Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 4, 2011 - 10:40am

I stole the idea from another thread hehe...

So what would you admit you haven't read when you hear everyone talk about it? I admit I never read Orwell's 1984 and I never read Nabokov's Lolita... Don't judge... Oh and I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read any actual book by Karl Marx even if I said something about him in another thread, but I did read bits and pieces and I know mostly what he's about. As I said in that thread, I have personal reasons not to want to read him. Nothing against the guy himself, but it's just psychological trauma associated with his name.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing October 4, 2011 - 10:46am

Working on Fahrenheit 451 now because I'm embarassed that I've never read it. I've also got Catch-22Slaughterhouse FiveLolita and the Lord of the Rings books on my list of embarassments. A few more that I haven't read but want to/probably should have:

  • Ulysses
  • A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Animal Farm
  • Stranger in a Strange Land (started but never finished)
  • On the Road (started but never finished)
Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 4, 2011 - 10:50am

Well, it used to be House of Leaves.  Seemed like everyone had read House of Leaves except me, but I took care of that last month.

I don't know.  The Road, I guess.  

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 4, 2011 - 10:52am

i never read gatsby, i guess.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing October 4, 2011 - 10:54am

The Road and The Great Gatsby are both excellent, very quick reads. Highly recommended.

CJ Roberts's picture
CJ Roberts from Salem, MA is reading goodreads.com/cjroberts_dmm October 4, 2011 - 11:20am

Hmm...Probably Anna Karenina, Great Expectations, Treasure Island, and everything Vonnegut.

ExpletiveDeleted's picture
ExpletiveDeleted from Cambridge, MA is reading Maile Meloy October 4, 2011 - 11:36am

I've never read Ulysses

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 4, 2011 - 11:42am

Infinite Jest by Wallace -I've tried 3 or 4 times. You're made to feel like you don't "get it" if it doesn't grab you, but for the life of me, it just doesn't grab me. These 3 or 4 times I mentioned, I've tried at different times in my life -when I thought I was more "mature" or "englightened" or whatever, and each and every time it's a no-go.

Grapes of Wrath like someone already mentioned -I actually bought this and remember reading the first page, and I honestly can't remember why I didn't finish or where the book went. There was nothing wrong with the book -I just freakin' lost it but never replaced it -and so never read it.

1984 (especially embarrassing because I love Animal Farm)

And drum roll for the big one.... Catcher In The Rye

 

 

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 October 4, 2011 - 11:45am
  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  2. Better Than Sex
Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 4, 2011 - 11:46am

I think what's more embarrassing to me is that I read some big ones, like The Odyssey, and Tom Sawyer, and Ulysses -and don't remember shit about them all these years later. Like someone could ask me if I'm well read, and I mean, sure I've read a lot of well known books and classics, but I still couldn't tell you the first thing about them. That makes me feel worse. Sadly, I'm more into the modern stuff. More memorable to me. I do like Thomas Mann and Milton's Paradise Lost -I have this huge 2 million page Norton Anthology from college with the best of the best that I always plan on revisiting but never manage to. Some day... Some day. 

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 4, 2011 - 11:52am

Shakespeare's another one. I really like Shakespeare. I hated him growing up and dreaded studying his work in school, but during college, it sunk in. There's some crazy shit going on there -not to mention his ability to handle and set the bar for comedy, tragedy, plays, stories, poetry -whatever was what in his time. Guy's the best, and one of my favorites. 

But staying relevant, I haven't read all of his work, either. I've read some lesser known ones in college -I've read a lot of him, but not everything that's recommended or popular. You know the stories already from so many adaptations or just being up on pop culture, movies, whatever -but actually sitting down reading his work, I have and I haven't. 

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 4, 2011 - 12:04pm

Oh don't get me started on books I read but can't remember much about - maybe they just didn't make enough of an impression.
Ok I admit, I didn't read Ulysses either and always intended to. Same with Gravity's Rainbow (Pynchon), but admittedly both these books are monster books, so you have to feel like you have the time.

Grapes of Wrath is very good for depicting the Depression - maybe people should read it now to see how bad things can really get and stop saying we're in a depression now. I read it because I  had to teach it at some point, but I was glad I did.

Amber Rose's picture
Amber Rose from Portland, Oregon is reading QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter - Feynman October 4, 2011 - 12:08pm

I'm not so much embarrassed to say I haven't read something as I am when I have never even heard of something that should be on my To Be Read list. Classics and stuff.

For example, it would be one thing to say I have never read Moby Dick, doesn't mean I won't ever, just that I haven't yet. But to say I've never heard of Moby Dick, when someone mentions it, and then find out it isn't just some random book of the multitudes that have been written, that is when I would feel dumb. (obviously I've heard of Moby Dick, I hope no one thinks I haven't)

joacomunoz's picture
joacomunoz from Buenos Aires - Argentina is reading The Crying of lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon October 4, 2011 - 12:14pm

I haven't read the Quixote.

That's about it.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 4, 2011 - 12:16pm

Oh that's right, I haven't read the Quixote either. Started it when I was maybe 10 years old, didn't "get it" and never got back to it, but recently promised myself to read it. Haven't.

pathetique's picture
pathetique from Seattle is reading Dead Stars October 4, 2011 - 12:51pm

Charles: I haven't read Gatsby, either.

Oh, and someone was giving me some grief over being an English major who hadn't read Brave New World a little while back, but I'm not really embarassed about that.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 4, 2011 - 12:55pm

i have a copy of that, my wife read it last month (i havent made it down the list to that yet) and she said mine was chocked full punctuation and grammatical errors. is this an issue that BRAVE NEW WORLD has in general, or just the edition i have?

pathetique's picture
pathetique from Seattle is reading Dead Stars October 4, 2011 - 1:39pm

The Internet is of no help to me on this. I hope they're on purpose, though.

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray October 4, 2011 - 2:17pm

Ive read very few of shakespeare work. Only Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet. I've been into a lot of Poe lately.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 4, 2011 - 2:41pm

You should all be very, very, very embarrassed indeed!

pathetique's picture
pathetique from Seattle is reading Dead Stars October 4, 2011 - 3:06pm

You should all be very, very, very embarrassed indeed!

Perhaps an interesting direction for this discussion to go is why we all feel/should feel embarassed -- is it a lack of well-readness in general? Not being part of a wider cultural conversation? Adherence to the idea of a canon? Why is this important?

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 4, 2011 - 3:33pm

I'm not particularly embarrassed about not having read lots of books I should have because if someone does diss my cultural acumen, I'm able to change the conversation to something I do know about until I have an opportunity to find somewhere private and weep.

That said, I'm constantly told On The Road is exactly the sort of book I'd love. I will get round to it one day. 

Saul Aguilar's picture
Saul Aguilar from Tucson, AZ is reading Waking Up October 4, 2011 - 3:42pm

All of the classics and anything by Shakespeare. I'm also sad to say I haven't read any of Dr. Seuss' books.

.'s picture
. October 4, 2011 - 4:14pm

^ Better Call Saul lol...sorry had to.

Never finished The Inferno. Probably will never finish any James Joyce book, well not anytime soon anyway.

 

Saul Aguilar's picture
Saul Aguilar from Tucson, AZ is reading Waking Up October 4, 2011 - 4:35pm

No worries, I love me some Breaking Bad!

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 4, 2011 - 4:52pm

I like the question: why are we embarrassed we haven't read such books? Well I don't care if people know I haven't read some important book, but I do think writers need to (not have to or must) read some books that show the craft of writing at its highest, and if a lot of people agree something is great writing, I'd like to know that I know what they're talking about. I don't quite believe there are writers who become great without even glancing at some of the good writing out there. Of course, nobody can read everything.

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 4, 2011 - 5:50pm

Right. It's embarrassing for a writer to not have read some "classics" or even half of the influences on current authors who inspire your own writing. I am inclined to get Grapes of Wrath again thanks to your input, Liana. And what about classic short stories? Oddly enough -those stick out more to me than the classic novels. My two favorite of all time are Top Man by James Ramsey Ullman, and The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. We read those when I was in 4th grade, and I've remembered them ever since -in vivid detail. Great stories.

.'s picture
. October 4, 2011 - 6:25pm

Some one should start a "classics" thread. 

EricWojo's picture
EricWojo from Livonia, Michigan is reading The Brothers Karamazov October 4, 2011 - 6:30pm

I tried twice to read The Lord of the Rings but J.R.R. Tolkien takes up way too much time describing the wind flowing through the trees and the songs the elves sang and the lyrics of same.  I love showing vs. telling but Tolkien brought me to my limit.  Still, I feel like I'm missing out.  Thank you Steve Jackson for doing such a great job on the movies.  I'm a little less stressed about it.

HoboWriterDK's picture
HoboWriterDK from Upstate, New York is reading White Teeth, by Zadie Smith October 4, 2011 - 6:47pm

Some people mentioned Ulysses and Infinite Jest and I'm with them on those. I've tried both and I just got stuck somewhere around a quarter of the way through. I tend to be just a little ADD with books (I tend to read two or three at a time) so finishing something around 1,000 pages seems like a massive challenge.

I think my biggest one is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn though. I've seen the play multiple times and I liked it but it never made me think, "I have to read this!"

william.c.cathey's picture
william.c.cathey from Georgia is reading What Is The What October 4, 2011 - 8:57pm

The Great Gatsby.. it was assigned in tenth grade but i guess that didnt mean much then ha

Meachman's picture
Meachman from Indianapolis is reading Amusing Ourselves to Death October 4, 2011 - 9:07pm

The Yellow Wallpaper. I've been assigned to read it on three seperate occassions and never could make it through.

pathetique's picture
pathetique from Seattle is reading Dead Stars October 5, 2011 - 1:57am

Right. It's embarrassing for a writer to not have read some "classics" or even half of the influences on current authors who inspire your own writing.

But do you feel there's an obligation to read everything within a certain canon? Is that realistic?

Mark's picture
Admin
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 5, 2011 - 3:37am

I'm not particularly embarrassed about not having read lots of books I should have because if someone does diss my cultural acumen, I'm able to change the conversation to something I do know about until I have an opportunity to find somewhere private and weep.

That said, I'm constantly told On The Road is exactly the sort of book I'd love. I will get round to it one day.

Jack



Well, Jack from the U.K., I'll get behind that recommendation. And maybe go it one better. Buy the unabridged audiobook.  It comes on ten compact discs. There are multiple versions out there, but I can personally vouch for the one narrated by Matt Dillon. Get the discs--comprehensive and high quality--then transfer the content to MP3 format, if you travel better with an ipod.

Regardless, travel while you listen. A long road trip is best. So long as you don't zone out too much, actively drive somewhere while you listen to the whole damned thing. England may not be big enough for this purpose. Cross country in the U.S. would be better. But if you can't swing a trip to the states any time soon, or you don't drive, I'd still say buy the audio and take it on the train with you. Maybe England to the south of France and back again is big enough if you close your eyes.  

On the Road is a book that deserves to be traveled with like a strange and sometimes bewildering friend--like a trusted, if wild-eyed and probably hopped-up-on-bennies kind of friend. It may, in fact, demand a certain amount of travel to be completely absorbed and appreciated. And it's impressed with hobo dignity, man.  Radical stuff:  a code of wisdom and a stamp of character that belongs to natural aristocracy as opposed to inherited wealth.

Kerouac is as inseparable from the living voice of American literature as Walt Whitman. 

http://www.amazon.com/Road-CD-Jack-Kerouac/dp/0060755334/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1317809015&sr=8-3

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 5, 2011 - 5:58am

Thanks Mark, will definitely check that out. It's a literary cavity that needs filling. 

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks October 5, 2011 - 6:28am

There are a few holes in my literary studies.

-To Kill A Mocking Bird

-House of Leaves (tried twice, but lost interest after the "good parts")

-Lolita

-Any Kafka (again, tried, but just couldn't get into it)

-Most Dickens

-And, lastly, Shakespeare. He's just a real bummer to me. Story-wise I love him, but as far as actually reading him, I'd rather accidentally cut my fingernails too short.

I should add, I'm not really embarrassed, but sometimes I'll meet someone that also studied English in college and they'll rattle off several books I've never even heard of and I usually just nod my head or if I'm indifferent about the conversation just say, "Yeah, I drank a lot in college."

Same goes for genre nerds. Sorry guys, but I haven't read any Asimov.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest October 5, 2011 - 6:35am

The Stand. Seems everyone I know has read this. I've tried, at least half a dozen times. I get about 300 pages in and I am thoroughly bored. Not a damn thing has happened. It's one of those one's I want to read because everyone who's read it says it's amazing, but knowing I've been, not even, a third of the way through and put it down frustrates me.

 

Achillez's picture
Achillez from Long Island, New York is reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway October 6, 2011 - 3:25pm

So many...

  • Ulysses
  • Lolita
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Heart of Darkness (we were supposed to read this in twelfth grade and I just could not)
  • anything by Dickens
  • anything by Kafka
  • anything by Mark Twain
  • most Steinbeck

So proud of myself for reading Moby-Dick last summer though.

I'm also like 300 pages into The Stand. I had to stop though because I had such an urge to read other books. I keep saying I'll go back to it but it's been over a month. I WILL THOUGH.

william.c.cathey's picture
william.c.cathey from Georgia is reading What Is The What October 6, 2011 - 4:06pm

@Achillez

yeah dude same thing here with Heart of Darkness, and i dont know why but i just couldnt get into it..prolly cuz i  was reading Bukowski outside of the classroom ha.

lyndonriggall's picture
lyndonriggall from Tasmania is reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray October 6, 2011 - 5:34pm

On the Road is a book that deserves to be traveled with like a strange and sometimes bewildering friend--like a trusted, if wild-eyed and probably hopped-up-on-bennies kind of friend. It may, in fact, demand a certain amount of travel to be completely absorbed and appreciated

You've sold it for me at least Mark! I struggled to get in to the rhythm of the book the first time I tried to read it.  But have loved audio CDs of Kerouac's poetry.  This may be just the thing. I'm taking it for a drive.

.'s picture
. October 6, 2011 - 5:34pm

I'm taking forever to finish the Gonzo tapes if that counts.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 October 6, 2011 - 5:37pm

I don't think I've ever read any Mark Twain either come to think of it, wasn't it Hemingway that said the world owes all its writing of today and format to Mr. Twain?

Adam's picture
Adam from Denver is reading books... October 6, 2011 - 5:44pm

Haven't read: ...anything by David Foster Wallace... I've read so many things ABOUT his work.... Guess I'm just stalling.

Mark's picture
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Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 6, 2011 - 6:50pm

You've sold it for me at least Mark! I struggled to get in to the rhythm of the book the first time I tried to read it.  But have loved audio CDs of Kerouac's poetry.  This may be just the thing. I'm taking it for a drive.  -Lyndon



Good, I think you'll dig it.  (Yeah, "dig it," monstrously old-timey slang, I know.)  For many people, Kerouac at the top of his game is quintessentially the voice of a generation.  Everything that was restless and questing and half-hidden but shoved up against mainstream norms all the way back in the middle of the 20th century, it's there in On the Road.  

His is a pure voice from before hip got ruined by hipsters.  Back when you could say clever things on behalf of a counterculture without air quotes or hyper self-conscious meta references double dipping every single assertion into a permanent glaze of ironic circularity.  He manages to treat topics not acceptable to American mainstream culture of the 1950s--use of illicit drugs, homosexuality and bi-sexuality, a vagabond lifestyle, Eastern mysticism--all of that gets presented without glamourizing or concealing the bad side of cool people doing shitty things to each other, but equally without demonizing the subculture as a whole, without diminishing those flickering moments of transcendence and wild contentment.

And it's all carried along in the sweep of natural rhythms from a brain fed extensively on benzedrine and jazz.  What's not to like?  As for the audiobook, Dillon is equal to reading it with zero loss of fidelity to the source material.

For me, it's satisfying that it's modern enough to communicate to a young audience some sixty years later.  Any person born, say, in the 1980s, probably isn't going to hear Walt Whitman with the force and immediacy I do.  He's an equivalent American voice speaking from the 1860s and '70s, and that's too damn long ago to completely grab on until you've lived with our language for at least forty years.  But Jack is still as close as yesterday, when you're ready to feel it.  

fummeltunte's picture
fummeltunte from Seattle is reading The Left Hand of Darkness October 6, 2011 - 7:05pm

I haven't read Don Quixote either, Jaoco. And The Great Gatsby. But whatever, you should decide who's canonical and who isn't. Depending on who you're writing for and in what tradition, certain "canonical books" don't matter. 

 

I went to a high school with a predominately Asian population, and our new English teacher would go crazy whenever Grimms' Fairy Tales or biblical references would fly over our heads. 

I remember him freaking out and asking, "Really? You don't know about the horsemen of the apocalypse?! What about the body and blood of Christ?" It was pretty hilarious. Those stories just wasn't part of their upbringing. They'd been raised on other stories and mythologies, which were just as legit as any others. It was an interesting school year. 

.'s picture
. October 6, 2011 - 7:08pm

I have a book of Kerouac's poetry but I have yet to finish it. I still need to buy the "Original Scroll" version of On The Road as well.

Mark's picture
Admin
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water October 6, 2011 - 7:18pm

I don't think I've ever read any Mark Twain either come to think of it, wasn't it Hemingway that said the world owes all its writing of today and format to Mr. Twain?  -Laurance



What I've always heard is that Hemingway was asked in an interview about the ambition of writing "The Great American Novel" and whether that was his aim and his project.  To which he replied:

"The Great American Novel has already been written.  It's called Huckleberry Finn."

Jen Todd's picture
Jen Todd is reading your lifeline and all signs are good October 6, 2011 - 7:46pm

For the longest time it was Where the Wild Things Are.  I'm telling you-- everyone was all, "OMG, this book!  It's so pivotal.  It was the first thing my parents really read to me, etc. etc. etc."  I sort of wanted to put a gun to my head. 

So then I read it.  And I didn't get what the big fuss was about.  I think it was one of those "you had to be there" things. =(  I'm embarassed to admit I didn't get that experience!

Jen Todd's picture
Jen Todd is reading your lifeline and all signs are good October 6, 2011 - 7:49pm

"The Great American Novel has already been written.  It's called Huckleberry Finn."

 

Word.

fummeltunte's picture
fummeltunte from Seattle is reading The Left Hand of Darkness October 6, 2011 - 8:30pm

As a sci-fi fan, I am very ashamed to have never read Ursula Le Guin. Just grabbed her book, The Left Hand of Darkness, and will be starting it shortly.

Danny grant's picture
Danny grant October 6, 2011 - 9:03pm

A Clockwork Orange