Friday, April 18, 2014

What’s on Your To-Be-Read List?

By Kim

Every so often I make a vow not to buy any more books until I make a dent in my towering to-be-read pile. I may even keep it until I see a launch announcement from a favorite author, a recommendation from a friend who knows my taste, attend an author event, or give into the temptation to walk into a bookstore. One whiff of new book or, worse, OLD book smell and my credit card leaps from my wallet.

At this moment I have sixty-nine unread hard-copy books sitting on my bookshelf, not including a couple dozen or so more research books. There are twelve unread e-books on my Nook, and twenty-nine on my wish list, each one screaming “buy me.”

Photo by Deborah Downes
Hello, my name is Kim Bullock and I am a book hoarder. An addict. If this condition is left unchecked, someday my house is going to look like this. (No, the photo was not taken in a used book store. It is a friend’s apartment. The view is the same from any angle, in any room.)

Instead of checking myself into the nearest 12-step program, I’m going to give you a glimpse of my bookshelf, the one filled with stories yet to be devoured, and invite you to do the same.

The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff

Admittedly, the cover seduced me first. A woman wears an expression like her world is about to end while she embraces a soldier. The Eiffel Tower looms in the background. The colors are faded, like a hand tinted historical photo.  Paris. 1919. Secrets. Danger. Romance. My heart races just thinking about cracking open the cover to this one.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A female British spy is trapped in WWII France and arrested by the Gestapo. Will she give up her mission or face a grisly execution? I don’t know about you, but I have to know!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

No, it isn't related to THOSE shades of gray. This one is another WWII story, YA this time, and takes place in Siberia. Oddly enough it had been sitting on my shelf a month when my daughter brought home a second copy from her school book fair, shoved it into my hands, and said “read this!”

Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

This is one of the few non-fiction selections on my shelf, but all of King’s art history books read like densely-rich novels and, well, exactly like he speaks in person. This is a good thing.  It’s impossible to read anything by him without feeling both smarter and entertained.

The Josephine B. series by Sanda Gulland (The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth.) 

What can I say? I love Napoleon and Josephine enough to stick with them for 1000 pages. 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I know little about this book other than it takes place in WWII from the point of view of a nine-year-old who encounters a fence and becomes friends with a boy in striped pajamas on the other side. In other words, it will tear my heart out by the roots.

This exercise has been enlightening. I never imagined that five of the eight books I chose from my stack would take place in France, and that all but one would involve war.  Hmmm…

So, what’s in your to-be-read stack?


  1. I have over 2000 unread books in my house, and I just keep acquiring more and more. Books are definitely my crack. But hey, better than real crack. I tell myself that one day I'll retire, and then I'll be able to read and read and read.

    I have a five shelf bookshelf in my living room that has all of my to be read next books, though I still often dip into the stacks in other rooms, or bring books home from the library.

    1. WOW! You certainly have me beat! I probably have 2000 books in my house. Well, maybe 3000 if I include my daughters' libraries.

  2. My stack includes: The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis), Home (Marilynne Robinson), The Explicit Gospel (Matt Chandler), Crossing the Yard (Richard Shelton), The Most of Nora Ephron, etc. I just finished The Opposite of Maybe (Maddie Dawson) and am reading Glitter and Glue (Kelly Corrigan). I need a week at the beach!

  3. You will adore Code Name Verity! I sure did.


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