The entry that will make my Dad shake his head and sigh loudly

Growing up, my Dad always tried to foster in me a love of reading. Unfortunately, that love of reading pulled me more towards popular fiction than classic literature or non-fiction. He would constantly try to suggest I read things other than Babysitter’s Club, Dean Koontz, and Christopher Pike (Can you believe that Frema?) but I was not easy to convert. I do remember reading Catch-22 and The Count of Monte Cristo, which I think he was pleased with. But other than that? I proved nothing but frustrating. As an adult I really wish I had more academic tastes in reading, but the interest is just not there. I felt the urge to do this meme from Average Jane just to prove to YOU how little range I have in my library. Here’s the game:

Bold those you’ve read.
Italicize books you have started but couldn’t finish.
Add an asterisk* to those you have read more than once.
Underline those on your To Be Read list.
(Note: I have grand dreams of reading a lot of these books, but I only actually underlined the ones I’ve at least purchased. I’m trying to be realistic.)

(I’m so ashamed of this list. You have no idea how hard it was not to lie. And notice one key thing: There are NO asterisks on any book. Sorry, Dad. Maybe this is the beginning of some sort of New Year’s Resolution? Or at least motivation to pick up the books on LilZ’s reading list from now on?)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers


40 thoughts on “The entry that will make my Dad shake his head and sigh loudly”

  1. There is nothing wrong with reading books that aren’t on The List. This is by no means the definitive list of things you must read or be a failure at life. Besides, just think of all the good books you have left to read in your life! :-)

  2. I only ever look at book lists like this as recommendations. Sure I’ve read a few of them, but there are so many books published each year how could anyone really keep up?

    The fact that you do read is awesome! :)

  3. You have to bold The Count of Monte Cristo :-)
    I’ve hardly read any of those, and though I’m only an English “minor” that’s still sort of shameful! I just have enough serious reading to do, I like reading things like goofy romances in my free time.
    My little sister says I have to read ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ though, so I will probably read that one eventually. And Gulliver’s Travels will have to be done by the end of the semester, as it’s required reading.

  4. I wouldn’t have any asterisks either. I’ve never understood why people read the same book more than once. There are so many books out there to read, so much to learn about….seems like a waste to me.

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  6. Well I have read alot of these and I have LOVED some of them. You should definitely read read Wicked because it is..well… wicked and I have always loved Jane Austen. Atlas Shrugged is one of my favs, but it is really really really long. Lastly, the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird is not on here is a travesty.

  7. Great meme! I will be doing this. (sidenote: over the years, Average Jane and I have been in several book clubs together in Real Life and have a new one starting this Sunday. Jane has VERY interesting and eclectic reading tastes.)

    re: the comment about re-reading books – I wholeheartedly disagree. Reading a book is not just reading, it is an experience. And sometimes, you want to have that experience again. I have a few books that I will keep re-reading throughout my life because the experience is different every single time. For example, I have not re-read one of my all-time favorites, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith since I have become a mother. I know the next re-reading will lend itself to greater insight. I wonder if I will relate more now to Francie’s mother instead of Francie herself?

    re: the “shame” of not reading – No one should feel ashamed of not reading, it is just a different interest or hobby. So to speak. To give you perspective, while I am a bookhound myself, sometimes I feel bad when I read about how other people are always going and doing things. My husband and I are homebodies and not as social as other couples. Sometimes, this makes me feel lazy when I read about others’ weekends spent running around going to interesting events.

  8. Great meme… but you really have nothing to be ashamed of… You read lots of things. I think we’re each drawn to what lights the fire in our imagination.

  9. I did this meme earlier this year, but I swear the books were totally different. (It was heavy on the Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings.) I own a lot of those books, but haven’t read them. Can I get partial credit for at least having smart looking bookshelves?

  10. Don’t be ashamed, Zoot. I was an English major like some other people on this list and only read (some of) the classics because I had to. I started Frankenstein years after it had been assigned and found it really interesting, but I never finished it. No real reason why. Just got distracted by something shiny probably. :) I used to work at a bookstore a bajillion years ago and the New York Times published a list of 100 books that everyone should read before they die (or something like that). #1 on the list was Ulysses and tons of people came to the store to buy it. I was impressed. And incredibly humored (and relieved) when a number of them came back to the store and returned the book because they “just couldn’t do it.” Like someone else said, read what you like. All that should matter is that you’re reading. :)

  11. I’ve read much more than I thought (Heartbreaking work of staggering genius is my favorite book. EVER.) but there are so many of them that I SHOULD have read. Especially the “Deeper” ones. While I can understand and appreciate literature with more of an academic leaning, they don’t really seem to be my cup of tea.

    “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” made me run around in circles of confusion muttering “WTF?” before I finally just threw it across the room. Made me feel a bit defeated, but “Eh”. Life’s too short.

  12. There are a lot of books on there that I want to read! I’m sort of making myself read a lot of the classics because I didn’t have to in school, and now I want to because I tend to enjoy them. Man, I’m a big dork.

    Also, I re-read all my favorite books. They are so much better the second time around. You aren’t so bent on finding out what happens at the end.

  13. Well…. I read 13 of those books. None were started but not finished (although Anna Karenina… ugh… the only book ever that I started and didn’t finish). None to * none to underline.

    But…. I LOVE to read. I have a bookshelf full of books I’ve read. I assume very few your dad would be proud of though. haha

    What are some of your favorite books?

  14. I think this is another occasion for my ‘I am a foreigner’ trump card!
    I have read the Kite runner and the poisonwood bible and loved both of those!
    One recommendation for you and I think most of your readers is ‘Queen of the oddballs’ by Hillary Carlip, That is the funniest book ever!

  15. Zoot-I read constantly…I mean I’m always in the middle of a book-not that I read every minute of the day (LOL)…I’ve read, and actually have in my house, hundreds of books but, of those listed…pfft…you way outscore me.

  16. Okay, if you want to see mah list, you have to click on my link.

    That having been said, I read ALL THE TIME. I LOVE TO READ. I am possibly stealing this idea from cagey, but could we start a bookclub? Wouldn’t that be fun? Nothing too heavy. We could just pick a book. We wouldn’t have to meet in person, we could set a deadline and just discuss it in the comments.

    Anyone? Bueller?

  17. ha lil’ foot’s mom- i was going to say i was an english major and haven’t read many of the books on this list. just because someone says these are the books you should have read to be well-read and literary doesn’t mean they are. so there!

  18. I’ve read some of the classics on this list…back in high school and college…but that was what was required. I tend to have different tastes that lean more towards what you mentioned. I really think that it doesn’t matter what you read…just that you do.

  19. If there was a way to mark those books that were assigned to me in school that I either only partially read or read only the Cliff’s Notes, I’d rock that list.

  20. Loved this! If these books are on your shelves, I’m very impressed. Most people don’t even bother to buy them.

    Here’s a suggestion: take this list and pick one of the books, like “A Short History of Almost Everything.” Late at night when you’re tempted to eat, read instead. Pick up this book and start reading. Maybe it will take your mind off eating. If you have to eat, try celery, carrot sticks, green pepper strips, etc. When you have FINISHED the book, then you can reward yourself with something you really want to eat–a piece of chocolate fudge torte comes to mind… And if it doesn’t keep you from eating, at least you will have learned something or will be able to bold a book on your list.

    I’m afraid to do this meme. I have shelves full of books at our house (do I have to count my husband’s sci-fi/fantasy books that I will never read?). Many have been lovingly re-read at least one time, if not more. And the previous commenter was right–you have an entirely different experience with a book when you re-read it years later (especially true of Jane Austen). I could easily spend hours just listing the books and would no doubt get distracted by the books themselves. “Hey, I forgot about this one. I’ve really been wanting to read it…” And off I go.

  21. I think reading is a very personal thing. And who cares if you don’t like the books on that list…it’s all subjective.

    (I may have to do this one ….)

  22. zoot!!
    you missed Harry Potter!! you could’ve had asterisk if you put HARRY POTTER up!
    harry paitter is a new age CLASSIC!!

    so don’t be to hard on yourself!

    I don’t read much either.

  23. I’m going to do this over at my blog too. I’m a bookseller and book lover, and read constantly, but I’m afraid to see what exactly I’m missing in this list….

  24. Ha. My parents were the same way!

    Also, Ayn Rand’s books had a profound impact on me. I read “The Fountainhead” in high school and it totally blew me away. I eventually came to realize that her ideas about independence and altruism were a *tad* extreme, but I still love her books for their strong characters. “Atlas Shrugged” is even better. I still love the name Dagny!

  25. Delurking to echo several remarks and one recommendation. I also read a lot. Probably 5-7 books a week. I also read late at night, especially when anxiety overtakes…which it often does. I can get lost in books. But, I also have read very few of the books on that list, simply because they don’t appeal to me. I read mystery, popular fiction, sci-fi, romance, historical novels and many others. Also, the ones that I have read were mostly in highschool and college- required. But, having said that, I do want to recommend “The Historian”. I don’t as a rule, read vampire books, but for some reason, someone recommended that book and I truly couldn’t put it down. Also. as a diabetic, I have to try and control my food intake, but struggle with it because I also eat when I’m anxious, which is most of the time. I have found that if I keep things like veggies cut up and low fat type dips and stuff, I WILL munch on those…while reading, of course, late at night, rather than chips. The key seems to be having them already cut and ready to munch! Who knows, it might work for you!

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a little bit of everything.