Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Salon: TBR Purgatory

I spent the past week travelling back and forth between Japan and the US Midwest as I read Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures by Kyoko Mori, a memoir in the form of essays about her experiences of growing up in Japan and now living in the US. Even though it was non-fiction, it was a very quick read and I really enjoyed reading her perspectives on the differences and similarities between Japanese and American culture. This week I also posted my review of Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman which was quite a fascinating read. Now I'm reading Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui. It's very surreal and a nice change of pace from the non-fiction I've been reading this month. Oh, and I changed the 'Featured Book' over there on the right to A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson. It's essentially a travel memoir of the author's year in Japan, as the title clearly states, but the author is an artist and the book includes some gorgeous illustrations. I first read it about 3 years ago and I had fun flipping through it this weekend. It's definitely a keeper, one that I'll enjoy looking at again and again.

It's been ages since I've managed to participate in Weekly Geeks, but this week's question is one that often comes to mind when I look at my loaded bookshelves.
I think just about every reader has a least one book that they've been meaning to read for awhile (months or even years) but, for one reason or another, they just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe it's a book a friend recommended last year, or a title you've flirted with in a bookstore on more than one occasion, or maybe it's a book that's sitting right there on your bookshelf, patiently waiting for you to pick it up -- but the thought is always there, in the back of your mind: Why haven't I read this yet?

This week, tell us about a book (or books) you have been meaning to read. What is it? How long have you wanted to read it? And, why haven't you read it yet?
I have several books that have been languishing in TBR purgatory, the place where books that I own but haven't read yet live, for no very good reason. Including some books that I really do want to read. But for some reason they continue to sit there unread, sometimes for years. Poor neglected books. Here are a few of them.

I've been meaning to read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for a few years now. I'm pretty sure I picked this up soon after it's release in paperback in 2004. Five years later and there it still sits. Another one that I bought as soon as it was available in paperback is The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. I loved her previous three Victorian novels and I remember anxiously awaiting the release date but I still haven't read it! Now that she has a newer one out, The Little Stranger, I feel even guiltier about it.

I read about 200 pages (out of over 1000) of The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu quite a few years ago, but never got any further. I've been meaning to start again and read it through properly ever since. The book travelled with us to England, where it sat for three and a half years, then back to Japan where it's been another three and a half years or so. It's such a chunkster it intimidates me, and I think it'll take a bit of effort, but I really do want to read it. Last year I actually bought a different translation, the The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition translated by Royall Tyler, which I think I'll enjoy more. But now I have two copies, neither of which I've read. Sigh. One of these days/months/years...

Speaking of chunksters, with all the buzz at the time I bought The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber in hardback when it first came out in 2002. I often enjoy getting caught up in an long, epic story once I'm in, but I always hesitate to start them. So the size of this one has kept me from reading it, even though I've heard good things about it.

When Cloud Atlas came out, I was able to go to a live interview and signing with David Mitchell in London. Along with my copy of Cloud Atlas, I brought along a copy of Number9Dream, which I'd already bought previously because I'd really enjoyed Ghostwritten, and then Cloud Atlas. Plus Number9Dream is set in Japan and you know that always appeals to me. I'm embarrassed to admit that I met David in November 2004, and my signed copy of number9dream is still unread, as is the copy of Black Swan Green that's been published in the meantime.

A very long-time resident of TBR purgatory is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. Once upon a time, before blogging, before moving to England, and back to Japan, I belonged to several Yahoo book groups. I first heard about Pope Joan from Andi in one of those groups. My copy has travelled half the world and back, with a few stops on the way, yet I still haven't read it. And I have no good reason why not except that somehow other books keep pushing it aside. Maybe now that the film is coming out, it'll inspire me to finally read it.

Which books have you been meaning to read?

I'd also like to say thank you again for the BBAW Award nominations. In addition to Best General Review Blog and Best Cultural Review Blog, I found out that In Spring it is the Dawn was also nominated for Best Blog Name. Sometimes I think that my blog's name is too long, or obscure, that the bookish connection isn't obvious, but I'm pleased that someone else likes it. :)
The competition in all the categories is pretty strong so I think my chance of being shortlisted is very slim but I'm extremely honoured to have been nominated. Thank you so much!! Have a great week, and happy reading!


  1. I also held off on THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE for quite a while after I purchased it, but when I gave in I was sorry I'd waited. It's a big book, but I found that it read quite quickly.

    Congrats on all your BBAW nominations!

  2. That's a big list! Must look into some of those titles, haven't heard of them all.

  3. Purple Hibiscus, definitely. And, if you haven't read it, then go on to Half a Yellow Sun.

  4. I LOVE the name of your blog!

    If I were to participate in this week's weekly geeks, I fear that my post would be unbearably long. :) Maybe I'll make that my Sunday Salon for next week--heavily edited of course. Most of the books I have on my shelf that I haven't read yet are there because of some type of intimidation or another. And then some just keep getting pushed back for others that I want to read more. The Purple Hibiscus is on my list of "want to read" but I don't own it so it doesn't count. :) Cloud Atlas is one I recently picked up at the used store but I'm intimidated by it. Sheesh--such is life. :)

  5. I like that idea of TBR purgatory!

  6. Purple Hibiscus and The Night Watch are amazing, so I hope you'll read them soon!

    And congratulations on all your nominations. I absolutely love your blog's name. And the blog itself, of course.

  7. I loved the Crimson Petal and the White - it was such an unusual way of writing, often in second person. Lady Murasaki's Tale of the Genji is also an excellent read. I tried Cloud Atlas a few years ago but couldn't get into it. Perhaps it's time to try again. Good luck catching up on your TBR list! I know mine is never ending.

  8. Definitely read Pope Joan. I've read it twice and it was just as good the second time around as the first!

    My list would be so long, if I tried to write one up for Weekly Geeks. Still, I love lists... :)

  9. Just getting caught up on your blog and have to say congrats on your nominations. You do have a very cool blog name! :)

    Isn't it funny how many books we rush out to get and then somehow years often pass by before we get to them? I have so many shelf sitters it's not even funny! Do hope you'll get to Purple Hibiscus though - it's so good.

  10. I liked how you called it TBR purgatory, very funny! Now I might be adding some of yours to my list, thanks for the ideas. :)

  11. Memory - Thanks! I'm sure I'll probably feel the same once I finally give in and read it. Glad to hear it read quickly.

    Mon - And it's only some of them!

    debnance - No, I haven't read Half of a Yellow Sun either. It's on my list but I won't let myself buy it until I read Purple Hibiscus.

    Trish - Thank you!
    Trust me these are only a few of the books that have been languishing on my shelves unread for far too long. A lot of mine are due to some intimidation too. Cloud Atlas is quite clever but well worth reading.

    Kerrie - I don't remember where I first heard the term but liked it too, so I've used it since.

    Nymeth - I know, that's what I keep hearing. One of these days I'll get to them, promise. And thank you! :)

    Trisha - Mine is never ending too, but I suppose that's half the fun. And at least we'll never fun out of things to read! I think Cloud Atlas can be a bit difficult to get into but he is a great writer.

    Les - I know, I've heard nothing but good things about it.
    And belive me, my list would've been much much longer if I'd honestly mentioned all the books that I still haven't read! :P

    Iliana - Thank you!
    I know, I've done that so many times. I can't wait to buy them, then the books just sit there.

    reviewsonbooks - I think I first heard the term from another book blogger, so I can't take credit for it. It's a great term though.

  12. I have several of those books on my list as well, including Night Watch and The Little Stranger, plus The Crimson Petal and the White. I have read Pope Joan. I liked it but didn't love it!

    I haven't been participating in Weekly Geeks regularly either but it has been fun visiting everyone this week.

  13. Marg - Always so many books we want to read! Hopefully I'll get to a few of these before to long.

  14. I've been getting through things very nicely this year (62 down, including such monsters as 'Ulysses', 'Middlemarch' and 'The Brothers Karamazov'), but two books which have been sitting patiently for a good while now are 'Don Quixote' and 'Atlas Shrugged' - the former as I started it and lost interest, and the latter because I sort of think I might regret it the moment I start reading it...

  15. Tony - You have done well this year! Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, and Don Quixote are all on my "someday" list. I'm impressed you read Ulysses, I'm not sure I'll ever have the courage for that one!


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