Saturday, November 20, 2004

Non-Fiction Stockpile

In an effort to fight the Saturday morning urge to sneak off to the used bookstore just to look around, I've compiled a list of all the unread non-fiction I have on my shelves.

I'm sure if I read nothing but non-fiction that I couldn't get through all the books on this list in a year. I'm averaging only 10 or 11 non-fiction titles a year lately (my best year for non-fiction, 1995, I read 27, and yes, I well know I'm procrastinating doing anything more important by figuring this all out, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee), and this year none of the non-fiction I've read has been intra-personal library.

Each one of these titles is a chastisement NOT to go to the bookstore.

  1. The Life of Thomas More. Peter Ackroyd
  2. London: The Biography. Peter Ackroyd
  3. Buddha. Karen Armstrong
  4. A History of God. Karen Armstrong
  5. Through the Narrow Gate. Karen Armstrong
  6. The City of God. Augustine
  7. Emerson Among the Eccentrics. Carlos Baker
  8. Room Temperature. Nicholson Baker
  9. The Size of Thoughts. Nicholson Baker
  10. Burning Down the House. Charles Baxter
  11. Witches and Neighbors. Robin Briggs
  12. A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson
  13. Imagining Characters. A.S. Byatt & Ignes Sadra
  14. The Verb 'To Bird.' Peter Cashwell
  15. Alexander Hamilton. Ron Chernow
  16. Glass, Paper, Beans. Leah Hager Cohen
  17. The Voyage of the Beagle. Charles Darwin
  18. The Merry Heart. Robertson Davies.
  19. The Consolations of Philosophy. Alain de Botton
  20. Guns, Germs, and Steel. Jared Diamond
  21. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Annie Dillard
  22. Menagerie Manor. Gerald Durrell
  23. A Zoo in My Luggage. Gerald Durrell
  24. American Sphinx. Joseph Ellis
  25. Jefferson v. Adams. John Ferling
  26. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Richard P. Feynman
  27. Parrots' Wood. Erma J. Fisk
  28. The Barbarian Conversion. Richard Fletcher
  29. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
  30. The Golden Bough. James George Frazer
  31. Living to Tell the Tale. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  32. Shot in the Heart. Mikal Gilmore
  33. Will in the World. Stephen Greenblatt
  34. My Wars Are Laid Away in Books. Alfred Habegger
  35. The Histories. Herodotus
  36. Benjamin Franklin. Walter Isaacson
  37. Night Falls Fast. Kay Redfield Jamison
  38. The Singular Mark Twain. Fred Kaplan
  39. Cod. Mark Kurlansky
  40. Virginia Woolf. Hermione Lee
  41. Into the Looking-Glass Wood. Alberto Manguel
  42. The Metaphysical Club. Louis Menand
  43. Up in the Old Hotel. Joseph Mitchell
  44. Nathaniel's Nutmeg. Giles Milton
  45. Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey. V.S. Naipaul
  46. Doctors. Sherwin B. Nuland
  47. The Circus Fire. Stewart O'Nan
  48. Down and Out in Paris and London. George Orwell
  49. A House in Sicily. Daphne Phelps.
  50. Monsters of God. David Quammen
  51. The Song of the Dodo. David Quammen
  52. Passage to Juneau. Jonathan Raban
  53. An Anthropologist on Mars. Oliver Sacks
  54. Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey. Lillian Schlissel
  55. The Noonday Demon. Andrew Soloman
  56. History of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides
  57. A Distant Mirror. Barbara Tuchman
  58. The First Salute. Barbara Tuchman
  59. Lunar Men. Jenny Uglow
  60. Self-Consciousness. John Updike
  61. The Life of Elizabeth I. Alison Weir
  62. The Wars of the Roses. Alison Weir
  63. In Pharaoh's Army. Tobias Wolff
  64. A Moment's Liberty: The Shorter Diary. Virginia Woolf

Now that I've momentarily squelched the desire to go to the bookstore I need to come up with a way to get myself all psyched up to clean bird cages, a much more difficult task.


  1. I always go to the used bookstore just to look around but I always seem to see something that needs to be on my bookshelf instead of someone elses.

    You have quite the list of nonfiction titles. Many of them are also in my pile of reading. The one I am embarrassed at not having read yet is London by Peter Ackroyd. When it was first published three years ago my husband and I were in London. The book hadn't made it to the States yet so we bought it and lugged it home because we had to have it. I was going to read it right away while our trip was still fresh, how exciting it was going to be. Three years on and neither of us has even cracked the cover. But we plan on going back to London someday so as long as I read before I touch down at Gatwick, then I figure I'm okay :)

    The Hermione Lee bio of Virginia Woolf is excellent and helps provide a broader understanding of Woolf's life and work, and is particularly good if you are planning on reading Woolf's diaries.

  2. We picked up our copy three years ago in London as well! And that's pretty much my take on the book--wait until right before we go back, and read it then. I DEFINITELY want to go back.

    I'm to the chapter on Vita Sackville-West in the Hermione Lee. I stopped there three or four years back intending to read v.'s All Passion Spent before I continued and then getting sidetracked by something else. I need to get back to it.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.