Ten Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

I spotted this meme at Kath Reads (it was created by The Broke and the Bookish), and decided to also post my answers to it. We may be avoiding reading certain books on our TBR lists for a variety of (rational and not-so-rational) reasons. We may feel that we simply must be in the right mood for certain books or have enough time in our planners to finish really heavy tomes. Below are ten books from my TBR list which I have been avoiding reading because (i) they are too big and/or complex; or (ii) I receive conflicting messages whether I would love them; or (iii) I want to love them, but I am afraid I will not (for example, because I loved an author’s previous work), etc.

I. 2666 [2004] by Roberto Bolaño  

The sheer size and complexity of 2666 mean that I keep avoiding reading it. Bolaño’s last book is 1126 pages’ long, and its themes are manifold. It talks about ongoing murders of women in one violent city, but also touches upon the World War II, mental illness, journalism and the breakdown of relationships and careers, among other themes – a monumental work, in many respects.

II. The White Castle [1985] by Orhan Pamuk 

I have been meaning to read Pamuk’s books for ages. This Turkish novelist is also the winner of the Nobel Prize, and his book The White Castle is about an Italian scholar who is taken prisoner in Constantinople. I guess I have to be in the right mood to open my mind to Pamuk’s writing style, language and story.

III. Machines Like Me [2019] by Ian McEwan 

I admire the writings of Ian McEwan, and it will be interesting to explore the reach of new technological advances (artificial intelligence (AI)) in his latest book. However, I also feel like I “know” this book without reading it. In this book, an AI robot supposedly gets between two people in one alternative London. One of these days I will pick up and read this book.

IV. The Penelopiad [2005] by Margaret Atwood

I loved Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale [1985] and because I also enjoy reading on Greek mythology, The Penelopiad seems like a perfect read for me. I especially like the sound of a tale where we get to know the perspective of Penelope and the twelve doomed maids. It is possible that The Penelopiad keeps sitting on my shelf unread because I feel it will not live up to the high standard I set for Atwood, especially taking into account her other books.

V. Wilder Girls [2019] by Rory Power 

I am not a big YA reader, but the premise of this book has been fascinating me for months. Wilder Girls has been compared to Lord of the Flies [1954], and I love the theme of girly friendship, as well as the sound of dark, dystopian twists. As things stand right now, I am still undecided whether to go ahead with this book. In these past months, Wilder Girls has been in and out of my TBR list more times than any other book in the history of my TBR (and all the hype surrounding this book only makes my final decision harder to make!). I guess the simplest solution will be to just sit down and start finally reading it.

VI. Jude the Obscure [1895] by Thomas Hardy 

I love Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles [1891] and Far from the Madding Crowd [1874], but feel that Jude the Obscure may disappoint me in some way. That is probably the main reason I keep postponing reading it. The goodreads synopsis reads that this book is about “Jude Fawley…who is trapped into marrying Arabella, who later abandons him…He then moves to another town and “falls in love with his cousin Sue Bridehead, a sensitive, freethinking “New Woman“.

VII. The Master of Go [1951] by Yasunari Kawabata

I must admit I have a slightly difficult, strange relationship with Kawabata. I cannot say I appreciated fully Snow Country [1948] or Beauty and Sadness [1964], but I did find many things to love in The Sound of the Mountain [1954]. His reader needs to be able to discern subtlety in the “economic” writing, as well as maybe accord meaning to simple things that the author describes (plenty of symbolic interpretations and lots of “leaps of faith”). That is probably why I am still avoiding reading The Master of Go. It also sounds like a different book from his usual ones, though he does touch there on some familiar themes of older vs. younger generation, and tradition vs. modern progress.

VIII. 1Q84 [2009] by Haruki Murakami 

This dystopian novel is actually composed of three books and counts 925 pages. This alone would not have put me off the book had I not also heard that the beginning (roughly 300 pages) is very “slow”. I want to read 1Q84, but the size, as well as the fact that it is Murakami, means I keep avoiding reading it.

IX. The Rehearsal [2008] by Eleanor Catton 

The truth is that I am a fan of Catton’s Man Booker Prize winner The Luminaries [2013] and that is probably why I keep avoiding reading her debut The Rehearsal, even though I am very curious about her writing style there. Perhaps I am rightly thinking it will not be as good as her second book. The Rehearsal concerns girls at a boarding school who find out that one of their friends had an affair with a teacher. 

X. American Gods [2001] by Neil Gaiman

I know Gaiman has a lot of fans, and only to think of the number of times I kept moving his books in and out of my TBR list! At first, I wanted to read Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane [2013], but then I switched to American Gods. I think American Gods would now finally settle how I feel about the author. Of course, the problem now is to start reading it. I realised I would need to be in the right mood for this book (not to mention that it is 635 pages’ long). I also fear that Gaiman would end up for me what Stephen King has become – an “over-hyped” author.

Have you read or planning to read any of the above books? What books you avoid reading are on your TBR?

43 thoughts on “Ten Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

  1. I have read three on your list, American Gods, IQ84, and Jude the Obscure. I feel all of them were time well spent with their stories. I am not an Atwood fan, and 2666 scares me with its sheer bulk.

    I have been avoiding the book, Lolita for years. Maybe someday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for your feedback on American Gods, 1Q84 and Jude! I have read Lolita, but some years ago, and I remember liking it (though, of course, “like” is not probably the word many people would want to use when describing their experience with this book – given the nature of the plot -heh). I feel I need to re-read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great idea! I love lists like this that force me to consider what/why/how I read what I do and avoid reading other things. I have the same edition of 1Q84 on my TBR shelf and am also interested in the premise of Wilder Girls. Read on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is also my reason for not picking up his books sooner. Unlike some others, I did not first read his children’s books, so I cannot “transition” the way they do to his adult book versions. Gaiman is also “everywhere” and gives me “Stephen King” vibes. Perhaps, there is some kind of pressure to love him and his books because so many people simply do.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. See… I refuse to read a book because its author is popular. I’ll only read a book if it appeals to me, and I don’t care who the author is. So far, nothing by Gaiman or King have ever made me say “oh, that sounds like something I’d enjoy” so I’ve never read either of them. I’m sure they’re find writers, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As for the Atwood, that one doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I just finished reading her short stories “Stone Mattress” and they’re wonderful. Also her “Hag-Seed” is amazing (which is technically a re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but yet it isn’t – its brilliant). I also liked her “The Heart Goes Last” another dystopian novel, but with a whole lot of humor. Her “Alias Grace” was fascinating, but heavy going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for these recommendations. I have to check out Atwood’s short stories. I have just now read the synopsis to The Heart Goes Last, and it sounds like an interesting book too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked the concept of Machines Like Me, but I borrowed from the library and found the opening paragraphs were dense without dialogue and I just knew I wouldn’t get on with this book.
    I have read Jude the Obscure but it’s so tragic (even more so than his other works) that I don’t think I’d re-read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is always something that stops me from reading Machines Like Me, and if it has dense text, it will probably also not be for me. I want to believe I am prepared for the tragic in Hardy’s novels, and I hope it will not be anything worse than Tess. And, yes, I agree, they are not the books one would want to re-read. I only re-read Far From the Madding Crowd.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read 2666 when it came out. Wasn’t a big fan of it back then. Still have my copy so might give it a re-read one day as I have a better understanding of some of the topics in the book now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fun post! I’ve only read McEwan but haven’t looked into any of his other books. I’ve never read Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is one I’ve been meaning to read among with Tess. I am avoiding a couple long, Vanity Fair and A Fine Balance because I need to clear up a few of my current reads

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! McEwan can be great. Atonement and The Children Act are probably the ones that I loved the most from his work. I would love to know your view on The Handmaid’s Tale and Tess. I have not read A Fine Balance, but have read Vanity Fair, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Another big book I want to read is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have that book too! Diana you always have some of the best reviews, would you consider a conversation / discussion post on A Fine Balance or The Poisonwood Bible in the future? Both are on my TBR for some future time.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Jude the Obscure is my least favourite Hardy (and I’m not a Hardy fan!) I found it hilariously sentimental. I do love Far From The Massing Crowd, though.

    Machines Like Me is indeed very predictable, but it is a quick read.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Before Machines Like Me came out, I was really keen to read it based on the promise (and also, I am quite fascinated by AI), but after I read some reviews, I don’t think it is for me. I like Gaiman, but haven’t read American Gods. The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neverwhere are my favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. American Gods is quintessential Gaiman — if you don’t get into it after a few chapters, then you can probably dismiss him as an author from your list. Personally I don’t think he’s over-hyped, he is a smart writer and a good craftsman, but he’s not for all tastes.

    Jude the Obscure is the only major Hardy novel I have not read. I’ve been lagging because it’s described as the most depressing of them all, but I should really try it for myself.

    I have a mixed relationship with Margaret Atwood. Some of her novels I have absolutely loved but the “literary experiments” — The Penelopiad and also Hag-Seed — left me cold. She is so extremely clever but in these short format works the cleverness was too much to the fore for me. However, because they are short it’s easy enough to give it a go and see what you think. Certainly they are highly readable.

    Fun topic, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughts! I will keep that in mind when reading Gaiman, though I am not hugely impressed now that I read the first page. I still want to give The Penelopiad a go. I realise it is experimental. At least, her cleverness, as you say, and writing style will shine through even if I won’t like all of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. American Gods is very polarizing among the Gaiman fans I know. People either really like it or don’t like it at all, even if they like his other work. I don’t know why it’s so polarizing.
    I’ve recently been avoiding Into the Wild. I want to read it, but haven’t been in the right headspace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s interesting. I guess the fact that the book is huge also contributes to it having a mixed reception. I remember enjoying Into the Wild and the movie also left an impression on me. You are right when you say one has to be in the mood for these kinds of books.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I read 2666 several years ago and, in the end, felt it was worth it but it definitely wasn’t an easy read. I recently gave up on Bolano’s The Savage Detectives, which had sat on my TBR since finishing 2666 though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad to hear that 2666 is a worthwhile read because it looks like a huge investment in terms of time, effort, etc. I know about The Savage Detectives – I thought about reading it instead of 2666, but opted for 2666 in the end as “the representation of Bolano’s work”. Thanks for your opinion, I won’t probably read The Savage Detectives now especially since I see its character list is endless.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a great idea for a post, I’m definitely going to steal this! Machines Like Me, Jude the Obscure, and 1Q84 will probably also be on my list. I loved Murakami when I was younger but I doubt I would enjoy him nearly as much now, and coupled with the length, 1Q84 seriously intimidates me. But I do want to read it… dilemmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and I am curious to see your answers too! I feel the same way about Murakami. I did not read him when I was younger, but the work that I read by him my younger self would have enjoyed much more 🙂 Let’s hope 1Q84 will prove to be a good read for us.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I have only read one book on the list, Bolano’s 2666. It is in my opinion the best novel written this century, though admittedly it is grueling, especially the Part about the Crimes, just relentless. The Savage Detectives is brilliant as well in my opinion. I haven’t read an Ian McEwan novel since The Comfort of Strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am looking forward to Bolano’s 2666. Actually, since I made this list, I have read Pamuk’s The White Castle (it is very short!), and I now think you may enjoy it too. It is thought-provoking, subtle and concerns the concept of identity (confusion). There is a theme of a doppelgänger there. I also want to thank you for recommending that I read Knut Hamsun’s Mysteries, which I enjoyed (reviewed also), and I have now checked out to read Hamsun’s Pan, which I cannot wait to get into.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 2666 is dense and hermetic. I am a big fan of Boland, though I haven’t read all his books, as there has been a deluge of posthumous publications, some of which just seem like cashing in as they seem unfinished or just vague ideas or first drafts. If you are looking for an introduction Distant Star is brilliant, short, chilling and disturbing. I will have to read your review of Mysteries I am glad you liked it. I only occasionally visit WordPress these days as I have stopped writing but when I do I will check it out. I will also take a look at The White Castle.

        Liked by 1 person

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