Tell me what to read

books1I’m really pleased by how many people want to join in with Project 24, or their own variants on it. Sure, I feel a little guilty about biting the publishing hand that feeds me – but if this Project 24 is anything like my previous one, I’ll end up buying lots of books as presents, just to feel the excitement of buying books. Do I sound like an addict right now?

It’s all to read books from my own shelves – but I also want to read books people recommend. How to get around this? WELL – I came up with the idea of asking people to recommend books I already own. Wanna help?

You can see all the books I own in my LibraryThing catalogue (and you can access that whether or not you have a LibraryThing account). I’ve tagged all the books I’ve read with the ingenious tag ‘read’ – see what I did there? – so anything not tagged is up for grabs.

I’d love to read 10 books that people recommend – it could be ones you’ve read and loved, or ones you’re curious to read about – but if I don’t get ten picks then I’ll just read and review however many suggestions I get. By the end of 2017, let’s say.

Is this fun? Is this self-indulgent? Who knows – but I always enjoy looking at other people’s collections, virtual or otherwise, so… have at!

41 thoughts on “Tell me what to read

  • December 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Because of my tbr I would like to join project 24 – but I would fail terribly within weeks. I buy books almost without thinking. So I am not going to join in but I will be trying to buy fewer books.

    Wow your LT catalogue is big. Oh and we share 400 odd books. I haven’t been through it all but my recommendations would be:

    The True Heart – Sylvia Townsend Warner which I just read. Reviewed today.
    Not so Quiet Helen Zenna Smith
    The Willow Cabin – Pamela Frankau (one of my favourite Virago books ever.)

    • December 22, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks Ali! After your True Heart review, that one is definitely leaping up my tbr pile. And the others are ones I’ve been keen to read too – unsurprisingly, I suppose! I love this mini project, getting recommendations for books I already have! I’m going to put together a list, along with who suggested them, rather than pick at this stage… I think…

  • December 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Gosh what fun!

    If I’m interpreting your reads and not reads correctly I would recommendL

    The Hopkins Manuscript – R.C. Sherriff
    The Rock Pool by Cyril Connolly
    The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov
    The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen

    Although you have many riches to choose from! Like Ali, I would love to take part but I’m sure I would fail – I know what I’m like when I set myself challenges. But maybe I will follow unofficially and see whether I could have stuck to it….

    • December 22, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Glad you find it fun too, Karen – I’m feeling very spoiled! You have indeed interpreted it correctly – and I’ll definitely put all those on my list. Which will I choose… hmm…

  • December 22, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Votes: The Hand That First Held Mine. Maggie o’Farrell.
    Mrs Fox: Sarah Hall.
    Bluestockings. Jane Hall.
    On Beauty. Zadie Smith.

    Luce x

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:30 am

      Thanks lovely! Particularly since Mrs Fox is super short.

  • December 22, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I’m going to be utterly predictable and recommend you spend at least part of 2017 in Barsetshire:

    Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
    Summer Half by Angela Thirkell (contained in your omnibus edition)

    I also think you’ll really enjoy Drawn from Life by E.H. Shepard.

    • December 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Oh, but it has been far too long since I went to Barsetshire – particularly in the hands of Angela Thirkell. And, since I read Drawn From Memory over a decade ago, I should definitely read Drawn From Life too.

  • December 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I really should join the Project 24 – but I think I will join the TBR Dare for 3 months instead, as my willpower will not hold out for a whole year! You’ve also made me feel better about my TBR piles – as you have even more than me!

    As for suggestions on what to read:
    Stefan Zweig: Burning Secret (Zweig is always a good read)
    Barbara Kingsolver: The Lacuna – not a perfect novel, but very interesting
    Rebecca Mead: The Road to Middlemarch – I have it on my TBR too, it just sounds so interesting, but I’ve got no idea how good it is!
    The Tove Jansson biography is fantastic!!!

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:31 am

      Thanks Marina! This might be the nudge I require to read The Lacuna, since it’s enormous… but a vote for the Tove biog is great.

  • December 22, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Roger Fry’s “Vision and Design” which I read about 35 years ago so don’t trust my memory, however I think it is an important book and well written.

    You have at least one unread Colette “Claudine and Annie” but if you have earlier ones in the series I’d read those first. Not the finest worsk of the incomparable genius of C20 writing but puts many other works in the shade none the less. Read the other ones too!

    How about Stevie Smith’s “Novel on Yellow Paper”? I haven’t read this “classic”, but I drafted ny thesis on yellow paper (I am that old folks!)

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Oh thanks Peter – I kept meaning to read Vision and Design during my DPhil, but never got around to it, and would certainly be interested to after reading Virginia Woolf’s biography of him. And thanks for the other suggestions too – the Stevie Smith has been on my tbr for far too long.

  • December 22, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I read Half Of A Yellow Sun earlier this year and it’s still in my top 5 reads of 2016.

    Also, Middlemarch – one of the few books I studied for my degree that I’d happily read again!

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:33 am

      I gave up on Middlemarch once… but that was more than 10 years ago, so perhaps its time has come!

  • December 22, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Dearest of Simons,
    I, too, will be utterly predictable and suggest you read the volume of Anthony Thwaite that you have in the middle of your list. Just try one a day. Or maybe just one a week. If you enjoy it, you will have found a massive collection of wealth in the English lyric.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:34 am

      Thank you Natalie! And a special one, because his wife sent it to me – now I just need to remember where I put it…

  • December 23, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Yes, you totally sound like an addict! : ).

    You are going to get hundreds of suggestions I suspect! There are already more than 20 in the comments. My 2 cents: Read Dr. Thorne because I adore Trollope and read A Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherrif (aren’t you supposed to do this for the podcast anyway? Am I making things up?). It is the only of his that I have read but I loved it and hope you will too.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:35 am

      This is a victim of me not having updated LibraryThing – because I finished A Fortnight in September a couple of days before you commented! But Dr Thorne sounds like it might be a 2017 must.

  • December 23, 2016 at 2:20 am

    It feels monumentally presumptuous for me to recommend anything to someone who is clearly better read than I’m ever likely to be. Still. Middlemarch is the greatest English-language novel I think I’ve ever read. Bleak House might run it close. But you know these are masterpieces. Of the more recent titles, Hangover Square and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter had a similar effect on me (a kind of evisceration, which perhaps doesn’t recommend them; but they are remarkable). Frost in May is tremendous if distressing. I don’t know what it is about upsetting books, I rarely want to approach them, but they often make a deeper impression than the likes of e.g. Lucky Jim (which I dislike in any case). Given your documented love for The Hours, I’d give By Nightfall a go. Other people seem to dislike it; I had reservations to begin with, but they were conquered pretty quickly. I second all Trollope recommendations above. Happy reading!

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

      Gareth, it is not presumptuous at all! Thank you for all these wonderful ideas – and so enticingly described. I did give up on Middlemarch once, but I was a younger man then…

      • December 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

        I gave up on Middlemarch first time around. I’d have been 20 or 21. I found it too slow to start and lost momentum. I’m sure you’ll love it when the time is right :)

  • December 23, 2016 at 2:53 am

    I think you should read My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt because it sounds wonderful and it is from Slightly Foxed so bound to be a good read.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:37 am

      Oo nice idea – it’s pretty much guaranteed to be wonderful, isn’t it?

  • December 23, 2016 at 3:35 am

    I didn’t look at your whole library, but I recommend Greengates, H Is for Hawk, and Miss Marjoribanks.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:38 am

      Many thanks, Kay! I’ll be reading Greengates for the next episode of my podcast, so I can pretty much guarantee that one ;)

    • December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

      I second Miss Marjoribanks! Loved it, it’s a bit like both Jane Austen and Trollope. She’s rather like Emma only much less annoying.

  • December 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Nooo, this is definitely fun, not self-indulgent at all! (Partly because I really love exploring other people’s libraries…) I can see you have some unread Dodie Smiths and Daphne du Maurier’s – two of my favourites! From Smith, I loved ‘It Ends With Revelations’, and ‘The New Moon with the Old’ is really funny. And as you’ve given 5*s to ‘Rebecca’, I’m sure you’ll love du Maurier’s ‘My Cousin Rachel’.

    Having browsed your collection, I have a question for you – you seem to have read practically all of Shirley Jackson. I’ve read ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ and ‘The Lottery and Other Stories’, and loved them all. What should I go with next?!

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:40 am

      I do love My Cousin Rachel, very much – but I’m afraid I’ve already read that one! But the Dodie Smith reminder is great – I’ve been meaning to read more of hers.

      And I have indeed read more or less everything by Shirley Jackson now, and my absolute favourite is The Sundial. It’s very funny, very strange, and couldn’t have been written by anybody else.

  • December 23, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I was going to suggest Middlemarch, but I see several others beat me to it. How did you manage to complete an Eng Lit degree without reading that one?
    Like Claire, I was going to suggest Doctor Thorne. Having read the first two of Trollope’s Barset Chronicles, book three is the obvious next step.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:41 am

      I read 100pp of it during that degree :/
      But yes, all these ringing endorsements of Trollope will doubtless work!

  • December 24, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I’d second Karen’s choice of The Hopkins Manuscript.

    I’ll add Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers from the Canongate Myths – one I haven’t read either yet.

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:42 am

      I might leave The Hopkins Manuscript for later in the year, as I’ll just have read two other Sherriff books for the podcast -but I would be up for trying more Vickers. I didn’t love Miss Garnet’s Angel, but I would give her another go.

  • December 24, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    What a delectable collection of books you have! Wishing you many wonderful days of reading your own books in 2017 :) My recommendations are:
    1.) Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie (which I suspect you didn’t need a recommendation to read anyway, but please do–it is on my top five favourite book list).
    2.) Browsings by Michael Dirda (I haven’t read this one as I’m waiting for an affordable copy [Not easy to find that here in India] but I have read and loved his Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments).

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:44 am

      Glad you enjoyed looking at them! I’m afraid you’ve picked one I *have* read, in the Dirda, but I do have a couple others by him that I haven’t read. And thanks for the Adichie rec! You’re right, after reading 3 of hers this year and loving them, it was quite likely to be on my list ;)

  • December 25, 2016 at 1:21 am

    You knew I was going to vote for Half of a Yellow Sun, surely? I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sooooo much and I can never ever resist a chance to pressure somebody into reading her. Do that! What a great way to start 2017 off right!

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:44 am

      And this is the year I finally discovered Adichie! I’ve read three this year, so I do envisage the fourth at some point in 2017…

  • December 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    I thought you had read all of Dickens, but since you haven’t, it is both urgent AND important that you should read Little Dorrit and Bleak House :-) at least (or should I say at last ?).
    I’ve seen a few Henry Green on your list: Loving, Party Going…
    According to Queenie, by B. Bainbridge, Innocence and The Golden Child, by P. Fitzgerald should definitely appeal to you. Cassadra At The Wedding, by D. Baker is a gem…
    It was a pleasure to have a peep in your library !

    • December 26, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Oh, Izzy, I’m a long, long way off reading all of them – but if it is urgent and important then I will see to it! And I’ve only read one Henry Green, despite having loads, so should definitely read another – thanks for all these wonderful reminders of things waiting on my shelves!

  • December 27, 2016 at 7:12 am

    I love looking at your list! Here are a few I’d love to see you review, mostly because they’re on my TBR list as well:

    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
    The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau
    School for Love by Olivia Manning (I think I’m going to read this for the 1951 Club!)

    Good luck with Project 24!

  • December 27, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Best wishes for Project 24!! Question – will you allow yourself any library books or no?

    Looking through your (virtual) bookshelf was so fun!

    My recommendations:
    Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon – Jane Austen (shocker! ;)
    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
    The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
    Symposium & Phaedrus – Plato

    Curious about:
    anything by Fanny Burney
    anything by Noel Coward
    Belinda – Maria Edgeworth
    Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
    anything by Virginia Woolf :)
    The Novelist as Innovator – Ian Watt
    Essays – George Orwell
    Good Evening, Mrs. Craven – Mollie Panter-Downes
    On Beauty – Zadie Smith
    A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood
    A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
    Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • January 12, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I’m late to the party, but after enjoying a look at your list, I can recommend:

    One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson, if you enjoy narrative history.
    Chesterton’s essays (I love Chesterton.)
    Any Agatha Christie that you haven’t already read, when you’re in the mood for something undemanding and entertaining. After the Funeral is good, and Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun.
    Dosteyevsky’s The Idiot.
    Sister Carrie by Dreiser, although it’s rather depressing and sad.
    C.S. Lewis’s autobiographical Surprised by Joy is quite illuminating and encouraging.
    The Chosen by Chaim Potok is a wonderful coming-of-age novel.
    And you haven’t read Vanity Fair? I really like Thackeray, in spite of the fact, probably because he’s a little more acerbic and sarcastic than Dickens.

    That plus all of the other recommendations ought to keep you busy all year long. Thanks for letting us look at your library.

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