A good friend of mine recently related some lore about the notorious American Pragmatist Richard Rorty. According to my friend, Rorty has remarked that it's about time that we come up with a word to express a concept that already has a well established usage: the book that is perpetually on the list of things that we are going to read next summer. I'm not sure if Rorty ever took his own advice here, but I will now. Let's call a book that falls into this category a "kunftigbuch." ("Kunftig" means future in German, and "buch" means book -- I think that's true, I don't actually know German...I just looked it up in a German-English dictionary I found in the language reference section...) Nevertheless, kunftigbuch sounds like an academic enough name to coin our concept, and pronouncing it feels expressive of the frustration that we all feel whenever we talk about such books (see examples below).
Here's an example of how to use this concept in conversation:
"Moby Dick? Oh yeah, that's one of my kunftigbuchs..."
"Crime and Punishment? Uhg, a kunftigbuch to be sure."
Or how about:
"I wish it weren't so, but I think Infinite Jest is the quintessential kunftigbuch. Maybe that's the whole joke..."
Often, books become kunftigbuchs because our reading lists never properly align with our schedules (I always seem to remember my vow to read The Brothers K about two weeks into the fall semester). In order to remedy this situation, here is a list of excellent new philosophy books just in time for summer! Print out this list, circle the one's that you have to get through, and come on down to Boswell! That way you can make sure that these books never fall onto your mental list of kunftigbuchs!
The list, then (moderately annotated):