You walk through the doors. The hairs on your arms tingle. Your eyes float across the field of possibilities. There are so many. How will you choose?

Madrid bookstoreYour fingers skate along the bumpy terrain of names and pictures. You stop, seized by the gentle twist of curiosity.

Maybe it’s the supple curve of its spine, smooth and slightly rounded. Perhaps the bright silver medal, stamped on top like a beauty mark, calls to you. It could be the colorful artwork or the tease of a story on the back cover that sinks into you like hooks.

Whatever the allure you pick up this particular book out of a sea of so many others and roll the pages along the edge of your thumb. It smells of newness and excitement.  You read the first page and long to find the closest chair and snuggle inside, cocooned in the beginnings of another world.

You glide over to the checkout counter and hand over your credit card for the millionth time to a clerk who knows you well enough to say, “Will that really be all?” The thought of reading your new book pushes up the edges of your lips and kicks your voice into an eager “Yes, thank you,” as you pay for the book. You rush back out through the doors.

You return to your house, flushed with the fever of excitement. Before you can even pull the book out of its bag, you’re caught up in the swirl of chores and work and food and other people’s needs.

And the book sits.

It waits for you, first on the kitchen counter, then on the coffee table where papers and magazines stack up on top of it. Eventually, you rescue it from the prosaic pile. You think about reading it, but you’re currently wrapped up in another adventure. So, instead, you put the book away for another time. And there it stays, literally gathering dust.

TBR2

When you return to your TBR (to be read) books in search of something new, you see this book again and remember the energy and wonder you felt when you first bought it. Yet you pass it by. You don’t know why but some other spine and some other cover appeals to you more at the moment.

Months pass, maybe years and still you don’t read it, forever passing it over. That original shiver of excitement slips further and further away…


This is a pretty common scenario for me. I’ll see a book at a bookstore and get really excited about it. Then, for some reason, even though I still feel that little knot of excitement when I first bought the book, I choose another over it again and again. (If these books had feelings, they would probably hate me.)

Anyone else experience this? I have three books in particular that have languished in my TBR for far too long. Maybe someone can talk me into finally reading the ones that have been there the longest at this point… Or talk me into just putting them away for good…

Here they are…

Most Passed Over Book on My TBR #1: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

go set a watchman

What’s it about (according to Amazon)? 

A landmark novel by Harper Lee, set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.

What’s my problem? 

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. Like many children, it left an indelible mark on me when I read it. Plus, the story of Harper Lee and the discovery of Go Set a Watchman captured my imagination. Family intrigue, a hidden manuscript. It was like something out of a literary mystery novel. When I purchased Watchman, I had every intention of reading it. I was excited to read it. Yet I haven’t. I think part of me worries it will somehow taint my love of Mockingbird. I’m not sure. But I just keep passing it by.

Most Passed Over Book on My TBR #2: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

hag seet atwood

What’s it about (according to Amazon)? 

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

What’s my problem?

That’s a great question. This book was made for me. First of all, I was a Margaret Atwood fan before Hulu sent red-clothed, bonnet-wearing women into the streets to promote the Handmaid’s Tale TV show. She is an incredible writer. (And her stories are insightful in a way that terrifies me with their prophetic nature. No joke. Handmaid’s Tale is a little like looking into a crystal ball at what could now be a very probable future thanks to recent political shifts… Anyhoo…)

And, to add to the conundrum, Hag-Seed is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I love Shakespeare retellings more than any other types of retellings. (OK, I think I need to stop using the word retelling. It’s starting to sound strange.) But, in all honesty, if a book has even a glancing affiliation with Shakespeare, I want to read it. So why do I keep passing this one by? It’s really a mystery. I can’t figure it out.

Most Passed Over Book on My TBR #3: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The sympathizer

What’s it about (according to Amazon)? 

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as six other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

What’s my problem?

I might be most upset with myself over this one. I mean the book won a Pulitzer for god’s sake! I even remember exactly when I bought this book. It was almost a year ago, during the Capital Fringe Festival. I picked it up while waiting for a table at Busboys and Poets (an awesome bookstore/eatery in DC) before my family and I went to a show. Afterward, I wedged myself under a dim light and started to read while waiting for the curtain to rise. I even remember the show itself, a cute little comedy musical sketch compilation. The best sketch was a satirical look at hipsters and yoga enthusiasts. (Feel free to let your imagination run on that one.)

Perhaps you’re thinking, what’s the big deal? She remembered something! Good job K.L. You want a medal? I’m not sure you understand the degree to which my memory is terrible when it comes to my own life experiences. Facts. Figures. Information. Those lodge in my brain and stay there. You tell me something about yourself or your life, I will remember it. (As long as I’m not trying to multi-task, then all memory goes out the window.) But the things I do and see every day? Those become a giant hole in my memory about 5 seconds after they happen. It’s strange. So remembering the moment I bought this book is unusual for me. Yet, I keep passing it by on my TBR and I still don’t know why.

Anyone have thoughts on these books? Opinions? Anyone else experience this inexplicable aversion to a book you actually want to read? It’s a very confusing internal conflict! (Although as far as internal conflicts go, there could obviously be worse. #bookproblems). Insight on this book madness welcome!

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