Monitor picks

The Weekend staff ticks down the five books that we've always meant to read.

We've tried, honest. But everybody's got at least one – the book that got away. Here are five novels that we at Weekend intend to read... soon.

The Inheritance of loss, Kiran Desai (2006)

Desai won the Man Booker Prize for her gorgeous, densely written story of a teenager and her grandfather set in the Himalayas. This isn't a book to be read swiftly; it demands contemplation. Which may be why we haven't finished it yet.

Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

Maybe it's the Elvish poetry, but despite inhaling dozens of fantasy novels, we've never read the one series to rule them all. Tolkien's mammoth opus combined Norse mythology and Christian ideals to pretty much create the modern fantasy epic. At 1,200 pages, the length is no joke, but the world he creates amply rewards the diligent. (Er, so I'm told.)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (2003)

At almost 800 pages, this brick of a book has defeated more than one bibliophile. But Clarke's stunning twist on a Georgian England where magic is real is the most original fantasy in a generation. Plus, it even comes with its own footnotes.

American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1998)

Roth, front-runner for title of greatest living US writer, won the Pulitzer Prize for this look at a man who embodied the American dream and how his life is destroyed by a terrorist act committed by his beloved daughter.

On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2004)

Smith was declared a modern Dickens for her first novel "White Teeth," but we hear her third book – a reimagining of E.M. Forster's "Howard's End" in a biracial New England family – is even better. And don't ask us about her sophomore effort, "The Autograph Man." We haven't read that either.

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