Shelf Life Expiration

In a post on January 17, 2013, I wrote about not-so New Year’s resolutions suggestions, a short list of some things I might want to get accomplished soon (or later). One of them was “Actually getting around to reading the books I buy.” I have a habit of buying books I think I’d like to read only to find that I don’t really feel like reading them – or getting to them immediately anyway. So to make this suggestion more likely to be accomplished, or at least accomplished a little more quickly, I’m letting you folks help hold me accountable. Here are my literary babies I’ve been neglecting (I’ll slowly compile the list, as it is sadly rather long):

– The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
– Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris
– The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth
– What a Way to Go by Geoffrey Abbott
– The Canon  by Natalie Angier
– The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins
– A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
– Notes from Underground and The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky
– The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
– Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
– Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
– The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
– The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
– The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
– The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
– A Discourse on Inequality by Jean Jacques Rousseau
– Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Strange Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson
– The Evolution of Everything by Mark Sumner
The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm  by Maria Tatar
– The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
Room by Emma Donoghue
Inventing the Child by J. Zoronado
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian
Bound to Last edited by Sean Manning
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Breaking the Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart D. Ehrman
The Holy by Daniel Quinn

Well, with any luck, resolve, motivation, rampant drinking – I shall shorten this list faster than I add to it.


Stressed Out Student

Have you read any of these books? Spoil it for me and tell me what you think about them. Seriously – please do! Despite what the communists say, your opinions do matter. 

(I have no idea what any of this has to do with communists.)

Update: 12/1/2013 [*sigh* I am still adding more books faster than I finish them.]
Update: 9/23/2013 [Since April, I’ve crossed three books off the list! Reviews to come soon(ish).]
Update: 4/9/2013 [Damn, I’ve added more books to the list]
Update: 3/7/2014 [New section: Book Reviews I write as I cross these books off my list]

30 thoughts on “Shelf Life Expiration

  1. This is a fantastic idea. I actually resolved to do something similar in an effort to stem my near-obsession with reading. It’s not exactly working, as alas, I’ve never been good with self control.

    Anyhow, I’ve read very few on your booklist, but the titles by Richard Dawkins caught my eye. I’ve read a couple of his works and find his style to be really easy to be almost conversational, especially given the heavy subject matter.

    Good luck with Dickens – I would literally (translate = figuratively) rather poke my eye out with a rusty fork than read his novels ever again. Once was enough!

    Have fun with it all!

    • Thanks for the heads up on Hitchens. I’m only vaguely aware of his style and perspectives and I imagine he may be entertaining to read. I agree about how accessible Dawkins can be. The Blind Watchmaker definitely helped flesh out my high school level understanding of evolution and I am excited to dive into The Selfish Gene (one of these days.)


  2. Hey. You know I have the exact same problem too. I buy all these books that I don’t read and then I buy some more. Meanwhile my wishlist on shopping sites grows by the day.

    I think it’s because I love the idea of some books and love the thought of knowing all that is in those books but the effort of it seems too tiring given that I am already tired of everything that I have to do anyways. Moreover I mostly pick stuff that is too heavy! I mean have you ever felt that what you are reading is taking too much toll on you?

    Anyways. I would like to commend you on your resolve undertaking such a monumental task. I am sure that you’d make it through this chart before you find the time to create another one of these things. By the way I would also like to congratulate you on having such a diverse array of books on your bookshelf. 🙂

    P.S. I noticed that you intend to read two books by Mr. Dawkins, both of which are related to evolution. I am curious, is it because of a general interest in the subject or a general interest in the author?

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  6. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when I tried to get out of my reader’s block issue (along with a few other books in the serial killer genre). I found it sorely disappointing. I thought about writing a post about them, but I haven’t gotten around to it. It’s tedious in some parts, so I’m not eager to finish the series just yet. I’ve moved on to better things for now.

    Oh, congrats on your word count. I just saw your post.

  7. You have quite a list. I have read the Larsson books and I found them interesting. What drove me to read A tale of Two Cities is the opening paragraph. There are few books that begin so powerfully.
    If you allow me, I should make a suggestion of other books if you haven’t already read them
    1. What is man by Mark Twain
    2. The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyesvsky
    3. System of Nature by d’Holdbach

    And have fun with college.

  8. Pingback: Hi, I’m Stressed Out Student, and I’m a Bibliomaniac | Stressing Out College

  9. The Girl with… book are really good IMO. Read the first one, and then if you don’t like it and don’t want to read the rest you can cross all three off your list 😉 But I couldn’t put it down when I read it 🙂

  10. You’re adorable! Love this list–some of these are books I want to get around to reading as well. Um…hmm…maybe I’ll put together a list at some point, too. 😀

    • Thanks for the tip 😀 The only Gladwell book I’ve read is Outliers, so books like Tipping Point and What the Dog Saw are on my list of books to get/read. *sigh* One can never have too many books!

  11. As for Machiavelli, I would save this for after college, when you are in the trenches of the business world or, heaven forbid, ever involved in politics. Machiavelli is hard to follow in the abstract, but easy when you have context (“so THAT’S why my boss is such a bastard…”)

    Dawkins? If you can stomach his narcissism. As for me, I’m finding his relevant points elsewhere…

    Sorry, but I’m going to add one: “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck. It’ll help you focus and discern what is truly important in life. If somebody had handed this to me earlier in life, I wouldn’t have been so stressed out, college or otherwise. 🙂

    • I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been putting off The Prince – it’s old and abstract, but it’s such a powerful work of western culture, so it seems like it will be a good read (eventually).

      Haha, I love Dawkins. He’s kind of a narcissistic bastard, but he’s really entertaining. I really enjoyed The Blind Watchmaker and finished The God Delusion a few months ago. The latter was a good read, but he’s got to come around to the idea that the concept of religion really isn’t that bad. And actually might be good for many people.

      And darn you, I have enough on my shelf already. I’ve actually just received two more by mail (that I still have to add to the above list 😛 ) But thanks for the recommendation! I’ll be sure to check it out.

  12. Having read two of three Girl with… books I can’t work out what the fuss is about. Thinking about it now I realize it’s almost a year since I finished the second and I’ve no interest in the third.

    • I’ve heard mixed reviews from friends about it. In general, it seems like they like the main characters, but the writing seems to go too in depth about certain aspects of the story that could have been done away with. Maybe I’ll just stick to watching the movies. Thanks for the input!

      • Nooo, don’t watch the movies first if you haven’t read the books! I didn’t get what the fuss was about at first either, having personally found the beginning a little slow (probably just because I’m slow, though) but a trilogy well worth reading, in my opinion. Definitely give them a go!

  13. Dawkins is fascinating and pretty easy to read even for non-science types. I liked his River Out of Eden best, but The Selfish Gene is a classic (this book popularized the concept of the meme!) Greene makes reading about physics fun.

    Read everything by Stevenson! Read everything by Dickens! I love Dickens, and those are two of his great books; I think Great Expectations is right up there with one of my all-time favorites. I seldom re-read novels, but I’ve returned to that one several times. Dostoevksy is a must; I read his books when I was in college, and they stay with you. Dangerous Liaisons may take a bit of persistence initially, but stick with the slightly outmoded writing style and you’ll be rewarded with a tale of manipulation, status and power plays, the intrigues of court and sexual politics, morality, heartbreak, cynicism. loyalty, and love. Actually, Catch-22 in a bizarre way has some of the same components to it…though it may seem more of an anti-war genre book, Heller also casts a cynical eye on politics, power, and manipulation of moral values.

    Grimm is great because you can read a fairy tale in a few minutes and just kind of season your other reading with a classic brief story now and then. Also, Grimm gives you background to catch allusions in other works from poetry to fiction to analogies in non-fiction.

    Wow I could go on…but I have to get to work. Enjoy your reading!

    • Thanks for your input! I’m pretty eager to read all of them, but I want to take my time so that I’m not forcing myself to read them – that just takes the fun out of it. Several of the books on the list are ones that I have started but never finished, such as Dangerous Liaisons and the book by Greene. I’ve read Dawkin’s The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion, so I’m excited to get started on The Selfish Gene. As you said, it’s a classic and I’ve heard it’s just all around really good.

      So again, thanks for writing, fellow bibliophile!

  14. As you were kind enough to pop over to my blog I figured I should return the favour.

    This was a good move on my part as I am enjoying your blog so far. Consider me a follower from here on out…I don’t mean that in a like cult kind of way. By follower, I mean a follower of your blog, of course.

    Oh, and I have read a few of these on this list. I struggled with Machiavelli and Rousseau (I read them at University). I think it was because they were course material though so I felt like I was forced to read them. Hopefully you enjoy them though.

    • Yes, Machiavelli and Rousseau will be slightly tougher reads, which is why I’m taking my time with them and not forcing myself to read them as if they were assigned readings. That would take the fun out of it! Same goes with the rest of these books, too. I’ll read them when I’m ready. Any time before that and I won’t want to finish them.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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