The next short to-read list

I’ve been finding these short to-read lists helpful. My to-read list had become unmanageable, with over 100 books sitting ignored on my shelf I was developing a habit of constantly acquiring new books and never getting around to the books I already owned. Then, when the time came to choose something new to read, it would take me hours, if not days, to make a choice. I’ve found that by putting together a list in advance I am no longer paralysed by choice and simply get on with reading the things I actually wanted to read anyway.

This is even true when, like last time I made one of these lists, I end up going off-piste and reading other books anyway. So I felt no guilt about reading Kaite Welsh’s amazing debut novel, The Wages of Sin, even though it was on my list, but when I’d finished it I didn’t spend long casting about for the next book. It’s an ideal situation.


Since I only have a book and a half left of my last list, I thought it was time to start a new one. What I learned from the last list is that it’s important to make sure that at least half of the books are either on Kindle, or are paperbacks small enough to fit in a handbag, because I always need something to read on the train, and these days I’m not doing too much reading at home. The result is that Earth: The Power of the Planet, is taking my forever to read, and I keep picking up other things to put in my bag while I neglect it. I’ll have to find some real solution to this because a lot of the items on my longer to-read list are great heavy hardbacks, and I can’t ignore them forever.

Anyway, I digress. Time to pick the new list. As always, I’m leaving a couple of slots open for book club choices, I’m aiming for approximate gender parity in authors and I’m trying to avoid getting too heavy on any particular genre. Also, I’m numbering my choices, but that doesn’t mean I’ll read them in order. So, with that in mind, here’s the plan:

1. Savant by Nik Abnet

2. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

3. The Waves by Virginia Woolf

4. Introducing Quantum Theory by J. P. McEvoy

5. Book club choice #1 – The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

7. The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan

8. Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

9. Brighton Rock by Graham Green

10. Book club choice #2 – The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

I think that’s a good ratio of fact to fiction, a couple of classics and semi-classics, some lit fic, some genre fic and an all-around good selection. I’m looking forward to getting started (just as soon as I finish Earth and my Agatha Christie collection).

One thing that does worry me, though, is that when I’ve finished this list I’ll only own three un-read books authored by women. Now, perhaps I shouldn’t care about gender parity in my reading, but I do. So far this year I’m very nearly at 50:50 (as I write I have read one more book by men than I’ve read books by women) and I’d like to keep it that way. With a little luck, my book club will choose at least one book by a woman, but I do hate to influence them because I see the book club as an opportunity to read things I might not otherwise try.

Now, I could go out and acquire more books, but these short lists are, in part, designed to help me to avoid doing exactly that. On the other hand, it could well be Christmas before I finish this list, in which case all is well – while I won’t go buy books for myself I’ll never say no to books as gifts and that should alleviate the immediate emergency. If all else fails, it’s high time I joined my local library anyway.

What’s on your more immediate to-read list?

5 thoughts on “The next short to-read list

  1. I too hope that you’ll love Jane Eyre, it’s one of my favourite books (also, it’s a shame you missed the stage play a few months ago, which was amazing). I’m unfamiliar with any of the other books on your list other than The 39 Steps, which I’ve read and remember as being entertaining.

    Not that I’m encouraging you to go and buy more books, but if you’re looking for other female authors (obviously SFF is my genre, so most of these are from there), I can heartily recommend almost anything by Ursula K. Le Guin; I’ve read some good stuff by Connie Willis; I’ve not read Octavia E. Butler or N. K. Jemisin, but both come recommended, and, I understand, write the darker fiction that you like and I’m less keen on (and Jemisin has won the Hugo Award for best novel two years running); Ann Leckie’s ‘Ancilliary’ books (starting with Ancilliary Justice) are excellent and do interesting things with gender; I’ve really enjoyed a lot of Agatha Christie’s and Dorothy L. Sayers’ crime novels (and the former’s non-fiction account of being at an archaeological dig with her husband is fantastic); and, of course, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Part of the reason it’s on my list is because you recommended it not long ago 🙂

      That sounds like an excellent list and I will very sensibly ignore it until I have finished more of the books on my shelves. Honest.


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