Continuing to Celebrate my Literary Ignorance: More Books I Haven’t Read


Following up from an earlier post

Almost everything by F. Scott FitzGerald
I read The Great Gatsby in Grade 12 English, because I had to.   

The teacher was so bad, he pretty much killed my desire from pursuing this author any further.


Anything by Margaret Atwood
Ssshh…don’t tell the Berkenstock-Wearing Granola-Crunching CBC Inteligentsia…they’ll have my head!


The Harry Potter Series
I admit, I liked the movies.    And I’d probably like the books.

But my brother just told me he read the entire series aloud to his son.   He said it was over 1,000,000 words. 

Ugh.   A time committment like that frightens me.   


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Because I took the actual three-day course at work.

And it was the best training course I’ve ever had at my company.

By default.


Anything by Jane Austen
And I never will her, either.

No, wait.  Let me qualify that.   

If, for whatever reason, I was stuck somewhere on a desert island, or taken hostage and put in solitary confinement…and it was the only thing around, I might consider reading it.


(No…still…probably not). 


Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre
See Jane Austen.

Moby Dick.   
Let me guess.   The whale did it.


I started reading it once, but had to quit.  
It made less sense than the movie.

If that’s at all possible.

Which I didn’t thias possible.    

Better-Late-than-Never Category (*)

(*) Books I’ve enjoyed, but didn’t get around to until well into my 30’s and 40’s. 

– The Adventures of HuckleBerry Finn (Just read it last year….though I did read Tom Sawyer 30 years earlier)
– The Good Earth
– To Kill a MockingBird
– East of Eden
– 2001 Space Odyssey (A few months ago…Now I finally the last 20 incomprehensible minutes of the movie)


Those E-Books from the Cool Kid Bloggers. 
They’re supposed to be awesome.  They’re supposed to ‘Change your life”.   They’re supposed to make you weep with tears of self-awareness.

You know, if it was narrowed down to a few dozen, I’d be tempted.    

But there are so many “Life Changing” E-books out there, that you can’t click twice with your mouse without tripping over one.    And each one claims to be the lastest, best thing.

So no thanks, I’ll pass…

Sorry.  Nothing personal.  

I just have too many other books on the “must read” list that I need to get to first.

Like Jane Austen.

Explore posts in the same categories: Friar's Grab Bag

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

31 Comments on “Continuing to Celebrate my Literary Ignorance: More Books I Haven’t Read”

  1. trishothinks Says:

    This seems like a great list of “non-readable books”

    Here’s to your continued “literary ignorance”….


    P.S. Some of those books aren’t literature….the self-help ones….so hey…they don’t count.


  2. Jeena Says:

    Is it that you don’t want to read Wuthering Heights or any related material of the Bronte sisters?

    You’ve got to start reading the Harry Potter series. Or you should have sat down at your brother’s reading 😀

    But I am guessing you are proud of your ignorance! 😀

  3. Viking Thunder Says:

    Let me sum up no tonly Jayne Eyre, but anything by Jane Austin

    Female Lead Oh how I love [ MALE LEAD] but we can never be
    Male Lead: Oh how I love [ FEMALE LEAD} but we can never be
    Female Lead: We can now express out love!
    Male Lead: How Novel!

  4. Jeena Says:

    LOL @Viking Thunder. Though I can’t claim to have read all of Jane Austen’s works, there is more to expressing love! There is also hypocrisy of the society!

    And if this is what you say about JA, what would your opinion be of Thomas Hardy?

  5. I read the Harry Potter series to myself in 10 days. I read books 1-3 in less than one day each. Books 4,5,6 are a little longer and book 7 I did in a day.

    They are SOOO much better than the movies. I suggest you read at least books 1-6 before the 7th movie come out. Things will make much more sense to you.

  6. Eyeteaguy Says:

    My mom had athis collection of all the “classics”, leather bound and all. She said she would bive me $1 for ready one, $2 for reading two, $4 for reading 3, etc. etc.

    So I read the whole lot and then went out and bought Star Trek books with the money. I must admit, the Star Trek books were well worth the suffering.


    P.S. She quizzed me on the books I read just in case I cheated. The irony is she left me those fucking books in her will. Apparantly they are worth some money. I am thinking of selling them on eBay and buying comic books.

  7. Viking Thunder Says:

    @Jeena I am not familiar with Thomas Hardy, so I cant really say 😀

    Though I just knocked Jane Austin, you should, if you read anything inspired by her, read Pride and Predujice and Zombies.

    Seems Jane was just one more clause to greatness! So I will write “Love and Friendship and Viking”

  8. XUP Says:

    I’ve read everything by Jane Austen and I gotta say she’s a lot more fun than the stupid Hollywood movies would have us believe. Charlotte Bronte I could have done without, but Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time favourites. Catch-22 and anything by Joseph Heller is awesome. Steinbeck has his moments, but everything else I agree with you on. (particularly Harry Potter and Margaret Atwood

  9. XUP Says:

    And Thomas Hardy is sexy in a very sick sort of way…like DH Lawrence

  10. Jeena Says:

    @XUP: Nodding head and agreeing to all points!
    But I am assuming men don’t understand the subtle etiquette and language of the Bronte sisters and tat of Ms Austen. Having said that, I am not a diehard fan either. These make for good reading for avid readers.

    @Eyeteaguy: How much are you selling those copies for? I might be interested, if I can afford them!

  11. Friar Says:

    I think these are “must read” books, not because they’re necessarily good, but because College English Profs told us that they are.

    And students who graduated from their class, and who became English Profs themselves, helped perpetuate this myth.

    I’m still open-minded about Harry Potter. I probably will read them one day (Even if it’s an audio book while I’m driving).

    But the rest of the’re right. I’m DAMNED PROUD of it! 🙂

    Ugh. It sounds like one big Chick Flick.

    Except Chick Flicks are over in 2 hours. Those books, however, can continue to torture you much longer.

    @Army Wife
    Wow…those are pretty thick books, too. You read them in ONE day?

    I used to do that…but I think Grad Skule ruined my brain, and I can no longer keep that kind of focus.



    Typical Mom. Eat your Veggies first, before you have your dessert.

    Her books being the veggies, and Star Trek being the ice cream.

    But if you buy more comics, I hope you at least read them. (And don’t keep them zip-locked in those plastic bags, never to be touched).

    Okay…no disrespect intended, but that’s a woman’s opinion. I suspect if you asked a lot of guys, they’d probably prefer the cheezy Hollywood movies to anything by Austen or the Brontes.

    Not saying one opinion is better than the other. They’re just different…it’s just the Venus-Mars thing. 🙂

    It’s not that men don’t understand. Maybe they don’t WANT to understand.
    (At least, I know I don’t!) 🙂

  12. Eyeteaguy Says:


    My Mom isn’t dead yet, but my Dad is working on it.

    Once he succeeds I’ll let you know.


  13. Viking Thunder Says:

    @ Friar

    its worse then a chick flick as well, because when you take a girl to go see 27 dresses, its at least technicaly a ‘date’. No girl really gives you credit if you take out out to dinner, and a reading of Jayne Eyre

  14. Steph Says:

    Reading is such a subjective and personal and intimate thing. In the end, read what you want, what interests you, not what people say you should read. I read whatever books sound good to me. I read books because *I* like them, not because I’m supposed to like them or because everyone else likes them. As an Eng. honours bookworm who still participates in the book world and knows what’s what in literary circles and so on, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve read the Twilight series twice. Sure, I acknowledge the flaws, but I still couldn’t put them down. Even “worse,” I’ve defended Meyer, and her books are on my shelves. Most literati would have my head. Who cares.

    I hate those 1001 Books to Read Before You Die books. How can anyone say their books are the be-all? I can’t get through the first chapter of most of them.

    I admit, I love sharing books I enjoy, and I want people to enjoy them too, but ultimately I’m happy if people are reading, period. Like art, books are so much a matter of opinion and personal taste, regardless of whether or not something is technically good, that I find it difficult to understand the snobs.

  15. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar, I have never read a single Harry Potter book. I thought I was alone so never mentioned it out loud. At this point I think I just won’t read it to be contrary to popular opinion. 🙂

  16. Friar Says:

    @Viking Thunder
    Well…if it sucks to read, and you’re not going to get any brownie points for doing so…what’s the POINT? 😉


    I consider myself well-read. But with just different books.

    I just haven’t read the ones that I’m “Supposed” to have read, according to these lists.

    I like Stephen King, for example. I know a lot of people will roll their eyes at this. But, in addition to his horror, he also writes excellent general fiction. And I daresay I found his books much more enjoyable than anything they forced us to read in High-School English Class.

    There have also been other books that I just didn’t get. Like “Catcher in the Rye”. Or Hemingway.

    Yeah…they were okay. But I certainly didn’t wet my pants about how fantastic they were. Not like the critics do. (Though I get the impression I’m supposed to.)

    There’s a bit of snobbery here, with these “must read” lists. (1001…Good Lord..that’s like reading one a week for 20 years…not counting anything else!)

    Notice what’s missing, is there’s a whole technical side of reading too, that’s not even mentionned here. For example, Bird, Stuart and Lightfoot. A classic text in Fluid Mechanics. Useless if you’re a Humanities student. But essential, if you’re an Engineer.

    Thought that might not be what the Tortured Intellectuals call “literature”, it IS reading. And the authors did have to spend a lot of time putting it together. Years, if not a decade, probably. Technical writing is NOT easy.

    Heh heh. I’d love to get into a literary debate with an art snob over THAT one! 🙂

  17. Friar Says:


    hahah! I understand perfectly!

    For the exact same reason, that’s why I will refuse to see “Slumdog Millionaire”. 🙂

  18. Friar's Mom Says:

    @Wee Friar,

    I too have not seen Slumdog Millionaire. I have no intentions of seeing Avatar.

    I didn’t see Titanic; however, I saw the original 1953 movie–luxury ocean liner hits iceberg, no survivors.

  19. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom
    It helps when you don’t have a DVD player. 🙂

  20. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar and Friar’s mom,

    I have not see Slumdog Millionaire, Avatar or the Leo DiCaprio version of Titanic either. I guess we are proof that some do escape the hype!

  21. Steph Says:

    Friar: well, these lists and discussions do cover only fiction, but there are lists of non-fiction “essential reading” as well, I’m sure.

    I do agree with people that there are books that are particularly important, either for what they contribute in light of their time or for their literary value based on what constitutes arguably excellent writing (that is not necessarily subjective on a certain level).

    In the end, though, I have found myself uninterested in some of those topics or styles even if they fall into the above categories. I’ll read any fiction people highly recommend, just to try it, see what the person saw, maybe even review it, because I don’t think well-read necessarily means having read only all the “important” or “good” books. I believe well-read to mean I’ve read many books of all sorts, the good, bad, and the ugly. I want to know what people are creating, what they’re talking about. So, yeah, I’ve read my share of Stephen King, and Meyer, and Rowling, etc.

    I want to sample what’s out there. I don’t always finish it, mind you, if I don’t like it. Mostly the ugly are a waste of time and there are too many good ones out there to be wasting time, but there are people out there who enjoy them. It’s my job, or it will be, to know what they want and be familiar with it.

    Of course I have my own taste, and some would call is snobby because most of it is what is labelled “literature” as opposed to “fiction.” Whatever. Chacun à son goût!

  22. Friar Says:


    I liked the Titanic when the ship sank. But it was a high price to pay for 2 hours of chick-flick equivalent.

    And I saw Avatar. It’s basically “Alien” meets “Dances with Wolves”.

  23. Steph Says:

    I enjoyed Avatar (the film was impressive and beautiful to look at), and Slumdog (the story was excellent and it was very well-filmed). Sometimes the hype is well-deserved.

  24. Jeena Says:

    @Eyeteaguy: Aren’t you also working on doing away with your mother?

    Among the movies under discussion, I haven’t watched Slumdog either. The rest? Good time pass 😀

    @Friar: I have a feeling you will LOVE “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk.

    If you want to be well read, you’ve got to read books by authors from all nations. Paulo Coelho, Allende, Anita Nair, Alexander McCall Smith, Irish authors, etc.

    If you find a list of other less well known authors, please share 🙂

  25. XUP Says:

    The Venus Mars thing was a horrible book. You shouldn’t read stuff like that. Back in the day, literature written by women was expected to adhere to certain conventions as it was thought that books written by women were read only by women and their delicate sensibilities needed to be protected. Though you wouldn’t know it, Jane Austen skated a thin line on those conventions. The Brontes actually published their work under male pseudonyms so they could get away with more heart-stopping drama and passion. Same with George Eliot. But even literature by men was expected to adhere to certain conventions. So, the authors had to work hard to toe the line on one hand while still exploring new territory. So, it’s hard work reading some of these authors because it’s not as simple as just plowing through the story. There are incredible and minute and deliberate subtleties woven throughout the work that require a certain kind of reader. All that to say that I don’t think Austen and Bronte can just be dismissed as “chick lit” though I can totally see why it’s being viewed as such today

  26. Friar Says:


    Thanks for the suggestion. I really liked the Fight Club movie. So I’ll put that book on my short-list of things to read.

    As for the other authors. This is one of my pet peeves….WHY does being “well-read” only seem to apply to works of fiction? It’s just such a minute part of human knowlege.

    There’s so much other stuff out there…astronomy, phyics, biology, geography, chemistry, anthropology, history, animal behaviour, stamp-collecting, model-rocket building, fire-arms repair…etc…

    Sure. Non-fiction might not be as “artsy” as Literature. But reading it teaches us about the world we live in. And IMHO, probably more so, than if we only just read the opinions and stories of novelists.

    Good point, though. I agree about not just restricting ourselves to Western authors.

    I’m willing to admit, the main reason I refuse to see Slumdog, is that I’m deliberately chosing to be a stubborn cuss! 🙂

    I didnt’ read the Venus-Mars book. I’d rather gouge my eyes out.

    I just meant that men and women are different. And most guys would probalby not see Jane Austen’s books the same way women like yourself do.

    But in my opinion, if you have to pore into the individual subtleties and intricate details to try to get what the author is trying to say…then I dont’ think they’re a very good writer.

    A good writer/novelist should be able to get their point across in a way that keeps the reader entertained, yet reable in a way that your grandomother could understand it.

  27. chris zydel Says:

    Catch-22 isn’t SUPPOSED to make sense. That’s the whole point. The whole “war is a senseless and psychotic endeavor” kind of thing.

    I haven’t read any of the other books on your list either… except for Harry Potter. And I tried Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood. They just didn’t do it for me. I much prefer Steven King.

    And yes, Harry Potter IS a major commitment. If I hadn’t already read them, starting at the beginning would scare me too (-:

  28. Friar Says:


    Yeah, war doesn’t make sense. But UGH!!! Does that mean the book has to be incomprehensibly unreadable too? 😦

    “Slaughterhouse Five” was anti-war. And it was also very bizarre. But at least there, you could follow a story-line, and it still made its point clearly.

    Sometimes I wonder if the English PhD’s deliberately pick the shitty books as “Classics”. SO they can jusfiy their own existence teaching courses, explaining these crummy books to the rest of us unwashed masses.

    But yes…I WILL get around to Harry Potter…eventually. 🙂

  29. XUP Says:

    Friar – Ah, well I guess there are different types of books. Some people like to read non-fiction to learn hard facts; some people like to read action/escapist fiction to be entertained; and some people like to read what is commonly referred to as literature, even though it’s less accessible, because you learn something about human nature, about history, about ideas, about ways of thinking, philosophy, human emotions, etc., etc. The more literature you read the more accessible literature becomes because it cross-references itself. So Jane Austen will allude to ideas from classical literature maybe and Dickens will allude to Jane Austen and John Irving will allude to Dickens and Faulkner. And Harry Potter is a direct rip-off and abomination of several older literary works. I guess it’s like the difference between going to see a rock band and a symphony orchestra. Both have value in different ways and probably the latter requires a wider musical experience to fully appreciate it.

    And while I would agree that there is a certain amount of deliberate elitism within the literary culture — especially these days; the literature that has endured for centuries has not endured because a bunch of eggheads declared it to be important. It’s endured because the common folk of the day thought it was great. We look at Jane Austen as some sort of high-brow incomprehensible, boring crap maybe, but in her time she was considered popular fiction. Harry Potter, because of its popularity is now going to make its way into academia (it very rarely works the other way around) and they’re going to write a million papers on it and 100 years from now people are going to be looking at it and saying “this so-called classic stuff is a bunch of crap”

  30. Friar Says:


    Maybe the earlier stuff was popular, because by default, there wasn’t much competition. Only a small percentage of the population back then could read and write. And fewer people had the leisure time to sit down and write..they were too busy working in the factories or fields.

    I wonder how well Dickens and Austen would do today, with millions of manuscripts being submitted to publishers all around the world?

    You’re right about Harry Potter, though. 100 years from now, they’ll be teaching entire English courses on him. I’d be willing to bet there are already more than a few PhD Theses out there over-analyzing him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: