jane Erye. There, I said it. I have to admit, this novel has never intrigued me. But countless friends, readers and fellow bloggers tell me that I MUST read this book and so it makes the list. Lit lovers, I hear you! It’s on my list…
The Spyglass Tree (Murray)
Albert Murray is one of the most underrated African American authors of the 20th Century in spite of the fact that he writes beautifully and brilliantly. He is the favorite author of one of our Afro-Librarians. Also, The Spyglass Tree happens to be my husband’s favorite novel. This one had to make the list.
Dandelion Wine (Bradbury)
Speaking of men in my life whom I love and respect, I consider my dad to be a pretty cool dude as well . . . just don’t tell him I said that. He has often said that as a teenager, Dandelion Wine, a coming of age tale loosely mirroring Ray Bradbury’s life, was his favorite book. For that reason alone, it’s on my must-read list.
Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Stephen King. I had a mild obsession with his writing until I read one of his earlier works — It. After reading It, King’s most famous horror novel, I was left disturbed, rocking in fetal position and unable to read anything scarier than R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. I’ve had several years to get over this trauma and am now ready to rekindle my love affair with King. The first novel of my choosing will be his epic politico-thriller titled 11/22/63.
Infinite Jest (Wallace)
I get it, he’s some sort of genius. David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is one of the most acclaimed (and lengthiest) American novels of the 21st Century and I have yet to read a word of it. I plan to correct this problem (and find out what all the fuss is about) before the end of this year. Stay tuned for my reactions of either high praise or bitter disappointment…
The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
Any book snob worth a grain of salt would never admit to seeing the movie version before reading the novel. But I admit that I overlooked the magic and beauty of Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ until the films were released in the early 2000’s. I now own the films, prequels, and over 16 hours of extended footage. Suffice it to say, I am somewhat of a fan. But, I’ll never reach true LOTR fandom until I read this novel in its entirety. This sounds like a summer project….
The Handmaiden’s Tale (Atwood)
I saved this entry for last because I could not think of an interesting reason as to why this novel has been on my ‘Book Bucket List’ for so many years. The primary reason is simply that the plot sounds really cool: “a ‘dystopian’ novel . . . set in the near future, in a totalitarian Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government . . . explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency.” I’ve been drawn to this book for years so it’s time to verify whether my instincts about it are correct.
Tell us which books are at the top of your reading ‘bucket list’…