An American Editor

January 16, 2013

On Today’s Bookshelf (XII)

I can’t keep away from books, which is probably why I retired from my life as a lawyer and became an editor. Once books and reading get hold of you, they never let go — somewhat like that alien being in the latest science fiction thriller. It has been quite a while since the last On Today’s Bookshelf (March 2012), so here are a few of the hundreds of books and ebooks I have acquired since then —

Hardcovers —

  • Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States by David Hackett Fischer
  • Princeps by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
  • The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner
  • Heaven on Earth by Sadakat Kadri
  • Henry Ford’s War on Jews by Victoria Saker Woeste
  • On Politics: A History of Political Thought by Alan Ryan (2 vols)
  • When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan Sarna
  • The Atheist’s Bible by Georges Minois
  • Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran by Habib Levi
  • The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal
  • The Witness Quartet: Silent Witness, Privileged Witness, Expert Witness, Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster
  • Voices of the Dead by Peter Leonard
  • The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham
  • The Devil’s Cradle by Sylvia Nobel
  • Night Swim by Jessica Keener
  • Leaving Before It’s Over by Jean Reynolds Page
  • El Gavilon by Craig McDonald
  • Cooking the Books by Bonnie S. Calhoun
  • The Savior of Turk by Ron D. Smith
  • To Serve the High King by Fran LaPlaca
  • The Death of Kings by Marcus Pailing
  • Paradise Burning by Blair Bancroft
  • Daisy’s War by Shayne Parkinson
  • Cephrael’s Hand by Melissa McPhail
  • Song of Dragons: The Complete Trilogy by Daniel Arenson
  • The Phoenix Conspiracy by Richard Sanders
  • Circles of Light (6 vols) by E.M. Sinclair
  • Whispers of a Legend by Carrie James Haynes
  • The Other Worlds by M.L. Greye
  • Anca’s Story by Saffina Desforges
  • Blaze of Glory by Sheryl Nantus
  • Blue Murder by Emma Jameson

Many of the books and ebooks in the above lists I have yet to read. The lists are not recommendations, just a compilation of books and ebooks I have bought (or received as gifts) in the past few months. It is not a complete list. I’m sorry to write that my appetite for books grows much faster than my ability to read the books.

I looked at my to-be-read pile of books and discovered that I have more than 2,500 books waiting for my attention. (At the time of On Today’s Bookshelf (XI), my TBR was approaching 500 books, of which about 70 were hardcovers. I wish I could say I made a serious dent in that TBR pile before going on a shopping spree, but I didn’t.) Fortunately, most of the books are ebooks, so they take up little physical space.

One part of my problem as regards hardcover books is that most of the hardcover books in my TBR pile (and in the list above) lead me to buy other books. I will read an interesting point in a book, look at the note to the point, and decide I need to buy a copy of the book cited by the author in support of the interesting point.

A second part of my hardcover problem is that I have a long-term subscription to The New York Review of Books, each issue of which I faithfully read — both articles/reviews and the advertisements — which leads me to buy even more hardcover books.

Then I run into the problem of favorite authors coming out with new books, some of whom are very prolific, publishing a couple of new hardcovers every year.

At least when I retire, which is likely to be years from now, I won’t wonder what I’ll be doing. I’ll be attacking my ever-increasing TBR.



  1. Where do you put all these books? (the hardcovers, that is)


    Comment by Carolyn — January 16, 2013 @ 6:25 am | Reply

    • We have a semifinished basement and I have put bookshelves there. The bookshelves hold books 2 rows deep. In addition, we have bookshelves and piles of books scattered around the house. Neither my wife nor I have ever found that we can’t accomodate another book :).


      Comment by americaneditor — January 16, 2013 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

  2. Ah, to find another book lover. My fantasy is to be locked in a library overnight….or preferably an entire weekend…when no one is there. My niece and I share a passion for books. She once bought an entire pickup truck load of books because they were going to be destroyed. However, she didn’t own a pickup truck, or any truck. She borrowed one. Since she had nine children in the house it goes without saying her husband was not pleased. Good thing he is a patient, understanding man. There is, indeed, always room for one more book.


    Comment by Nancy Bee — January 16, 2013 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

    • Given the option, when I die I plan to haunt the Smithsonian… 🙂


      Comment by anansii — January 17, 2013 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  3. Wow – and I thought my TBR pile was large..

    Right now I’m in the computer room which mostly has software and games and stuff in it, but without moving much I can see a few:

    _Dreamweaver CS5.5: The Missing Manual_ by David Sawyer McFarland – one of an invaluable series of manuals for software that doesn’t come even vaguely explained enough.
    _The False House_ by James Stoddard – sequel to _The High House_ which is one of my current books in progress. I love the way you can find old books on line these days.
    _Dream Baby_ by Bruce McAllister – a brilliant short story expanded to a novel which I hope is similar though too often it doesn’t work that way.
    _Hitler’s Savage Canary_ by David Lampe – not technically a TRQ item since I have read it again, but since my pb copy fell apart, I was highly delighted to find it had been reprinted in hardback. Non-fiction account of the Danish resistance to the German occupation in WWII – you gotta love a country that doesn’t just settle for underground newspapers by the cartload, but even creates an underground wire service to supply ’em… And that’s hardly all of it.


    Comment by anansii — January 16, 2013 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

    • Frump – that was supposed to be “read it again and again”… typoes…


      Comment by anansii — January 20, 2013 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  4. I thought my book obsession was bad. I quit buying p-books after I bought my Kindle a year ago, but I have accumulated about 300 e-books in my cue, which does not count the approximately 100 books I’ve read in the last year and a half. There is just nothing like reading a good book … or even sometimes a not-so-good book when you’re in the right mood.


    Comment by Meredith Rae Morgan — January 16, 2013 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  5. I stopped accumulating books after moving from apartment to apartment many times in my earlier years. But I’ve been in my current house for 15 years now, and they’re starting to add up again. Now I have a new problem: I review books, for which, of course, you get to keep the book you review. Problem there is, I don’t like a whole bunch of them and want to move them along. Problem with that is, most are proof copies and thus are required to stay out of the secondhand book channel. Yet I can’t bring myself to destroy them, kinda like Nancy’s friend who rescued a truckload full. Most are indie-author novels, loaded with violence, depression, and bad writing, that I feel are inappropriate for bulk giveaways, such as to old folks homes or prisons or schools. So they’re inching closer to the paper-recycling bin. If anyone can suggest a better plan, I’d love to hear it.


    Comment by Carolyn — January 17, 2013 @ 6:33 am | Reply

    • Getting rid of books is painful for booklovers. However, some books deserve to be destroyed and not passed on to the world at large. I am sorry to say I received such a book for Christmas. It was…of all things…J.K. Rowlins’ new “adult” book “The Casuel Vacancy.” I can’t imagine what this author was thinking when she wrote this one. Has anyone out there read it? My bookshelf definitely has a vacancy where this novel would have gone..


      Comment by Nancy Bee — January 19, 2013 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  6. Your hardcover list in particular has some fascinating titles on it. I hope you review some of them here. Happy reading…


    Comment by Vicki — January 18, 2013 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  7. Nancy inquired: “Has anyone out there read it [Casual Vacancy]?”

    Yes, I did, as one of my review titles for NYJB. I hated it, but I did respect it — and gave away the book to my local library as soon as my duty was done. See my review at


    Comment by Carolyn — January 19, 2013 @ 9:23 am | Reply

    • Congratulations Carolyn for finding the value in this book, although I still think it is a waste of a reader’s time. However, I’m happy to be introduced to your review page and will be returning to it to read more reviews. Thanks.


      Comment by Nancy Bee — January 20, 2013 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  8. So now I have moved a couple of books off the primary TBR shelf and into the vast stacks of TBR. Perhaps I’ll get to the books moved, perhaps not — at least that is what I am finding. I currently have more than 200 hardcover books in my TBR pile and on my TBR shelf. And as I note, that is just my hardcover books.


    Comment by Susana V. Cervantes — January 21, 2013 @ 2:17 am | Reply

  9. Thanks for including me on your list.


    Comment by Jessica Keener — January 26, 2013 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

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