Traveling My Book Shelves: A to C

Once again it has become more than necessary for me to sort through the stuff in the long-neglected basement. And I’m coming across lots of unread books that desperately deserve to be read. Once again I’m resolving to read more from my own shelves. I’m hoping that listing them will be a reminder to keep my focus on the books I have, rather than on the ones I want. So here’s a selection of some of the books I rediscovered.


The Alienist, Caleb Carr: “fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York” (a ripsnoter of a plot, according to the Arizona Daily Star)
First sentences: Theodore is in the ground. The words as I write them make as little sense as did the sight of his coffin descending into a patch of sandy soil near Sagamore Hill, the place he loved more than any other on earth.

Apples Are from Kazakhstan, Christopher Robbins: “few would guess that Kazakhstan—a blank in Westerners’ collective geography—turns out to be diverse, tolerant, and surprisingly modern”
First sentence: A very ordinary man was seated beside me on the flight from London to Moscow, and when I look back and try to remember him I realize he was spectacular in his ordinariness.

As If I Am Not There, Slavenka Drakulic: “a story of hope and survival amidst the Balkan tragedy”
First sentences: The child is lying naked in his cot. He is stretched out on a sheet, perfectly still, his arms and legs splayed, like someone surrendering.




Bonita Avenue, Peter Buwalda:
First sentence: When Joni Sigerius first took Aaron to meet her parents at their converted farmhouse one Sunday afternoon in 1996, her father’s handshake was so firm it hurt.

A Break With Charity, Ann Rinaldi: “a story about the Salem Witch Trials”
First sentence: I have come early this afternoon to sit, before anyone else arrives, in the quiet of Salem Meetinghouse.




Chronicle in Stone, Ismail Kadare: “a touching coming-of-age story and a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit”
First sentence: It was a strange city, and seemed to have been cast up in the valley one winter’s night like some prehistoric creature that was now clawing its way up the mountainside.






  1. Awww, I love this! I can’t do it with my own TBR books, because almost all of them are nonfiction. I am okay at resisting fiction books to buy but I absolutely cannot manage it with nonfiction. I always think that I’ll find time for them someday! WHY CAN’T I BE A REALIST.

  2. I love the first line of Apples are from Kazakhstan – it seems to set it up beautifully to be about spies or some kind of intrigue. But then I looked it up and it seems to be a factual book? Even more intriguing…

  3. I have a lot on my book shelves that are now old and I haven’t read. I need to get to them! The Alienist sounds good to me & fast paced. I have not read it but perhaps I should.

  4. Like you, I have trouble giving away books I haven’t read yet, so even though I haven’t read any of these they all sound good enough to keep. I thought I’d be able to choose a favourite based on the first lines, but they’re all good! Which one tempts *you* the most?

    • I would have liked to sit down right there to start reading. I brought As If I Am Not There upstairs and did read a few pages, but it was pretty devastating, so I’ve put it aside again for now. I think I’ll give The Alienist a try next.

    • There are a few good historical novels about the subject. I made a list of books to read when I was into the subject a few years ago, and this was one of the books I purchased from my list. But by the time I got the book, I had moved on to other topics, so this one remains unread for now.

    • Should I be lucky enough to find any books I don’t want to read anymore, I’ll donate them to the used bookstore by us. They donate part of their profit to local charities. Kids’ books go to pediatricians who participate in Reach Out and Read. Unfortunately, I have a very hard time of letting go of unread books, because I usually still want to read them. :/

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