Friday, April 27, 2012

I have never read:

Okay, this is going to be embarrassing but one important aspect of being an adult is admitting your shortcomings and dealing with them. I’d like to think I’m a fairly well-read person but I’m not as well read as I’d like to be. That’s why I have *cue Great Oz voice* The List.

It turns out there are a lot of authors I’ve never even touched. That’s not to say I don’t own their books or that I’m ignorant of their contribution to literature. I actually own a ton of classic books, I just haven’t pulled them off my library shelf yet. I think this is partly due to fear and partly to apprehension. Classics always seem daunting because they’re from another time. They contain archaic language and phrases; everyone’s dialogue is elevated and description is sometimes convoluted. I’m worried I won’t understand what everyone’s saying or what the story is about, that I won’t be smart enough or know enough to fully enjoy a book as it was meant to be read.

I’ve also been burned several times when it comes to classics where I’ve essentially wasted my time on a book as boring as dust bunnies and swear off the author altogether, possibly missing hidden gems. I don’t even have to explain because I have a great example. I reviewed Lorna Doone which started with great promise but became an exercise in frustration. By the time I was done I swore I would never read another Richard Blackmore book and so far I haven’t.

The last and possibly most important aspect is the scope of the project. Every year brings me further from the publish date of classic novels and adds more books to my list. Realistically I don’t expect to read them all before I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’. (I have read Shakespeare, who is awesome by the way although sometimes his diction is like trying to read wingdings). My approach is to tell myself to look at the next book and to see it as an adventure. I might discover another favourite book or author in my romp.

Here goes, I have never read:

Anne Bronte
Anthony Trollope
Anton Chekov
Arthur Miller
D.H. Lawrence
Dante Alighieri
Emily Bronte
Ernest Hemingway
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Feodor Dostoyevsky
Freidrich Nietzsche
George Eliot
H.P. Lovecraft
Henry James
Herman Melville
Jack London
James Joyce
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
John Milton
John Steinbeck
John Updike
Joseph Conrad
Kurt Vonnegut
Leo Tolstoy
Michael de Montaigne
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sir Walter Scott
Somerset Maugham
Thomas Hardy
Victor Hugo
Virginia Woolf
William Faulkner
William M Thackery

Ok wow. That’s a lot longer than I was expecting. And that’s just the heavy hitters! If you think that’s bad you should see the whole list. If I look at it for too long it make my head hurt. But I am determined because to be fair to my younger self I spent my formative years reading sci-fi and fantasy novels. I could go on forever about why time travel on Pern was a mind twister, why I really want the Deryni to crush their enemies or how terraforming a sand worm’s backyard is a bad idea. I feel I should expand my repertoire with classics but they’re not even the scariest genre. Modern fiction gives me the jibblies. *shudder*

So what about you? Are you book blogger enough to admit who you haven’t read? Let me know and we can commiserate. I can see it now. “You haven’t read them? I haven’t read them too! Huzzah! Let’s go eat pie!”


Mythical Monkey said...

I haven't read all kinds of stuff. I went through the first 50 or so on your list of books one must read in order to consider oneself literate and missed on half of them. Although I have seen a couple of movie versions of Secret Garden. And I had a Daniel Boone coonskin cap as a kid, which should count for something ...

The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Koran
Njal's Saga
Wild Bill Hickock
The King of the Mountains
Things Fall Apart
Prometheus Bound
A Death in the Family
The Nicomachean Ethics
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Daniel Boone: Master of the Wilderness
Three Novels by Samuel Becket
Naughts and Crosses
The Decameron
Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges
Fang and Claw
Bring 'em Back Alive
The Last Days of Pompeii
Secret Garden
The Way of All Flesh
Kit Carson's Own Story of His Life
Poems by Paul Celan
Journey to the End of the Night

Ignorance, thy name is Monkey.

On the other hand, I've read all of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner. Three of my faves!

theduckthief said...

That definitely makes me feel better, to know I'm not the only one!

But I would say that from what I've read on your blog you're extremely film literate, a fact which makes me quite jealous.

teflonjedi said...

I would recommend reading The Mayor of Casterbridge if you do get the chance....tragic.

theduckthief said...

Hey! Long time no see! Casterbridge is definitely on my list though I have no idea when I'll get to it.

Hena Tayeb said...

Don't worry about that.. I tried reading Anna Karenina and I couldn't finish it.. I am still surprised that I was able to finish Crime and Punishment..

They are very deep and thought provoking, yes. They are beautifully written, yes. But they are not enjoyable or fun.. and at the end of a tiring day I do not need something that make me fall asleep sooner.

Nevertheless I still have many classic on my list to if not finish at least attempt..

teflonjedi said...

Definitely long time no see. Back from China (where blogger was blocked), to start my own business, and living in Surrey now, with wife and baby girl. Not blogging any time these days...

theduckthief said...

Hena Tayeb - I've tried reading "Anna Karenina" as well, the Pevear/Volokhonsky version and didn't make it through. I think I might try the movie version with Vivien Leigh to work up the courage to try again.

teflonjedi - Welcome back! And a baby girl! Congrats! New businesses are always time consuming so no worries. Good luck in your new endeavor.