There are so many book lists out there that address the books you should have read by the time you were 20, 30, etc. For me, this list is more about the books sitting on my shelf (nightstand, floor, boxed in the corner, under the front seat of my car….well, you get the picture) that I have yet to read. Why have I put off reading these amazing titles? I really don’t have a good excuse. Basically, life got in the way. For example, I was given a copy of “All Quiet on the Western Front” just after my daughter was born. How in the world was I supposed to read it then? Yes, I was home with a new baby, but I could barely keep my eyes open let alone focus on such a masterpiece. I could barely get through a magazine without nodding off. However, said “baby” is now 18 and headed off to college, so I figure that excuse can’t be used any longer. So, here is a list of the 10 books in my to-be-read pile that really need to be moved to the top for no other reason than that their time has come.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

  1. “The Canterbury Tales,” by Geoffrey Chaucer. I know why I have put this one off. It’s not that the book contains 24 stories, it’s that it is written in Middle English. The themes from these stories come up so often in other works of literature, it surely would behoove all bibliophiles, myself included, to give this one the time and attention it deserves.
    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  2. “Wind in the Willows,” by Kenneth Grahame. This one has been sitting on my bookshelf since I was a child. As a Winnie-the-Pooh fanatic, you’d think I would have devoured Grahame’s book the first chance I got. Alas, I did not. I am now finding myself to drawn to the thought of reading about whimsical talking animals and their pastoral lives. The best part is that reading this will make me want to re-read “The House at Pooh Corner.” That’s a win.
    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  3. “Age of Innocence,” by Edith Wharton. I was given a copy of Jennie Fields’ novel, “The Age of Desire” by her publisher to read in advance of publication. Fields’ novel is about Edith Wharton’s life, pieced together from correspondence between Wharton, her secretary, her husband, and her lover. I absolutely devoured this novel and gained such an appreciation for Wharton that I went out and bought a copy of “Age of Innocence,” the book that won the author a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, making her the first woman to do so. And I still need to read it.
    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  4. “In Cold Blood,” by Truman Capote. In my defense, I have a very good reason for not reading this book. It was one of two book choices for a psychology class I took in college, the other being “Sybil,” by Flora Rheta Schreiber. I chose to read the later because I was so fascinated by dissociative identity disorder and thought it would make for a more interesting essay than Capote’s book about the murder of four family members in rural Kansas. Having now watched all of the past episodes of “Criminal Minds,” I am more than ready to dive into Capote’s work of non-fiction with both feet.
    Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  5. Bridget Jones’s Diary,” by Helen Fielding. I loved the movie and indulged in buying the book after the fact. And there it sits. However, I think I can now appreciate even more how this book (and, yes, the movie) shaped how women in the 90’s viewed themselves and each other.
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  6. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini. I know why I pushed this one off. I knew it was going to be a difficult read, one filled with the stark reality of class differences in Afghanistan. I know in my heart that this is an important novel to read as it is ultimately about forgiveness. However, when I was given this book in 2009, the horrors of 9/11 were still too fresh in my mind to tear the scab off again.
    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  7. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. This one is often found on banned book lists as it deals with taboo subjects like incest, racism, and molestation. I love Toni Morrison’s writing, but have put off this book just because the subject matter was so fraught with emotion, a child subjected to years of physical and emotional abuse. I’m still not sure I am ready to read this one.
    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. “Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell. I have seen the movie dozens of times, but I’ve never read the book. I have my grandmother’s copy which looks well-loved, having been read several times. With over a thousand pages, this one will not be read in one sitting. But I will start reading it with a cup of my grandmother’s favorite tea in hand.
    The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
  9. “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” by Elizabeth Kolbert. This one I have started to read more than once. It isn’t that it isn’t a fascinating book, because it truly is. However, facing in black and white just how awful humans are, bulldozing other cultures, species, ecosystems, etc. is a tough pill to swallow. This one may take a glass of wine (or three) to get all the way through.
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  10.  “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Marie Remarque. This book was banned and burned in Nazi Germany for its subject matter; a look at the atrocities German soldiers were subjected to during WWI and upon their return home. Definitely wasn’t one to tackle as a brand new parent. I do feel that now is the perfect time to take this one on.

What’s been sitting the longest in your TBR pile and why? Share with us in the comments!

Julie Bond

Julie Bond is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes running the gamut from YA lit, to psychological suspense, and anything dog-related, of course. You can find her haunting her favorite San Francisco Bay Area indie bookstores. Email her at


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