Bookish Girl Bex

“She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.”

~ Louisa May Alcott


Books flipped open


As I have probably already mentioned, I’m a bit of a book-worm and have been ever since my parents taught me to read, shortly before my 3rd birthday. For as long as I can remember, books have been a constant companion; being both a delicious luxury and a fundamental basic need in my life. I can go without many things in this world, but food/water/shelter/love/music aside, just knowing that there is a sufficient supply of reading (and writing) material at my disposal, is enough to keep this simple soul happy and content, in my own little world.

I’m an eclectic reader. And one of those annoying people who can have up to 5 five books on the go at any one time, without losing track of a single story-line or train of thought. I read literary fiction, crime fiction, books about quantum physics, books on psychology, books about theology, books about atheism and I have a huge collection of books about the art and process of writing; I like horror, ghost stories, short stories and real life stories about people I admire… The list goes on and on; but the point I’m trying to make is that I LOVE books and just can’t get enough of them!

One of the frustrating side-effects of me having had a breakdown, was that my ability to concentrate on the written word, diminished noticeably. I could read a bunch of Tweets online, because hey, anyone can just about process the gist of a 140 character post. But even reading through articles on my favourite science journals online became near impossible, as by the third paragraph I’d already completely forgotten about what I’d previously read in the first two. As someone who has had a life-long love affair with the written word, you can probably imagine just how frustrating and saddening it was to suddenly find myself unable to do the one thing that had always brought me comfort and joy.

But just as I was beginning to feel as though my love for literature was something I was going to have to forgo until I became well again, I discovered audio books; which just about saved my sanity! Through I was able to download and amass a small collection of books I’d been wanting to ‘read’ for some time; as well as a few beloved titles such as the remarkably eloquent ‘God Is Not Great’ which was not only written by the late, great Christopher Hitchens, but narrated by him also on the audio book version. Talk about the perfect bed-time story!

Somehow, the method of receiving and retaining information via narration, was something my otherwise addled brain was able to do. I became buoyed by the fact that my love of literature no longer sat frustratingly ‘just out of reach’. I could still enjoy ‘reading’ even if it wasn’t via the usual ‘eyes-down’ method. With the passing of time, my ability to read and write has returned. Not 100%, but I can now read a few chapters before my head starts to swim and I get tired. It’s definitely progress though.

Anyway…now that I’m starting to get back into the habit of reading the written word once more, I decided to go through my piles of unread books lying around the apartment, the myriad unread ebooks waiting patiently on my Kindle and the audio books from Audible that I have yet to listen to, in order to bring them all together to create a nice new TBR list. Lists are great. Everyone likes a good list that helps give an aspect of their lives a semblance of order – and I’m no different. That inner glee and satisfaction we get from being able to cross an item off as completed? Yeah, that’s a good enough reason if any, to create a list in the first place!

So, without further ado, here are the top 50 titles on my  TBR list:

  1. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  2. Larkswood – Valerie Mendes
  3. The Watcher In The Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  4. A Manual For Creating Atheists – Peter Boghossian
  5. Joyland – Stephen King
  6. 1984 – George Orwell *
  7. IQ84 – Haruki Murakami
  8. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms – Gail Tsukiyama
  9. The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion – Robert Spencer
  10. The Shadow of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon *
  11. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism – David Mills
  12. Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men – Mara Hvistendahl
  13. Smashing Physics – Jon Butterworth
  14. The Ghost Bride – Yangsze Choo
  15. The Tea House Fire – Ellis Avery
  16. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion – Sam Harris
  17. Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict – Irene Vilar
  18. The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
  19. Guillotine: Its Legend and Lore – Daniel Charles Gerould
  20. The Disappearing Spoon… and Other True Tales from the Periodic Table – Sam Kean
  21. Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris – Graham Robb
  22. Poppet – Mo Hayder
  23. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History – Lewis Buzbee
  24. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women – Geraldine Brooks
  25. Collected Essays – Hanif  Kureishi
  26. Dark Heart: The Story of a Journey into an Undiscovered Britain – Nick Davies
  27. Why Does E=mc²? – Brian Cox
  28. Jane Eyre –  Charlotte Brontë
  29. Childfree and Loving It! – Nicki Defago
  30. Kartography – Kamila Shamsie
  31. The Woods – Harlan Coben
  32. The Sealed Letter – Emma Donaghue
  33. Hallucinations – Oliver Sacks
  34. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  35. A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries – Thomas Mallon
  36. Essays – Michel de Montaigne
  37. Professor and Other Writings – Terry Castle
  38. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – Anne Fadiman
  39. The Danish Girl – David Ebershoff
  40. The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius – Graham Farmelo
  41. A Woman In Berlin – Anonymous
  42. The Prague Cemetery – Umberto Eco
  43. Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature –  Douglas T. Kenrick
  44. A World Elsewhere – Wayne Johnston
  45. City of Women – David R. Gillham
  46. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through The Madness Industry – Jon Ronson
  47. Adieu To God: Why Psychology Leads To Atheism – Mick Power
  48. Drugged: The Science & Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs – Richard J. Miller
  49. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
  50. Nonconformity – Nelson Algren

(* This asterisk indicates a book that I have already read, but want to reread again in the near future – probably because I’m wanting to read a sequel or followup book and need a refresher first).

Hmm…just looking back over that list, I’m not sure what it might tell anyone about me. Except for the fact that my head is all over the place and is never satisfied with just pursuing any single avenue of interest. It’s a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. Contains some horror, some literary fiction, some essays, books on books, books examining western culture, books about other cultures… it’s a good mixture; although it took me a while to whittle down the actual numbers of books I have available and waiting to be read, to an immediate close crop of titles I want to work through first.

It’s exciting actually: knowing that I’m starting to get back to that place where reading books is as natural a habit as breathing, eating or sleeping. Only those who have shared this same passion for the written word can possibly imagine how distraught I became when I first lost that ability to concentrate on so much as a paragraph. And those people will also understand the relief, joy and excitement I’m feeling at the prospect of getting back in the reading habit.

I’m not sure how to progress with this page really. Maybe I’ll update it, with a strike-through and completion date added, every time I finish a book. I might include the odd book review here and there within the blog itself, if I think a book has given me something to think about; in those particular posts, you dear reader are free to leave comments of your own, telling me what you might have thought of the book yourself.

I just spent about half an hour also uploading some of my TBR books onto Goodreads and after managing to list about 250 titles on there, I soon realised that I have way too many books to read, for me to be spending that time listing them all online. I set up a little widget thingummy in the sidebar though, which shows the title of the book I’m currently reading, via the Goodreads site. Just in case anyone actually gives a toss about what I happen to be wading through at any particular point in time!

Anyway, I guess this is more of a page for me, than for anyone else. It gives me a little nudge in the right direction, reminding me that I need to be trying harder, to get my reading rate back up to speed, but if it amuses/interests anyone else along the way too, well that’s just a bonus!


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