You’ve no doubt seen my reading list posts and might be a bit confused to see this collection of books. What’s the difference between “To Read” and “Want to Read?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a publishing student. One of the unspoken “rules” of publishing academics (and, I assume, professionals) is that you must read recent. No one cares if you’ve read all of the Lord of the Rings books and associated prequels, sequels, and lore or if you’ve conquered Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables*. What have you read that’s been published in the last year? Six months? Month? What’s the last prize-winning book you’ve read? Have you read any of the books on the longlist? Shortlist?

Taking all of these “parameters” into consideration, I now have two separate catalogues for books on my reading radar.  The distinction between these two lists is the pub date. Most of the books on my “To Read” list were published within the last year, while the books on my “Want to Read” list are usually much older. And don’t think I mean 2017 or 2016 “old.” I mean 1990 and older.

Two such books are Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, first published in 1990 and Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Native Tongue which was first released in 1984. Jordan’s book was recommended to me by another publishing student; it’s the first book in her favorite series and I’ve always wondered what it’s about. It’s the first in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series which is known as one of the best epic fantasy series. The Native Tongue was a recommendation that I found on a blog post that compiled some of the best fantasy books with “non-traditional magic systems.” That is to say fantasy books that didn’t follow the Harry Potter script of wizards with wands and the likes. 

Here are some other books that are on my “Want to Read” list:

These are just some of the first ones that come to mind. Every time I go to a bookshop, I find more books that I wish I could read right away, but they tend to fall out of my timeline due to the pub date. There are still dozens of other books on my bookshelf that I haven’t read, like Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. 

I try not to lose too much sleep over these books. As much as I desperately want to read them—especially Ann Leckie’s Imperical Radch series—they will always be there, ready for me to read whenever I want. And there are new books coming out every month! Instead of feeling left out of a series that I haven’t yet read, like Rivera’s Ascendants, I can be excited knowing that I’m reading the first book in a brand new series; Megan O’Keefe’s Protectorate series is one such example.

I do hope to have the opportunity to read these books someday. While they’re older, several of them are award-winners or written by award-winning authors. It’s important to know which books have won in the past to see which ones may win in the future. Because these are all books that I want to read, it may be a new part of my reading routine to include an older book every so often so that I can start to narrow this list down. I’m sure it’ll only continue to grow over time. I essentially have ever book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series on a mental “Want to Read” list, but given how many books there are, it’ll be a lifetime achievement if I ever read all forty Discworld books.

I am about one hundred pages into The Handmaid’s Tale. I started reading it because I didn’t want to watch the TV series without having already read the book, and since Atwood’s release of The Testaments, it becomes even more important (in my eyes) to finish it. Given how prolific Atwood’s series has become, I know that I’ll have to read it eventually. The copy I have is currently in the mail being sent back home, so I won’t have the opportunity to read it until it arrives. Until that point, I’ll be working on my winter reading list, with my current read being Chen Quifan’s Waste Tide.

More books are bound to come up on my radar, both recent and older, and I’ll have to sort them in to one of these two lists. As long as I read, my “To Read” and “Want to Read” lists will be expanding and vying for my attention.

What books are next to read on your lists?


*I mean, I’ll care. That’s impressive. Along with which I will share my favorite Victor Hugo meme:

image of a text post from tumblr that reads: "are you ever reading a super over long pretentious book and just think. wow. this man. knows a lot of words. but concise. is not one of them." and the reply: "it's ok you can say victor hugo"

One thought on “My “Want to Read” Shelf

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