Top 7 Books that Have Been on My TBR the Longest!

To-Be-Read lists can be so dangerous. On the one hand, they are super useful with helping the unsuspecting bibliophile in keeping track of titles that sound really fascinating in the moment. They masquerade as a useful tool to help the avid reader in maintaining resources of stuff if we actually find ourselves without anything to read (granted Hell would probably freeze over by then). On the other hand, they can become stressful little buggers if they don’t decrease but rather mutate like an unwanted weed, the numbers just growing completely out of control. In that sense, TBRs are just another shelf—literally and metaphorically—where books go to catch dust while they are ultimately forgotten about.

As I lay in bed one night during an impressive bout of insomnia, I began to ponder the state of my own massively large list of unread treats. My mind wandered off to the time that I had created a GoodReads account in 2013, to an era when my first To-Be-Read list was formed into existence. In fact, I had never even considered keeping a tally of interesting sounding novels until my association with GR! This then led me down a rabbit hole of discovery as I tried to figure out which books have been on my backstock the longest, and by that I mean even before GR was a thing for me.

I ended up with a list of seven books that have just been chilling, catching the fluffy allergy-inducing mites for the last almost twenty years! A couple of them weren’t surprising because they are somewhat intimidating to me, either out of hype or literary significance, however, the rest were total shockers.

Check ‘em out below! They are in order of newest to the most ancient of occupants.

Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki: In 2013, I took a Modern Japanese Culture and Literature class at my local Uni and Natsume Sōseki was one of the authors that we had read. His book Kusamakura (The Three-Cornered World) had made me fall completely in love with him as an author. When I asked my professor for recommendations on his other works, Kokoro was brought up as being one of Sōseki’s most renown novels. So, I typed up a note of it in my then Windows phone and then completely forgot about it after the semester was over. Two years later in 2015, after I moved into a new home, I even bought a copy of the damn thing, but I have yet to check it out.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey: This sci-fi space opera was a brand-new fucking release back in 2011 when I found it sitting on the shelf of a local bookstore. I had never seen such a humongous fucking book before (physically, I mean, especially for a paperback) and I was stunned by the sheer size of it. The cover also looked so fucking badass. I took a picture of it with my camera phone and promised myself that I would buy it the next time I had a spare twenty bucks (I was pretty broke back then). Yet, by the time I was able to afford it, there were two or three sequels that had joined its ranks, and it felt daunting to have to start such a large series. Then before I knew what was happening, a TV adaptation was in the works and the hype had made me hold off further.

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan: This #OwnVoices Chinese book was slapped onto the list in 2009 or 2010, shortly after I had read The Joy Luck Club for the very first time. I remember enjoying Ms Tan’s writing so much. Plus, her stories about Asian-American families and their multi-cultural struggles was supremely relatable. So, when I went looking for more of her stuff, The Kitchen God’s Wife was one of the first books that I came across. While I’ve owned a copy since 2010, it hasn’t made it off the shelf quite yet.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein: I don’t actually own a copy of this science-fiction classic, at least not yet. But in 2006, I took a sci-fi class for my English Lit. degree and the author had talked about this novel so much during his initial lectures. He had a love/hate relationship with it but recommend that all fans of the genre make a point of reading it one day. Naturally, I scribbled down the name and author in my notepad for future reference and haven’t quite found my way back to it. Honestly, this is a book that intimidates me due to how much it is revered amongst sci-fi junkies everywhere. While the premise totally sounds like something I’d fucking love, that much adoration is a bit scary.

1984 by George Orwell: Another intimidating sci-fi classic that has been collecting dust in the reaches of “one day.” I saw a super fancy edition of this book at Barnes and Noble when I was a teenager around 2004, which was my first time ever seeing or hearing about it. My mum gave me some cash to treat myself with since I had gotten a perfect GPA on my report card. In the end, I didn’t buy this (didn’t want to blow all of my moolah on one book), so I memorised the name and author and promised myself to find a cheaper copy. While I found many different editions of 1984, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: On the same day that I came across 1984, I also came across a fancy ass edition of Hitchhiker’s. Once more, I knew nothing about it. It sounded hilarious and absolutely fantastic but was expensive as all Hell. When I ran an internet search of this book later that evening, I learned that Douglas Adams was a really famous dude and his Hitchhiker’s series was incredibly beloved. I was fairly new to sci-fi at the time, and I became overwhelmed by its powerful presence within the genre’s community. Then after that, like usual, I forgot it existed for the most part. Oops.

Stardoc by S.L. Viehl: This sci-fi gem released in 2000, while I was in junior high school (7th or 8th grade) and I loved the cover! It looked so damn cheesy yet full of adventure and possibly even some spoopy space creatures. But being a pre-teen with a limited allowance, there were better things for me to spend my money on, like candy and video games. I had put this book on my birthday wishlist for a couple of years. However, my mum was one of those who wouldn’t let me read things outside of my assigned grade level for fear of them being inappropriate (which I didn’t mind, it showed she cared). Since this was an adult sci-fi book, I never got it as a gift and overtime my ADHD brain forgot it existed. BUT! In January of this year, before quarantine bitch-smacked everyone, I managed to acquire the whole damn series for about twenty dollars. So, I can finally read through the oldest book (series) from my TBR stack! Fuck yeah.

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16 thoughts on “Top 7 Books that Have Been on My TBR the Longest!

  1. I read “Stranger in a Strange Land” in high school. At the time it was considered seditious and heretical. Probably still is. Heinlein is a strange character with a lot of personality quirks. He was an extremely prolific author over several decades. He had a thing for his mother and all his later books involved some variety of life extension and showed hints of his fear of approaching death. Also slowly increasing senility issues.

    Some of his books, like “Starship Troopers” are almost fascist and very military. (The movie was fun but not terribly representative.) Some of his works are apolitical and meant for a younger audience. “Stranger” is quasi-religious and marked a change in perspective for him as he became body-positive and sex-positive.

    I usually recommend a collection of his short stories, “The Menace from Earth” as a first read of him. “The Man Who Sold the Moon” is another of his best early works. Today it reminds me of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

    OTOH, 1984 was recommended reading in high school. Anything by Orwell was recommended. I usually suggest Animal Farm as a first read. A lot of people don’t realize it is a condensed history of the Soviet Union.

    Hitchhiker is a funny book. The movie wasn’t all that bad. Never forget your towel!

    • Heinlein’s books, at least the three of them I’ve been eyeing for a while, all sounds like things I would greatly enjoy for one reason or another, especially Stranger in a Strange Land. The others–Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress–seem like things I’d enjoy for intellectual discourse that would come with it. As you’ve mentioned Starship Troopers seems to be pretty fascist, which considering how satirical the film can be, just sounds like something I’d love to dissect the hell out of.

      I’ve always wondered whether it would be better to read Animal Farm first or not, so thank you for mentioning it here! I’ll keep that in mind.

      I liked the Hitchhiker film quite a bit and I knew it was a book, but never realised that it was part of a whole series until after the fact.

  2. “Kokoro” has been on my tbr list for ages as well. It’s so well known in Japan that I feel bad when I don’t pick of the references in other media (mostly dramas/films at times).

    I feel like I’ve expressed my thoughts to you on “1984” before. So my apologies if this is repetitive. It’s a solid story, didn’t care for it since I had to hyper analyze it in high school. It should be easier for you since you’re reading it for passion.

    “Stranger in a Strange Land”; one of the few novels I which I had kept from college. I loved reading it for college in a Sci-fi and religion course. It was super interesting, but I totally understand your intimidation. It’s huge undertaking but imo so worth it!

    • Kokoro is definitely a cultural icon, and while that’s one of the driving forces behind my desire to read it, it also intimidates the heck outta me, like you said lol. But I loved Soseki’s other cultural phenomenon, I Am a Cat, so I know I’ll adore this one.

      My roomy/best friend is huge fan of 1984 and when she read my post this morning, she gave me serious side eye because I haven’t picked it up yet haha. Going to try and make it a summer read this year. Fingers crossed. ✌🏽

      I’m hoping to pick up the uncut edition for my personal library as a birthday gift to myself this year, and I’d love make it my birthday month reading spotlight. So, let’s hope it happens! I just love stories that are similar to it, so there really isn’t a legit reason for my slacking off with that one haha.

      • I haven’t read I Am a Cat either, although I make a lot of jokes about wanting to become one. Hopefully one of these days I’ll finally get to either Kokoro or I Am a Cat! I’ll be awaiting to hear your thoughts on Kokoro when you finally get to it!

        Oh man, I totally get that feeling. My BFF’s are still mad all these years later that I never read Harry Potter in full. Summer reading sounds like a great plan to tackle it then though!

        Oh! I hadn’t even realized there was an uncut version. Given the content, I’m not sure why I’m so surprised. Now I’m curious which version I read. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about it, especially as a birthday feature!

        • I am a Cat is super dense, probably his most dense work. But there are SO many themes in it, and also allegories for Buddhism and postwar compliance to forced westernisation. Ugh just so good haha.

          • Thank you for the important notice of themes and density. It sounds so good but with my current reading habits I probably couldn’t handle such a dense work. >..< Once I ease myself back into reading, I’ll have to take a crack at it!

    • I’ve heard so many amazing things about both the books and the TV serial. Going to try to pick up book one over Summer break from Uni.

      • That would make me so happy if you did.

        The TV series astounds me. It’s pretty accurate to the book while changing things that make sense for the change in medium in general.

        • Oh that sounds wonderful then. I’m always wary of book-to-TV adapts because they usually aren’t the greatest by far. I’m glad this series seems to hold up well. 🙂

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