When people learn I have a degree in English Lit, it is assumed that I have read everything ever written. Shocker: I haven't. Actually, that's not even the shocker. the real shock response is usually something like, "You have a degree in English and you haven't read __________?!?!?" (fill in with some literary masterpiece) There are too many books and not enough hours in a day, and, by the way, have you SEEN the size of some of these literary masterpieces?!?!

Here are some of my confessions as an English major. Grab some Kleenex in case you begin to tear up.

1.) I have never read anything by Charles Dickens, with the exception of A Christmas Carol which I finally read in December. I do not even really count this one because it was made into a movie starring animated mice and ducks.

2.) I have only read three Austen novels and one of them is NOT Pride and Prejudice. (FYI, I have read Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey in that order.) GASP! I don't even care for her books all that much. GASP! (That last gasp is me as I try to run from an angry mob of Austen freaks. I still swear to this day that there are many people out there who openly swoon over Austen because it just seems like the right thing to do.)

3.) I have not read anything by any Bronte. I have owned a copy of Jane Eyre for more than five years. It mainly gets moved around from bookshelf to bookshelf. At one point I owned two copies because I forgot I already had one. It all goes back to that addiction thing.

4.) I still need to tackle Tolstoy's two tomes. (How do you like that alliteration?)

When I posed the question of reading shame to my book group, members responded with one or two books from their lists that they have passed by over the years. Here is the list from most to least votes.

We'll call this list "Books We Haven't Read But Feel We Should"
The Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Moby Dick(tie), Pride and Prejudice, 1984, Dickens (in general), Jane Eyre, Paradise Lost, Jude the Obscure, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Divine Comedy, The Odyssey, Invisible Man, Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, Sense and Sensibility, House of Seven Gables, Crime and Punishment, Romeo & Juliet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Hobbit, Slaughterhouse Five, and Walden.

To relieve some of my literary shame, I have set a goal in 2010 to read the following classics. This is an ambitious list, but I will put it out there for my 37 followers to see.

What books are you ashamed to admit you haven't read? Do you plan to read any of them in 2010?

Book Addict Challenge #2: Read at least three classics in 2010. Post your classics in the comments section and come back to tell us what you have read and what you thought. 


03/28/2010 2:20am

I am one of those that haven't read Anna Karenina, but have just started with a group that is reading and discussing 6 chapters per week. ( If you haven't seen the chapters in this book, that means about 25-30 pages at a time.) It makes it manageable because I can read other books at the same time without feeling I'm leaving it behind.... and I might actually finish the darn book this time! I'll make it one of my challenges for the year!

03/28/2010 9:54am

Well, for Book Addict challenge #1 I actually picked 3 classics :)
1. Catch 22
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I also have an English Literature degree but I mostly took 20th century American Lit classes, so I missed ALL SORTS of "I can't believe you haven't read that" novels. I have a whole list of classics I need to read.

03/28/2010 10:02am

I will tell you that I have read Oliver Twist (the only Dickens next to a Christmas Carol that I could ever get to) and Jane Eyre. They are both fantastic, so enjoy. After you read Jane Eyre, you should read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys- it is a companion book written about a character in Jane Eyre and it is phenomenal.

Next to that, I too have not read the rest of the classics you listed. I am starting to feel like I should pick more than just the three from Challenge #1. So here they are:

1. Brave New World
2. Ethan Frome
3. Hamlet.
4. Kidnapped
5. A Moveable Feast
6. 1984
7. Pride and Prejudice
8. Wuthering Heights

I am going to try and tackle these 8 classics as well as the 3 I listed in the other challenge in 2010.

03/30/2010 6:54pm

A couple weeks ago I finished reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I enjoyed it very much. I have a collection of Tolstoy's shorter stories on request at the library.

I love reading classics. If you feel intimidated start with a shorter book like Ethan Frome or Siddhartha (a personal favorite of mine).

04/14/2010 6:06pm

Three...I think I managed 5 last year, so that should be doable!

We'll see if I can remember this, but I will commit myself to:
1) The Picture of Dorian Gray (which I started weeks ago...)
2) 1984 (what sort of dystopian novel lover hasn't read this !?)
3) either Main-Travelled Roads or Journal of the Plague Year.

I loved Anna Karenina, and Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities.

04/28/2010 1:58pm

OK, I'll do 1,000 Years of Solitude and American Tragedy with you. I'll also try Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I loved Anna Karenina and -- do you know, Steph? -- the only reason I read it was because there was a copy left in our room in Mexico and I was soooo desperate for English by the end of that quarter, it seemed like chick lit. : )

05/21/2010 2:22pm

These are the three books I feel I should read

1) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
2)Catch 22
3)Catcher in the Rye


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