To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

I didn’t realize it until I went back to make my Top 10 list, but what a strange reading year I had.  I read the first pages of a seemingly infinite number of books without finishing them (an expensive and irritating finding).  If I didn’t love a story right off, and I mean really and truly love it, I tossed it.




FIRST IMPRESSIONS, REDUX — I’m not going to shout out the list of the books I tossed permanently, but here are the ones I started and set aside for whatever the reason, the books I’m promising to give another chance:  The Good Lord Bird (McBride), Case Histories (Atkinson), The Interestings (Wolitzer), The Orchardist (Coplin), The Dinner (Koch), Her (Parravani), With or Without You (Ruta), The Orphan Master’s Son (Johnson), Elsewhere (Russo), We Need New Names (Bulawayo), The Son (Meyer), Dispatches (Herr), The Tenth of December (Saunders), Bringing Up the Bodies (Mantel), Blood & Beauty (Dunant)

I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU! — Favorites that I re-read, or listened to again on audio:  Crossing to Safety (Stegner), The Shell Seekers (Pilcher), Let’s Take the Long Way Home (Caldwell), Wild (Strayed), Lucky (Sebold), A Three Dog Life (Thomas), The Year of Magical Thinking (Didion), Lit (Mary Karr), Ordinary People (Guest), The Prince of Tides (Conroy), A Thousand Acres (Smiley)

UNLOADING THE DISHWASHER IS CLEARLY OVERRATED — The stories that, once I started, I could not put down until the last page:  Three Junes (Glass), The Death of Santini (Conroy), The Moment Before (Vitello), Life After Life (Atkinson), Alice Close Your Eyes (Dean), The Tennis Partner (Verghese), Pack of Two (Knapp), Let’s Take the Long Way Home (Caldwell), Open (Agassi)



WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? — My top 10 list, finally, which has clearly tipped the seesaw into nonfiction for 2013:

1.  THE GOLDFINCH, a novel by Donna Tartt

2.  A THREE DOG LIFE, a memoir by Abigail Thomas

3.  PACK OF TWO, a memoir by Caroline Knapp

4.  SON OF A GUN, a memoir by Justin St. Germain

5.  LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, a memoir by Gail Caldwell

6.  BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2013, edited by Cheryl Strayed

7.  DRINKING: A LOVE STORY, a memoir by Caroline Knapp

8.  FARTHER AWAY, essay collection by Jonathan Franzen

9.  LIT, a memoir by Mary Karr (even more brilliant the 2nd time)

10.  OPEN, a memoir by Andre Agassi


8 thoughts on “To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

  1. Paul Lamb

    My wife has been pushing The Shell Seekers at me for years. I really should give it a go.

    I have to say that I think I can count on two hands the number of books I have begun in my lifetime that I have not finished. I really have an issue with the idea that a story must “grab” the reader right away or it’s not worth investing time and effort in. There is a reason a given novel is 300 pages long, and one can’t really expect to appreciate that having read only 10 of those pages. (I liken it to looking at the lower right corner of Grant Wood’s “Christina’s World” painting. All you’ll see there are some brown streaks. They barely give you the slightest sense of the whole painting. It would be unfair to the painter — and the viewer — to judge based on that small sample size.)

    And then there are the books I return to: Walden, Moby Dick, and the one I am currently reading for I estimate the THIRTIETH time, The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth.

    1. Teri Post author

      I don’t blame the books, as I also do not believe a book must reel me in on page one. I blame my current inability to focus …

      One of my favorite reads of all time is LONESOME DOVE, a story that took a good 150 pages to get me grab me, a book that after 800 pages I wished would continue on.

  2. Josey

    Son of a Gun was a good one for me too. I also loved Let’s Take the Long Way Home. This year, Ioved Her & Blue Plate Special & Delia Ephron’s collection of essays. I’ve been trying to organize my office for the last two weeks (I keep walking out–what’s that about?) and the one thing I keep hearing myself say is, “Oh, I forgot to read that”…I’ve got so many books I need to read this year…not counting the ones that are yet to be released.

  3. harryipants

    It’s strange, but I too, in 2013, started many, many books and didn’t finish. And I almost never do that.
    Some of them, I’m sure, are outstanding books.
    I think, as writers, we can sometimes be impressionable, and HAVE to stop reading certain books, because we realise they’re going to affect the way we write at that time. Some books just have too strong a voice, a voice that resonates TOO much.
    Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one going through this. And I really hope it doesn’t happen when I start to read The Goldfinch!

    1. Teri Post author

      You’re so right, Harry. Sometimes I start a book and think, Oh No, I can’t have this voice or sentence structure in my head or my own book will start sounding really really strange.

      I also hope you don’t put down The Goldfinch, or at least that you don’t drop it accidentally on your toe. At 800 pages that would hurt.

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