A Book You've Always Meant to Read: Staff Picks for the 2019 Reading Challenge

July 9, 2019 | Book Buzz

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Are you participating in our reading challenge? So are library staff all across the city. Here are some of their recommendations for the category "A book you've always meant to read":

Alice has always meant to read:

Why has Alice always meant to read them?

"Because I'm always reading YA for work*, I just keep putting books on my shelf for someday:"

*(editors' note: Alice oversees the selection of young adult books for the library)


Stiff by Mary Roach

Stiff by Mary Roach

"About what happens to bodies after death, because I think it's sort of fascinating and her style is very approachable."

Woman An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

"About our bodies. I remember hearing very good things about this when it came out."

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

"I think she has some things to say about feminism and living in a female body and a fat body in our culture."


Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

"I took lots of classical studies in undergrad, so this sounds like it has potential as a different take on who the gods are."

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather ONeill

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

"Sounds fun."

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso by David Sedaris

"I know, I know, not having read Sedaris is an embarrassing gap."

We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

"I have loved her blog so dearly and I long to make time to laugh until I cry."


What has Amy always meant to read?

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Amy has always meant to read The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.

Why Amy has always meant to read it:

"It was originally published in 1872. It's one of those not-really-for-children-by-today's-standards children's books, as it gets pretty violent! It was turned into an animated film in 1990 that never really took off, and I never saw the film, but I'd heard of it a few times. I've been meaning to read it for 10 years at least and finally did for this challenge.

Since it's an older book, the writing style could be a bit daunting, but I enjoyed the story (violence and all). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under the age of 14 or so."


What has Reagan always meant to read?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Reagan has always meant to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Why she's always meant to read it:

"After watching The End of the Tour (2016), a movie that centred on the author and his experience with loneliness, ambition and American culture, this book got put on my radar. I started googling about the book while still watching the movie and was intrigued by the premise that it's set in the future where corporations are allowed the opportunity to bid for and purchase naming rights for each calendar year (Year of the Whopper).

I also love experiencing unconventional narrative structures, like books with footnotes and end notes; of late Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is one of my all time favourites in this category. I've always been really intimidated to start it because its so very long (you have to be in the right head space to take on something like this!) and because it's included on so many "books you MUST read before you die" lists (no pressure!)."


What has Nalini always meant to read?

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Nalini has always meant to read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Why has she always meant to read it?

"Many years ago I decided to take OAC English in Summer School (for those too young to know, OAC was Grade 13). The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood was one of the books on the reading list, and I just wasn't able to finish it. Maybe it was because it was the summer, I'm not sure, but I wasn't able to get through the first chapter. I ended up dropping the class after a horrific quiz. Ever since then Atwood has has been tainted for me <covers face in guilt>."


What has Myrna always meant to read?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Myrna has always meant to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Why has she always meant to read it?

"I enjoyed The Secret History, and I have been told I would love The Goldfinch by many reliable sources. One of my aunts even planned a whole trip to the Netherlands to see the painting after reading it! There is a movie adaptation coming out this fall, so I am hoping to read it before then. I think how HEAVY the hardcover edition that I own is has been holding me back, so I might try it as an ebook."


What has Wendy always meant to read?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Wendy has always meant to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Why has she always meant to read it?

"It's a big, weird, sprawling novel featuring sea creatures, so it ought to be right up my alley, but I've tried to read it four times and I just can't do it.

Jane Smiley, in Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, suggests that Ahab, the obsessional sea captain, is similar to a careless reader who just wants to know what's next in the plot. By contrast, Ishmael, the narrator, explores reality in all its glorious multiplicity. Feel like throwing in forty pages describing different kinds of rope? Ishmael does! A lengthy digression on flensing techniques? Why not! It's all part of life's rich pageant, so an enlightened reader ought to care.

Reading that, I felt terrible: I'm the soulless, philistine Ahab kind of reader, I thought; not the creative, grounded Ishmael kind of reader. I tried to read it again. I got to the forty pages on rope.

Reader, I've never finished Moby Dick.

It's time for one more shot."


More Books that Reading Challenge Participants Have Always Meant to Read: 


What book have you always meant to read, but never got around to? How big is your TBR pile? Has taking this challenge finally forced you to tackle your white whale? Tell us in the comments!