Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scratching the surface

Sometimes, as a reader, you feel hopelessly unable to read everything you want to. You wonder how you’ll ever be able to get through everything on your To-Be-Read wishlist. You feel kind of like this guy:

It can be embarrassing, at age 35, to list out all famous the writers you’ve never read before. My list, the one below on the left, was just pulled off the top of my head- it’s not even exhaustive. But look at all those authors! Subtract a few short stories I might have read by that group, and I’d draw a complete blank on each one of them.

Now, it’s easy to throw your hands up in despair, but a quick perusal of “new” authors I’ve read over the last two years is pretty heartening. That’s what’s represented by the list below on the right. Look at all those  authors! It’s even longer than the list on the left. I’m tearing through them like they’re going out of style (as some of them undoubtedly are) and I’ve got Cervantes and Phillip Roth queued up and ready to move from left to right. It’s not unthinkable that in another couple years I can turn the majority of those on the left into so many notches on my readerly belt.

Looking at this side-by-side comparison, I’m feeling pretty good about making the most of the books I have left.

Some authors I'm embarrassed not to have readAuthors new to me since 2011
Saul BellowHerman Melville
Virginia WoolfCharlotte Bronte
Jane AustenJack Kerouac
Leo TolstoyEdith Wharton
Theodor DreiserHenry James
Carson McCullersAlice Munro
Flannery OConnorCormack McCarthy
Phillip RothJohn Steinbeck
Don DeliloGeorge Orwell
Alexander DumasRoberto Bolano
Jorge Luis BorgesThomas Mann
Miguel CervantesWilliam Faulkner
Gabriel Garcia MarquezWallace Stegner
Victor HugoIvan Turgenev
Salman RushdieMarcel Proust
William BurroughsEmily Bronte
Henry David ThoreauGeorge Eliot
Italo CalvinoJeffrey Eugenides
Jack LondonJames Joyce
Haruki MurakamiE.M. Forster
William GaddisEudora Welty
VS NaipaulJoseph Heller
J.M. CoatzeeSherwood Anderson
Jose SaramagoFyodor Dostoevsky
John UpdikeT.C. Boyle
David Foster WallaceIsak Denisen
Ford Madox FordThornton Wilder
Evelyn WaughAlan Paton
Henry MillerChaim Potok
Norman MailerRicardo Guiraldes
Somerset MaughamH. Rider Haggard
Sinclair LewisKaren Russel
Rudyard KiplingDenis Johnson
Upton SinclairJennifer Egan
Marylin RobinsonJohn Hersey
Margaret AtwoodDana Spiotta
Willa CatherDouglas Thayer
Michael ChabonDavid Clark
Alexander PushkinBen Lerner
Boris PasternakBoris Pahor
John Dos PassosRoland Barthes
Thomas WolfeAnn Patchett
Tom WolfeJoan Didion
Gertrude SteinDavid Gann
George SandAgatha Christie
Margaret MitchellStephen King
Alice WalkerOrson Scott Card
Ralph EllisonClive Cussler
Erskine CaldwellErin Morgenstern
Allen GinsbergSteven Pressfield
Anne BronteC.J. Box
Richard Skinner
Stephen Hawking
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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