Some books fall into a category of books that intrigue me, that I have heard good things about, that have been recommended to me, that I might even have in my house… but fifteen years later… I still haven’t read. I can’t quite explain what prompts me to pick up one book over another, to take the plunge and immerse myself in one book while another languishes unread on the bookshelf.
One of the books in this category is The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. (Incidentally, Tartt celebrated a birthday a few days ago, according to The Writer’s Almanac… which is what prompted me to write about her today). The book got great reviews when it came out in 1992 and has sold over 5 million copies. It’s about a group of college students who form a secret cult and wind up murdering one of their own members. Having just graduated from college at the time, I thought it looked interesting… but never bought it. A few years later, my friend Jill (an EDIWTB reader – hi Jill!) gave me her copy of The Secret History with a relatively strong recommendation… and I never read it. And so it sits, on my shelf, with myriad other books on the priority list ahead of it. I haven’t forgotten about it – it’s at eye level with my bed, so I see it fairly often and consider whether I should read it. But I never do.
Incidentally, here’s more about the book:
The New York Times named it a Notable Book of 1992, with this short review: “In this eminently readable, lush first novel, an unreliable narrator tells a tale of murder, incest, promiscuity, nonstop drinking and intense relationships in a college town in Vermont.”
The Philadelphia Enquirer wrote: “A long tale of friendship, arrogance, and murder knit together with the finesse that many writers will never have… [Tartt’s] writing bewitches us. The Secret History is a wonderfully beguiling book, a journey backward to the fierce and heady friendships of our school days, when all of us believed in our power to conjure up divinity and to be forgiven any sin.”
First, other than Jill, who out there has read The Secret History and can help bump it up to a higher place in my book queue with a(nother) good recommendation?
Second, which books wither in your reading purgatory? I’d love to hear from EDIWTB readers about which books they just can’t pull the trigger on.