Books I Couldn’t *Not* Put Down

I have a sad truth to confess: although I go to the library at least once a week, I hardly ever finish more than 6 books a year.

Part of my problem is lack of planning. I mean, I have a book list, but I a) never bring it with me (fatal flaw) and b) the library is always out of the books I want to read (because I am a slave to the bestsellers list).

So I end up plucking random books off the shelf and then, surprise surprise, feeling disappointed when they turn out to be unreadable.

Let’s say it together: I need help.

There are 3 books in particular, however, that have simultaneously been on my list and in the library — and that I’ve still failed to read, despite their wide acclaim. So I’m starting to wonder whether my supposed poor planning gene is actually just plain old poor taste.

1) The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen.
I wanted to love this book, because that would make me seem smart, chic,  and literary. But… I just couldn’t make it past the first chapter. So many words, so few sentences. I guess I should never read Joyce.

2) The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
I actually persevered for a couple hundred pages, before flinging the book across the room and banging my head against the wall. I feel like it could have been a great book, actually, but was missing one crucial ingredient. Plot, dear Erin! Plot! It felt like a transcription of someone’s hazy dream…

3) Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy.
What’s that word for a recurring life problem you’ve yet to surmount? Bugabear? Bugboo? Well, this book is it. It’s the Philosopher’s favorite, which makes me feel even worse about the fact that I can’t finish it, because he has unassailable good taste. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started it. Why does everyone have 5 different names?  Why is everyone related to each other? Why can’t I finish this book?!!

Please help me become a better reader, friends. What readable books should be on my list? Bonus points for you if they’re in the Oxford library.


(p.s. I can, however, highly recommend Gap Creek, if you haven’t already read it…)


15 thoughts on “Books I Couldn’t *Not* Put Down

  1. I’m going to have a think, beause I LOVE books, but in the meantime, why don’t you reserve one of the ones you want that they don’t have? It only costs £1, you could even do it online at home and then they email you when it arrives 🙂

  2. Hiya hun, have you tried wathcing the recent film of Anna Karenina?? That did it for me – I was then able to read the book with a lot more perspective and humour – and I loved it! 🙂 Other recommendations… I’ll have a think 🙂 xx

  3. I am currently reading (and loving) White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I also recently read (and loved even more) On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee. Highly recommend. My recent-ish book-that-made-me-look-smart was Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (about Lincoln). It’s beautifully written and full of great details, but it’s like 750 pages and very dense, so it took me forever to finish.

    1. I loved Zadie’s “On Beauty” but never finished “White Teeth!” Another on the list of my failures I guess 🙂 I’ve heard great things about the Lee, will definitely add it to the pile!

      On Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 3:14 PM, modern working girl wrote:


  4. I personally enjoyed the Bartimaeus Triology by Jonathan Stroud – in order they are: The Amulet of Samarkand; The Golem’s Eye; and Ptolemy’s Gate.

    Or if you haven’t discovered anything by PG Wodehouse yet, then sample “Thank you Jeeves” and prepare to laugh yourself silly!

    1. Dan! I’ve actually got Wodehouse’s “A Damsel in Distress” sitting on my desk… have you read it? I would love to get into some Jonathan Stroud – love me some YA fiction every once in a while…

      On Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 3:53 PM, modern working girl wrote:


  5. LOL! Loved this post. I second “Jayber Crow” or anything, in fact, by Wendell Berry who is a genius. Also, I can heartily recommend “The Secret History” and/or “The Goldfinch”, both by Donna Tartt – I am in the midst of reading ‘The Goldfinch’ and so far it is excellent and I loved “The Secret History”. You could probably get either of these at the library! Also…have you read any Marilynne Robinson? I really loved “Home” and “Housekeeping” – and I still need to read “Gilead” – wonderful books.

    1. The Goldfinch is ALWAYS on reserve!! But I really want to read it. I loved Gilead so much. I’ve heard Housekeeping is fab; thanks for the reminder!

      On Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 7:04 PM, modern working girl wrote:


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