Book Playlist: To Be Read [MUSE]


Grace Xu

I’ve never been a big fan of “To Be Read” lists, more commonly known as “TBR” lists, because I’m a firm believer in reading books for fun without feeling a sense of obligation. With that being said… I present to you my TBR. (Alright, so maybe I do feel a sense of obligation toward reading. But the fun kind of obligation!) As school starts picking up again, I want to hold myself accountable on continuing to read, which is why I’ve actually caved in to making a TBR. Hopefully, you can also be inspired to keep reading despite busy workloads, and maybe you’ll find a book on this list that you’d like to check out.


Playlist: To Be Read

Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

The numerous amazing reviews on this novel and its premise of status quo vs. conflict have really drawn me in. Although I’m usually not a huge fan of contemporary novels, I’ve heard that this novel actually isn’t in the fast-paced realistic fiction category (I don’t know why, but for contemporary novels I usually prefer them to be slow-paced, although I love fast-paced sci-fi and fantasy). Additionally, the novel seems to be very character-focused, which I usually prefer.

Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami)

Okay, I’ll admit it. I base my entire opinion of books—and at least half of my entire “To Be Read” list—on the TED-Ed “Why should you read” series (yes, I have binged the entire playlist—twice.) The videos in that series are just so well done, and after watching the one about Kafka on the Shore, I went straight to my “To Be Read” list to add it.

The Three-Body Problem (Cixin Liu)

This book is science fiction, originally written in Chinese but has received acclaim internationally. This is also the first installment in my mom’s favorite book series, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, so I’d love to be able to finish this series someday.

A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)

Please tell me I’m not the only one who wanted to read this book because of The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. (Yes, what a valid reason to want to read a classic, I know.) Unfortunately, I have literally been stuck at the first 60 pages of A Tale of Two Cities for the past year; it’s on my TBR list because I really want to finish this book someday.

North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell)

An enemies-to-lovers trope set in the era of industrial England interspersed with social commentary and class conflict throughout—I mean, who wouldn’t want to read this? 

Ulysses (James Joyce)

Do I want to read this book because I’m interested in the prose, or because I just want to be able to say I’ve read Ulysses? Neither of the above—it’s because I saw a TED-Ed video about “Why should you read James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’?” I mean, if you’ve seen that video series, you’ll understand. 

A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)

I literally haven’t read Hemingway, and yet I still feel like he should be my favorite author?? Maybe it’s because he ushered in a new era of writing with a philosophy of “less is more,” and if you’ve ever read any of my other book posts here on MUSE, you can probably tell that I am obsessed with a blunt writing voice. It just hits different.

Orlando: A Biography (Virginia Woolf)

A classic that has satire, a gender-fluid main character, and a plot that involves meeting a bunch of famous writers in actual English literary history? Sign me up. (Also, thanks again to TED-Ed “Why should you read” for bringing this to my attention.)

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

I first read this in middle school, but I stopped as soon as (spoiler?) Catherine dies. (The reader knows this from the start of the book, so technically it’s not a spoiler. Unless you were naive like me and thought that Catherine wouldn’t die until the end of the book.) I feel like I’m better equipped to handle the book (and its angst!) now as opposed to when I first read it, so I definitely want to try finishing this novel someday.

Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)

According to TED-Ed, the play is about two people waiting for Godot (wow, what a surprise), only Godot never arrives, and the entire play is just the two characters talking. From the descriptions I’ve heard of this play, I’m pretty sure Beckett just wrote a brain dump of his philosophical shower thoughts, but then he realized he could turn it into the dialogue of two characters in a play, so here we are. 


In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve really been on a reading kick lately, but I promise that MUSE is still a blog for all types of media, not just books (although I may or may not still have a few book reviews planned). Keep an eye out on MUSE for upcoming media curations, ranging from study-with-me recommendations to phone apps, as we’ll continue to be posting on here regularly. 


On this blog, Shruthi Ravichandran and Grace Xu provide monthly curations of all types of arts and media, from TV shows to music to novels and even YouTubers. On top of mood-oriented playlists, there’s also the occasional rant-filled review. They hope readers will always leave with a new piece of media to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.