Reading: Virgin Envy

What novels, stories, or authors do you envy the reader who’s experiencing them for the first time?

My examples:

  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

  • Raymond Chandler

  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

  • Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series

  • Kyril Bonfiglioli’s Mortdecai series


Haruki Murakami or David Mitchell.

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A John McPhee book, covering the quirks and details of a person and subject you wouldn’t think you’d be interested in. Any of them.


Early to mid Terry Pratchett, from Equal Rites up to about Interesting Times. Watching a world being established with such a beautiful turn of phrase.


Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Matarin series.


Tolkien. always Tolkien.


You mean like A Sense Of Where You Are, about basketball Hall-of-Famer and former US Senator Bill Bradley? I wholeheartedly agree.

I’ve also especially enjoyed Coming Into The Country… but you can’t miss with any of his stuff.

Oh, there’s so many! But for a start: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially if the reader likes gorgeous language use and tangled, sometimes ridiculous plotlines. Gregory Roberts, Shantaram. Zadie Smith. Annie Proulx - another with beautiful, often funny language. A Confederacy of Dunces. Margaret Atwood. Australian author Steve Toltz. Marcus Zusak (sp? Can’t remember right now. Will have to check when it’s not 5.15am and I’m working in four hours).

Oh! More: Dave Eggers. Nick Hornsby. Irvine Welsh. Augusten Burroughs. Armistead Maupin.


That was the only notable work John Kennedy Toole ever wrote, AFAIK, making most readers of John Kennedy Toole virgin readers. There was also The Neon Bible, which is a much lesser-known book he wrote at age 16. I’m not sure if I were to read this, my disappointment would be because I’m not a virgin reader of his books, or if it simply doesn’t compare to A Confederacy Of Dunces. Now that I mention it, I want to try.

Yep. The Shipping News. Brokeback Mountain. Ridiculous plotlines and colorful characters. I totally recommend.

Whom I discovered by accident. Also ridiculous, but fun and sad and heartfelt all at the same time as well.

Yep. Just pick a book. You can’t miss.

I’ve never liked him.


oof, how i love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially “100 Years of Solitude”

what about poetry? i envy anyone encountering Mary Oliver for the first time.


So glad this thread isnt what I thought it was going to be.

I don’t “envy” virgins, in the traditional use of the word; I pity them.


Do you mean to imply that I should go about trying to “remedy” their individual “problems?”

I think not






Thrilled you know Toltz. Aghast you don’t like Hornsby (but each to their own)! Eggers: highly recommend A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius to start with. Proulx: adore everything I’ve read of hers. Every. Thing. Marquez: sigh. So much love for his nonsense (@Franko). I’ll have to find the other Toole book.

I could go on for hours!

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Just getting into an Australian poet/writer, Omar Musa. So powerful.

Beat me to it. Also William Gibson.


nonsense? NONSENSE? i say to you “GOOD DAY”! /huff

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I’m also thrilled I know him. We really haven’t heard of him over here in the US. I discovered him by accident when I was given a galley proof of Quicksand, and this book was a good quirky read, and was kind of complicated emotionally. Anyone who likes quirky books should definitely read this one.

I have never read A Fraction Of The Whole, which is apparently the book he’s best known for.

I’ve read a fair amount of Eggers, and I’ve never read that one. Unusual, because it’s probably his best known book. Then again, I seem to have a habit of never having read authors’ best known work.

That’s The Neon Bible, written when he was 16. It is literally his only other book, and I’m not sure how it compares to A Confederacy Of Dunces, especially considering how young he was when he wrote it and that Toole himself chose to focus more effort on A Confederacy Of Dunces. I haven’t read it yet. My local library network has a couple copies, in distant branches.

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