Monday, June 8, 2015

The "I'll Thank Me Later" List

Last week, I finished Andy Miller's The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life.  With a young son at home but despite working in publishing and having a longish commute, Miller had fallen out of the habit of reading.  He draws up a twelve-book "List of Betterment", which includes books he's always meant to read and/or has pretended to have read.  These twelve books reignite his love of reading, and Miller expands the scope of his project:  reflecting on his history as a reader, reading 50 books, exploring book club membership and book blogging, and undertaking a new writing project.  Miller writes about books in a thoughtful and witty way.  I liked his reading memoir and suspect that if our reading tastes were more similar, I would have adored it.

Miller's journey in The Year of Reading Dangerously has inspired me to make my own "List of Betterment" which I have dubbed The "I'll Thank Me Later" List.  This "I'll Thank Me Later" List is comprised of books I have been meaning to read for years and which I am fairly certain I will love. 

The "I'll Thank Me Later" List
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson:  Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum was my favorite book to gift to others for years.  Anticipating another glorious reading experience, I ordered the hardcover of Life After Life soon after publication but, alas, I have yet to open it.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver:  Alright, already.  I am an Oprah fan but find myself less interested in books that are OBC choices.   I read Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer fourteen years ago and still think about coyotes and pesticides because of it.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv:  As I write this, my sons are huddled up next to each other watching YouTube videos of stampylongnose.  If you don't know who Stampy is, you may not need to read Last Child in the Woods, but I do.  Plus, two dear friends have recommended it and I spied my arborist brother-in-law reading it.

Gilead by Maryanne Robinson:  Nothing but raves about Robinson's writing from readers I really respect.  Time to test the waters with the first installment in a trilogy.

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden:  In my mommyblogging days, I had some actual blog readers who sometimes made my day by leaving comments.  A mysterious (because blog-less herself and Canadian to boot), witty, and smart commenter named "Mrs. F with Four" recommended this book as one of her all-time favorites.  I promptly ordered a copy and six years later ...

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner:  When I was an English grad student, living in a garden apartment in Chicago's Lincoln Park (garden = basement and the Brown Line train ran right behind it and spewed rusty El juice upon my leased Honda), my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I walked one street over to have drinks at his colleague/mentor's home.  Several things I remember about the evening: 1) They had a wine refrigerator built into their kitchen cabinetry which, at the time, blew my mind.  2) They had no living room furniture yet so the colleague's wife was using the space to host her friends for yoga with a teacher she hired.  3)  She thought I could get a job moderating book club meetings, which I did not have the guts to attempt but, in hindsight, would have been a great if not necessarily lucrative career.  4)  Her favorite book at the time was Angle of Repose.  Fast forward a dozen plus years:  My suburban neighbor one street over has a fantastic kitchen and Angle of Repose on one of her bookshelves.  A still unread-by-me copy purchased from a Chicago Public Library book sale cart has graced my shelves for ten years.  My current kitchen lacks a wine refrigerator but is not too shabby.  Yoga pants, but no yoga.

A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary:  I read all of the Henry Huggins and most of the Ramona books to my oldest and found them even more wonderful as an adult.  I want to know about the woman who created these timeless childhood stories.  I've checked this memoir out of the library several times over the years and returned it unread.  Found a used copy at a book sale last summer so it seems like fate.

"I'll Thank Me Later" Books stacked in my Kindle...
The Green Mile by Stephen King:  Still haven't read the "horror" King books and probably won't, but after years of EW columns, 11/22/63, and Joyland, I trust King and want to read The Green Mile.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman:  This book sounds like one I would hate, but I have to remember that other books I thought I would hate -- Lonesome Dove, Ready Player One, Hunger Games, just to name a few -- were books I loved.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain:  Am I an extrovert or an introvert?  I always assumed I was the former because in my goody goody way, I thought I was supposed to be.  I suspect I am the latter and want to learn more.  The recent launch of the Quiet Revolution website has me even more intrigued.

So that's it, my "I'll Thank Me Later" List.  It's not a collection of books I think I should read but of books I suspect I will adore.  I'll check back in with progress.  I'd love to hear about what titles you'd choose for an "I'll Thank Me Later" List.


  1. Coming over here from your 2015 list and the Rumor Godden review which had me intrigued. Several on this list I really love: Quiet and Poisonwood Bible among them. I have Last Child in the Woods lying around as well. The list of books I have pretended to read or should really get around to reading is longer than my arm, and the older I get the more I feel "why bother?" Americanah and Tattoos on the Heart probably fit this list among my recent reads: books I would not have picked up on my own but ended up being extremely moved by.

    1. I have the audiobook of Americanah from an Audible deal so I will get to it eventually. I just ordered the When Breath Becomes Air book that I fear so much, but I am going to make myself do it. So much good stuff is outside my comfort zone. It's hard to crack a new spine though, especially when one is good at identifying books in their sweet spot which, NTB, I think I am.