Books unread

If books create a whole new world for readers to enjoy, then some books stand out as landmarks, familiar spots we can all relate to as a shared experience. Not to have read these giants of literature (if you are a person who reads) becomes a cause for surprise and even concern by others Рakin to visiting Paris and not stopping off at the Eiffel Tower, or going to Egypt and not taking in at least one pyramid.

I read voraciously, and I’m also well-educated in English with a couple of GCSEs, an A-level, and both Bachelors and Masters degrees in the subject, but still, famous and much-loved books that I haven’t read litter my reading world like craters.

Perhaps my biggest omission (since there is always an element of romance in everything I write) is Jane Eyre. And I have tried, I promise. I’ve started the book several times, but I’ve never managed to get past the awful school scenes. The other great I managed to elude throughout my literary education was Dickens. I finally read Great Expectations about two years ago because, mostly, I thought I should. I did finish it, but frankly can’t recommend it since whatever has made it appeal to generations of readers passed me by entirely. Hardy, too – I love his poetry and short stories, but I’ve yet to battle to the end of one of his (dreary, I’m sorry, but there, I’ve said it!) novels.

I used to feel bad about these gaps, but they don’t bother me any more. That I’m reading is the main thing, what I’m reading is … well, it’s down to taste, isn’t it? Everyone’s reading world looks different, so if I don’t mind the craters scattered around mine, I bet they don’t bother anyone else, either.

Please, join me in confessing the greatest books you’ve never read. What do you pause and think you ought to read, before passing on to what you want to read?

6 thoughts on “Books unread

  1. I also dislike Hardy, they are so depressing, although I have read several because I had to. I think no matter how many of the classics you read there will always be more you feel you should have read as someone with an English degree. There are a few of Shakespeare’s famous plays that I haven’t got round to yet, and Crime and Punnishment will no doubt still be on my list for a while due to it’s length!


  2. Hundreds of ‘classics’ I’ve never read – though I have to say I adored Great Expectations, I thought the observation of the social climbing of the time was terrific. Generally, though, I think life is too short for ‘ought’ to read – if you don’t like something, you don’t like it. However, I think your tastes change, don’t they? Thank goodness, or I’d still only be reading Jackie Collins – fab though they are, I like to think I’ve broadened my outlook a bit!!! One thing that the ‘indie’ thing has done for me is made me discover genres I never thought I’d like. Finding some good ‘indie’ stuff amongst all the, um, shall we say, not quite so good is what has made me start my book review blog – I get quite evangelical about books I love!


    1. Terry, I love books I can rave about, too. The preview facility on my eReaders is invaluable – I’ve found all kinds of treasures I might not otherwise have risked.

      And you’re right – “ought” shouldn’t apply to reading for pleasure (or even at all).


  3. I was only discussing this last night when my husband was testing me on what I had read from the 1001 books you must read before you die! I only read Great Expectations when I was teaching it to a GCSE class, but I did love it. I must confess to not having read any other Dickens though. I also haven’t read ‘On the Road’ and now think I must be too old (at 38) to be the target readership! I still think I might one day attempt James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ but it will probably continue to get knocked down to the bottom of the ever-growing list of books I want to read!


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