new novels: a 2020 TBR

As the turn of the decade approaches and the light of a new year begins to dawn, it is again time to set ambitious goals for all areas of my life, most importantly reading. (But also knitting. We can never forget knitting.) Thus, without further ado and in no particular order whatsoever, here is my 2020 To Be Read list.

1. Ovid’s Metamorphoses translated by Charles Martin. My thesis is on Book 6 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, so I think it might behoove me to read the whole thing. I read part of Book 6 from this translation in Barnes & Noble, and it reflected my translation choices and style, so it has become the necessary volume to acquire. Category: none, or a complete book of poetry by one author.

2. Euripides’ Alcestis. The story of Alcestis has always bothered me, and I have taken to writing poems about it, yet I have not officially read the text. This is, of course, a problem with a very easy remedy. Category: ancient Greek drama.

3. Any novel by Virginia Woolf. Category: an intimidating book, a classic book by a female author. I’m still torn between books, because all of hers are considered classics, and as much as I originally wrote Mrs. Dalloway on my TBR, I also really want to read To the Lighthouse because Ursula Le Guin spoke so highly of it.

4. Killing Commendatore – Haruki Murakami. Category: a foreign (non-western) book.

5. Eden’s Outcasts – John Matteson. A biography of one of my favorite writers of all time, the incomparable Louisa May Alcott. I went to the Orchard House in Salem, MA, last year, and I picked up a copy there. Also it won the 2008 Pulitzer for Biography. Category: biography or memoir.

6. Homer: Understanding Classics – Jonathan Burgess. A book by one of my favorite classicists of all time (after Dr. Nagy of course) and a gift from my academic advisor. This book apparently has a chapter on applying literary critical theories to the classics, which I desperately need to read. Category: a book of essays, a “guilty pleasure” book.

7. The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern. This one came out this past November, and I had pre-ordered a copy since I loved Morgenstern’s first novel so very much.. Hopefully I will read this with a small group of literarily-minded friends, but I will read it either way. Category: a contemporary novel.

8. Interior Castle by St. Theresa of Avila, or The Little Way by St. Therese of Lisieux. Most likely I will read Interior Castle because I own a copy, but I believe the school library has The Little Way, so it could be the same difference. Category: a devotional work.

9. The Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. A retelling of the Arthurian legends in the most idyllic rather epic poetry of the only semi-Romantic I can actually stand, Tennyson. Category: a complete volume of poetry by a single author, reread a book you read in high school.

10. Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Apparently this is one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote, making it the Shakespearean equivalent of Euripides’ Bacchae. Clearly, anything vaguely Euripidean is worth reading. Category: a Shakespeare play.

Somehow the list kept getting longer…

11. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie. Category: a classic detective novel, a classic book by a female author.

12. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles. Quite a famous book, recommended by a good friend whose recommendations never fail me. I will admit, I am about halfway through it even though it is just barely January 1, but I am loving it. Category: a historical fiction novel.

13. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut. Category: an “out of your comfort zone” book, a satire.

14. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi. Recommended in one of John Green’s videos. Category: a collection of short stories.

15. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi. Category: a foreign (non-Western) book, a memoir or biography, a book about books.

16. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Category: a classic children’s book.

17. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Trenton. A modern mystery, apparently inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It will be fun to compare them. Category: a contemporary novel.

18. Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout. I have been seeing this on the bookstagram, and it also won a 2008 Pulitzer, this one for Fiction. I have been attempting to read more Pulitzer-prize-winning novels, so this one fits the bill most excellently.

19. Rumpole of the Bailey – John Mortimer. This one was recommended by my academic advisor, and since her taste tends towards the excellent, here we are.

20. Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang. Also recommended in a video by John Green. This collection of short stories is sci-fi, and it has been a while since I read any sci-fi, and it’s about time to remedy that. Category: a collection of short stories.

And because I am really quite daring, I decided to include five alternates, because if 20 isn’t already unrealistic for this final-semester-soon-to-start-real-life-college-senior, then 25 certainly is. (And let’s not forget all the reading I will have to do for school….) It is totally doable. I think.

1. Philology – James Turner. A Christmas present from my parents, this book is a monograph about the impact of philology on the modern humanist academic sciences. I am very excited to read it, however dense it may be (and however long it may take me).

2. Words of the Heart – Gerondissa Makrina Vassopolou. This has her life and 64 (!) of her homilies. I have read sections of this, and it is so helpful and her words are so direct and sweet, and I really need to read more spiritual books.

3. Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairn. Another Christmas present, and one I am very much looking forward to.

4. Life of the Virgin – St. Maximos the Confessor. I want to keep working through this one, since it is a bit dense, but so beautiful.

5. Virgil’s Aeneid. Because if I graduate as a classics major and have not read the entirety of this book in translation, something will have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

If you have gotten this far and read through all of that, bless you and your angelic patience with my ramblings.

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2020?

2 thoughts on “new novels: a 2020 TBR

  1. I’m looking forward to completing The Red Horse by Eugenio Corti. I am on my second time; the first time I didn’t finish, because it is 1000+ pages and too heavy for me to read in bed lying down, and I put it aside until I got a Kindle and a few other things fell into place. Someone described it as being “… catholic in all the best senses of the word.” I love it so much.

    Other than that I have at least a hundred books on my shelves that I would welcome if the reading of them also falls into some place in my life. Your own list certainly seems worthy an hour of investigation!


    1. Ooooh I’m adding this to my overall want to read list! It sounds long but looks very worth it.
      It is very hard sometimes to find time to read! Often during the semester I just have to hope that time will appear for such an activity!

      Liked by 1 person

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