A well-read woman is a dangerous creature. — Lisa Kleypas

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7 Books I am Obsessed With but Have Never Actually Read

Mar 13, 2013

Jane Austen The Complete NovelsAll 6 Novels by Jane Austen

I have seen all the BBC adaptations of Austen’s novels and, while entertaining, they are the sappiest, most over-sentimental TV films I have ever seen (short of anything made by Hallmark Channel, that is). However, I have read that the novels are satirical—something which fails to translate to the screen. I love the idea of Austen’s stories as satire and have wanted to read them for a long time. I have no excuse; Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are sitting idly on my bookshelf, but for some reason I have let them collect dust.

Search and DestroySearch and Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google, Inc. by Scott Cleland with Ira Brodsky

Hidden political agendas, threats to democracy, unethical business practices, information collection, unchecked power–it sounds like something from a spy novel. Since I’ve never cracked the spine I can’t say how well documented it is, but I am nonetheless obsessed with this book which, when I finally get around to reading it, will no doubt satisfy the latent conspiracy theorist within. Not that I’m going to free myself from Google’s shackles because of it, though I might start using Bing as my search engine. A little bird named Excessive Advertising told me that people preferred Bing’s search results 2-1 in a blind side-by-side comparison.

StiffStiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Do you ever watch Bones, see the half-decayed masses of human flesh voyeuristically displayed on stainless steel and think, “That is seriously the coolest thing ever!” No? Well, neither have I (not that I would cop to it if I had), but I do find the role of cadavers in scientific study fascinating. Reviews of Stiff were mostly positive and many commented on Roach’s dry sense of humor. I’m sold.

Silent SpringSilent Spring by Rachel Carson

I’m the rabid environmentalist in my family, always lecturing about buying organic and the injustices of GMO-engineering mega-corporations. (Monsanto, I have your number!) I’ve read my fair share of environmental books, but have yet to read the book that played a major role in kick-starting the whole movement. I keep stopping to admire the pretty redesigned green cover at the bookstore, and then pass it over for something else.

Jesus GirlsJesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical

I love books by Evangelical women who don’t “fit the mold,” so to speak. This one is at the top of my to-read list—along with A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, Angry Conversations with God by Susan E. Isaacs, and Dating Jesus by Susan Campbell. There are just not enough books by snarky feminist Evangelical women in this world to satisfy me.

The Greater JourneyThe Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

Paris, belle Paris! Comme j’aime à lire autour de toi! (Yes, this is a Google translation. Don’t judge.) Paris is an endlessly fascinating city, I’m sure more so during the nineteenth century when it hosted the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain. And what better person to write about it than my favorite popular historian, David McCullough? Now if I can just finish up John Adams, which I have been reading incrementally since the nineteenth century, I might just have a chance to tackle this one.

Blue Like JazzBlue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller

This mega-bestseller has sparked a lot of controversy. Beloved among the college crowd for its honesty and depth, it is the anathema of many conservative theologians. Thinkers I respect have fallen on both sides of the issue and I have been dying to read it for myself since 2010, but I haven’t found the time… yet.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books on your TBR list are you obsessed with?

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14 Comments

  1. I liked Blue Like Jazz when I read it years ago now. I posted my thoughts on A Year of Biblical Womanhood this morning.

  2. Great list KAte!! I added Jesus Girls to my GR list. I read Blue Like Jazz and really loved it, Im really iffy when it comes to emergent folks like Miller, Bell and Evans but I did enjoy his (Millers) perspective on the Christian Faith. I am however all about Christian feminists!!

    • If you love books by Christian feminists, you might really like Sarah Bessey’s blog. She an up and coming author who’s going to be publishing a book called Jesus Feminist sometime this year.

  3. Hmm, if you think the Austen film adaptations are sappy I’d be very curious to hear your take on her books, since I think her humor and wit and social commentary are generally pretty faithfully translated to the screen. ;-)

    • Are they? I have a hard time seeing the irony in the films.

      • For me, yeah, but then again that could be just me. :) I think some of the better examples are the ’95 Pride & Prejudice and the recent Masterpiece versions of Northanger Abbey and Sense & Sensibility.

        • I’ve never seen the ’95 version of Pride and Prejudice. I’ll try to watch that one after I read the book so I can compare side by side.

  4. Stiff sounds like my kind of book; not that I’m obsessed with the dead, but the human body is pretty fascinating.

    So you really haven’t read Jane Austen, huh? I think Persuasion is my favorite, with Northanger Abbey second. I know most people say Pride and Prejudice or Emma is the best, but I prefer the lesser known.

    • I know! I’m appropriately ashamed that I’ve never read any Austen, and yet have seen all the movie versions. This situation is begging to be remedied. I think I’ll start with Sense and Sensibility, since that was my favorite BBC version and since it was her first novel.

  5. I’ve read a couple of Austen’s – definitely worth is. I was disappointed by Blue Like Jazz, not the ideas so much as the writing style.

    • Interesting, I’ve never heard anyone comment on the writing style. I’m really curious now.

  6. I really like Mary Roach as an author but Stiff pushed my limits. It was interesting but often stomach churning. I liked Bonk better. But it had its own issues.

    I read about a quarter of greater Joirney but got distracted and have not returned to it yet.

    I really don’t get what is so controversial about blue Like Jazz. He does not portray himself as a finished theologian. He is just working through issues of theology. I think many that have problems with it just don’t think that someone can (or should) have questions about faith. You should read it.

    But I have problems finishing things once they get on the ‘should’ list

    • I will definitely read Blue Like Jazz in the near future and it’s good to have another perspective on it. Mike Duran complained of its “theological mushiness,” but he wasn’t slamming it or anything. He tends to present a pretty balanced view. I’ll add Bonk to my TBR list as well.

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