Bookworm problem #1: too many books, so little time. Agreed?
Every person who’s passionate about reading will, at some point, discover that they have too many books on their shelves, too many books in their TBR piles, and not enough time to go through all of them. The more you finish, the bigger the number of books you still have to read. It’s a lost cause!
This problem seems especially insurmountable if, like me, you’re interested in a vast range of books. I have around a thousand of books I wish to read on my Goodreads to-read list and Amazon wishlists. Whenever I browse these lists, I’m amazed at the variety. It’s no wonder, then, that I feel like I don’t read enough if I’m always sticking to the same kinds of books (lately I’m just into contemporary European fiction).
Compiling today’s list was hard because I had to squeeze everything into ten points. I’m sure I will find more types to add in a future follow-up, but in the meantime, here are the top 10 types of books I wish I had the time to read.
10 Types of Books I Wish I Had Time to Read
1. International canon literature (a.k.a. the classics)
This is perhaps the biggest group of books (I could even create a sub-list based on the countries of origin). I love literary fiction, more than genre fiction, but the classics can be tough to read due to the different language, context and style. Nevertheless, I’d love to read the British, American and Italian canon also for the sake of knowing it. Such literary knowledge can always come in handy. I’m interested in the French canon too (would love to brush up my French and read them in their original form), while I’m also attracted to the difficult Russian canon.
2. Nordic noir
I love crime and mystery thrillers, but I don’t read enough of it. Reading and reviewing Sebastian Fitzek’s The Eye Collector last summer revived my interest. I would especially love to invest my time in Nordic noir due to its reputation and my love for Scandinavia. I’d like to read Henning Mankell, Camilla Läckberg and Stieg Larsson (Sweden), Jo Nesbø (Norway) and Arnaldur Indriðason (Iceland), among others. The issue that keeps me from trying? The serialisation – I don’t feel ready to commit myself to a long series!
3. Asian literature
Fiction from Japan and China used to be my #1 type of books some years ago. I even had a blog dedicated to such books, and I’m planning on republishing some of the reviews here. I’m interested in both the traditional and the contemporary books of these countries, though my favourites will always be the dark Japanese thrillers such as those of Natsuo Kirino. Other authors that I’m dying to try are Ryu Murakami, Yasutaka Tsutsui, and Keigo Higashino.
4. Assigned texts which I never completed
This is an extension of the first point of the list. I’m a Humanities student majoring in Italian, with English as a minor. The programme is built mostly on literature so you can imagine the number of assigned literary texts that we need to study. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to read them in their entirety, and it’s often enough to study the most important parts. I’m referring to works such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Byron’s Don Juan. I wish I could read them to have a better understanding of the aspects discussed in the course.
5. Literary criticism
Studying literature implies reading literary criticism. Often, the amount of crit to read exceeds the number of assigned texts. Some professors are nice enough to provide copies, while others expect us to find them on our own. Whichever the case, it’s super tough to go through all of these texts. Some crit books which I only read in part and would like to finish someday are Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence, F.R. Leavis’s The Great Tradition and all Umberto Eco’s (he’s quite difficult to read).
6. Biographical and historical books
My ‘read’ list might not show it, but I love biographical and historical books. I just don’t read enough of them. My favourite subjects are royals, authors, artists, particular love stories and true crime, but recently I’m into some celebrities and sportspersons too. If I had the time, I’d like to read more about Tudor, Victorian, French and Russian royalty. With these, I also include historical fiction based on royalty, such as Philippa Gregory’s books, which I’ve never tried yet.
7. Classical and holy literature
When studying English and Italian canon, the discussion has to inevitably turn to ancient Greek and Latin works, which have inspired so many authors throughout the centuries. Although they all seem daunting, I wouldn’t mind trying Homer, Aristoteles, Ovid and Virgil. In this category, I’m also lumping the main sacred texts from different religions. As a non-believer, it would be interesting and useful to read such books, but I’m afraid I lack the patience.
8. Maltese literature
Ever wondered why I never refer to books from my own country? Simply because I don’t read enough of them (and also because there aren’t many English translations I could recommend you). I used to pick up a local book or two on my library trips, but nowadays I don’t go anymore. Which is a pity because there’s a lot of exciting contemporary authors that I’d love to read and follow.
9. Popular genre fiction
I probably consider this category the toughest and most improbable of all. I’m talking about those series of books that achieved huge commercial success such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and… 50 Shades of Grey. The majority might reasonably think I’m crazy for never reading Harry Potter, but the truth is that I’m not even remotely interested in the genre and usually popularity doesn’t impress me. However, I admit that it’s a huge lack and I still could find these books interesting from the aspect of cultural phenomena. If only I could muster up the courage to tackle them.
10. My friends’ favourite books
Finally, the books I’d love to try are my friends’ favourites. As a reader who loves to discuss literature in every form or way, I like to know about my buddies’ preferences. However, it’s not easy to actually read them because of different tastes and lack of time. In any case, I have one such book waiting for me on my shelf, and it’s Richard Adams’ Watership Down, Matt’s favourite novel.
Will I ever read all of these? Probably not. What I could do is try to vary my yearly reading by including books from these categories with the hope of acquiring more knowledge about literature in general.