Confess: books you haven't read

July 23, 2008
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At England's Ways with Words literary festival, authors were asked to name books that they are ashamed to admit they haven't read. See story here.

For me, that would be a long list, including "Catch-22," "Moby Dick," "Remembrance of Things Past," "War and Peace" and anything by a Bronte. I've also been neglegent in visiting with Rushdie, Dostoyevsky, Mailer and many, many others.

On the more popular front, I just scanned the New York Times hardcover fiction best seller list and found that I've read none of the authors in the top 15.

The reality is, even compulsive readers have major gaps.

So, fess up, what books are you ashamed to admit you never read.
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  • I haven't read Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, and Dickens--mainly because acquiring an English degree meant I could pick and choose what I wanted to read. And what self-respecting 19- or 20-year-old English major would read Dickens when she could be mooning over Anne Sexton and deconstructing Beatles lyrics?
  • Wow, where do I begin?

    I finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas just last year, and I only recently purchased Slaughter House V. I'm in the middle of American Brutus, so Vonnegut's classic will have to wait a bit longer.

    I would like to re-read The Great Gatsby and Salinger's, Catcher in the Rye, as I was in my very early teens when I last skimmed the pages of those classics. I was required to read a great many of the so-called classics in high school. These include All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, Where the Red Fern Grows, etc. My minor in English Literature also required that I read a great bit of Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc.

    I am ashamed to admit that I have not read anything by Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote or Jack Kerouac, and I need to add The Bible to my must read list. After all, it's about time I figure out what all the fuss is about. :)
  • Add my name to the list of those that have not read Rushdie, Dostoyevsky, or Mailer. Also add to that list Oscar Wilde. I am currently reading number 20 on the NYTimes list you reference. I have read Trumans, In Cold Blood and would also like to reread The Catcher in the Rye. Add Jack Kerouac to the list of omissions.
  • Re:Correction

    Above post I meant Truman Capote's in Cold Blood.
  • For me, my shame lies within the mystery field. Working at a mystery bookstore, the shocked responses don't come from the all time classics, but the mystery classics. So I will admit that I haven't read a single book by Dorothy L. Sayers, Ross MacDonald, Ross Thomas, John D. MacDonald, Tony Hillerman, James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, Archer Mayor, Elizabeth George, Mickey Spillane or Margery Allingham.

    Basically I'm saying, I ought to be fired shortly after I post this comment. In my defense, I do plan on starting most of those authors soon, especially Mayor, Spillane, and Burke.

    Luckily I feel I'm decently well read for the classics for in high school I went on a kick of those. So there's none of those I feel shame about more than the authors already mentioned.
  • I think 'Catcher in the Rye' is my most obvious gap although I have not read Dickens or Wilde either. The difference being I plan to read Catcher but really have no desire for the others.
    I have read all those mystery writeres - can I have your job?
  • I have tried a few times to read James Joyce's Ulysses, and I just can't do it. It's exhausting.
  • I haven't read anything by native son, Kurt Vonnegut. I tried to read the first few pages of one of his books, but was not successful. However, I like some of the other authors/books mentioned. For example, I enjoyed 'Catcher in the Rye' and Capote's 'In Cold Blood' which was nearly as creepy as some novels written today.
  • Years ago, I asked for and received a set of the Harvard Classics for Christmas. For the most part, these lovely leather volumes with their gilt-edged pages remain untouched, just as they were the day I opened the box.
  • I've just started working my way through Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan. So far, I've read Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Analects of Confucius and just got Aeschylus's Oresteia from the library.

    It's because I have NOT so many of the classics that I undertook this 100-must-read-books challenge.
  • Surprising to me, I have read In Cold Blood, Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Maybe my public school education wasn't so bad afterall.

    Haven't read: Dante

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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