Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

You know the list. The should-I-nod-and-pretend-I’ve-read-it-because-what-kind-of-bibliophile-am-I-if-I-haven’t list. The list of books you’ve started and stopped, or simply haven’t started. The list of books that you are certain would land you in the “poser” pile if anyone found out. Just know, we’re not alone.

But I have never done my voracious reading to plan, and there are terrible holes in my literary knowledge that I dread will be accidentally revealed. 

– Suzanne Lipsett, Surviving a Writer’s Life

  1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. I started this book once, while on vacation with my family. I was about halfway through the first chapter when my grandmother asked me what I was reading. I haven’t picked it up since.
  2. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace. To be honest, I didn’t become a fan of DFW until after his death. I was so curious about this man who moved so many of my peers, only to realize that I had read one of his stories long ago without having realized it. I’ve only read his essays and short stories, and this chunk of his work is on my to-read list, hopefully this fall with a group of others. Until then, I console myself with the realization that the majority of those who say they’ve read it are lying.
  3. 1984: I have two copies of this, but I have yet to sit down and get through either of them.
  4. Catch-22: Another book I should’ve been assigned as a high-schooler and wasn’t. I’ve read the first chapter then abandoned it.
  5. East of Eden: Confession: I was halfway through this just a couple weeks ago, when the library asked for it back. I promise that I tried to find another copy, but when I failed, I moved onto Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers.
  6. Any novel by Stephen King: I want to read Salem’s Lot, mostly due to a comment one of the guys in my writing group made last week. My dad’s a huge fan, and I loved On Writing and the short stories I read while at a hostel in Costa Rica.
  7. Gone with the Wind: Okay, so maybe not everyone has read this, but those close to me have, and I just wanna! I also haven’t seen the movie, so the whole story is still a mystery to me.
  8. Jane Eyre: Mrs. Bilon would be disappointed in me, but I never finished it.
  9. Invisible Man: I’ve started it twice (both assignments) and abandoned it so close to the end twice. This exercise is turning into a session of introspection I did not anticipate.
  10. Anything by Jane Austen: I’ve started them, yes. I love the idea of reading Jane Austen, a cup of hot tea next to me, the sound of wood crackling in a fire. But when it comes down to it, I haven’t made it much farther than the first few chapters of Pride and Prejudice. Such a shame because that opening line gets me every time.

Your turn! What books do you always shamefully admit you haven’t gotten to yet? Let me know in the comments or send me the link to your own blog list. (Then link up at the original list at The Broke and Bookish.)

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13 thoughts on “Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

  1. thomdunn says:

    I have a copy of CATCH-22 I’ve been meaning to read. Let’s have a reading party!

  2. Except for 2, I have read ALL!!

    I have listed authors in my post!

    Here is my Top Ten post!

  3. Jason Blanchard says:

    1. It’s his whole “monkey painting is own cage” thing that got me. I think I liked “Pale Fire” better, but this one’s worth reading past the creep-factor, especially in relation to…

    … 2. IJ! I still want to re-re-read it this fall. Novemberish maybe? This is the centerpiece by which I judge/understand all other works of literature.

    3. One of my favorite love stories.

    5. The book that really got me in to thoughtful literature. I need to read it as an adult.

    I am dying to read James Joyce and Pynchon, and, like, everything else.

    • Mel says:

      I’m down for a Novemberish attempt at IJ, for sure. Instead of NaNoWriMo, we’ll attempt NaNoReMo (except we’ll probably go past just November, so not at all).


  4. thomdunn says:

    I’d also be down with a reading group for the bigger Joyce/Pynchon works. I’ve read some of “Finnegans Wake” and “Ulysses,” but I want to tackle the entire books. On the Pynchon side, I’ve read everything he’s written under 500 pages. I read the first chapter of “V,” which was around 80 pages long, and was so incredible and dense, but it was hard to commit to (that and ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ I think are supposed to be his opuses)(opusii?)

  5. The Crying of Lot 49 by Pynchon keeps coming up lately, so I suspect I’m going to have to read it (seems like every one in my anti-genre group has). I’m not a fan of Stephen King, but Pet Cemetery terrified me when I was home reading it alone. Catch-22 is definitely worth the read (in fact, I’ve read it 3 times). I was planning on getting to Infinite Jest this year. Hopefully I will. I have that, 2666 by Roberto Bolano, and The Instructions by Levin lined up next to each other. They’re all huge, lol.

  6. thomdunn says:

    LOT 49 is one of those books that I’ve found gets referenced in almost EVERYTHING so I decided I had to read it. I spent about a year placing holds and ordering it from the Boston Public Library system, but even though they had 2 copies in their computers that would vary between being “checked in” and “checked out,” none of them seemed to actually exist. I ultimately ended up buying it for like $2 on Amazon, and I did not regret it at all.

  7. Falaise says:

    We appear to have a number of the same books on our lists, so maybe not “everyone” has actually read them after all!

  8. Me, too. OMIGOSH, me, too. I will make a list, but for now…

    1. Just can’t do it. He’s a creeper.

    4. I was assigned this, and what parts I read I hated.

    As for Ms. Austen, I felt some serious shame when I loathed Emma.

    • Mel says:


      Excited to read your list! And yeah, I started Catch-22, loved the first chapter then completely lost interest after that. All “reading rules” aside, if you don’t love it, why waste time, right?

    • Joe says:

      1. I’m assuming you mean Humbert Humbert is a creeper, not Nabokov, lol. (I honestly think if you want to read amazing literature, read the stuff not everybody has read. Read Nabokov’s Pale Fire, for example. It’s a poem, but the actual story happens in the Poem’s footnotes and commentary, where you discover a character who is obviously insane, probably by academic pressure, doing the commentary. It is awesome.)

      4. I don’t understand the Catch-22 hate, lol. It’s one of my faves. I’ll admit, the first few chapters tend to drag a bit, but if you can push through, it’s really worth it.

      • Mel says:

        Haha, yes I assumed she meant Humbert Humbert as well. I’d definitely recommend Invitation to a Beheading as a great Nabokov novel not often recommended!

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