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I’ve TOTALLY read that…

Here’s something I don’t bother doing: lying about what I haven’t read. It’s my general feeling that even the most exhaustive readers have some major blind spots in their reading history. And I’m not saying something like, “Oh, I’ve not yet had a chance to finish the last volume Remembrance of Things Past.” I’m talking about things like, “I’ve never read Jane Austen. Or George Orwell.” Both of which are true for me. No Pride and Prejudice. No Animal Farm.

It’s not just adult books, either. I never read A Wrinkle in Time. Or any of the Narnia books. I’ve never read Judy Blume. Or Roald Dahl. For god’s sake, I’ve never even read The Giver.

I’m not saying I won’t ever read these authors or books. I just haven’t yet. And I think that’s fine. Better that than faking it, as far as I’m concerned. Not to say that anyone in publishing would ever fake having read something in order to sound smarter. (AHAHAHAHAHAHA)

So admit it: there are giant blind spots in your own reading history. Get it off your chest: what are they? What novel can you not even believe you haven’t read? What book has been sitting on your bedside table for seven years that you still haven’t picked up? Cough. Crime and Punishment. Cough.

And do you ever lie to save face, or does that feel like a fool’s errand to you?

11 Responses to I’ve TOTALLY read that…

  1. Joelle says:

    Well…I’ve never read The Giver. Or 1984. Or Animal Farm. Or the Hunger Games.

    I don’t really have much trouble admitting I haven’t read certain things, but sometimes I do have trouble owning what I have read…yeah, I’m talking about chick lit and cozies. I think that’s actually worse to hide what you like! I make myself put them up on my Goodreads list, but I’ve been known to stack more “important” books on top of them in the library. I know…that’s bad, and hopefully I’ll get over it, but you never know!

  2. Rose says:

    I’ve never read the Harry Potter series. I always pretend I have (although I make sure to never actually say iv read it, not sure that makes it better though) recently I met a successful author owned up to the fact she never read the Great Gatsby like it was no big deal. That confidence and honestly has made me be more honest about what I have read for now on. Taste varies and time is not unlimited, can’t read everything. (But seriously Jim, you’ve never read The Chronicals of Narnia?!)

  3. Andrea says:

    Well, I’m Dutch and I’ve only recently re-discovered literature, so I don’t feel ashamed admitting that I haven’t read certain “standard” works in English.

    Not too long ago I read Wuthering Heights properly for the first time (I was supposed to have read it in high school, but I learned the synopsis off by heart and managed to bluff my way through the oral exam) and I enjoyed and appreciated it so much more than I would have as a teenager. (I’m in my thirties now) The same goes for Shakespeare. I didn’t really know what to think about Shakespeare in high school, but now I love it…

    So I’m kind of catching up and I don’t care what other people think because I’m enjoying myself. Then again, I can imagine that if you work in the publishing business, things might be different.

  4. Lynn says:

    Like Rose, I’ve never read Harry Potter, nor have I seen a single one of the films so it’s impossible to pretend that I have! I don’t mind admitting there are certain popular books or classics that I still haven’t read, after all there are only so many hours in a day!

  5. Kellie Lovegrove says:

    Challenge Accepted, and unashamed to do so.

    I own but have never read The Chronicles of Narnia series. I don’t think I’ve ever even opened them. I have not read the Sookie Stackhouse books, but own the first eight. My husband gave me Life of Pi for Christmas, but I’ve only read the first chapter. My husband owns two copies of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series and I only picked them up to put them on the bookshelf after we moved. The only words of A wrinkle in Time I know are “It was a dark and stormy night” and the farthest I got in A Tale of Two Cities was “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Moby Dick? The Great Gatsby? No and no, and I don’t plan on it either. I haven’t even read Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn.

    As you may have noticed, I’m not a big Classics reader. I can’t help it. Most of the time when I try, they just end up feeling more like a chore. I don’t know if it was all the years in school requiring me to read them that turned me off or if I sincerely don’t like them, but anytime I pick one up I put it back down and find something else. I’m not saying that I don’t read Classics at all, it just isn’t a common occurrence.

  6. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Can we count books we started but didn’t finish? Like Harry Potter, Narnia, most YA lit that we felt we “should” read just so we’d know what the kids are up to….

    Can we count authors we tried but hated? I will never again waste a single moment on Tolkien, Kafka, Joyce, Yeats, Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Fennimore Cooper, Chesterton, Agatha Christie, any and all Brontes. Or on Dickens (except for “Oliver Twist”) and Jules Verne (except for “Around the World”) and Louisa May Alcott (except for “Old Fashioned Girl”) and Lewis Carroll (except Alice). Or most of Shakespeare.

    • Kevin A. Lewis says:

      Ditto on lots of this list, but don’t be so quick on the draw with Dickens until you try Nicholas Nickelby, a funny, smart-alecy thing he did early in his career before he became an icon. The scene where Nicholas thrashes the living daylights out of the evil schoolmaster is worth the price of admission by itself. And I’ve never been able to get very far into Gravity’s Rainbow, even though Timothy Leary thought it was tremendously profound; his gibberish doesn’t hold up very well either…

  7. G. Kachman says:

    I haven’t read The Poisonwood Bible, recommended to me time and again. I now OWN The Poisonwood Bible, but I haven’t read it. I have never read any of David Foster-Wallace’s books either – only seen him on YouTube (I don’t agree with everything he has to say, although he is often held up as an exemplar of wisdom). That’s right – I disagree with David Foster-Wallace.

  8. The Great Gatsby.
    Catcher in the Rye.

    Many are shocked when I say I’ve not read either of these. I tell them I grew up in Canada, and that they probably haven’t read The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) or anything by Farley Mowat or Robertson Davis, school staples when I attended high school. *cough* a while ago *cough* Many Americans have read at least some Margaret Atwood, arguably Canada’s most widely read literary writer. Cultural differences in relevancy, to be sure.

  9. While I’ve read all of Jane Austin and Orwell, and a lot of other great acclaimed authors, I must say I have huge blind spots in my I HAVE READ LIST ( I have never even considered reading Dickens or Tołstoj ) I used to be ashamed of that there are even more valuable books that the ones I’ve mentioned while I read YA stories about vampires like The House of Night or books like Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse or even the Series Of unfortunate events which is supposedly for kids. Right now, I am proud of myself that I read at least one book a month while there are millions of people who limit their entertainment to Dance with the Stars of X factor tv shows. I don’t watch TV but with work and family I can’t spare much time on my own hobbies. But when I do have time, I go for books which give me both entertainment and food for thought. I don’t like wasting my time on books that you are ” supposed” to read just because someone said so. I can start a month reading IN ONE PERSON and finish it with FIFTY SHADES or another part of Night World stories. I read, that is what matters….

  10. Tina Burns says:

    I’ve never read Lord of the Flies (banned by the school board in the county where I grew up, so it was never on the required reading list by an over-zealous English Lit teacher, determined to enrich my adolescent brain). However, I scored a paperback copy at my local thrift store this past weekend, along with a first edition of Rosemary’s Baby (SCORE)!

    As a young girl, the pre-teen fodder known as the Nancy Drew Mysteries never appealed to me. I preferred quirky books with quirky titles, and even quirkier characters (The Pink Hotel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, To Kill a Mockingbird). Oh, and I avoided the classics like the plague. I faked my way through many high school reading assignments thanks to Cliffs Notes. From what I’ve heard and read, The Lord of the Flies should fit my ‘quirk’ requirements. It’s a warm and fuzzy male-bonding adventure story, right? Kidding…I hope.

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