Book Meme Day 23: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

Oh boy, where do I begin? There are more than I can list, and one is not more prominent than all others, so what follows will only be a selection, in no particular order.

Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien

This little-known children’s story is much shorter and more whimsical than The Hobbit, and not tied into the mythology of Middle-Earth. In it, Tolkien tells of the brave Farmer Giles who must confront the dragon Chrysophylax to protect his little town in the Thames valley. I have a very nice hardback copy, with the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes that Tolkien loved, and it has been waiting for me to read it for years. Somehow I haven’t got around to it yet, but at least I have it.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

A reputed classic of modern Arthurian literature, and, I’m told, just a really fun set of stories. I started reading it a long time ago, probably when I was in junior high school, but stopped very shortly, put off by the anachronistic and whimsical side of Merlin, which I thought very disrespectful to so august a legend. Now, though, I am eager to revisit it, but I can’t say when.

The Magic Bicycle by John Bibee

A strange, mysterious book about which I know little. You know how, when you were a child, there were always these intriguing books at the bottom of your parents’ bookshelves, or lying in some dusty pile in a corner, which you never read or knew much about and which usually had become such a part of the background of your house that you hardly ever noticed them? This is one of those books, for me. I think it technically belonged to my older sister, but she never read it much and left it behind when she married and moved out. My dad commented once or twice that he remembered it being very good, but a little scary for children. Of course, these were magic words to me, but it’s always remained on a dusty bottom shelf, patiently waiting until I find time to open its secrets.

The War With Hannibal by Livy

Selections of this famous Roman historian were required reading for some of my classics courses at university, but Livy was so dense that I never got past perhaps a chapter or two in my freshman year. Still, I have always intended to go back and read most, if not all, of it. Ancient history is always fascinating, doubly so when told by the ancient historians themselves, who were as much storytellers as academics (some might say moreso).

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

A classic of English Renaissance literature, and a chivalric epic with deeply Christian themes. Or so is its reputation. I haven’t read it beyond a few small selections in high school, which hardly count. My only real familiarity comes from the children’s adaptation in Saint George and the Dragon, my pick for Day 21. Don’t think I even own a complete copy! But someday, someday I will read it in its entirety.

All these, plus many works by and about C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Lord Dunsany, and others with whom they all associated and wrote about. And there are the other ancient and medieval works, the philosophical treatises, and the allegedly wonderful novels that I am told I must read. The world is too large and my life too short for all the reading and the living I desire!

6 thoughts on “Book Meme Day 23: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

  1. My wife and I are reading Once and Future King as part of our summer reading list. I’m glad that we’re not the only ones who have put it off for far too long!

    I’m also keen to read Faerie Queen. It figured prominently in another book I read in the last couple years, The Philosopher’s Apprentice by James Morrow, which was very troubling, but written with the vivacity and fecundity of a master of English prose.

  2. I ran across a copy Farmer Giles of Ham in my favorite old bookstore the other day and snapped it up. I shall have read it by the end of this weekend, if all goes according to my diabolical plan. Muahahahahah!

    I’m rather astounded that you haven’t read Once and Future King! But perhaps I shouldn’t be. You might know this already, but I advise you to not look at it as a retelling of Arthurian legend, but as something all its own, for White seems less interested in retelling than he is in exploring certain aspects of society and philosophy through the framework of Arthur’s story.

    As for the Faerie Queene, I had never heard of it until recently, when my brother was reading it for his dissertation. He read me a few passages, and my curiosity was piqued. I will have to find a copy now, or borrow his, if he’s done with it.

    1. I think I’ll enjoy White’s book much more now. I won’t worry about the actual legend very much, and shall just focus on it for its own sake.

      *gasp* You may read Farmer Giles before me, then! You…you…must tell me what you think of it!

  3. Good plan. :)

    What, and not get to read your uninfluenced review? Never!
    The book I found also has Smith of Wootton Major in it, which I haven’t read either. And did I mention that it has that perfect old-book smell? I don’t think it is old enough to have that scent naturally, but it must have soaked up the odor from the book shop, which is a kind of opium-den for bibliophiles. You go in, are entranced by the fumes, and before you know it, you’ve lost days (or you would, if they didn’t make you leave at closing time).

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